Abandoned by missionary agencies, Christianity is dying in Europe

by Will Hall, |

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- Data published in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 2 revealed startling information from the 2014 European Social Survey database about the ongoing death of Christianity.

In highlighting the extraordinary number of churches that have been abandoned due to absent congregations, the Wall Street Journal included a graph showing the lack of church attendance among many of Europe's countries.

Long abandoned by most missionary-sending agencies for countries located in the 10/40 window -- also known as the "Resistant Belt" because it contains the majority of the world's Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists -- Europe has rapidly decayed spiritually to the point that only Ireland (45 percent are Catholic and 48 percent, Protestant) and Italy (83 percent are Catholic) are bright points with about 48 percent of Irish Christians attending weekly worship services and 39 percent of Italian Christians.

The rest of Europe languishes by comparison.

According to the chart, about six percent of Danes attend church weekly compared to about 11 percent in Germany and France. In the United Kingdom the figure is about 22 percent, with the number rising to 26 percent in Spain and 30 percent in the Netherlands.

The survey did not provide data on those who attend regularly but not weekly.

Religious attendance in the United States is higher than most European countries but it also continues to decline.

About 3 out of four Americans claim a Christian identity, but according to Gallup only 33 percent of Americans attend services weekly with another 8 percent saying they gather for corporate worship almost every week. Another 12 percent said they attend about once a month. Moreover, 47 percent reported seldom (24 percent) or never (21 percent) gathering to practice their faith with others or declined to answer the question at all (two percent).

The Wall Street Journal article offers that in the United States, "Christians remain more religiously observant than Europeans." But it also cautioned that experts like Scott Thumma, professor of the sociology of religion at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, say America's churchgoing population is aging and within a generation religious patterns here will approach those in Europe.

"Within another 30 years the situation in the U.S. will be at least as bad as what is currently evident in Europe," he said.