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Christianity: Decline in the West PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 28 December 2010 11:42

The boom in the south has unfortunately been offset by a marked decline of Christian practice in the region of the world that has been its center for the past 1000 years. (Christianity became centered in and synonymous with European civilization due to the rise of Islam and the crushing of ancient Christian centers in western Asia where it was born.  For the first thousand years, Christianity was a faith of the global south and was majority Orthodox.  Western Catholicism became the new Christian majority during the 11th century.)

Europe: According to the Atlas of Global Christianity, Europe was nearly 95% Christian and contained 66% of all Christians in 1910.  A century later, only 80% of Europe's population was Christian and only 25.6% of the world's Christians lived there.  The predictions for 2050 show the basic pattern of European decline continuing: Only 76.6% of Europeans are expected to be Christian 40 years from now and only 15.8% of all Christians will live in Europe.


Sherry's note: For all the hysteria about "Eurabia" (Muslims are 5.6% of Europe's population) the real crisis in European Christianity is the huge number of post-Christian"unbelievers" (13.2%) - agnostics and atheists and the huge number of non-practicing Christians-in-name-only. The real issue is the new evangelization.  If we were evangelizing our own, we would regard non-Christian immigrants with a very different eye. Some details below by UN regions.

A.  Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia.The east is the relative bright spot in Europe these days despite the terrible suffering of eastern Christians under the Nazis and Communists.

The story of the 20th century is written in the stats.  In 1910, 9 million Jews made up 5% of the population of Eastern Europe.  Today, only 500,000 Jews live in the region.  Agnosticism is now the second largest faith in Eastern Europe but since it is the fragile post-communist variety of unbelief, agnostics are steadily reverting to Christianity and this is expected to continue well into the 21st century. (94% of Russians call themselves Christian in 2010!  Formerly "atheist" Russia is now the largest Christian nation in Europe.) Despite the terrors of the century past, Orthodoxy has grown from 57.7% to 61% of the population.

B.  Northern Europe: Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. 98.1% Christian in 1910, 80.9% Christian today.  Agnostics (12.1%) and Atheists (2.4%) are the second and third largest "faiths" here.

The change was most dramatic in Sweden which was 99% Christian in 1910 and is only 66% Christian a century later.  Anglicanism is the largest Christian body here, followed by Lutheranism.  Northern Europe is the center of Independent Christianity in Europe with 3 million Independents.

C.  Southern Europe: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Malta, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia. 96.9% Christian in 1910, 82.3% in 2010.  8.7% Agnostic and 2.1% Atheists.  6.6 % Muslim:

Bosnia and Kosovo are majority Muslim nations.  90% of Christians are Catholic.  Home to the only 100% Catholic nation on earth: the Holy See.

D.  Western Europe:  Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland.The heart of rapidly post-Christianizing, secularized Europe.  98.1% Christian in 1910, 71% today.  (In 40 years, it is expected that Christians will only make up 61% of the population of western Europe.) Agnostics 18.8%, Atheists 2.8% for a total of 21.6% "unbelievers".  Muslims 6%.

Nearly 70% of Christians in western Europe are Catholic.  Germany 70.6% Christian, France 68.8%, the Netherlands 64.6%.

E.  North America: United States, Canada, Bermuda, Greenland. 96% Christian in 1910, 81.2% Christian in 2010. Agnostics 11.8%, Atheists 0.5%. 84.5 million Catholics, 75.7 million Independent Christians, 61.5 million Protestants, 11.8 million "Marginal" Christians: Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

The United States is the largest Christian nation on earth and will continue to be #1 through 2050.  The vast majority of immigrants to the US are Christian.  In 2010, 2.3 million Christians were added to the population of North America.

F.  Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia. Oceania's seemingly stable figures mask significant change over the past 100 years. 78.6% Christian in 1910, 78.5% in 2010. Agnostics, 12.9%, Atheists 1.2% for a total of 14.1% "unbelievers".

Melanesia, which includes Papua New Guinea, was only 15% Christian a century ago. Today, it is over 90% Christian.  Micronesia has moved from 76.7% Christian to 91.4%.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand have followed in Europe's wake:  In 1910, those two countries were 96.9% Christian.  Today, they are 73.4% Christian.


Next up - How the decline has affected the US: American Catholicism: Living on the Edge of a Demographic Precipice



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