Religion in the European Union: Wikis

  
  

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The primary religion in the European Union is Christianity, although many other religions are practiced as well. The European Union is officially secular, though some member states have state churches: these are Malta (Roman Catholic); Greece (Eastern Orthodox); Denmark, (Lutheran) and parts of the United Kingdom - England (Anglican) and Scotland (Presbyterian). In recent times, there has been an increase in secularisation in most countries in EU resulting in fewer adherents and decreased church attendance, while a few have not experienced such developments.

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Religions

Predominant religious heritages in Europe      Roman Catholicism      Orthodox Christianity      Protestantism      Sunni Islam      Shia Islam      Judaism      Buddhism

The most common religious belief in the EU is Christianity. European Christianity can be divided into Roman Catholicism, a wide range of Protestant churches (especially in northern Europe) and Eastern Orthodoxy (in south eastern Europe).[1]

Judaism has had a long, and frequently dark, history in Europe. Prior to the Holocaust, the area of the European Union had a Jewish population of 5,375,000; it was largely exterminated in German Nazi death camps. In 2002 the EU had a Jewish population of barely over a million, including about 519,000 in France and about 273,500 in the United Kingdom (compare with about 5 million Jews living in Israel.[2]). In view of the history of persecution of Jews in Europe, antisemitism remains a matter of attention within the EU.[3]

Immigration has introduced other religions into European countries, most notably Islam. It was estimated that the Union's Muslim population in 2009 was 13 million people.[4] The country with the largest percentage of Muslims in Western Europe is France with 8%-10%(6-7 million) followed by Germany (4.5 million) and UK (2.5 million). Aside from Turkey, the only possible future member to have a majority of Muslims is Albania, although other Balkan states like Bosnia, Kosovo and others also have sizeable Muslim populations.[5]

A Muslim Imam at Speakers' Corner in London

Suspicions of Muslim populations have risen in some Western European countries such as the UK, where 38% see Muslims as a threat to national security. In France, on the other hand, only 21% see Muslims as a threat to their society and 52% say the Muslim community has been unfairly criticised. In both countries however less than a quarter approved of faith schools and a religious presence in schools and workplaces, while in Italy this is not considered to be a problem.[6][7] In the Netherlands, there is a slim majority stating they have an unfavourable view of Muslims. Islamaphobia, including violent attacks upon Muslims, is seen to be rising in the EU, with a series of clashes and incidents connected to the religion occurring in recent years. This includes: the participation of European countries in the Iraq War, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy with continuing attempts to kill the cartoonist and numerous terrorist attacks in the UK such as the 7 July 2005 London bombings.[8] In response to muslism extremism, some figures, such as Justice Freedom & Security Commissioner Franco Frattini, have suggested creating a "European Islam" - a branch of the Islamic faith that is compatible with European values.[8]

Due to the rise of other religions, and some intolerance towards them, the Commission now regularly meets with different religious leaders.[9] In November 2005, a delegation from the European Humanist Federation was invited to a meeting by President Barroso. This was the first time a humanist group had been consulted in this manner by the Commission. President Romano Prodi has refused such meetings, despite meeting various religious leaders, causing some resentment by humanists.[10]

Other religions present in the EU territories are Buddhism, Hinduism and Neopaganism.[11] Neopaganism is a movement that revives and reinvents (in its reconstructionistic approach) the ancient pagan spiritualities of the European peoples.[12] Neopagan religions are legally recognised by the governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Spain.

Church and State

The EU is a secular body, i.e., there is a separation of church and state. There are no formal ties to any religion and no mention of religion in any current or proposed treaty.[13] Discussion over the draft texts of the European Constitution and later the Treaty of Lisbon have included proposals to mention Christianity and/or God in the preamble of the text. This call has been supported by Christian religious leaders, most notably the Pope.[14] However explicit inclusion of a link to religion faced opposition from secularists and the final Constitution referred to Europe's "Religious and Humanist inheritance". A second attempt to include Christianity in the treaty was undertaken in 2007 with the drafting of the Treaty of Lisbon. Angela Merkel promised the Pope that she would use her influence during Germany's presidency to try to include a reference to Christianity and God in this replacement for the constitution. This has provoked opposition, not least in the German press,[15] and as this inclusion may have caused problems in reaching a final agreement, this attempt was given up.[16] Of the Union's 27 states, only five have an official state religion, these being Cyprus (Cypriot Orthodox Church), Denmark (Danish National Church), Greece (Church of Greece), Malta (Roman Catholic Church) and England and Scotland in the UK (Church of England and Church of Scotland). Some other churches have a close relationship with the state.[17] Until 2000, the Church of Sweden was the state church of Sweden, since losing its priviliged position, membership dropped significantly from 82.9 % of the Swedes in 2000 to 72.9 % in 2008 - a drop of 10% in just 8 years. [18 ]

In the secularising EU, The Vatican has been vocal against a perceived "militant atheism". It based this on a number of events, for example; the rejection of religious references in the Constitution and Treaty of Lisbon, the rejection by Parliament of Rocco Buttiglione as Justice Commissioner in 2004,[14] while at the same time Parliament approved Peter Mandelson (who is gay[19]) as Trade Commissioner, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain.[14] The European Parliament has also been calling for same-sex marriages to be recognised across the EU.[20] Meanwhile, states such as Latvia and Poland [21] have rejected legislation designed to stop discrimination against homosexuals. This has been stated to be on religious grounds, with homosexual behaviour described as "unnatural", and the Catholic Church influencing public opinion. The difference of opinion between these countries and Brussels has been damaging relations.[17][22]

Secularisation

There is increasing atheism or agnosticism among the general population in Europe, with falling church attendance and membership in many countries.[23][24] In 2005, a survey of the EU's members at that time found that among EU citizens, 52% believe in a god, 27% in some sort of spirit or life force and 18% had no form of belief. The countries where the fewest people reported a religious belief were the Czech Republic (19%) and Estonia (16%).[25] In such countries, even those who have a faith can be disdainful of organized religion.[26] The most religious societies are those in Malta with 95% (predominantly Roman Catholic), and Cyprus and Romania both with about 90% of their citizens believing in a god. Across the EU, belief was higher among women, increased with age, those with strict upbringing, those with the lowest levels of formal education, those leaning towards right-wing politics, and those reflecting more upon philosophical and ethical issues.[25]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe      Same-sex marriage      Other type of partnership      Unregistered cohabitation      Issue under political consideration      Unrecognized      Constitution limits marriage to man–woman
  

The secular lifestyle is gaining ground in the Europe Union especially with respect to marriage. Whereas the different religions advocate/ mandate the opposite sex marriage as the only "natural" one and typically frown on cohabition, the general population in Europe seems to disagree more an more.

In 2008, the highest ever number of births outside marriage were recorded in the European Union , just short of 37%, up 13 % compared to the year 1995 with first-births out of wedlock and cohabition figures being even higher. Five EU countries recorded a majority of births outside marriage, these are Estland (59.1%), Slovenia (54,1%), Sweden(54,6%), France (51,3%), and Bulgaria (51,1%), these countries tend to be less religious ones (less than half of the population believing in god whereas half of the european population believes in god. [27]. More strikingly as af January 2010, with Austria approving same sex civil unions as per 1 Jan. 2010 and the Portugese parliament approving same sex marriage as of 8 Jan 2010, more than half of the EU countries allow either same sex marriage of same sex civil unions. The largest religious group in Europe, the roman catholic church has been strongly opposed to these laws threatening to excommunicate politicians voting in favor of these laws.

Religiosity

Most EU countries have experienced a decline in church attendance, as well as a decline in the number of people professing a belief in a God. The Eurobarometer Poll 2005 found that, on average, 52% of the citizens of EU member states state that they believe in a God, 27% believe there is some sort of spirit or life Force while 18% do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God or Life Force. 3% declined to answer. According to a recent study (Dogan, Mattei, Religious Beliefs in Europe: Factors of Accelerated Decline), 47% of Frenchmen declared themselves as agnostic in 2003. The situation of religion varies between countries in European Union. A decrease in religiousness and church attendance in western Europe (especially the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Finland , Norway, Sweden Denmark, Spain, and the Czech Republic) has been noted and called "Post-Christian Europe". Several of these countries have recently allowed same sex marriage despite massive resistance from the Catholic Church and other religious groups. Contrary to it, there is an increase in a few Eastern European countries, especially in Greeceand Romania (2% in 1 year) but in the most populous eastern Europe country and EU member Poland there has been a sharp reduction in church attendance since 2005.

Belief in a God per country (Eurobarometer 2005)
Belief in a spirit or life force per country (Eurobarometer 2005)
No Belief in a spirit, God or life force per country (Eurobarometer 2005)

The following is a list of European countries ranked by religiosity, based on belief in a God, according to the Eurobarometer Poll 2005. The 2005 Eurobarometer Poll asked whether the person believed "there is a God", believed "there is some sort of spirit of life force", "didn't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".

Eurobarometer Poll 2005
Country Belief in a God Belief in a Spirit
or Life Force
Belief in neither a Spirit,
God or Life Force
Estonia 16% 54% 26%
Czech Republic 19% 50% 30%
Sweden 23% 53% 23%
Denmark 31% 49% 19%
Norway 32% 47% 17%
Netherlands 34% 37% 27%
France 34% 27% 33%
Slovenia 37% 46% 16%
Latvia 37% 49% 10%
United Kingdom 38% 40% 20%
Iceland 38% 48% 11%
Bulgaria 40% 40% 13%
Finland 41% 41% 16%
Belgium 43% 29% 27%
Hungary 44% 31% 19%
Luxembourg 44% 28% 22%
Germany
*West Germany
*East Germany
47%
*54%
*19%
25%
*26%
*20%
25%
*16%
*57%
Switzerland 48% 39% 9%
Lithuania 49% 36% 12%
Austria 54% 34% 8%
Spain 59% 21% 18%
Slovakia 61% 26% 11%
Croatia 67% 25% 7%
Ireland 73% 22% 4%
Italy 74% 16% 6%
Poland 80% 15% 1%
Portugal 81% 12% 6%
Greece 81% 16% 3%
Cyprus 90% 7% 2%
Romania 90% 8% 1%
Turkey 95% 2% 1%
Malta 95% 3% 1%

See also

References

  1. ^ "Chrisianity". Encyclopaedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9360716. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  2. ^ Jewish population figures may be unreliable. These estimates are taken from: Sergio DellaPergola. "World Jewish Population (2002)". American Jewish Year Book. The Jewish Agency for Israel. http://www.jafi.org.il/education/100/concepts/demography/demjpop.html. Retrieved 2007-05-03.  
  3. ^ EUMC (December 2006). "Anti-Semitism Summary overview of the situation in the European Union" (PDF). EUMC. http://fra.europa.eu/fra/material/pub/AS/Antisemitism_Overview_December_2006_en.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-04.  
  4. ^ Miller, Tracy, ed (October 2009) (PDF). Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. pp. 31–32. http://pewforum.org/newassets/images/reports/Muslimpopulation/Muslimpopulation.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-11.  
  5. ^ "Muslims in Europe: Country guide". BBC News. 2005-12-23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4385768.stm. Retrieved 2007-08-26.  
  6. ^ Kuper, Simon; Daniel Dombey (2007-08-19). "Religious fault line divides Europeans". Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d3600680-4e73-11dc-85e7-0000779fd2ac.html. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  7. ^ Kuper, Simon; Daniel Dombey (2007-08-19). "Britons 'more suspicious' of Muslims". Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/114ea332-4e8a-11dc-85e7-0000779fd2ac.html. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  8. ^ a b "Muslims in the European Union". EU FRA. 2006. http://fra.europa.eu/fra/material/pub/muslim/Manifestations_EN.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-26.  
  9. ^ "José Manuel Barroso meets European religious leaders". Europa (web portal). 2005-07-12. http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/904&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  10. ^ "European Humanists Meet EU President". International Humanist and Ethical Union. 2006-03-13. http://www.iheu.org/node/1972. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  11. ^ BBC section on Neopaganism
  12. ^ Strmiska, Michael F. (2005). Modern Paganism in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
  13. ^ "Consolidated Treaties on European Union and establishing the European Community". Eur-Lex. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2006:321E:0001:0331:EN:pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  14. ^ a b c "Vatican resists European secularism". BBC News. 2005-02-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4253937.stm. Retrieved 2007-07-14.  
  15. ^ "European press review: God and the EU Constitution". BBC News/Süddeutsche Zeitung. 2006-09-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5337166.stm. Retrieved 2007-07-14.  
  16. ^ Rettman, Andrew (2006-09-12). [euobserver.com/15/24066 "Merkel gives up on God in EU treaty"]. EU Observer. euobserver.com/15/24066. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  17. ^ a b Ferrari, Silvio. "Silvio Ferrari on “Church and State in Europe”". Concordat Watch. http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showtopic.php?org_id=871&kb_header_id=1551. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  18. ^ "Medlemmar 1972-2008, tabell och diagram" (in Swedish) (XLS, 22.5 KiB). Svenska kyrkan. http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/default.aspx?id=100243&did=246080.  
  19. ^ Shoffman, Marc (2006-06-03). "Ian McKellen ranked most influential gay man". Pink News. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-1863.html. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  20. ^ Belien, Paul (2006-01-22). "European Parliament Backs Gay Marriage". The Brussels Journal. http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/696. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  21. ^ "Poland urged to drop new law banning 'homosexual propaganda' in schools". European Parliament. 2007-04-23. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/017-5745-113-04-17-902-20070420IPR05691-23-04-2007-2007-false/default_en.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-14.  
  22. ^ Sheeter, Laura (2006-05-16). "Latvia defies EU over gay rights". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5084832.stm. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  
  23. ^ Cline, Austin (2005-02-28). "Secularism in Europe". About.com. http://atheism.about.com/b/a/149439.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  24. ^ Zuckerman, Phil (2005). "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns". Cambridge University Press. http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/atheism.html. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  25. ^ a b "Eurobarometer 225: Social values, Science & Technology" (PDF). Eurostat. 2005. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  26. ^ Cline, Austin (2006-02-25). "Czech Republic: Most Atheist Country in Europe?". About.com. http://atheism.about.com/b/a/009710.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-21.  
  27. ^ Evolution on the family in Europe page 42 out of 82







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