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10. Religious Vitality and Church Attendance in Europe

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Chapter Summary

Recent statistics for the Atlas of European Values show that Europe as a continent is secular, but religious. Many people do not feel affiliated with a church, but consider themselves to be religious. Church attendance is related to the social significance of religion. If people no longer share their beliefs by going to church, religious beliefs are likely to become more diverse. Church attendance rates considered an indicator of the religious vitality that is present within societies. This chapter explains cross country differences in church attendance rates by taking into account with the most important theoretical explanations (secularization paradigm and religious market theory), and test them simultaneously. According to the religious market theory, variation in religious supply explains the levels of religious vitality in different countries and in different time periods. According to the secularization theory, a decline in religious commitment and participation is due to the process of modernization.

Keywords: church attendance; Europe; religious market theory; religious vitality; secularization paradigm



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