Results from a recently released research study reveal that Christianity is dying out in Europe, as young people are seemingly turning away from the faith at record rates.
The report titled Europe’s Young Adults and Religion is authored by Stephen Bullivant, a professor of theology and sociology of religion at Saint Mary’s University in London. The study looked at the self-described religious affiliation of people aged 16 to 29 years old in 22 separate European countries using data from the European social survey from 2014 to 2016.
What Professor Bullivant found is that religiosity is sharply declining in European youth, who called religion “moribund” and that “with some notable exceptions, young adults increasingly are not identifying with or practicing religion.”
The least religious country in Europe was found to be the Czech Republic, with 91% of the selected age group reporting they have no religious affiliation. The next least religious countries were Estonia, Sweden, and the Netherlands, with 70-80% of youth reporting no religious affiliation. Commenting on the shocking data, Professor Bullivant said “Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years.”
The most religious country in Europe was Poland, with only 17% of youth reporting no religious affiliation, with Lithuania a close second with 25% of youth reporting no religious affiliation. Commenting on the signification variations religiosity from country to country, Bullivant said:
“Countries that are next door to one another, with similar cultural backgrounds and histories, have wildly different religious profiles.”
In addition to declining religious affiliation, Bullivant also found European youth are rarely attending any church services. Only in Poland, Portugal and Ireland did more than 10% of young people say they attend services at least once a week.
Prayer life is also declining. In the UK, France, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, between 63% and 66% said they never pray. Poland and Ireland had the highest percentage of youth who pray, with 50% and 31% saying they pray weekly or more.
Whats behind the sharp decline? Bullivant explains that immigration is the cause, at least in the case for the United Kingdom.
“One in five Catholics in the UK were not born in the UK. And we know the Muslim birthrate is higher than the general population, and they have much higher religious retention rates.”
Concluding the report, Professor Bullivant commented on the trends the data shows and the stark future possibly in store for Christian Europe.
“Cultural religious identities just aren’t being passed on from parents to children. It just washes straight off them. The new default setting is ‘no religion’, and the few who are religious see themselves as swimming against the tide. In 20 or 30 years time, mainstream churches will be smaller, but the few people left will be highly committed.”