CBN.com – (CBN News) - When the Gospel went forth from Jerusalem, one of the places it took root was Europe. And Europe became a center of Christian civilization for more than 1,000 years. But there are signs that Europe's Christian era has come to an end.
A big deal was made of the fact that the first draft of the new European Union Constitution did not include a single mention of God. But most Europeans act as if the Christian God of history no longer exists. Although Europeans say they believe in some type of God, church attendance in most European countries is less than five percent.
There is a new dark continent the land that used to be known as Christian Europe. Today, many of its cathedrals are simply large museum pieces. They are artifacts of an ancient religion, and a dead faith.
Jessica Elgood is an analyst at the British research firm, MORI. She said, "Our polling shows that large proportions of the British public still believe in God concepts of a Christian God. But very few actually practice that faith through an organized religion."
Richard Miniter lives in Brussels and is a correspondent for The London Sunday Times. He said, "When, as an American in Europe, you tell Europeans that you go to church on Sunday, they look at you like a museum piece, something strange."
Miniter also said, "There are more practicing Muslims in France than there are baptized Catholics. Out of a nation of more than 60 million Frenchmen, less than four million are baptized Catholics. A generation ago, that just wouldn't have been so."
Devos said, "In the United States, people would more quickly turn toward, at least Christ, in general, and Christianity, because it's still somewhat part of the culture, in general. Here in Europe, we have gone beyond that point, and people do not expect anything from religion, apart from some very abstract hope that there is something after this life. [They think] for this life, there is no hope to be found in the church."
Baker added, "I've had people tell me, when they come off the plane getting into Belgium, it's as if there are spiritual hands around their throat. They just can't seem to breathe. It's a very heavy, heavy thing, a hopelessness."
A poll conducted in 2002 found that while 61 percent of Americans had hope for the future, only 42 percent of U.K. residents had that hope. On the European continent it was even worse, with only 29 percent of the French saying they have hope for the future, and only 15 percent of Germans.
Miniter said, "The loss of faith, in Europe, is like an unseen black star that still has a tremendous gravitational pull. They don't understand why their culture is failing. They don't understand why divorce rates and suicide rates are so high. They don't understand why so few European women have more than one child, and why on most European streets, you see more dogs than children. This is the impact of the death of real Christian belief in Europe."
Elgood said, "I actually think we don't understand it [American Christianity] at all, and it's one of these gaps between our cultures, that actually leaves us scratching our heads at each other. We don't understand it. It hasn't been a part of our life here for 40 years."
The Mori poll found that 65 percent of Britons named Nelson Mandela, 14 percent picked Prime Minister Tony Blair, 10 percent said 'none of the above', and six percent said Britney Spears. Astonishingly, only one percent named Jesus Christ as an inspirational figure.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is not one of them, but during the Iraq war, when Blair wanted to end a televised address to the nation with the words "God Bless You," his aides talked him out of it.
Devos said, "What I always tell the congregation, our congregation, is that if we want to reach out, it has to go through personal contacts. We cannot go ringing doorbells and going from home to home trying to reach them, because they do not trust us."
Baker said, "[The businessman] was trembling, with tears in his eyes, and he said to me literally face to face Now pastor, if you believe the Bible is God's word, if you believe it's the message of life and hope, give me one reason, today -- give me one reason to go on living. If you can't do it, I'm taking my life right now. I can't take it anymore! Then he says, 'Don't look at me that way. There's nothing wrong with me. It's not just me, it's my wife, it's my children, it's all our friends we have nothing to live for, it's all across my nation!"
Though the church buildings still remain, European secularists assumed that Modernism would do away with religion. But secularism has created a spiritual void, a vacuum in Europe that beckons faith to return.