The UK goes secular, too

Yesterday I wrote about how religiosity was declining in the U.S., especially among Protestants, while the “nones”—those who claim no formal religious affiliation—were growing quickly. We all know this is happening even faster in the UK, where for the first time this year, more British people reported themselves to as “not religious” than “Christian”. The Anglican Church is bleeding like a severed jugular vein, and is desperately trying both to re-fill the empty pews while at the same time pretending that nothing is wrong.

A report by the BBC today gives some other heartening statistics—at least heartening to nonbelievers. A quarter of Anglican congregations (the smallest ones) have no children at all at Sunday services. And child attendance is waning across the board, a harbinger of hard times to come for the CoE:

On average, nine children attended each service across all Church of England churches in 2016 – a “sobering reminder of the long-term challenge we face”, the church’s ruling body said.

Usual Sunday attendance at church in 2016 was 739,000 people – 14% lower than in 2006.

. . . The number of baptisms, marriages, and funerals held in Church of England churches have also declined since 2006, with the largest change seen in a 39% decline in funerals at crematoria and cemeteries.

“The figures confirm the urgency of the challenges we face, especially as we want to become a growing church for all people in all places,” Mike Eastwood, director of Renewal and Reform for the Church of England said.

The decline in church attendance in the last decade is higher in children than adults.

“This challenge is likely to persist for some years ahead,” William Nye, secretary general to the General Synod, said.

Yes, it’s likely to persist forever as England gradually loses its religion. And a good thing too. If people want to go to Church I suppose it’s okay by me, but it’s ridiculous to have a state religion in a democracy. Besides, it’s not as if Anglicans are all really agnostics who go to church for the company and music: the English clergy has, for instance, consistently opposed bills for voluntary euthanasia. If properly framed, such bills could relieve considerable suffering, but the clergy, with their unsupported belief in souls, still thinks dying people should suffer for Jesus. And, of course, even though child attendance is waning, those children are still being brainwashed.

h/t: Kevin

UPDATE: I’ll add this spoof letter (I’m not sure if it actually appeared in a newspaper) forwarded by reader Paul. It implores Brits to behave the same way toward the religious data as they did to the Brexit vote (“it was a majority, so we all must get behind it”):

63 Comments

  1. kirbmarc
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Good. Now we need to secularize muslims, too: make less and less children and young people born in muslim families go the mosque, stop supporting muslim identitarian initiatives, allowing young muslims to question their religious upbringing and to become less insular and more connected to secular society.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Yes… spot on! That may be happening with acculturation, although a lot of terrorists who have gone to fight for ISIS are second or third generation muslims who grew up with little understanding of their religion. People we may have hoped to be more like the rest of society. Just read Jason Burke’s The 9/11 Wars, & he mentions that quite a lot. That is not saying that the religion is good, merely that they often build their violent agenda on a basis of ignorance & intolerance… but I am not qualified to expound on this really!

      • kirbmarc
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        I was borne in a muslim family and I’ve met countless people in several muslim communities throughout Europe, and here’s what I think:

        Second or third generation muslims don’t radicalize completely on their own on the Internet. They might research things online once they’ve been already put on that put by others, but “lone wolves” are rarely as lonely as the media portrays them.

        Instead the biggest force that drives muslim terrorism, and in general conservative or even reactionary islam, is Salafism/Wahabism, whether in its violent Qutbist interpretation or in its allegedly peaceful “Quietist” interpretation, which isn’t violent but is preaching ideas which are incompatible with secular liberal democracy (the idea that “islam will conquer the world”, the idea that women wearing “western” clothes are all whores, the idea that LGBT people need to be “dealt with”, etc. etc.).

        Salafi/Wahabi preachers are sponsored by and trained by Gulf theocracies, which have plenty of connections to Salafi militias and terrorists all over the world.

        Universities in Saudi Arabia churn out countless apologists for terror and muslim supremacists. Books edited in Saudi Arabia are used to indoctrinate children into hating LGBT people, Christians, Jews and unbelievers. Charities financed by various Gulf theocracies support both terrorist groups and various supremacist and reactionary preachers and mosques.

        At the same time those Gulf theocracies attempt to be seen as “moderate muslims” when they’re anything but, they’re reactionary, authoritarian, highly compromised with terrorism, promoters of hate and of regressive ideas, and all around awful.

        Sadly the Gulf theocracies have enough money and political influence through well-paid lobbies to finance, educate, or simply promote several networks of apologists, propagandists, muslim identity politics supporters and various “useful idiots” from Al-Jazeera (the propaganda machine of Qatar), to the Muslim Brotherhood, to figures like Tariq Ramadan, or Linda Sarsour, or that buffoon Reza Aslan.

        The Gulf theocracies are completely unworthy of the trust and alliances which the “west” has given them. Of course those alliances are all about oil and about the petrodollar, but they’ve already led the US to support Salafi militias in Syria and Libya.

        The “west” is growing dependent on those alliances, fueling the growth of a tangle of connected corporate and political interests which don’t seem to care about the consequences of their schemes to get rid of hostile regimes.

        It’s time to stop this. It’s time for the “west” to punish bad behavior from the Gulf theocracies and to disentangle from those poisonous alliances. It’s time to end the influence of the reactionaries in islam and allow more secular and modern voices to find their place within muslim communities, and to protect them from retaliation.

        It’s time for a new Enlightenment to spread in muslim communities and promote modern, secular, liberal values instead of the medieval barbarity which the literal interpretation of the Qu’ran and the ahadith support.

        • darrelle
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          Thank you for relating a perspective from the inside, as it were.

          Would you mind if a referenced or quoted your comment here? With credit of course.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

            I’ll second that, kirbmarc.

            (Though for a second there, with the talk of “Gulf theocracies,” you had me thinking Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. 🙂 )

            • kirbmarc
              Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

              While the US have far better check and balances than most MENA countries, and as a whole it’s far less messed up, someone like, say, Roy Moore isn’t too different from a Salafi, only in that his nutty mythology which justifies his awful ideas is based on a different book.

              I heard that he’s being called the “Ayatollah of Alabama” and the moniker seems to fit (the “Salafi of Alabama” doesn’t have a nice alliteration but would be equally appropriate).

              Religious reactionaries are always a danger, the Christian American ones just happen to live in a far more secular and far less authoritarian country than Saudi Arabia or even Iran. But give them enough power and no accountability at all and they’ll wreck everything.

              So I understand why American Atheists are still concerned with Christianity. Europe, and especially Western Europe, is far more secular than America, and with a VP like Mike Pence there is reason to worry (not to panic, but to worry).

              What I do NOT understand is why many figures in the left offer excuses for Muslim leaders whose ideas aren’t too different from those of the likes of Moore or Pence.

              Just because Christian theocrats don’t like Muslim theocrats it doesn’t mean that Muslim theocrats are any good.

          • kirbmarc
            Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            No problem from me. I can give also you lots of evidence in articles and reports if needed.

            • darrelle
              Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

              Thank you.

        • Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          Great to hear that from a former muslim. it is too easy to speculate from outside without knowing… which possibly explains why some liberals are too soft & do not want to say ‘the wrong thing’ for fear of being seen as preachy. Maybe?

        • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          +1

        • Martin Levin
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          Very well put, indeed. The Saudis and Gulf states are decidedly not our friends. Unhappily, naive optimists, supported by the likes of Aslan and Sarsour, have undercut that view, and promoted atttacks on courageous Muslim (and former Muslim) reformers such as Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Following the million or so refugees/migrants merkel allowed into germany, the Saudis offered to build 200 new mosques, doubtless staffed by their Wahabi imams and teachers.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        “… a lot of terrorists who have gone to fight for ISIS are second or third generation muslims …”

        I think there’s a temptation on the part of anyone — but most especially those from culturally and economically impoverished backgrounds, those with stifled energies and thwarted ambitions — to turn one’s life over to an overarching cause, however ridiculous and heinous that cause may be. This was well-document in the middle of the last century by Eric Hoffer in The True Believer.

        • biz
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          Except Western jihadis and ISIS recruits are disproportionately from middle class and upper middle class backgrounds.

          Jihadi John had a masters in computer science from the LSE. The Glasgow airport plotters were all doctors. The San Bernardino shooter was making 70K a year one year out of Cal State. Nidal Hassan was a psychiatrist. The list goes on and on.

          • kirbmarc
            Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            Take a look at the people they met at university. There are religious reactionaries hanging around there, often people who have studied in Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Nidal Hassan was radicalized by the infamous Anwar Al-Awlaki

            (from Wikipedia):

            “In October 2008, Charles Allen, US Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis, had warned that al-Awlaki “targets US Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen”.[69][70] After the Fort Hood shootings took place and news of the e-mails became public, Allen, no longer in government, said:

            I find it difficult to understand why an Army major would be in repeated contact with an Islamic extremist like Anwar al-Awlaki, who preaches a hateful ideology directed at inciting violence against the United States and the West… It is hard to see how repeated contact would in any legitimate way further his research as a psychiatrist.”[71]

            And former CIA officer Bruce Riedel opined: “E-mailing a known al-Qaeda sympathizer should have set off alarm bells. Even if he was exchanging recipes, the bureau should have put out an alert.”[71]”

            Al-Awlaki, a known Al-Qaeda sympathizer and associate, is now dead, sadly killed by a drone instead of being brought home, where he could have been interrogated on his network of contacts within the US.

            But Al-Awlaki is only one of the people who hang around Muslim Student Associations/Student Unions in universities or Muslim Cultural Associations etc., often trained in Saudi Arabia or with Saudi textbooks and money, who preach muslim supremacist ideas.

            There are networks of muslim supremacists who operate in higher education and target disenfranchised, often psychologically weak young muslims for radicalization. I’ve met some of those people and they’re dangerous.

            The US has recently seen a return of white supremacists/white nationalists to the public scene, which is worrying, and I share that worry. But muslim supremacists aren’t better than white supremacists.

            Someone like Richard Spencer, who supports stupid and dangerous ideas like “we should have a white ethnostate” or “white slavery wasn’t that big of a deal” is rightfully reviled and condemned by pretty much everyone, from Barack Obama to George W. Bush to John McCain (with the glaring exception President Trump…) and people who associate with Spencer and praise him or excuse him are rightfully seen in a negative way in most circles.

            But far too often people who support equally stupid and dangerous ideas like “Islam will take over the world” or “Muslim slavery wasn’t that big of a deal” are glossed over, and people who associate with them and praise them or excuse them, from Linda Sarsour, a fan of the Muslim supremacist and known anti-semite Louis Farrakhan, are given a pass by the left.

            That’s a double standard that has no reason to exist.

  2. Paul Davies
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Although the British are becoming less religious, the church is still allowed far too great a role in education in the U.K. It’s a scandal. We have many ‘faith schools’. Faith is the opposite of enquiry and therefore incompatible with education.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      True… Tony B. Liar was bad on that…

      • Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        And Cameron and May and Nick Clegg and all the others.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Absolutely.

      The Humanists UK (formerly the BHA) and NSS campaigns deserve all the support they can get!

      /@

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Not only that, but faith schools are divisive. We have CofE faith schools, Catholic faith schools, Jewish faith schools and Muslim faith schools etc.

      How are children going to grow up believing people of other faiths are also human if they are not allowed to mix with them?

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Too true. Among other things, the CofE has been doing its utmost to get hold of (taxpayers’) funds to open new “free” schools with a faith foundation (now on ice because the Government has slashed the free schools programme budget); and to get local monopolies on Multi-Academy Trusts, including by absorbing non-religious schools and then changing their governance. Fortunately the MAT programme is also currently on ice.

      The latest CofE wheeze has been to get their in-house programme for training Headteachers accredited by the Government. Recently they have had huge difficulties in finding enough committed Christians to fill HT posts. Their aim is clearly to identify existing God-botherers who can be fast-tracked into HT posts, whether or not they are up to the job.

      I am sufficiently optimistic to think that we may be approaching a tipping point. Sooner or later some politicians are going to conclude that there might be more votes in opposing religious privilege than in appeasing it.

  3. Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    What worries me is that recent immigrants are often bringing their strange brands of evangelical cristianity (& islam no doubt) & that they are far less tolerant than the C of E. There is a big split opening for example with the African Anglicans over women priests (priestesses?) & homosexuality. Look at Northern Ireland…
    Converts of all religions tend to be less tolerant it seems to me.

    However, broadly this is a good thing. May the number of non-believers & ‘can’t be arsed’s continue to swell!

  4. Stephen Mynett
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    The CofE will not go quietly and with Theresa May and many other religionist politicians will hang on for some time. Plus, as Dominic pointed out, we have a problem with imported religion, Islam poses the bigger threat of violence but the crazy evangelicals and fundies of the other religions are a real threat as well.

    Take a look at the Christian Legal Centre, they waste millions in failed lawsuits to try to save the jobs of bigots, often in the health industry but never give up. They must be getting very big donations from somewhere just to carry on with their loss/win record.

  5. biz
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Allow me to play gloomy gus here. What is really happening is not that people are becoming more meaningfully secular. What is happening is that the middle is hollowing out.

    It is the CoE in the UK, and the mainline Protestant denominations in the US, that are basically becoming extinct as their former members, and children of members, become unaffiliated. But these are precisely the religious denominations that for decades were part of the liberal societal consensus – accepting of evolution, and later homosexuality, gender equality, and the notion that religion should be a largely private affair.

    What this means is that now the moniker of religion has been ceded entirely to evangelical Christianity and conservative Catholicism in the US, and evangelical Christianity and Islam in the UK. Gone is the idea of a consensus that both religious and secular people agreed on a certain set of liberal (small l) ideals.

    Let me also mention that an unfortunate side effect of the CoE and mainline Protestantism facing extinction in the UK and US respectively is that they are increasingly turning to regressive leftism in a desperate attempt to stay relevant in the zeitgeist. Check out phenomena like the CoE’s ‘9/11 truther’ bishop Steven Sizer, or the Methodist church trying to boycott Israel.

    It would be one thing if the trends were showing that Evangelicals, Muslims, and Catholics were secularizing. That would be a great thing for the US and/or UK. But mainline Protestants secularizing? That is not really that helpful, and probably hurting in the long term.

    • TJR
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      That’s my fear as well.

      I’m as militantly non-religious as they come, BUT

      If I had a big red button that would make the whole world C of E, I would press it without hesitation.

      • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        “nuke”?

        /@

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        “If I had a big red button that would make the whole world C of E, I would press it without hesitation.”

        On the grounds that the C of E (in its present incarnation of a widespread wishy-washy religion most of whose nominal adherents aren’t believers and only go to church on ‘special occasions’) would be a vast improvement in many cases?

        (A bit like giving everybody the common cold if it meant nobody had cancer etc any more).

        Yup, I’d press it too.

        Bear in mind that, state religion or not, the UK has state-funded abortion under the NHS (recently extended to women from Northern Ireland). Voluntary euthanasia is a battle still to be fought, of course. But – notwithstanding the legally privileged status of the C of E – I doubt it has the same influence on the government and lawmaking as the religious right seems to have in the US, First Amendment regardless.

        cr

    • darrelle
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      “But these (mainline Protestant denominations) are precisely the religious denominations that for decades were part of the liberal societal consensus – accepting of evolution, and later homosexuality, gender equality, and the notion that religion should be a largely private affair.”

      That may be accurate in that many of the religious believers “that for decades were part of the liberal societal consensus” were of mainline Protestant denominations, but I think that’s only half the story. In my experiences living in many regions of the US there are also many members of mainline Protestant denominations that are more like Mike Huckabee in their views than Jimmy Carter. I am not convinced that the net effect of mainline Protestants in the US has been a plus. The stereotypical image of a Bible-thumping US BibleBelter, Fire & Brimstone, Fags-are-going-to-hell, no-dancing-or-smiling-at-weddings, women-do-as-your-man-says Christians are of one Protestant denomination or another.

      The RCC is horrendous in my personal opinion but when I think of the worst examples of religious shitbaggery in the US a lot more of them are one Protestant denomination or another rather than RCC. That’s surely due simply to the disparity in total numbers between Catholics and Protestant denominations, but there it is. Worldwide though its the RCC, hands down.

      • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        And as Jerry points out, it was those “liberal” CofE bishops who keep opposing “dying with dignity” and swaying others in the Lords.

        /@

      • biz
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        @ darrelle: In the interest of accuracy, I believe you are describing largely evangelicals, not ‘mainline’ Protestants. Yes, evangelicals are Protestants (as opposed to being Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc), but they are not -mainline- Protestants.

        The mainline Protestant denominations are the ones like Episcopalian, Presbyterian, etc. which have gay bishops, and classy churches where people sit and sing quietly.

        • darrelle
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          I was a little sloppy there. I agree that it is a shame that mainline protestants are reducing in numbers. If I recall correctly their numbers have been trending down since the ’50s.

          I just wanted to relate that I’ve run across many mainline protestants over the years that were more like Mike Huckabee rather than the more typical liberal Christian most think of when they hear “mainline Protestant.” And I didn’t know that Jimmy C was an Evangelical. He seemed so mild I just assumed he was mainline.

          Also was trying to say that mainline were never a majority (at least in my lifetime) and that the other less savory Protestant denominations more than offset them.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s accurate to classify either Mike Huckabee or Jimmy Carter as “mainline Protestants.” Each is a self-professed Evangelical, albeit with different views on policy (although perhaps not quite so different as we might suppose; Huckabee never caught fire with the hard right because his views on social spending conflicted with those of the budgetary hawks in the Tea Party.)

        • darrelle
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          I was pretty sloppy. I would never have dreamed the odious Huckster was mainline, but I did assume that Jimmy Carter was because he always seemed so liberal. I never knew he was Evangelical.

          I was trying to say that I’ve met many mainliner Protestants that were more similar to the Huckster (the worst example of a non-mainline Protestant I could think of, o any kind of protestant for that matter) than to Jimmy C (who I erroneously assumed was mainline).

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        You are implicitly equating ‘mainline Protestants’ (which I presume includes nominal C of E) in the UK with those in the US. I think that’s incorrect. Just as a middle-of-the-road voter in UK/Europe is miles to the left of a middle-of-the-road US voter.

        Mainline ‘protestants’ in UK hardly ever mention G*d or praying gratuitously**. It seems to me that mainline protestants in the US do it continually and automatically.

        (**Probably mostly because they never think about it; and even if they did, being English, it’s a personal thing and therefore bad manners to bring it up since it amounts to an implicit request to the other party to reveal personal information about himself).

        cr

        • darrelle
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          I was talking only of the US and did not intend to say anything about protestants in any other countries.

    • nicky
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes biz, that is a pertinent observation and -I fear- probably correct. “The middle is hollowing out” in the ‘West’, you put that neatly.
      And probably not just in matters of religion, it appears to be a trend in politics too.

      • nicky
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        I mean between the ‘Ctrl’-left and ‘Alt’-right we need a wide ‘Space’-centre. 😆

      • biz
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        absolutely.

  6. jardino
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    However, they are trying to fight back through the minds of children. See this report from Humanists UK.

    https://humanism.org.uk/2017/10/18/church-of-england-school-visits-being-used-to-offset-falling-church-attendance/

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Yes, not only do we face a state-funded educational system in which one third of the schools are “faith” schools, but various organisations are trying to sneak religion into ostensibly fully secular schools.

      Apart from the link you posted, jardino, there also this — and much more.

      /@

  7. jay
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Not so sure about the next generation in the UK. According to what I read, for the past 5 years the most common baby name is Mohammed.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I dunno, maybe the Anglicans just got tired of all those “Addisons” and “Brewsters” and “Cliffords.”

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      No — it’s only just got into the Top Ten.

      /@

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      That vile rag the Daily Mail is bad for your health Jay!

      [1] You wrote “in the UK”, for which your ‘factoid’ is totally incorrect – it’s the stat for England & Wales that puts The Prophet’s name close to the top [once you throw in Scotland & N. Ireland the Muslim name percentage drops]
      [2] That particular spelling of The Prophet’s name [Mohammed] isn’t even in the top 20 for England & Wales.
      [3] If you add up all the variations on the name, then it still isn’t top when compared with all the variations added together of other names [say Oliver + Ollie, Harry + Harold, Benjy + Benny + Ben + Benjamin and so on]
      [4] What the vile rags never mention is that among Muslims there is a tendency to use a few names a lot – e.g. nearly every Bengali-extraction male is given The Prophet’s name, though day-to-day another one of the boy’s names may be used e.g. a non-Muslim example: I go by Michael & never my first [birth certificate] name of James or RCC confirmation name of Edward

      • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Oh, good point. I didn’t even check the most common spelling that cracked the Top Ten against jay’s.

        /@

        PS. “John” was the disregarded forename shared by my father and his, and their siblings and cousins. He was always “Ron” (or “Ronnie” when younger).

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          @Ant Being Irish I *HAD* to have ‘Edward’ in my names because it [& Edmund] are the Anglicised versions of Éamon – ‘Éamon’ being my dad, grandad & so on back. Which reminds me…

          Karen Hill: “It was like he had two families. The first time I was introduced to all of them at once, it was crazy. Paulie and his brothers had lots of sons and nephews. And almost all of them were named Peter or Paul. It was unbelievable. There must have been two dozen Peters and Pauls at the wedding. Plus, they were all married to girls named Marie. And they named all their daughters Marie. By the time I finished meeting everybody, I thought I was drunk”

          • Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            @ Michael If they had a good reception, you might have been!

            My mother gave me her brother’s middle name and my sister gave her son my middle name!

            /@

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The bitter fruit borne by Henry VIII’s poisonous tree — or what you get when you build a church on Tudor family values, as Hitch used to say. 🙂

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      I disagree. Starting with Elizabeth, rulers have tried to mould the CofE into a compromise church that anybody could be happy with. Elizabeth started this because she had witnessed a protestant reign in which Catholics were put to death followed by a Catholic reign in which protestants were put to death. She didn’t completely succeed of course, but Anglicanism is watered down almost to the point of harmlessness because of the bloodbaths of the 16th and 17th centuries (in my opinion).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, you’re right; the C of E is pretty watered-down. I just like to tease the Anglicans about their befouled creation story.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        True up to a point; but for much of the period from the late 17th century to (I would say) the mid 20th the CofE continued to exert huge and unjustified influence in English society.

        The Church (as opposed to some individual Christians) opposed the abolition of slavery, opposed the admission of non-Anglicans to Oxbridge, opposed the introduction of cremation, opposed the reform of the franchise, and opposed all the social advances of the last century, from abortion and contraception, to the rights of women and non-whites, to those of LGBT people. It still has 26 bishops in the House of Lords (the UK is the only country apart from Iran to reserve places in its Parliament for the clergy); and Archbishop Welby has boasted that they are the most “orthodox” (ie reactionary) bench of Bishops since 1945.

        The CofE is hugely obstructive. It is still not down and out. Let’s hope the current trends continue.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Yes, it’s gotten harder and harder to believe that god is an Englishman.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Oh, it’s true: Englishmen no longer exist! 😀

      /@

    • John Aylwin
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. On the other hand, if there were a (loving, merciful, beneficent) god, she’d be happy that her own country was disavowing the all too human thought-crash that is religion.

  10. Posted October 23, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    The letter seems to be real, and published in New European.

    In support, note how the print on the reverse can be seen. (Or it‘s a clever, effortful, fake.)

    /@

  11. Frank Bath
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded of a USA visitor’s guide to Britain I once came across. ‘Remember not mention God or Jesus to strangers you meet, they will think you are mad.’

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      😎

      Very true.

      In my inadvertent viewing of grossly excessive quantities of ‘reality TV’ (my wife watches the crap, while I just read WEIT on my laptop) I can’t help noticing that very, very few British people at car accidents, hospital emergency rooms, fat clinics etc, gratuitously mention G*d or praying; but Americans almost inevitably do.

      cr

  12. Diki
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    If you thought a state religion in a democracy was bad just look at some of the desperate measures used to pay for it: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chancel_repair_liability

    • Diki
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Whoa! And read the last section of this, what a lot of money grubbing whining excuse makers: https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/our-buildings/churches/chancel-repair-liability-qas-2012.aspx

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Okay, so it’s a historic liability against a parcel of land that the owner contribute to the upkeep of the parish church.

        It’s not a tax in support of religion, it’s a tax in support of building maintenance.

        May I point out – in strictly secular terms – that a distinctive feature of most old English villages is the old stone parish church, invariably C of E. It contributes substantially to neighbouring property values. I see nothing wrong with property owners – whose values are enhanced by its presence – financially supporting the maintenance of historic and scenic structures, whether churches or anything else, in any way possible. (On the other hand, supporting building of new churches or evangelism – bugger that).

        I’m an iconoclastic atheist who doesn’t give a fig for ceremony or religion or most traditions BUT I do love the ambience of old country villages and a significant part of that is the presence of the village church. Somebody’s got to maintain it, I don’t much care whether it’s the C of E (who are struggling with fading membership) or English Heritage (but they’ve got more than enough on their plate with the old castles and country houses).

        cr

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          So who should pay for it then?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 24, 2017 at 12:57 am | Permalink

            Who should pay? – those who benefit from it. Local residents who have the pleasure of living in a traditional country village; local property owners whose values are increased by the presence of the old church; tourists; the tourist trade; and the C of E who have the use of the church (but also carry the primary responsibility for its maintenance).

            But the Wikipedia link explains how it came about. The land in question was once owned by the church and income from it was used to fund repairs to the chancel of the church. When that land was sold, the liability for chancel repairs passed with it, in *exactly* the same way as some land titles have easements or covenants registered against them.

            Now it could certainly be argued in specific cases whether the liability is ‘fair’ in comparison with other interested parties; presumably the purchase price of the land reflected the liability. But to characterise this as ‘supporting state religion’ is BS.

            cr

  13. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    That letter – she was just taking the piss out of the usual arguments for Brexit, clearly.

    cr


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