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"Europe's Christian Comeback"

Apparently the Eurabia myth is so popular in the US that Foreign Policy saw the need to let Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Penn State University, argue against it:
Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. The West is awash with fear of the Islamization of Europe.
The entire "West" or just parts of the United States?
The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.
I am surprised that a history professor considers it necessary to reassure the smart and educated readers of an American foreign policy magazine that Europe is not "on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony."
Related post in the Atlantic Review: International Conference about the Collapse of Europe

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Zyme on :

I always find it quite amusing when people in Europe feel the need to stress their ancient christian roots to assure americans that we are not at the brink of becoming an islamist colony. In Germany for example, the biggest "religious" group of people representing 32,5 % of the population doesn´t belong to any religion at all. They have now overtaken the roman-catholics with 31,47 % and the protestants who are at 30,84 %. And then go ask people of the latter two how "religious" they are. Contrary to a takeover of ancient beliefs, we are instead "threatened" by the proliferation of enlightenment. Not the worst development one may add.

Zyme on :

Here is my source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religionen_in_Deutschland Statistics offer another interesting development: From 1970 to 2005, the proportion of muslims in the german society has increased from 1,3 to 3,9 %. Well that is quite an increase so to speak. In the meantime, the proportion of the undenominational has increased from 3,9 to 32,5 %. I guess that puts the "muslim threat" into perspective.

Don S on :

Equating atheism with 'enlightenment' seems like propoganda propounded by the athiests.

Zyme on :

In this context I wouldn´t equate englightenment with atheism, but rather with the riddance from religions, penetrating the mist of superstition so to speak.

Don S on :

Still sounds like propoganda from those 'free of religion'. Personally I don't believe that the 'free of religion' are any more enlightened than the religious. Stalin was 'free' of religion, as were Mao, Pol Pot, and possibly another chappie (whom I won't name) but who (probably) shed this mortal coil circa 1945. Were they 'enlightened'?

Zyme on :

I knew this was to come. Few institutions in a society have such strong roots as the churches had in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. It takes strong political storms to blow a good deal away. Just because these storms have blown other things away as well, I won´t regret this admireable achievement.

Zyme on :

"Personally I don't believe that the 'free of religion' are any more enlightened than the religious." I disagree. At the beginning of mankind, like in the stone age, people saw supranatural beings everywhere around them - in the fire, in the trees, in the stones, in the sky, among the animals and so forth. It was their way to sort their environment for they were unable to understand how these things interacted. Later in the ancient world when civilizations emerged and people started to look for deeper reasons far more intensively, they reduced the countless amounts of unnatural beings to a certain number of gods who were responsible for the things still not fully explicable in a different way. A god for the sun, the sea, for war and peace, a father of all gods and so on. As science progressed, they moved on from polytheism to monotheism. Suddenly only one godlike being was responsible for all that is around us. There was no more need to create many different ones, as there was only a need for a god who created everything and provides us with a mission or a reason to be around. Eventually, even that mental bridge became more and more needless among progressive civilizations. When people stop to hunger and live without substantial shortages, they don´t need to be put off to the afterlife. Old habits die hard though. So it took its time before the undenominational became a major movement in Europe. It is simply very tempting to believe that there is some higher lifeform around which protects me and provides me with a sense for life, as I won´t have to find it on my own then. It also provides the governing class with a useful justification. And it undoubtably provides comfort in harsh times for those who can believe in such religious concepts. But for those who are unable to believe in easy concepts because they are full of doubt (traditionally a feature especially of intelligent people), this comfort cannot be gained this way. They have to look for other solutions. It is more difficult and not as rewarding for sure. But once you reject the easy way, it is your only choice.

Don S on :

You seem to believe that the mysteries have been solved. My reading is that the deeper scientists dig into how things work the more mysteries they uncover. Another problem is that many of the 'enlightened' use science as a proxy for religion - that is theyr believe in the dictates of 'scientists' just as religiously as their forebears believed in their God. Is this a net improvement? Perhaps. Perhaps not. There is a lot od concensus masquerading as science out ther. Whenever I hear a phrase stating or implying that 'all scientists agree on...' I begin to get suspicious - because it just ain't so the vast majority of the time. Particularly on the more sweeping of claims. The kinds of things that *all* scientists tend to agree on are usually narrowly drawn rather than sweeping, or upon basics such as the scientific method.

Pat Patterson on :

How happy are the citizens of Europe to be when they notice that this revitalized Christianity is essentially charismatic, literalist and dare I say the "f" word, fundamentalist? The cry will go up that we will turn back the Moslem hordes but please don't actually listen to what our foot soldiers are preaching.

SC on :

Joerg, Are you certain that the purpose of Jenkins or the editors of Foreign Policy was to reassure anyone? Rather, isn't the "headline" here the claim that "Christianity (is) poised for a comeback"? In that statement is the assumption, supported perhaps by some of the contributors on this page, that Europe had transcended religion generally, and Christianity specifically. Post-Christian Europe is a phrase not unknown over the past several decades. Whether that has been accurate or not, the case has been made explicitly by some and implicitly with pictures of all but vacant churches throughout the continent for quite some time. So, if Christianity is indeed poised "to make a comeback" as Jenkins claims, some will be reassured while others will be dismayed: that is what makes it interesting, and if well done, publishable.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

SC, I agree with you. Besides, how new is the phrase "Post-Christian Europe"? Who coined it first?

SC on :

JW, Not very new, I think, since I seem to recall its use on occasion in the run up to Maastricht as some were probably struck by the attempt to create a European entity not seen in a very long time; without Christianity at the center of the polis. But in that context, it might well have been used earlier still. For this reason alone, determining priority in its use might make a fine etymological exercise. No doubt there was a first use, and it would be interesting to know if someone did coin the phrase. But it might be a bit difficult because use of the phrase "post-Christian" as an epithet in evangelical circles has been around for awhile now, I believe. And it's conceivable that, even in the distant past, some of the more lively members of that community have hurled the phrase toward the Continent.

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