Vista 16: Losing my religion: Spirituality and Religion in Europe
Hardly a month goes by without some media report about the slow demise of Christianity in Europe. Certainly many sociologists continue to hold to the secularization thesis which predicts the inevitable decline of religion in modern society.
Yet as Goodhew’s collection of studies (2012) has shown, the picture (in Britain at least) is at certainly more complex than that. Yes, there are many signs of decline, but also of growth. Secularization and desecularization are occurring simultaneously. This is born out by a recent study on church growth in the Church of England by David Voas
Certainly, surveys like the European Values Study show that many (but not all) countries show a decline in organized religion. However, though fewer consider themselves to be ‘religious’ than previous generations, many more describe themselves as ‘spiritual’. So is spirituality replacing religion in Europe?
Our lead article by the Australian sociologist Philip Hughes goes some way to answering that question through analysis of data from the International Social Survey Programme. Jim Memory follows that up by a detailed analysis ofhis research into the spirituality of European students. And Darrell Jackson wrestles with the thorny issue of definitions as well as setting out the breadth of research that is taking place into spirituality in Europe today.
This issue concludes with a case study by Jo Appleton looking at some of the challenges of discipleship in a context where people are attracted by ‘spirituality’ but have little understanding of following Christ.Uncategorized