Friday 24 December 2010

Britain now a majority non-religious nation

"In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion. Admittedly, some other surveys – including the last census – have produced different findings on these issues, usually to the advantage of the religious option. There is also a margin of error in all such exercises. All the same, and particularly since the trends in opinion over time seem well set, it is hard not to feel that this latest finding marks a cultural watershed.
This Christmas, for perhaps the first time ever, Britain is a majority non-religious nation. Most of us have probably seen this moment coming, but it is a substantial event nonetheless. It is undoubtedly a development that would have astonished our ancestors who built a Britain on the basis that we were and would remain a predominantly Protestant people. The victory of secularism would have flabbergasted them almost as much as the pope appearing on the BBC with his Thought for the Day.
The change ought certainly to inspire some national reflection, though there is no need for national breast-beating. After all, in most eyes, the BSA survey finding simply underscores things that have already become obvious. Today, our three political parties are led by two open atheists, and a prime minister who admits his faith comes and goes, a development impossible to imagine in other parts of a world, in which the loss of religion is not a uniform trend. The Britain of 50 years ago, in which religion was a far larger part of the social fabric and the national way of life, is a country we have lost."

1 comment:

  1. Yes indeed.

    Like many here I was brought up in the Protestant church but I'm afraid that, particularly turning out to be gay, meant I was pretty soon put off by the reactionary pronouncements on the subject by men in dog collars.

    Then the science arguments began to get a better airing in the media and more of my friends were discussing how they didn't go to church any longer and found creationists akin to flat-earthists and all of them pretty much off the graph.

    So I guess I went with the flow and then I met Pete: an aerospace engineer who turned out to be pretty scathing in his views about all religious superstition, as he calls it.

    These days we still go through the motions of having a celebration on 25th December and we have no 'religion' or 'belief' left in anything other than our physical and scientific world.

    So we celebrate with everyone else (rather than miss out!) and simply call it Mid-Winter because to us it almost is and at least the days are starting to get longer now.

    So a "Merry Mid-Winter" to you and may you have a really enjoyable weekend!