Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Fall of Christianity in Europe

I have read about the decline of Christianity in Europe before, and the statistics are always surprising. I read not long ago that roughly half of all babies born in France are Muslim. An interesting turn for a country that once was home to the Roman Pontiff (Avignon Papacy). Now I read:

"Islam is expanding rapidly into Europe and filling the vacuum created by the collapse of traditional Christianity. There are around fifty thousand conversions to Isalm in France each year, for example, and in 2004 the number of people attending weekly services in mosques exceeded the number of those attending the service of the Chruch of England. Secularism, the result of the shark eating the fish, does not create a steady secular state. It creates a spiritual vacuum that will be filled by a more dynamic faith." [Shiflett, EXODUS]

It was difficult to find a church with a Mass to attend last time I was in France. Most were interupted by the shuffling of tourists on their way thru one or another of the great Cathedrals. The French people tell me churches are empty.

The Brookings Institute reports that the "Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent." However, not quite half of the Muslim population is France has legal citezen ship, but that's likely to change. The politics of countries like France and Germany, with higher populations of Muslims than Jews, lean toward anti-Israel sentiments and favors the Palestinian cause. It is easy to see why these countries had such difficulty supporting the war in Iraq.

The shifts in Christian and Catholic populations around the globe is worth noting:
"The Christian population is 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia. Pentecostals...number around 400 milion, and that number could rise to one billion midcentruy [doesn't say where]. By comparison, the Christian population of North America is around 260 million. The results are, of course, uncertain, but this change in the demogrpahic balnce will result....in an interesting develpment: the next time the papal election takes place, more than 40 percent of the voiting cardinal will be from the south, and soon after that they will constitute a majority."

These figures are consistent with scholars who have studied the changing numbers, like Justo Gonzalez [Cuban born church historian, theologian]. Some said the numbers of Cardinals in S. America and Africa would have an effect during the last papal election. It didn't change the complection of things so far as I am aware.

Given the fundamental nature of Islam and the intolerance of its philosophy, not to mention its extreme effect on the daily lives and values of those who are faithful to Islam, the philosophies of democracy will be tested. Interestingly, the test may be here or in Europe. Issues like the display of the Ten Commandments and prayer in schools may take on a whole new dimension.

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