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2014 | z. 137 | 7--15
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The Changing Religious Space of Large Western European Cities

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Throughout history, cities rather than rural areas have been places of religious activity. This also applies to secularisation, i.e. "negative religious innovation." Especially in Western Europe, it was (and is) cities where secularisation has been strongest. On the other hand, it is cities where new religious movements can and do grow. With the secularisation thesis losing ground as the dominant explanation for changes on the religious scene, attention is increasingly drawn to these developments even in Western European cities. Following the spatial expansion of major cities in Western Europe in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, most new churches were built in outlying areas, while many old churches found at central locations have been turned into museums and other tourist sites, often without an active congregation or just with a small one. Religious "newcomers" such as Islam and charismatic and evangelical Christian churches often have to resort to the urban periphery. Because their members usually are scattered across a large area within the urban agglomeration, accessibility by car and large parking lots are more important than a central, representative location. Rather than interpreting this observation as an exodus of religion from the centres of life and centres of cities, it should be seen as an adjustment to, and an expression of, changed modern and postmodern lifestyles. (original abstract)
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