The mainstream Christian state churches of the Western Europe have already been transformed into state organs. They are by now driven mainly by the forces of tradition and continuity. The right to collect taxes ensures that they can have big organizations running the very versatile daily business of the churches.
However, they continue to function at the level that they do to because of the extraordinary latency that is built-in to all large organizations. These West-European Christian state-churches do not threaten the freedom of thought or freedom of scientific inquiry any more. They have also largely withdrawn themselves from the political process of the society, at least in issues where the immediate interests of the Church are not under threat.
These state-churches have, in fact, accepted the basic supremacy of science and knowledge over faith in our societies. These churches are quite content if they are allowed to collect their dues and mind their daily business in peace. Very seldom do their leaders venture to the public eye to oppose goings on in the society or in politics anymore.
Much bigger problem for humanity are various fanatical fringe churches, sects and secret societies, whose popularity has risen as the official churches have become more reasonable and well-behaved. One of those movements which do benefit from the petrifying of the Western state churches has been Islam. It has gained converts in the Western Europe also.
The cool-headed and quite reasonable teachings of Western state churches are not enough for many zealots. The extremist religious movements like many forms of Islam use this existing demand for their benefit. When speaking in tongues and overall religious fervor goes out of fashion in the official state churches, there will inevitably be other places where they can be found.
There will perhaps always exist people who need to have extremely deep personal experiences in their worship, which the sterile western state religions of today cannot provide anymore. There is a sizeable portion of people in also our western societies who see that freedom of choice as a real burden for them.
There exists a group of people who feel a great sense of liberation when they are not required making any real decisions on their own anymore. The job of assembling your own view of the world just is a too daunting task for many people. The ready-made ideological packets that are offered by religions, sects or religious-like ideologies such as communism can be a gift from heaven for this kind of people.
After you accept a ready-made package offered by an extremist version of religion, you don’t have to think anymore yourself what to think of many new things. There is a reverend, a pastor or cell-leader telling you what to think and how to respond to new things. On this background, it becomes much easier to comprehend that also some very well educated women in Western Europe have been converting to Islam.
The oppression of women that is inbuilt in this religion is so obvious to anybody that is almost beyond comprehension that this kind of things can happen. However, the promise of liberation from our own free will can be extremely tempting. It is, in fact, so tempting that some people are willing to accept almost anything that comes with it, if only they can give up their freedom.
(This piece was completely refurbished on 9th of November, 2012)