Is Europe Christian?
Are Europe’s ‘Christian values’ under threat? Can religion be a pillar of identity and culture? What will be the fate of Christianity in Europe?
Translated by Cynthia Schoch
In this short but bracing book, Olivier Roy traces the Church’s long battle against a tide of secularization in Europe. Since the Enlightenment, religion has been losing ground as the source of moral norms. But while the question of truth was contested, Christian values continued to define law and social life in even the most secular and anti-clerical countries—until the 1960s. Ever since, the Church has been swept into a new war of values, reduced to struggling over abortion and same-sex marriage. Mired in scandal, the Church’s authority is crumbling, while populist demands pave the way for the final secularization of religion as part of ‘national culture’.
From one of the most acute observers of our times, Is Europe Christian? represents a persuasive and novel vision of religion’s place today.
Olivier Roy is Professor at the European University Institute in Florence. He is the author of several highly acclaimed books on religion and politics, five of which are published by Hurst.
‘The secularisation of Europe is beyond dispute. … But as Olivier Roy points out in a timely book, it is a process that has taken centuries.’ — Financial Times
‘provocative and sprightly’ — Times Literary Supplement
‘In Is Europe Christian? [Olivier Roy] offers little comfort to those who hope for the revival of Christian Europe. … I commend [his] book, because it raises questions which must be faced.’ — A.N. Wilson, Standpoint Magazine
‘Rivetingly, this unsurpassed authority on the politics of contemporary Islam turns to elucidate the tensions surrounding Christian morality, the scandal of clerical paedophilia, the libertarian individualism that has spread since the 1960s, and caricatural claims to a Christian European identity.’ — Jonathan Benthall, Director Emeritus, Royal Anthropological Institute
‘Roy’s book is both complex and powerful, detailed without ever losing sight of the big picture, and full of telling illustrations. It represents a novel vision of the crisis in secularism brought about by its final absorption of religion in national life.’ — Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford, and author of Muslim Zion
‘For those interested in the deep historical roots of our present political crisis, this book is a must-read. In plain language and with broad strokes, Roy traces the shifting lines of the culture wars that are rattling democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.’ — Philip Gorski, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
‘Another insightful contribution to our understanding of religion in Europe from Olivier Roy. Rich in historical reference and engaging in its approach, Is Europe Christian? brings vital nuance to what is truly a poignant question today.’ — Effie Fokas, Research Associate, London School of Economics Hellenic Observatory, and co-author of Religious America, Secular Europe?