Britain becomes even more secularized: now 53% are “not at all religious”

Although I predicted the increasing secularization of the West a few years ago, that wasn’t hard to do, as the trends were clear. Some readers said I was wrong, but I doubt I was. But what I didn’t predict was how fast this secularization would occur, though I did claim, and still do, that the U.S. will become non-religious much more slowly than countries like Great Britain. The greater religiosity of America is a byproduct of our higher social dysfunction, which will disappear only slowly (especially under Trump).

Thanks to the several readers who sent me links from both the BBC and The Independent reporting the results of a new survey of the religiosity of 2942 Britons by the National Centre for Social Research. The results (quoted below from The Independent) are heartening for secularists and damning for Anglicans and other Christians, who try to put the best face they can on it.

The good news (direct quotes indented):

  • More than half of the British public (53 per cent) say they are not at all religious – a figure that has increased by five percentage points since 2015 and by 19 percentage points since 1983, when just three in 10 people deemed themselves non-religious.

That’s a substantial change, amounting to a 70% increase in nonbelief (or hedged belief) in just 33 years.

  • Just over four in 10 people said they followed some form of Christianity, while around one in 20 people in the UK said they belong to non-Christian religions, with 3 per cent describing themselves as Muslim, 2 per cent Hindu and 1 per cent Buddhist.

And the poor Anglican church! Liberal and “modern” though it may be, it can’t keep butts in the pews (though Catholics have remained stable at about 10%):

  • The decline in religious affiliation is hitting the Church of England particularly hard, with the number of people considering themselves Anglican having halved since 2000 – at just 15 per cent. Young people were particularly underrepresented, with just 3 per cent of those aged 18-24 describing themselves as Anglican, compared with 40 per cent of those aged 75 and over.

 

  • Church of England had lost more than 100,000 worshippers in a decade, with attendance falling an average of 1 per cent each year and 11 per cent since 2005. Analysis of figures showed that for the first time, more people were being educated in state-funded Church of England schools, attending compulsory collective worship every day, than attend Church of England churches each week.

And this is most heartening, for it shows where things are going (my emphasis):

  • More than seven in 10 (71 per cent) of young people aged 18-24 saying they had no religion in 2016, up from 62 per cent in 2015, the figures show. Four in 10 people aged 65-74 meanwhile said they had no religion – with this figure dropping to 27 per cent for those aged over 75 . . . Roger Harding, head of public attitudes at NatCen, which carried out the research, said: “This increase follows the long-term trend of more and more of us not being religious. The differences by age are stark and with so many younger people not having a religion it’s hard to see this change abating any time soon. The falls in those belonging to the Church of England are the most notable, but these figures should cause all religious leaders to pause for thought.”

Anglican officials aren’t scientists, so they won’t generally admit they’re losing out. Here’s one statement from a bishop, quoted by the BBC, trying to turn a necessity into a virtue (my emphasis):

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev Paul Bayes, said the figures bring a “continuing challenge to the churches” in “a sceptical and plural world”.

But he said people’s hearts and minds remained “open”.

“Saying ‘no religion’ is not the same as a considered atheism. People see the point of faith when they see the difference faith makes,” he said.

“We need to keep finding ways to show and tell those who say they have ‘no religion’ that faith – faith in the God who loves them still – can make that life-transforming difference for them and for the world.”

Th good bishop uses the word “sceptical” as if it’s a slur, but in fact it is the lack of evidence for “a God who loves us all” that, combined with improved social conditions that make it unnecessary to look to an invisible deity for help, has turned Brits away from faith.

And really, “considered atheism”? What is that? The atheism that comes from a deep immersion in the works of Russell, Herman Philipse, Ingersoll, Shelley, and so on? I’ll take the kind of atheism any day that’s just a casual dismissal of formal religion because its claims sound superstitious and antiquated. Now it may be true that the “no religion” class in Britain resembles the American “nones”, many of whom are either “spiritual” or adhere to a nebulous deism. But compared to members of more established faiths, these people are less likely to try imposing their doctrines on the rest of us, for by and large they have no doctrines—only a belief that there’s something out there “beyond us”. That sort of faith neither picks my pockets nor breaks my bones, so let it be.

As for the main church, Anglicanism, the British Humanists have a few choice words about it:

Responding to the latest figures, Humanists UK, a national charity working on behalf of non-religious people, said it was “meaningless” for the Church of England to remain the national legally established church, and to urge the Government to end the “ever-increasing” state funding for religion.

The charity’s chief executive Andrew Copson said: “How can it be right that 97 per cent of young people today are not Anglicans, but some 20 per cent of the state schools to which their children will go belong to the Church of England? More generally, how can the Church of England remain in any meaningful sense the national legally established church, when it caters for such a small portion of the population?”

Mr Copson urged that the “collapse” in people adhering to the Church of England indicates that the Government should reduce state funding for religion and public emphasis on religious groups, adding: “‘It is clear that the Church of England is experiencing ongoing and probably irreversible collapse in adherents.

“This should just be their private concern, but the fact that their response to this has been to seek ever more power and public money, even as the case for such state support evaporates, makes it a matter of public interest. It is long overdue that the Government woke up to the demographic reality of today’s Britain and recognises that ever-increasing state funding for religion, and public emphasis on the activities of religious groups, is the reverse of what the public wants.”

It’s still shameful that any state money in Britain goes to “faith-based education,” something that even the U.S. won’t tolerate. This survey shows that religious schooling, especially of the Anglican variety, is antiquated and now caters to a public that doesn’t even consider itself religious. It’s time to secularize Britain’s schools.

72 Comments

  1. Trevor H
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This is the worst part for me…

    “more people were being educated in state-funded Church of England schools, attending compulsory collective worship every day, than attend Church of England churches each week.”

    The only audience the church can get is a ‘captive audience’.

    😦 😦 😦

    • Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Of course one could take the attitude that they’re quite clearly doing a very good job of inoculating kids against being religious as adults. 🙂

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        My thoughts exactly.

        (My nascent atheism was definitely encouraged by Sunday School…)

        cr

  2. TJR
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    When I was a kid in the 1970s almost nobody of my age was at all religious, and our parents generation weren’t very religious either.

    However, it was understood that your religious affiliation was still C of E.

    Indeed it was a standard joke at the time that “not religious” and “C of E” meant more or less the same thing.

    Religion was just something that catholics and recent immigrants did.

    • Stephen Mynett
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Good point TJR. Some places would refuse to accept not religious or atheist on forms, especially hospitals. All of my admission forms until the 90s stated I was CofE, despite many protests from me, including adding to my notes I was an atheist and that the admitting nurse had made a mistake. That really used to rile them.

      I suspect that the non religious numbers have been over 50% for at least 10 years, possibly more. Quite a few kids at my school denied their atheism as many of the staff were quite nasty about it and in those days you stood no chance in an argument, standard reply was “You should respect a man of the cloth have a detention.”

      • Trevor H
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        I remember the same thing at hospitals during my youth – ‘What church do you go to? None. OK, I’ll put C of E’

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 5, 2017 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          Yep. That was pretty standard.

          “Religion?”
          “Catholic”
          “OK”

          “Religion?”
          “I don’t have any”
          “OK, C of E”

          “Religion?”
          “I worship Satan, who is coming to destroy the world and drag us screaming into the depths of Hell”
          “That’ll be C of E, then”

          cr

    • David Harper
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Let’s not forget the late Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, who caused a furore in the 1980s by admitting that he didn’t believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus. Soon after his consecration as bishop, lightning set the roof of York Minster ablaze, and this led to the inevitable claims that it was divine retribution for Jenkins’s heretical views.

      • jimroberts
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Though why the apostasy of the Bishop of Durham should require divine retribution on Bishopric of York, is unclear, given that Durham has its own cathedral.

        • Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          The Bishop of Durham reports to the Archbishop of York, iirc.

          /@

          • jimroberts
            Posted September 5, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

            True. But suppose you are head of a company, I’m a low-level manager and I screw up. You sack my boss?

        • David Harper
          Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          In the geographical hierarchy of the Church of England, the diocese of Durham falls within the Archdiocese of York, so David Jenkins was bishopified at York Minster.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

          G*d should’ve gone to Specsavers.

          cr

          (Are our US cousins familiar with that meme?
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDwK_AUk0FI )

        • Richard
          Posted September 6, 2017 at 2:08 am | Permalink

          Because YWHW attended the Imperial Stormtroopers School of Marksmanship.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Same experience around the same time (an exception, ironically, being my in-laws – although not their children). I was wondering as I read this whether things have changed that much (I don’t really get that impression, but don’t live there now), or whether this simply reflects changes in self-reporting.

      • TJR
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, I suspect this is largely a change in self-reporting.

        My anecdotal experience is that there is much *more* religion now than in the 1970s, largely driven by immigration.

        • Trevor H
          Posted September 6, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

          I think there is an upsurge in ‘intensity’ amongst the devotees, and a ‘militant’ tendency to prosletyse and/or claim to be oppressed when they can’t be prejudiced

          The # is in terminal decline – witness the ‘bums on seats’

    • bundorgarden
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that was the same in New Zealand when I was a child.

  3. GBJames
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    sub

  4. Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    And the poor Anglican church! … it can’t keep butts in the pews

    In particular, it cannot replace the many butts that depart for the graveyard each year.

    (though Catholics have remained stable at about 10%)

    Likely owing in large part to substantial immigration from Poland.

    • jimroberts
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Have you managed to find a possibly positive effect of Brexit?

  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    It’s good to see another country moving forward in this way. Well done GB.

  6. DrBrydon
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Strewth!

  7. Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    A liberal scientific Englishman writes: Gentle but thorough childhood indoctrination of the Anglican variety successfully kept me in the various corners of the Christian sheepfold for many years. Having run of evidence, excuses and eventually it over the past decade or so, I’m delighted to find myself in the vanguard of a deity-free national trend as a ‘considered atheist’. And yes, state-subsidised (ie, taxpayer-funded) ‘denominational schools’ are a disgrace. Of course, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is very keen on them.

    • David Harper
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Well, she’s the daughter of a CofE vicar, after all.

  8. Matthew Jenkins
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    As the proportion of Muslims in the UK rises, we might see this trend reverse.
    Maybe the ready availability of knowledge on the Internet will cause some tipping point to appear there too, but my impression is that it won’t. Maybe readers from Muslim backgrounds can shed some light here.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I think that UK Muslims will tend to secularise with time the same as Christians have. I have discussed religion with some Muslims and they are aware of the world view that Islam is getting. Some have expressed strong basic doubts. At least they are able to discuss it openly here. The state school issue will probably have to be resolved: the Monarchy question is also connected, since the Queen is the head of the Anglican church which is also the state religion.
      Too absurd for words.

      • Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        What’s going to happen when the present Queen dies or abdicates or whatever?

        Are we going to see a repeat of the 1953 coronation with the Archbishop of Canterbury anointing the “divinely” appointed monarch?
        Surely no longer appropriate for a predominantly non religous population?

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          Oh but yes. Indeed, Big-Ears has said that, in his coronation service, he wants to be named not just “Defender of the Faith” (a title bestowed on Henry VIII by the Pope, and appropriated by every British monarch since) but as “Defender of Faith”. He really regards “faith” of whatever denomination as preferable to science and reason.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        @Kevin, there is an interesting story out today about the frequency of FGM in British Muslim communities. A number of girls believed to have been vulnerable to this practice have been referred to social services and specialist medics, and far fewer of them (less than 15%, IIRC) have actually been cut than expected.

        Why? The consensus from experts on Radio 4 today is that the Government’s anti-FGM drive is working, that we are seeing a cultural shift, and that younger generation Muslims are turning away from the old practices, in this area at least.

        Baby steps?

    • Trevor H
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Ahh, the old ‘Britain will turn Muslim in 50 years on current rates’ canard, so beloved of the ‘hate-papers’

      Ever considered the idea that Muslims may give up their religion too?

      • Michiel
        Posted September 6, 2017 at 5:29 am | Permalink

        Well perhaps, but we can also see the difference between Christian Europe and the Muslim world. One has largely secularised while the other has seemingly only become more religious in the past hundred years or so (of course, I’m generalising). Not to mention leaving the faith carries with it considerable dangers in Islam, while the same cannot be said of Christianity, at least not in recent history. If there are clear signs of secularisation in the Muslim world, or in Muslim communities in the West, I’m not really seeing them yet. Of course, much can change in 50 years, but much can also stay the same, or change in the wrong direction. Just look at Afghanistan or Iran, or the direction Turkey is taking. I think it’s a bit premature to assume that just because the Christians did it, the Muslims will too. In fact, Islam has proven to be quite resilient to secularisation. Of course I truly hope to see it happen in my lifetime.

  9. Posted September 5, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    As a Brit who is genuinely completely non-religious I am proud to be able on the basis of these figures to call myself a 53 percenter!

    • Posted September 6, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      As a Brit who is an Atheist, in some situation, when asked, I sometimes say or write C-of-E (Church of England) to avoid the fate of Thomas More.

  10. Frank Bath
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    OMG!

  11. Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    As a Brit, I’m astonished that the proportion is as high as 53%. Of the people I was at school with in the 70’s and 80’s I think I was the only one who attended church. Of the people I associate with now, I don’t think any are regular church attendees except my parents and their friends.

    I think a lot of people that call themselves CofE are not really religious at all, it’s just historically the default position.

    • jimroberts
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Don’t you mean “as low as”? But remember, this is about what people say about their religious affiliation. A person could call themself Anglican, but in the last ten years have attended an Anglican church only for one wedding and one funeral.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Well, I would certainly be prepared to defend the position that being a nominal/lapsed/non-observant C of E is infinitely more meritorious than being a lapsed [any other denomination]… 😉

      cr

  12. Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    In the mid 1950s we drove around England to see the great cathedrals, old villages and lovely country churches, many of which had brasses on their stone floors under which those shown on the brasses were buried. We ended up in a charming tiny church one Sunday where we were the only ones present. Shortly the vicar showed up for the 11 am service (it was about 10;45 am at the time), smiling and friendly, and graciously invited us to stay for the service. We politely refused, of course, but with feelings of remorse that he would (again, no doubt) be preaching to a non existent congregation. He had hoped, vainly, that we were new customers. We had to disappoint him. I am sure this was his weekly fate as with other churches. Lonely vicars
    waiting for someone to hear their sermons.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Father McKenzie, writing the words
      Of a sermon that no one will hear
      No one comes near
      Look at him working, darning his socks
      In the night when there’s nobody there
      What does he care

      Lennon/McCartney 1966

  13. busterggi
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I hope the queen wasn’t counting on god to save her.

  14. Alan Parker
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    “Saying ‘no religion’ is not the same as a considered atheism.”

    Saying religious is not the same as “a considered” christian.

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    To bad, England is still a long way east of Kansas.

  16. Paul Coyne
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    As far as I can tell the statistics quoted and much of the story relate solely to England, not to the UK as a whole. Godlessness is much better here in Scotland where 58% overall claim no religion and 74% of 18-34s are good without god.

    • Posted September 6, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately the results of the 2011 census show 43.6% with no religion. However, my own anecdotal experience is that I’m always surprised to meet someone who turns out to be religious. Perhaps it’s the circles I move in, but nearly everyone I know has “no religion”. (I might add that the most religious person I know, a member of a fairly pious sect that sends bibles to Africa, has been twice found guilty of embezzling church funds).

      Recent personal experience of online dating (don’t ask) bears this out as well. There is always a question about religious attendance and very few in my experience claim weekly or monthly attendance, though many go once a year (I enjoy a good Christmas carol sing-song myself).

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 6, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

        I still remember the surprise of finding out that one of my work colleagues was a believing, practising Christian. (We were all engineers, and I was secretly amazed that someone with a technical background could believe in the supernatural).

        This was in New Zealand.

        cr

        • Zetopan
          Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          In the USA it is trivial to find (actually notice self promoting) religionists who have engineering backgrounds. Many are fundamentalists and even young Earth creationists, including those who claim that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, evolution never happened, AGW is a hoax, etc.

          I have on multiple occasions listened to tirades on why conservation is not necessary because the second coming is at hand (evidence of any first coming being entirely absent) and how all non-believers are going to suffer eternal torment. Some of the most prominent members of engineering organizations are creationists.

          What I have noticed is that the most rabid of this group are NOT very good engineers, and the less confrontational reasonable engineers are very compartmentalized in their thinking. When engineering they act rational but when doing their religion they act amazingly irrational.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 9, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            I’m aware of that.

            I wonder if the prevalence of religiosity among engineers in the US could be linked to the fact that, in some specialties, engineering can be** very much a matter of ‘following the rules’ and ‘applying the codes of practice’. i.e. cook-book engineering. And this might fit with the type of personality who also ‘follows authority’ in religious matters.

            (**I said it ‘can be’, doesn’t have to be!).

            cr

            • GBJames
              Posted September 10, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

              I think you are right. Scientific training tends to be focused on figuring out puzzles… why/how things work… wondering about the universe.

              Engineering training seems much more about how to make things work safely/correctly within some specific problem domain. It seems easier to translate that point of view into a religious “some guy is making things work, kind of like I do” frame.

              • Posted September 10, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

                Especially if they see God as in William Blake’s “Ancient of Days”!

                /@

      • Trevor H
        Posted September 6, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        There was lots of comments at the time about the wording of the question, and its position after an ethnicity question

        It led to an over-statement of religiosity as people ticked the ‘C of E’, to say that’s how they started

        The othe issue is that the young will be filled in by their parents who will call them believers when this poll has shown it isn’t true

        Richard Dawkins ran a poll to see how religious the ‘census christians’ were…

  17. Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    AtheismUK just posted the results of a 2014 survey that showed 13% in the UK were “convinced atheists” with a further 53% having no religion. 4% don’t-knows leaves only 30% religious.

    /@

  18. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Some of those surveyed said that they were not religious, but “spiritual”. Needless to say, some CofE commentators have grasped at this straw and asserted that these people are “really” religious after all.

    Turns out quite a few of these spiritual folks are those who practice “mindfulness”, meditation, etc. The joke is that people have been banned from doing this in church halls all over the country, on the grounds that these practices belong to alien, non-Christian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism!

    I wonder which political party will be the first to twig that there could be quite a few votes in getting rid of religious privilege in the UK once and for all.

  19. Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  20. ian Clark
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think this is something to get complacent about. Things can change quickly – look how secular Turkey and Iran have appeared to be in the past.
    I think what has to happen to make this a permanent situation is a much more robust approach, by the State in the early years of schooling, to teach children that there is no supernatural, and that they are here as part of the continuum of life on this planet, and not as a part of a supernatural overlord’s plan. This should balance any religious indoctrination in the home, and ensure that the country continues on a secular path, even with religious residents, and immigrants, in the equation.

    • jimroberts
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I disagree. Learn from the example of the children in schools with mandatory Anglican indoctrination and worship.Teach them science completely neutrally. Any attempt at antireligious indoctrination will backfire.

      • Ian Clark
        Posted September 5, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        There is difference between education and religious indoctrination.
        Telling children that there are no supernatural beings is the former, and telling them that there are supernatural beings is the latter. A school should make very clear the difference between reality and fantasy.
        This is the best way to an irreversible form of secularity, as would appear to be desired from the poll.

  21. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting that there is a continued modest market in British television for shows about unconventional vicars.

    The currently running “Grantchester” (2014-present) and the 1990s “Vicar of Dibley” and “Rev” (2010-2014) come to mind. A (more mundane) vicar was a major character on “Broadchurch” (2013-present).

    I’m not sure what to conclude from this.
    Even though I watch a lot of Brit TV, I haven’t lived there since 50 years ago. Is there some lingering nostalgia for interesting thoughtful clergy, so that when seen on TV there is an interest?

    From a humanist point of view, perhaps the most interesting is the Brother Cadfael mysteries. Set in the Middle Ages, one consistently gets the impression that although Bro C takes the monastic vows quite seriously, he is much wiser than all the other monks precisely because he was both a soldier and a married man until his mid-40s when after the death of his wife, be became a monk.

    • Ken Elliott
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      I immediately thought of “Grantchester” when first reading this post. Many of the characters the padre comes in contact with on that show are openly atheist, beginning with his crime solving police buddy. I love the show for this as much as the rest simply for this reason. Weigh that against many ‘atheists’ on American shows that are depicted as some sort of Spock clone with no emotion due to an adherence to logic. It’s laughable!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Well, historically, the local vicar was in a fairly prestigious position, in secular terms. He would be relatively well educated, able to spare time for his parishioners concerns, keeper of the local records, with a modest but safe and guaranteed income, and with enough spare time to indulge in intellectual pursuits.

      Evangelical zeal was if anything a handicap rather than an advantage.

      cr

  22. Posted September 5, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Children are born as natural atheists. State sponsored brainwashing (in the developed world)is becoming less effective. And participation in a technological society promotes rational thought. The trend will continue.

    rz

  23. Tumara Baap
    Posted September 5, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious as to why such secularization is happening in such a dramatic fashion. Popular U.K. culture has been delightfully irreverent for decades now (rock bands, Monty Python skits, or even the Douglas Adams conservation-themed book I’m currently reading with my 8-year-old). Is this trend anchored in something completely non-religious, like it’s state run National Health Service? In many countries, the brutishness and misery in people’s lives is positively correlated with religiosity. Take for example the ex-British colonies like Kenya: the natives had never heard of this apocalyptic dude Jesus until some missionary told them about it. Extremist Pentecostal Christianity is now big business here. On the other hand, Big Bully in the Sky sort of religiosity is also on the rise in S Korea. This is unsettling. Many Eastern philosophies were not particularly dogmatic. Some even flirted with nascent materialism and empiricism. Yet it is the folklore of blood-drenched salvation from an obscure Roman outpost that manages to hook everyone from downtrodden Kenyans to the newly prosperous Koreans.

    • kevind
      Posted September 6, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      As others have mentioned. It might not really be that dramatic a shift. In some ways I think the Bishop of Liverpool has a point.
      In the past those who didnt think much about religion would tend to be marked as “C of E” effectively by default on any paperwork. Now though, thanks to various campaigners, its become perfectly normal to mark the “no religion” box.
      So I dont think there has been much of a shift in peoples attitudes but just in the choice of default box.

  24. Richard
    Posted September 6, 2017 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    Because YHWH attended the Imperial Stormtroopers School of Markmanship.

    • Richard
      Posted September 6, 2017 at 2:25 am | Permalink

      Sorry, double post. Oh for a delete button!

  25. Roger
    Posted September 6, 2017 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    That whooshing sound you hear is the sound of the Bishop of Liverpool pretending like there is a whooshing sound going over his head. Go ahead and play dumb Bishop. It will just drive more people away for good lol.

  26. Trevor H
    Posted September 6, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Timely….

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/comic/pray/

  27. Willard Bolinger
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne’s statement abut the U.S. will not allow “faith based education” needs to be qualified that actually faith based education has been allowed in practice in many school districts and groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation along with others have been suing a few of these each year and winning so slowly that it will probably continue in many schools for a long time to come.Faith based charter schools are increasingly funded by public vouchers!Plus the christians being in the schools in after hour programs.

  28. eric collier
    Posted September 7, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    So what’s the bad news? I think I know what it is. While the UK continues to march toward a rational future, we poor benighted Yanks appear to be as mucked in our petty silly superstitions as ever.

    • Posted September 8, 2017 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      Maybe there’s a higher frequency of the gullibility gene in the US population with UK ancestry that in those of us who are the products of the people left behind.


%d bloggers like this: