We are used to thinking about creationism as an exclusively North American phenomenon. It is not. Although it originated in the U.S., organized creationism has gone global. But in Europe creationism does not represent a united community; it varies strongly from one country to the next. In some countries creationism provides an identity to smaller local religious communities, and has little impact. This is the case in Scandinavia. In other places creationism is tied to substantial and well-organized subcultures. We find this in the Netherlands. And in some places creationism exists among religious elites that have considerable political power. Russia is a notable example.While one does tend to think of young earth creationism as a uniquely American phenomenon (after all, it sprang from the Seventh Day Adventists in the early 1900s), it is important to note that the currently reigning king of creatonism, Ken Ham, is Australian by birth and upbringing.
For years, although creationists were growing in number in European countries and gradually developing an influence in schools and local communities, they mostly kept under the radar and were not a major concern. Not until, at least, about a decade ago, when the Council of Europe issued a warning against the growth of creationism and the potential threat to the educational system it posed. At that point, creationism became a matter of public and political debate. Polls were taken all over Europe to determine public opinion. Some online polls were hijacked by creationists in Turkey to alter the outcome. Books, pamphlets and Web sites were launched and circulated. And the media loved it.
The authors remark that the scientific community got caught flat-footed and now are scrambling to catch up to the wave of web sites, pamphlets, magazines and TV programs that are being sponsored by the young earth creation groups. This is similar to what happened here in the United States. It was only dimly understood that creationism was making inroads in society, despite the high-profile cases involving the public schools. The home school community is almost lock-step creationist, a situation that has caused no small amount of grief in our household. The post below this one is but one example of this.