Christianity was one of the most notable features of everyday life in early Europe. Most people identified as Christians though there were fewer Muslims and Jews present. The Catholic church stood tall with overarching elements of religion and exerted great influence in the social and political realms. As a powerhouse, the church influenced culture through a system of biblical beliefs. According to Calkin and Kaminska (2020), the roman catholic church was known to exercise a great deal of veto power over politics and serves as the foundation for morality politics. The spectrum and dominance of Christianity has shifted over the centuries. The majority of Europeans identify as Christain, though they do not attend church, denoting a decline in the outward expression of the monotheistic faith. In Western Europe, where Protestantism emerged, fewer people adhere to the Christian religion. More than 50% of Europeans between the ages of 15 to 30 are agnostic (Bullivant 2018, p.3). The Abrahamic religion is deep-rooted and impacts modern-day Europe regarding social cohesion, politics, education, morality, ethics, and nationalism.
Nationalism serves to bind the people, creating a deeper sense of togetherness and patriotism. The bond between individuals from different walks fo life within the same geographical location provides the members with a powerful sense of identity and belonging. In the modern era, the positive qualities of the nationalism culture include providing a tenet to ensure that all citizens are treated equally. These individuals then go on to further the interests of the nation whole-heartedly. Christians in Europe, practicing and non-practicing, enjoy the benefits of nationalism instituted through faith. Hayes and Rossi (2017) allude that the soundness of Christianity is validated by the force of nationalism seen across Europe. Mutual obligation derived from a region’s sovereignty is a motivational factor catapulting overall productivity. Europe possesses a large successful economy that is boosted by the combined efforts of its citizens and the need to serve the interests of others drawn from inherent nationalism.
Similar to nationalism, social cohesion exists to promote an immense sense of solidarity amongst different members of society. Building social cohesion requires the development of societies whose elements are provided with the opportunity to live together harmoniously despite the existence of differences (Fonseca et al., 2019). Orientation towards the common good is a significant element of social coherence (Schiefer and Van der Noll, 2017). Fostering social resilience deters marginalism while promoting workforce utility and enhancing mobility upward. Christianity serves as a vehicle for social cohesion in contemporary Europe. According to Schmeets and Te Riele (2014), religious factors such as Christianity bolster social cohesion by creating participation and trust. Christianity allows citizens to be more accepting of other religions, even with the growth of immigrants who identify with different faiths. In Europe, the Netherlands shows the highest tier of social cohesion based on specific social indicators Schmeets and Te Riele (2014). Thus, Christianity serves as one of the determinants of social capital created through the culture of social cohesion.
Cultural values set the foundation for principles and provide a common understanding of what is important to a group of people. Beliefs drawn from various religions have the power to shape the cultural values members of a particular group hold. A shared set of cultural values aids in fostering units and promoting tolerance amongst distinctive individuals. Storm (2016) conducted a study across fort eight of the fifty countries in Europe to determine the nexus between religion and values. Results revealed that since Christianity is on the decline, the more religious countries show higher levels of morality drawn from the existence of cultural values. Civilized values in the modern era have matured over time, with the Judeo-Christian culture as the backdrop. Christianity continues to impact and maintain cultural values in Europe (Fejes 2021, p.151). Europeans still respect the values founded in Christianity, showing its many roles from a cultural perspective.
Culture of Charity
Christian churches are at the forefront in helping those in need and the poor. Most Christians hold the belief that it is their responsibility to lend a hand to persons in society who may not be well off and require assistance. Churches provide financial assistance, food, clothing, and education to the poor members of society they can reach out to. Congregants and churches participate in poverty relief by supplying social and health services (Beyers 2014, p.1). In the monolithic faith, generosity and charity represent a higher form of unconditional love. Practicing and non-practicing Christians in Europe adhere and are willing to engage in charitable acts. Borrowing from biblical principles, charity becomes an instrument to alleviate poverty. According to Schweiger (2019, p.2), developed countries in Europe partake in philanthropic efforts to help the church assist the poor. The churches and government form partnerships to ensure sustainable disbursement of social services.
European political parties such as the National Rally in France and VOX in Spain are going back to their Christain roots to counter imperialistic forms of other religions such as Islam. These parties are taking on the cultural identity of Christianity and partnering with true believers to form alliances. The new wave of politics is referred to as Christianism and exists since Europe is a sanctum for Christianity (Enyedi 2020, p.364). Cultural values such as justice and equality are the shield used by these European democratic parties to defend Europeans against the militant force exerted by imperialists. Vollard (2013, p.74) postulates that Christianity is reemerging in politics and more so in the most secularized part of Europe, the Netherlands. This resurgence of politics in Christianity is escalated by the ongoing secularization of religion and the cultural identity linked to the biblical faith. The new wave of politics serves as a defense mechanism and an instrument to create a deeper cultural identity through Christianity.
Ethics define the moral code which people use to assess ther behavior. A link exists between foundational concepts of ethics and Christianity. A significant implication of ethics is that it eases the public service’s burden and strengthens government institutions (Wright et al., 2016). Ethical behavior promotes a better society through enduring equality and dispels unnecessary chaos and disagreements. A similarity exists between the moral concepts of cultural ethics and Christianity. According to Van De Poll (2013, p.223), the cultural landscape of Europe draws heavily from Christian Ethics. The European Union (EU) law is governed by ethics and morality derived from the Christian Bible. Stringent consequences are placed on countries that do not adhere to the ethical code specified in the EU binding documents (Grad and Frischhut, 2019). Böröcz (2015, p.59) Explains that the EU is in the position to exercise its influence outside Europe across the global economic realm from a sustainable point of sustainable privilege. The ethical underpinnings for the EU aid in creating a successful superpower with significant influnce across the world as a political union.
Modern Europeans raise their children under the umbrella of Christianity. It is a cultural norm for education in Europe to have elements of Christianity. According to Pew Research (2018), non-practicing Christians bring up their minors as Christians. This scenario shows the strength of the grip Christianity has on Education. Cultural expectations and norms are derived from education, and learning begins when an individual is born. Schools and Christian churches provide children with social skills as part of the learning process. The additional element of socialization derived from the church setting influences behavior, principles, and values. Thus, Christianity plays a significant role in developing well-rounded individuals who portray similar cultural characteristics. Education and Christianity combine and create the platform for cultural values and beliefs to be instilled in the younger generation, which can then be maintained through the rest of their lives.
Historically speaking, Europe has been a stronghold for Christianity since its ascension. Christianity laid the foundation for education, architectural developments, laws, politics, and norms within the content. In the modern era, fewer people conform to the strict practices specified by the monolithic faith more predominantly in Western European states, where secularism is popular. A large number of Europeans identify as Christain but are non-practicing. Nonetheless, Christianity continues to play a major role in the cultural context of Europe. Christianism still sets the pace for a higher sense of nationalism amongst the citizens in Europe, promotes the culture of social cohesion, instills values, fosters moral ethics, supports education, and serves as a foundation for the political specter. Even with the decline in Christianity as a religious practice, it consistently governs elements of cultures, as discussed in the paper.
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