Marriage is love.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Kristof on Global Christianity

Where Faith Thrives
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF in The New York Times
Published: March 26, 2005

One of the most important trends reshaping the world is the decline of Christianity in Europe and its rise in Africa and other parts of the developing world, including Asia and Latin America....for the first time since it began two millenniums ago, Christianity is no longer "Western" in any very meaningful sense...People in this New Christendom are so zealous about their faith that I worry about the risk of new religious wars. In Africa, Christianity and Islam are competing furiously for converts, and in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and especially Sudan, the competition has sometimes led to violent clashes...The denominations gaining ground tend to be evangelical and especially Pentecostal; it's the churches with the strictest demands, like giving up drinking, that are flourishing...All this is changing the character of global Christianity, making it more socially conservative...Yet conservative Christians in the U.S. should take heed. Christianity is thriving where it faces obstacles, like repression in China or suspicion of evangelicals in parts of Latin America and Africa. In those countries where religion enjoys privileges - Britain, Italy, Ireland, Spain or Iran - that establishment support seems to have stifled faith. That's worth remembering in the debates about school prayers or public displays of the Ten Commandments: faith doesn't need any special leg up. Look at where religion is most vibrant today, talk to those who walk five hours to services, and the obvious conclusion is that what nurtures faith is not special privileges but rather adversity.