Frank Bruni writes for the New York Times:
Christianity has boomed in the developing world, competing successfully with Islam, deepening its influence and possibly finding its future there. But Europe already seems more and more like a series of tourist-trod monuments to Christianity's past. Hardly a month goes by when the pope does not publicly bemoan that fact, beseeching Europeans to rediscover the faith. Their estrangement has deep implications, including the prospect of schisms in intercontinental churches and political frictions within and between countries. The secularization of Europe, according to some political analysts, is one of the forces pushing it apart from the United States, where religion plays a potent role in politics and society, shaping many Americans' views of the world.
Christianity's greatest hope in Europe may in fact be immigrants from the developing world, who in many cases learned the religion from European missionaries, adapted it to their own needs and tastes, then toted it back to the Continent. ... A recent report by Christian Research, a British group, determined that blacks and, to a lesser extent, Asians represent more than half the churchgoers in central London on a given Sunday, though they represent less than a quarter of the area's population. ... Even in Italy, where 33 percent of respondents described religion as "very important," the percentage of Italians who go to church every week is as low as 15 and no higher than 33, according to various polls.
An important factor in why this is happening in Europe but not America seems likely to be the separation of church and state that exists in the United States. Here, no one church or religion has been able to use the power of the government to maintain a monopoly over the people. In Europe, however, that's just what happened - and disillusionment over established political institutions has translated into disillusionment over religious institutions as well. You can find religiosity thriving in Europe, but not in the old churches - you find it in new churches created by immigrants. It makes one wonder why so many Christians in America want to eliminate the separation of church and state. Are they really enemies of Christianity who hope to undermine its influence over time?