Well, I have nothing to add to this:
There was a time when Europe would justly refer to itself as “Christendom”. Europeans built the continent’s loveliest edifices to accommodate their acts of worship. They quarrelled bitterly over the distinction between transubstantiation and consubstantiation. As pilgrims, missionaries and conquistadors, they sailed to the four corners of the earth, intent on converting the heathen to the true faith. Now it is we who are the heathens.
According to the Gallup Millennium Survey of Religious Attitudes, barely 20 per cent of West Europeans attend church services at least once a week, compared with 47 per cent of North Americans and 82 per cent of West Africans. Less than half of western Europeans say God is a “very important” part of their lives, as against 83 per cent of Americans and virtually all West Africans. And fully 15 per cent of western Europeans deny that there is any kind of “spirit, God or life force” – seven times the American figure and 15 times the West African.
The exceptionally low level of British religiosity was perhaps the most striking revelation of a recent ICM poll. One in five Britons claims to “attend an organised religious service regularly”, less than half the American figure. Little more than a quarter of us say that we pray regularly, compared with two thirds of Americans and 95 per cent of Nigerians. And barely one in 10 of us would be willing to die for our God or our beliefs, compared with 71 per cent of Americans…
Why have the British lost their historic faith? Like so many difficult questions, this seems at first sight to have an easy answer. But before you blame it on “The Sixties” – the Beatles, the Pill and the mini-skirt – remember that the United States had all these earthly delights too, without ceasing to be a Christian country. To be frank, I have no idea what the answer is. But I do know that it matters.
Chesterton feared that, if Christianity declined, “superstition” would “drown all your old rationalism and scepticism”. When educated friends tell me that they have invited a shaman to investigate their new house for bad ju-ju, I see what Chesterton meant. Yet it is not the spread of such mumbo-jumbo that concerns me half so much as the moral vacuum our dechristianisation has created. I do not deny that sermons are sometimes dull and that British congregations often sing out of tune. But, if nothing else, a weekly dose of Christian doctrine will help to provide an ethical framework for your life. And I certainly do not know where else you are going to get one.
Most European countries either had de jure state churches, like England, or de facto ones, like Catholic Italy. One consequence of that is the lack of portability of faith: in America, when the Episcopalians and Congregationalists go all post-Christian and relativist, people find another church; in Britain, when Christians give up on the Church of England, they tend to give up on religion altogether.
So read the whole thing.