Europe Sells Off Churches, Raising Questions about its Religious Future

According to a Wall Street Journal report Friday, hundreds of churches are being closed across Western Europe, “threatened by plunging membership,” and now pose a question for communities regarding the fate of the “now-empty buildings.”

Europe, the article asserts, “is becoming relentlessly secular,” and the closing of its churches “reflects the rapid weakening of the faith in Europe, a phenomenon that is painful to both worshipers and others who see religion as a unifying factor in a disparate society.”

While Christianity languishes, Islam has grown steadily, mostly as a result of immigration from Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East, but also because of a higher birthrate vis-à-vis the rest of the population.

In the 20 years from 1990 to 2010, the Muslim population in Europe grew from 29.6 million to 44.1 million and is projected to exceed 58 million by 2030. Muslims in 2011 made up some 6% of Europe’s total population, up from only 4.1% in 1990.