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Old 08-27-2011, 10:25 PM
 
Location: The Netherlands
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I have always wondered why Christianity has so much more influence in the former European colonies (USA, South America, etc.) than in Europe itself. Compare for example the UK, where 35% of the population do not believe in God (source) to the US, where only 6% of the population do not believe in God or a higher power (source). Similarly, 18% of the people in Spain are atheist (source) compared to less than 2% in countries like Paraguay, Colombia and Peru (source). The European countries with the least amount of theists are the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic States, the NL, Czech Rep., France, Slovenia and the UK. In all of these countries, less than 40% claim to believe in God.

Why do you think Europe developed in such a different way than North & South America? It seems that in the Americas, Christianity has only become more evangelical and fundamentalist in the last decades whereas in Europe, the influence of religion on society has greatly declined.

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Old 08-28-2011, 11:40 AM
 
Location: New Mexico
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindavG View Post
I have always wondered why Christianity has so much more influence in the former European colonies (USA, South America, etc.) than in Europe itself. Compare for example the UK, where 35% of the population do not believe in God (source) to the US, where only 6% of the population do not believe in God or a higher power (source). Similarly, 18% of the people in Spain are atheist (source) compared to less than 2% in countries like Paraguay, Colombia and Peru (source). The European countries with the least amount of theists are the Scandinavian countries, the Baltic States, the NL, Czech Rep., France, Slovenia and the UK. In all of these countries, less than 40% claim to believe in God.

Why do you think Europe developed in such a different way than North & South America? It seems that in the Americas, Christianity has only become more evangelical and fundamentalist in the last decades whereas in Europe, the influence of religion on society has greatly declined.


Maybe the utter devastation of WWII (which didn't hit N & S America hardly at all) soured many of the survivors on the concept of a merciful diety.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Logan Township, Minnesota
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My own opinion is that in the Americas, especially North America there is so much commercialization of Christianity. ie Christmas, Easter, etc it seems that all American holidays are Christian Holy Days. It gives credibility to the concept that America represent Christianity and is the foremost defender of Christianity.

This makes it unAmerican to not be Christian. There is a stigma attached being non-Christian in the Americas. The result being the majority claim to be Christian (Even some who do not practice it) and oppose anything else as being unAmerican.
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:12 PM
 
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I do first see the constitution/separation of Church and state ensuring that their was not one national church and so you had a dozen sects all competing.

I also agree that being a Christian is regarded as almost the same as being a patriotic American.
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Logan Township, Minnesota
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post

I also agree that being a Christian is regarded as almost the same as being a patriotic American.
And the unspoken concept becomes that any non-Christian is not a Patriotic American, even often seen as being anti-American. Strong influence for many to keep their non-Christian Beliefs hidden.

Reflections of "Animal Farm" All Americans are equal, Christian Americans are more equal.
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:21 PM
 
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OP: Guessing but possible factors:

- Europe is more multicultural, closer to the East where other non-abrahamic religions have started, and people are exposed to more different ideas. Pre-WWII Americas have been historically more isolated or exposed to only the chrisitian religion.

- probably communism impacts some E European countries in terms of lack of religion. However this does not explain why Nordic countries are also less religious.

- After WWII, people in Europe traveled quite a bit within the continent and that exposed others to newer ideas. I am not sure people did that much travelling in S America as it is a much bigger continent and lesser # of people are able to travel because the middle class is smaller

- as more immigrants come to N America, things are starting to change here also

_ in the US we somehow have more chest-thumpers - be it the flag, or god. In older times, such religious sentiment was probably harder to stand up against. Probably still is in small southern towns. So other ideas permeate less.

Last edited by calmdude; 08-28-2011 at 02:33 PM..
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:58 PM
 
Location: NC, USA
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Why are Atheism and Agnosticism so much more prevalent in Europe?

Europe has a much longer time frame of dealing with obnoxious religious types. The bit in our constitution about separation of church and state was a reaction to the history the church has in its' dealings with European society. The founding fathers had learned by the mistakes of Europe.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Woodrow LI View Post
And the unspoken concept becomes that any non-Christian is not a Patriotic American, even often seen as being anti-American. Strong influence for many to keep their non-Christian Beliefs hidden.

Reflections of "Animal Farm" All Americans are equal, Christian Americans are more equal.
All equal under God, provided it is the right god. If you ain't under God you ain't American.

George Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in god is important to me.
Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Perhaps to go down as one of the most infamous remarks since Almaric's remark during Pope Innocent IIIrd's Albigensian crusade. According to accounts written decades later, as the attack began, a soldier asked Amalric how they would be able to tell which Beziers townspeople were Catholics and which were Cathars.

Amalric supposedly answered Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius "Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His"

It eventually came to be most commonly paraphrased as “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

It’s questionable whether Almaric actually said anything like those words. But there’s no question that they reflect what happened that day.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/--hXMr-dc2Xs/Ti...jpg?imgmax=800

(unofficial Vietnam patch)

Perhaps you don't need to be a European to be atheist, but it helps.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 08-29-2011 at 05:24 AM..
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:35 AM
 
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Perhaps the question should be phrased another way:

"Why is atheism/agnosticism less prevelant in the United States?"

Several reasons, including:

*Many of those who immigrated to the United States were religious refugees, seeking a place where they could worship freely. This dynamic would favor those who were very religious, whereas those who did not care so much would simply opt to remain and accept the religious dictates of their home country.

*The United States has no established church, and is more of a marketplace of religions competing for followers. Such religions tend to be more responsive to the desires of their followers, as opposed to state-supported churches, who owe their existence not to followers but to the state. Thus, religions are less likely to lose followers in the United States.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:16 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
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Originally Posted by Voyageur View Post
Perhaps the question should be phrased another way:

"Why is atheism/agnosticism less prevelant in the United States?"
No, because I didn't mean to focus exclusively on the US but on former European colonies in general.

Quote:
Several reasons, including:

*Many of those who immigrated to the United States were religious refugees, seeking a place where they could worship freely. This dynamic would favor those who were very religious, whereas those who did not care so much would simply opt to remain and accept the religious dictates of their home country.
That might be part of the reason but let's not forget the fact that even in the 18th and 19th century, there were certain European countries that did allow personal religious freedom (to an extent). These countries never had a mass exodus of highly religious people to the US and yet they are among the most atheist countries in the world right now. The Netherlands comes to mind.

Also, remember that until the last century, religion still played an important role in most European countries. The decline of Christianity didn't really start until the 1950s. On the other hand, it seems that the US has only become more evangelical and fundamentalist in the past century. In fact, the foundation of the modern Fundamentalist movement can be traced back to as 'recent' as 1915, when "The Fundamentals" were published. Evangelicalism is also on the rise in South America.

My question is, how come Europe and its former colonies have developed in such different directions?

Quote:
*The United States has no established church, and is more of a marketplace of religions competing for followers. Such religions tend to be more responsive to the desires of their followers, as opposed to state-supported churches, who owe their existence not to followers but to the state. Thus, religions are less likely to lose followers in the United States.
Many European countries do not have state-supported churches and those that do, co-exist with churches of other denominations. I do agree that there seems to be more diversity in terms of large Christian denominations in the US. In Europe, it's mostly Catholic, Protestant (all lumped together) or Orthodox. But still, these are all Christians and the essence of their beliefs is the same. When you do not believe in God period, you will not identify with any Christian denomination. In other words, I don't think more religious diversity would turn an atheist into a Christian and vice versa.
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