Religion and the West

American religiosity and European secularity spring from the same source.

Issue: Summer 2005

A few years ago I was having breakfast in a hotel in Austin, Texas. At the next table sat two middle-aged men in business suits, both reading newspapers. One looked up and said: "The situation is really heating up in the Middle East." He paused, then continued: "Just as the Bible said it would." Not long after this I was in a London hotel on a Sunday morning. I thought it would be nice to attend an Anglican Matins service. I went to the concierge, a young Englishman named Warren--clearly not an intern from Pakistan. I asked him where the nearest Anglican church was and added, "Church of England parish." He looked at me with a blank look, then said, "Is this sort of like Catholic?" I said, "Well, not quite." What impressed me was not that this young Englishman evidently did not go to church, but that he actually did not know what the Church of England was--his country's state church, whose head is Queen Elizabeth II.

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