Opinion | Religion not a high priority in Europe

As I sit in the lobby of my hostel, I can see the coverage of the new Pope being shown on the TV.  I’m also reading endless tweets about the Pope, people asking, “Who will it be?” and “I hope it’s so-and-so.”
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been in a Protestant country for the last week-and-a-half (the Netherlands), but I have not seen any great interest in who the new Pope will be.  Nor have I seen any great signs of religious devotion through my travels in Europe.
Europe was, for centuries, the stronghold of Christianity.  Now however, Americans generalize Europeans as godless and faithless.
According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, which polled citizens of all the European Union member states, 51 percent of EU citizens believe there is a God.
That definitely is a drastic difference to the 92 percent of Americans who believe in God, according to a Gallup poll taken in 2011.
Despite this, Europeans still seem to care about religion.  Perhaps it’s because of their culture and history, which is rooted in religion.
I’ve seen more Catholic cathedrals and basilicas in the last month-and-a-half than I will likely ever see again.  They are grand, massive, awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping, and they are all very well kept.
I hate to generalize Europeans, but from my observations thus far, Europeans mostly seem to follow sets of ideals as their “religion,”  one being the idea of “meritocracy.”
If you work hard and you’re good at what you do  good things will come to you, and you’ll deserve what you get.  Europeans value hard workers no matter what they do.
The second ideal is the European religion of football (soccer).  Football here is the religion.  In Barcelona, the matchup between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid was akin to a holy war between good and evil.
A European’s football club is like his or her denomination of the religion of football.  If you ever find yourself in a European bar with rowdy fans cheering, keep silent. You don’t want to say the wrong thing or cheer for the wrong club.
In all, I don’t think 49 percent of Europeans not believing in God makes them a damned group.
People here are just like people in America. There are kind people, caring people, passionate people and loving people. There are also cruel people, harsh people, unforgiving people and all-around jerks.
Human nature is the same everywhere, with slight variances that we call “culture.”


One Comment;

  1. jbressman said:

    Religion seems to peek in certain areas. On my trip, we went to multiple areas that had over 40% of the city was attending church every Sunday. However, some cities had less than 20% practicing, but still have over 40 churches within the city. I find it fascinating that a city with less than 20% practicing can still have over 40 churches.