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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/441

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IS THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION DECLINING?

religious life and institutions of different countries. What a difference there is in religion from this point of view in the great centers, such as Rome, St. Petersburg, Berlin, London, Edinburgh, New York! That man would go far astray who should undertake to use any one of these as a test of any or of all the others.

Let us consider, for example, the question of participation in the services of the Church. Rome has apparently, from a Protestant point of view, an abnormal number of churches, and in these churches an extraordinary number of chapels and altars. The reason for this is that there is an immense number of clergy in Rome, and all these altars are needed that they may perform the most important of their duties—the sacrifice of the mass. The churches, chapels, and altars are not erected for the people merely—if so, vastly fewer would be necessary—but for the priests who sacrifice for the people even when they are absent. Berlin has apparently very few churches, and these are not always well attended by the people, and are used infrequently except on Sundays. Judging from this, it would be a very irreligious city; but any one who really knows Berlin would not say that it is less religious than Rome. The religion of the German people finds its expression in a mystic type of personal piety and of family and social life; it maintains and propagates itself without frequent attendance upon public worship.

In London regular attendance upon public worship is commonly regarded as indispensable for the maintenance of the Christian religion. Therefore Christian people frequent the churches to an extent that is unknown on the continent of Europe. But to make the British habit of frequenting the Church for public worship a test of the vitality of the Christian religion in the great cities of the Continent would be altogether unjust and untrue. The historical development of religion in Great Britain has brought about an entirely different state of affairs there from that which we find everywhere else in the world. The situation in Great Britain is therefore special, peculiar, and, one might say, abnormal as compared with the situation in other parts of the world. In the United States the original population was chiefly British, and therefore followed British methods in religion. But in the present century our land, and especially our cities, have filled up with a population from the continent of Europe, bringing with them Continental methods of worship which would not yield to or readily adopt British methods. Intermarriage with the British stock and familiar converse in society have tended to assimilation, and therefore the situation has gradually and inevitably emerged that the Christianity of New York and Chicago and our other great