Trends

Religion and Europe's Young Adults

5 key findings from a report to Catholic Bishops into the faith of young adults in Europe:

  1. The proportion of young adults (16-29) with no religious affiliation (‘nones’) is as high as 91% in the Czech Republic, 80% in Estonia, and 75% in Sweden. These compare to only 1% in Israel, 17% in Poland, and 25% in Lithuania. In the UK and France, the proportions are 70% and 64% respectively.
     
  2. 70% of Czech young adults – and c. 60% of Spanish, Dutch, British, and Belgian ones – ‘never’ attend religious services. Meanwhile, 80% of Czech young adults and c. 70% of Swedish, Danish, Estonian, Dutch, French and Norwegian ones ‘never’ pray.
     
  3. Catholics make up 82% of Polish, 71% of Lithuanian, 55% of Slovenian, and 54% of Irish 16-29 year-olds. In France, it is 23%; in the UK, 10%.
     
  4. Only 2% of Catholic young adults in Belgium, 3% in Hungary and Austria, 5% in Lithuania, and 6% in Germany say they attend Mass weekly. This contrasts sharply with their peers in Poland (47%), Portugal (27%), the Czech Republic (24%), and Ireland (24%). Weekly Mass attendance is 7% among French, and 17% among British, Catholic young adults.
     
  5. Only 26% of French young adults, and 21% British ones, identify as Christians. Only 7% of young adults in the UK identify as Anglicans, compared to 6% as Muslims. In France, 2% identify as Protestants, and 10% as Muslims.

download the report

Christianity is spreading in South-East Asia

 

From the Economist:

Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is growing more quickly in Asia than most parts of the world, with over 200m adherents in 2015, up from 17m in 1970. The largest congregations are in South Korea and the Philippines, where dazzlingly large mega-churches hold tens of thousands of people. But Christian zeal is also increasing in other parts of the continent, including Indonesia and Malaysia, where proselytising among the Muslim majority is well nigh impossible, but where Buddhists, Confucians and Christians of other denominations, almost all of them ethnically Chinese, are proving receptive.

more >

Portugal — A European mission field

Last year underdogs Portugal stunned the world when it triumphed over hosts France in the Euro 2016 football final.

All over Portugal fans celebrated the unlikely victory which was secured in extra time. Just 25 minutes into the game their their captain, and three times world player of the year, Christiano Ronaldo was stretchered off in tears.

While Portugal basks in its sporting success, all is not well spiritually. Evangelicals make us less than one half of one percent of the Portuguese population. 

Highlights from a new report:

  • There are about 47,000 evangelical believers In Portugal, just 0.4% of the population. The average size of an evangelical church is 49 people.
  • On average each church baptises five people per year. New churches account for 40% of baptisms.
  • Between 2000—2016 the number of evangelical churches fell by 666 (1,630 to 964) despite the planting of 322 new churches.
  • Almost seven in ten evangelical Christians live in three cities: Lisbon (15,300 church members), Porto (6,400) and Setúbal (4,200).
  • Most churches do not have any involvement in cross-cultural missions.

It would be interesting to know what role Brazilians and other Portuguese-speaking immigrants, have in the volatility in the number of churches. I'd also like to know which existing churches are reaching new people and planting churches. There have to be exceptions to the trend.

Meanwhile, Portugal at 0.4% evangelical believers is more of a mission field that China.

The spread of the world's Muslim population

As of 2010, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity.
Although many people, especially in the United States, may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East or North Africa, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pew Research Center analysis.
More Muslims live in India and Pakistan (344 million combined) than in the entire Middle East-North Africa region (317 million).
more >>

 

Despite harassment by police, China’s house-church movement is growing

 The Economist reports,

FOR the past couple of years, China’s tens of millions of Christians, most of whom are Protestants, have been watching events in the coastal province of Zhejiang with anxiety. The authorities there have been waging a relentless campaign to remove the large crosses that adorn the roofs of many churches; hundreds have been taken down, to the horror of their congregations. In January this took a turn for the worse with the arrest of Gu Yuese, the outspoken pastor of the country’s largest church, a colossal edifice in the provincial capital, Hangzhou, that seats 5,000 people…

But it’s not all bad news,

Police in some areas continue to harass and detain members of house churches. But in many places, house churches are flourishing, and often make little if any effort to hide their activities from the government. Officials appear to turn a blind eye. President Xi Jinping is waging a fierce campaign against dissent, rounding up hundreds of civil-rights activists and tightening controls on the media. He appears less keen, however, to take on the country’s fast-growing Christian community, as long as its members do not openly defy the Communist Party.

Some Chinese house churches are becoming mega-churches,

In the meantime, house churches continue to grow. In Beijing, one of the most prominent of them, called Zion Church (pictured), is so big that the house-church label seems wildly inappropriate. When it was founded in 2007 the congregation met in a small office in a commercial building. Since 2013 it has been using an entire floor of it. Some 1,500 people attend services each weekend. 

read on

Could the world be getting better?

Johan Norberg

Johan Norberg

When asked by pollsters if the world is becoming a better place, only a small minority of us will say yes. But  what does the evidence show?

According to Swedish author Johan Norberg, in almost every way human beings today lead more prosperous, safer and longer lives — and we have all the data we need to prove it.

Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labour and infant mortality are falling faster than at any other time in human history. The risk of being caught up in a war, subjected to a dictatorship or of dying in a natural disaster is smaller than ever.

Some examples of the evidence:

Karl Marx thought that capitalism inevitably made the rich richer and the poor poorer. By the time Marx died, however, the average Englishman was three times richer than at the time of his birth 65 years earlier — never before had the population experienced anything like it.

Fast forward to 1981. Then, almost nine in ten Chinese lived in extreme poverty; now just one in ten do. Then, just half of the world’s population had access to safe water. Now, 91 per cent do. On average, that means that 285,000 more people have gained access to safe water every day for the past 25 years.

Global trade has led to an expansion of wealth on a magnitude which is hard to comprehend. During the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, global economic wealth — or GDP per capita — has increased almost as much as it did during the preceding 25,000 years. It’s no coincidence that such growth has occurred alongside a massive expansion of rule by the people for the people. A quarter of a century ago, barely half the world’s countries were democracies. Now, almost two thirds are.

 So why don’t we notice the improvement?

Part of our problem is one of success. As we get richer, our tolerance for global poverty diminishes. So we get angrier about injustices. Charities quite rightly wish to raise funds, so they draw our attention to the plight of the world’s poorest. But since the Cold War ended, extreme poverty has decreased from 37 per cent to 9.6 per cent — in single digits for the first time in history.

read on