Being Christian in Western Europe
The majority of Europe’s Christians are non-practicing, but they differ from religiously unaffiliated people in their attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants, views on God, and opinions about religion’s role in society
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 29, 2018) – Western Europe, where Protestant Christianity originated and Catholicism has been based for most of its history, has become one of the world’s most secular regions. Although the vast majority of adults say they were baptized, today many do not describe themselves as Christians. Some say they gradually drifted away from religion, stopped believing in religious teachings, or were alienated by scandals or church positions on social issues, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey of religious beliefs and practices in Western Europe.
Yet most adults surveyed still do consider themselves Christians, even if they seldom go to church. The survey shows that non-practicing Christians (defined, for the purposes of this report, as people who identify as Christians, but attend church services no more than a few times per year) make up the biggest share of the population across the region. In every country except Italy, they are more numerous than church-attending Christians (those who go to religious services at least once a month). Non-practicing Christians also outnumber the religiously unaffiliated population (people who identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” sometimes called the “nones”) in most of the countries surveyed.
The Pew Research Center study – which involved more than 24,000 telephone interviews with randomly selected adults, including nearly 12,000 non-practicing Christians – finds that Christian identity remains a meaningful marker in Western Europe, even among those who seldom go to church. It is not just a “nominal” identity devoid of practical importance. On the contrary, the religious, political and cultural views of non-practicing Christians often differ from those of church-attending Christians and religiously unaffiliated adults.
Indeed, Christian identity in Western Europe is associated with higher levels of negative sentiment toward immigrants and religious minorities. On balance, self-identified Christians – whether they attend church or not – are more likely than religiously unaffiliated people to express negative views of immigrants, as well as of Muslims and Jews.
For example, in the UK, 45% of church-attending Christians say Islam is fundamentally incompatible with British values and culture, as do roughly the same share of non-practicing Christians (47%). But among religiously unaffiliated adults, fewer (30%) say Islam is fundamentally incompatible with their country’s values. There is a similar pattern across the region on whether there should be restrictions on Muslim women’s dress in public, with Christians more likely than “nones” to say Muslim women should not be allowed to wear any religious clothing in public.
Churchgoing Christians, non-practicing Christians and religiously unaffiliated people also differ in their attitudes on nationalism. Non-practicing Christians are less likely than church-attending Christians to express nationalist views. Still, they are more likely than “nones” to say that their culture is superior to others and that it is necessary to have the country’s ancestry to share the national identity (e.g., one must have Spanish family background to be truly Spanish).
For instance, in France, nearly three-quarters of church-attending Christians (72%) say it is important to have French ancestry to be “truly French.” Among non-practicing Christians, 52% take this position, but this is still higher than the 43% of religiously unaffiliated French adults who say having French family background is important in order to be truly French.
The survey, which was conducted following a surge of immigration to Europe from Muslim-majority countries, asked many other questions about national identity, religious pluralism and immigration.
Most Western Europeans say they are willing to accept Muslims and Jews in their neighborhoods and in their families, and most reject negative statements about these groups. And, on balance, more respondents say immigrants are honest and hardworking than say the opposite.
But a clear and consistent pattern emerges: Both church-attending and non-practicing Christians are more likely than religiously unaffiliated adults in Western Europe to voice anti-immigrant, anti-minority and nationalist views.
There also are other factors beyond religious identity that are closely connected with these positions. For example, higher education and personally knowing someone who is Muslim tend to go hand in hand with more openness to immigration and religious minorities. And identifying with the political right is strongly linked to anti-immigration stances. Still, even after using statistical techniques to control for these factors (and several others, including age and gender) Western Europeans who identify as Christian are more likely than those who have no religious affiliation to express negative feelings about immigrants and religious minorities.
Other key ways in which non-practicing Christians, churchgoing Christians and religiously unaffiliated adults in the region differ include:
• Although many non-practicing Christians say they do not believe in God “as described in the Bible,” they do tend to believe in some other higher power or spiritual force. By contrast, most church-attending Christians say they believe in the biblical depiction of God. And a clear majority of religiously unaffiliated adults do not believe in any type of higher power or spiritual force in the universe.
• Non-practicing Christians tend to express more positive than negative views toward churches and religious organizations, saying they serve society by helping the poor and bringing communities together. Their attitudes toward religious institutions are not quite as favorable as those of church-attending Christians, but they are more likely than religiously unaffiliated Europeans to say churches and other religious organizations contribute positively to society.
• The vast majority of non-practicing Christians, like the vast majority of the unaffiliated in Western Europe, favor legal abortion and same-sex marriage. Church-attending Christians are more conservative on these issues, though even among churchgoing Christians, there is substantial support – and in several countries, majority support – for legal abortion and same-sex marriage.
• Nearly all churchgoing Christians who are parents or guardians of minor children (those under 18) say they are raising those children in the Christian faith. Among non-practicing Christians, somewhat fewer – though still the overwhelming majority – say they are bringing up their children as Christians. By contrast, religiously unaffiliated parents generally are raising their children with no religion.
These are among the key findings of the new Pew Research Center survey. The study, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is part of a larger effort by Pew Research Center to understand religious change and its impact on societies around the world.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with the study’s lead authors, Associate Director of Research Neha Sahgal and Director of Religion Research Alan Cooperman, please contact Anna Schiller at (+1) 202-419-4372 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take policy positions. The Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder. Subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters or follow us on ourFact Tank blog.
Theme: The Ethnic and Religious Future of Europe
Available in open access at: https://journal.fi/scripta
The current issue consists of articles based on presentations given at the conference with the same name arranged in Turku/Åbo, Finland in June, 2017.
Scripta is published by the Donner Institute in Åbo, Finland. Its purpose is to publish current research on religion and culture and to offer a platform for scholarly co-operation and debate within the field. The articles have been selected on the basis of peer-review.
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Table of Content (Vol. 28)
RUTH ILLMAN, PETER NYNÄS, TUOMAS MARTIKAINEN
CONRAD HACKETT, MICHAEL LIPKA
DIDEM DOGANYILMAZ DUMAN
JOANNA KROTOFIL, DOMINIKA MOTAK
JOSE NAVARRO, VEGARD SKIRBEKK
“Does European Islam Think?” By Mohammed Hashas
Special issue of Sociology of Islam
On the sad news of the passing of Saba Mahmood, the editorial board of the journal Sociology of Islam has decided to organize a special issue to honor the work and legacy of our distinguished colleague for the study of global politics and religion.
Saba Mahmood’s anthropological work shifted debates on secularism and religion, gender and politics, the rights of religious minorities, and the impact of colonialism in the Middle East. Her conceptual engagement with these pertinent social and political issues, however, has opened up broader questions about the politics of religious difference in a secular age beyond the Middle East and Muslim majority countries. This special issue of Sociology of Islam intends to bring to the fore the scope of these contributions in order to assess the cross-disciplinary and trans–regional magnitude of her work. The editorial board calls for papers on the following and related subjects in the work of Saba Mahmood:
– Agency and submission;
– Feminist Theory;
– Law and the State;
– Religious freedom;
– Religious difference;
– Subject formation;
– The minority condition.
If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please send a 500-word abstract to Sultan Doughan (email@example.com) and Jean-Michel Landry (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 30 April 2018. We acknowledge receipt of all emails and will reply to all. If you do not receive a reply, please resend your abstract. Please include the following in your email:
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For the EASA2018 conference: Staying, Moving, Settling (Stockholm August 14-17) we will convene a panel entitled
The Impact of Law on Transnational Families’ Staying, Moving and Settling.
Law shapes people’s decisions to stay, move, or settle. Institutions interpret international treaties and domestic legislation producing dynamic categories of deserving and undeserving migrants. Transnational families use, avoid or subvert this law to facilitate migration and maintain kinship.
To propose a paper please use the EASA conference website: https://nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2018/conferencesuite.php/panels/6592
Deadline for paper proposals is April 9
Law and routine legal practice fundamentally shape people’s attitudes towards staying in a country, their choices about moving overseas, and their options for settling abroad.
Individual migrants’ interactions with bureaucrats, lawyers, advocacy organizations, and judges produce dynamic categories of deserving and undeserving migrants. The resulting legal statuses create, reunite or break transnational families, reconfiguring kin relations across borders.
This panel will bring together empirical research on the impact that family, citizenship and immigration, criminal, and human rights and refugee law has on family ties within differently positioned transnational families. Research sites might include CSOs, lawyers, government bureaucracies and families in any transnational context. We are interested in research focusing on either privileged or disadvantaged transnational family members; intersectional analyses of the legal production of categories of deserving and undeserving migrant kin; and critical enquiries into the concept of the transnational family.
Papers could discuss:
- How migrants’ sources and levels of legal knowledge shape their use, avoidance or subversion of the law;
- The “legal work” required to maintain family ties across borders;
- The impact of international human rights law (eg. the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child) in lived experiences of attempting to reunite and settle;
- The role of law breaking in sustaining the transnational family;
- When law allowing or preventing migration contributes to power relations within transnational families;
- The successes and failures of lobbying towards changing legal categorisations relevant to transnational families;
- How transnational families’ experiences reflect, or do not, reflect political and public discourse about them.
· Jessica Carlisle (Newman University)
· Iris Sportel (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Shanghai University David Musto Center for Drug Policy Studies would like to invite scholars who are interested in collaboration and students who would like to apply for PhD. or MA program at Shanghai University.
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Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada has been selected to nominate a prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration(https://www.ryerson.ca/research/resources/funding/cerc/) with a one-time investment of $10 million in funding over seven years. We are currently in the active search for a global research leader to nominate for this Chair position.
I would be happy to address any questions you may have on the initiative and our search. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for interest and assistance.
Dayle Ann Levine
Manager, Institutional Projects
Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation
Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University
Responding to one of the most pressing global issues our generation faces, we are seeking a visionary research leader for the Chair in Migration and Integration to head an internationally recognized research program. The global movement of people – whether it be permanent or temporary, within a country or cross-border, forced or voluntary – is increasingly shaping the political, economic and social processes of the 21st century. Ryerson is well positioned to support the program of a talented researcher who will make important contributions to this ongoing conversation and create solutions that will have a positive impact on the lives of migrants in Canada and abroad.
One of the most significant research awards in Canada and internationally, the CERC program supports and builds the global reputation of Canadian universities and leaders in research and innovation and funds top-tier, world-renowned international researchers and their team to build a robust research program addressing significant challenges.
Ryerson’s Centre for Immigration and Settlement (https://www.ryerson.ca/rcis/) is a leader in immigration studies, exploring migration, integration, as well as refugee and diaspora studies, and has a stellar track-record of creating knowledge that impacts policy and practices. The Chair will be particularly relevant in Ryerson, with its ethnically diverse faculty and student population, and based in Toronto, where immigrants make up more than half the population.
This is an exciting time to be in Canada, in Toronto, and at Ryerson University. Ryerson Universityis on a transformative path as Canada’s leading comprehensive innovation university. Located in the heart of Toronto, one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, culturally and linguistically diverse urban centres, Ryerson’s high quality programs and scholarly, research and creative activities extend beyond the walls of the University. Longstanding partnerships with community, industry, government, and professional practice drive research and innovation that respond to real-world problems.
I thought this may be of some interest to some of you:
This piece Why Am I Still Muslim? by Mohammed Hashas, is available open access at: https://www.criticalmuslim.io/why-am-i-still-muslim/#.WnMbW_woJQI.twitter