Secularism is one of the bedrocks of European liberal democracy. Across the continent, people take it for granted that governments are separated from religious institutions. Even in countries that maintain an official established religion (such as England or Malta) secularism is essentially followed in practice.
But is all that changing? Is secularism now under threat in parts of Europe? We had a comment sent in from Jon on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, arguing that immigration is fundamentally changing European society, and is putting secularism under threat.
According to a 2012 Eurobarometer survey, 72% of people living in the EU define themselves as Christian, whereas only 23% think of themselves as atheist or agnostic (and 2% define themselves as Muslim, whilst less than 1% call themselves Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, or Jewish). It’s true that religious minorities are often concentrated in urban areas, and they seem to receive a disproportionate amount of (often negative) attention via the media. But it seems a stretch to argue that immigration is ‘threatening’ European secularism.
Is secularism under threat in Europe? Or has Europe never been more secular? Are fears about the erosion of secularism being overblown? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!