Faith in an ageing continent

  • In NEWS
  • October 17, 2013
Faith in an ageing continent
In his third talk on crisis in Europe, Jim Memory focussed on demography, migration and religious trends. Migration is a part of Europe‘s identity crisis, with 6.8 % of the EU-27 group of countries people being migrants. Despite political efforts to support families, fertility in every EU country is below the reproduction level. This makes immigration – with all its social consequences – a necessity for states desperate to maintain and realise a growth perspective. The London riots of Summer 2011 showed the frightening shallowness of Western consumerism: „What is the meaning of life if you cannot shop what you want?“ As Zygmunt Bauman described the looters‘ mindset, „the inability to shop is the stigma of a life unfulfilled“. Environmental concerns  have fallen in priority on the political agenda. Yet according to the new IPCC Assessment report released in September, „warming of the climate‘s system is unequivocal“. More strange weather is to be expected. The religious scene is in flux, with more Europeans than ever believing without belonging to a church – and still many belonging without believing. Taking their lead from secularization theory, journalists have been writing Europe’s religious obituary. Yet the European Values Survey and other studies show that belief in God actually remains quite high. France, Germany and the Czech Republic are the only countries where belief in a God among young people has fallen below 40%. Jim Memory sees much reason for hope: „The assumption that few young are ready to listen is wrong!“ He pointed out church growth in London in recent years (mainly due to migration). Weekly attendance in cathedrals of the Church of England is growing. In addition to that, according to Memory, local church growth often goes unobserved. Christianity is far from disappearing. Secularization and resacralization are happening simultaneously. This may mean that in the future,„secularism, the Christian faith and Islam will compete in offering hope to a resacralized Europe.“ In the future, primary challenges for the churches in Europe will be: mission to migrants and by migrants and care for the elderly. In societies with growing intergenerational tensions, „the church will be one of the few intergenerational communities“.  

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