In the past few days, two very interesting stories have broken in the main stream press. Firstly, we have the article in the New York Times reporting in a study called “U.S Religious Landscape Survey” by The Pew Forum. This study seems to suggest a steady decline in religion, with one of the most notable statistics revealing that people are less likely to be affiliated to a religion as they become adults. This backs up my own view, that many children are religious, and stay religious, purely because it’s what they were taught by their parents. A sensible law would surely be to completely remove all religious teachings from schools (and make it illegal for parents to project their own beliefs onto their children) until such an age that children can make their own informed decision.
Another promising trend is the huge loss being experienced by Catholiscism. Hopefully this indicates that people are becomming less accepting of hard-line practices, such as those of the Catholic Church. You’ll note that the article seems to suggest that the massive increase in those descrining themselves as without affiliation may simpy be down to the fact they are not currently active in a Church, and not that they have lost their belief alltogether. I’d question this analysis based on the fact that there is a Nondenominational option available, which people who fall into that category would surely have picked.
While the non-affiliated now make up the fourth largest “religious group” in the U.S, the story appears to be different across the pond. A recent U.N study claims that Britian is no longer 70% Christian, something everyone has known for a long time. In fact, things appear to have swung in the complete opposite direction, with two thirds of Brits now not claiming to be religious at all. This is certainly in line with my experiences of Modern Britain, where the religious are often viewed with a certain curiosity. Tony Blair’s recent statements support this.
The really interesting part of the report comes with the suggestion that the Church of England should be disbanded.
The role and privileges of the established Church are challenged because they do not reflect “the religious demography of the country and the rising proportion of other Christian denominations.”
It’s a very interesting idea. If the U.N report, taken from a recent census, can be proven as fact, there is absolutely no reason for the Church of England to enjoy any privileges whatsoever. They effectively become just another charity.