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Europe's Churches Are Being Closed

Updated on January 9, 2015
Art exhibits in unused church
Art exhibits in unused church
Skatepark inside unused church
Skatepark inside unused church
Iconic stone buildings
Iconic stone buildings
Lack of interest
Lack of interest

One could call it a "sign of the End Times", a world that no longer has the faith in God and religion as it once did. But the astounding number of churches that are being closed due to lack of use or drop of membership is nothing less than dramatic.

In England, the Church of England, closes 20 churches per year. In Denmark, 200 churches are underused and no longer are viable to those who own it, economically. In Germany, the Catholic Church has closes 515 churches in 10 years. But the worse is in the Netherlands. There, 75% of the 1600 churches will be closed by 2025, and in Holland, 700 of the Protestant churches will be shutdown in just four years!

There is a wave of secularism across the European continent generating a lack of belief and desire to attend church. Churches rely on members on attending and donating money to support them but the interest in doing so is dwindling. In Ireland, only 50% state they attend Sunday service, in Italy, it is 40%, In the Netherlands, 30%, in Britain, 20%. The numbers drop even further in Germany and France, just 10%, and in Denmark, a mere 5%.

Churches face what any business faces when customers don't come back: what to do about the property? Should they sell it? Allow other purposes (such as, concert halls, drama theater) and rent the building? Just holding onto an empty building is costly if it is not generating any income. Some are being turned into stores or offices. For example, St. Paul's Church in England is now a school for Circomedia training, another church, ironically, became a bar called, Frankenstein. A 19th century church in Amsterdam is now a clothing store and also there, the once grand St.Joseph Church in Arnhem, that once had 1000 members, is being used a skateboarder park.

While Europe's belief in God and religion is falling quickly, America's christian-based belief is growing as 5000 new churches were added between 2000-2010. The decline in membership in them dropped only 3%. But, experts state the fallout will be as bad as in Europe in another 20 years as the older generation dies out. America's younger generation are not as religious.

Some churches sell for as little as $160,000 on real estate firm websites. Maybe an old stone building is "holy" for your new home. But, the dilemma churches face is real. Take the St. Joseph Church in Arnhem. It needs $3.7 million dollars to maintain it, yet, the most it could sell for is $812,000. Not exactly a great deal for a buyer. The city is doing some maintenance for cosmetic and safety purposes because skateboarders are using it. But, for how long is the question. The owner of the property remains the Catholic church. As churches become vacant, cities and towns struggle as to what and how much to do to keep the historic landmark in good form. At some point, it all comes down to economics.

Economics or faith?


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Just because you live a country does not mean you are aware of what has been going on at ALL levels. How could you? The figures are from the PEW Research Center in Washington and published in the Wall Street Journal. You can debate this all you want, but I am just a messenger. Maybe no churches were closed where you live. I am sure Germany does no openly announce 51 church closings per year for 10 years.

    • profile image


      3 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

      I do not go to "church". Because there all wrong anyway. But that's not why I'm writing this comment. You stated that in Germany 515 catholic churches have been closed (I wish) in the last ten years. It's funny, because I live in Germany and never heard of one being closed let alone 515. So, knowing that your count is wrong how much more of your article is wrong also. If the catholic church were to close even one of their catholic church building here in Germany then most likely they would sell the land it sit on. And the catholic church is to greedy to do that.

      I would like to see where you got your information.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thanks, very insightful.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 

      3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Excellent hub. And good question. What could be done with a church building? Hold seminars to discuss things like religion, spirituality, 9/11, the Global Warming hoax, chemtrails, American empire building and the destruction of the American Constitution. These could be topics in any country of the world, because they affect every individual on planet Earth.

      Religion has long been corrupted, but it still serves a purpose. The culprit is ego (self-concern). Most people ignore this glaring fact, because they have a vested interest in self-concern. Ego hungers to survive and we willingly feed the monster.

      Christianity has long remained watered down. There have been exceptions and exceptional teachers, but even they did not give us the same level of teaching that Christ and his disciples gave. Ego has invaded religion and corrupted it to its core. The Protestants protested this corruption, but only reformed an already corrupt church. They gave us only a perversion of a corruption. That we have hundreds of denominations attests to this. Ego (self-concern) loves division and separation; Truth loves coming together without any self-concern.

      Christ, Moses and even authentic Kabbalah all teach that we must love others as if they were ourselves, and to wish for them everything that they desire. If we do this completely, then we can no longer be a victim. Forgiveness becomes effortless.

      Churches don't teach this, because the teachers have no idea what the teachings really mean. None of them walk on water. And even such a miracle is no guarantee that they are not evil. The pharaoh's magicians turned their staffs into snakes; but God's magic is stronger, because it is not based on self-concern, but on True Love.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thanks, it is a sad truth. What else could you do with a church?

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 

      3 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Very well written. I remember when I lived in NYC, before I became a Christian, and went to the Limelight disco, which was in a deconsecrated church. Now, as a Christian, I don't feel right about turning churches to certain unholy uses but then, as an agnostic, I really didn't give it much thought beyond, "Oh, what cool idea!" That's pretty much where I think things are headed on the whole.


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