Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christianity Is Becoming a Southern Hemisphere Religion

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As the book, "The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies," the end product of over ten years of historical research, makes clear, it was European Christian missionaries that exported homophobia and repressive sexual mores worldwide.  Now, nominal membership of Christian denominations remains widespread across Europe and North America, Christianity is becoming a Southern Hemisphere religion with the highest concentration of churchgoing being in sub-Sahara Africa.  In Europe, Poland alone remains an anomaly with high church attendance. A piece in The Economist looks at the shift in the center of Christianity.  Here are highlights:

Christmas feels as popular as ever. But what of Christianity itself?

There are 2.4 billion people across the globe who identify as Christian, according to data from the World Christian Database. But in practice, how many of them go to church on a regular basis? To answer that question, The Economist analysed survey data from the European Social Survey and World Values Survey, which together asked 140,000 people across 89 countries about their religious affiliation, attendance and other socio-economic questions. Using this data we then predicted values for the rest of the world based on their similarity to other countries.

Church attendance tends to be low and has been falling across the much of the rich world. Just 70m of Western Europe’s 375m adults attend church at least once a month. Meanwhile, in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, the church appears as strong as ever. There are 277m adherent Christians in sub-Saharan Africa and 250m in Latin America. As Christianity has shifted southwards, that has moved the centre of Christianity to Niamey, the capital of Niger (calculated by taking the Christian-adherence weighted-average latitude and longitude of countries' capital cities). As the crow flies that is 2,433 miles from Bethlehem.
Personally, I find little surprise in these findings.  To flourish, Christianity - especially the fundamentalist varieties - requires an ignorant, uneducated populace.  Africa is the region with the most growth of Christian denominations offers in general the most uneducated populations.  Here in America studies have shown that membership in fundamentalist and evangelical tracts directly with lower levels of education.  

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