How important is Christianity to European identity? In the Middle Ages, the continent was commonly labelled “Christendom” on maps produced in Europe. Even then, however, there were Muslims in Iberia, Catholics in the West, Orthodox Christians in the East, Jews living across Europe, and many in Northern Europe who had not yet converted (not to mention the Cathars and other movements considered heretical by the Church). The Protestant reformation complicated the picture even further, making it impossible to describe the continent as a united Christendom. Instead, maps started to refer to “Europe” as a geographic (rather than religious) entity.
Today, Christianity is shifting southwards. In 1910, 66% of Christians lived in Europe. In 2050, only 15% will be living in Europe, while 60% will live in Africa and Latin-America. Also, Europe today is even more diverse in terms of creeds and beliefs than ever before (and there is also much less stigma attached to atheism and agnosticism than there was in the past). Is it more accurate to say that Europe is ‘United in Diversity’?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Printo on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, arguing that Christianity is the basis of European civilisation. Is he right? Or are secular values (and the melting pot of different faiths and beliefs across European history) also central?
Is Europe a Christian continent? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
No, it’s not. We are a multi-cultural continent and we have always been, really. I think it’s very important that we are not a ‘Christian’ continent, we are a continent where a lot of different people with diverse beliefs and ideas live.
Nigel Farage (EFDD), Member of the European Parliament (NOTE: We contacted EFDD MEPs for comment but they did not reply in time for publication. The below is from UKIP’s Christian manifesto written by Nigel Farage):
Sadly, I think UKIP is the only major political party left in Britain that still cherishes our Judeo-Christian heritage… I believe other parties have deliberately marginalised our nation’s faith, whereas we take Christian values and traditions into consideration when making policies.
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / Flickr – Timothy Neesam
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