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Europe is an ethnically diverse continent with around 700 million inhabitants. It is mostly economically wealthy, containing the large and influential European Union. It has traditionally been the home of Christianity being the centres of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. There is widespread freedom of religion, however Europe is rapidly become predominantly secular with atheism as the major belief system.
Europe can be divided reasonably neatly into
- Northern and Western Europe
- Southern Europe
- Eastern Europe
Christianity spread through the Roman Empire with the early missionary efforts of the church, and soon after to the invading Germanic tribes.
After Muslim invasion of Northern Africa and the Middle East, Europe, including Byzantium in Turkey, was the only major strong-hold of Christianity. Islam eventually spread into Turkey and Spain through military conquest.
Missionary activity spread Christianity into northern Eastern Europe from the eight century onwards.
Europe was the home of the Reformation. Precursors to this were the renaissance, increased literacy and the printing press. Because of the Reformation, The Roman Catholic Church was split with the formation of the the Protestant churches, such as the Lutheran Church.
In the twentieth century, Europe saw two major wars. In World War II, millions of Jews were murdered. Following the wars, especially World War II, communist dictatorships were set up in much of Eastern Europe, and these ruthless persecuted Christians. Since the collapse of these communist governments, there has been a resurgence in the traditional churches of Eastern Europe.
In the last few centuries, especially in the last generation, with increasing scientific awareness and affluence in Western Europe, nominal Christianity and atheism have become very prominent. Western Europe is more secular than anywhere else in the world, and many people are Christians in name only.
Europe is ethnically diverse. Eastern Europe consists predominantly of Slavic people; Northern and Western Europe of Germanic people; and Southern Europe of Latin (Romance) people.
In the last century there has been a decline in the church in Europe. About 70% of the population consider themselves Christian. About 25% of people consider themselves non-religious. Minority religions are growing, mostly through immigration, the main one being Islam (5% of the population).
Southern Europe is mostly Roman Catholic.
Eastern Europe is mostly Eastern Orthodox.
- Open Directory: Religion and Spirituality: Christianity: Churches: Europe
- Acts Christian directory of churches
- World Council of Churches
- YouTube video on Europe