The newly released Census shows many interesting things, how Islington is a cavern for people who are single, how Blackpool is the divorce capital, how 7% of the population are foreign born, but in my opinion the biggest thing it shows, is how religion has declined rapidly from people’s lives.
The 2001 Census put Christianity the biggest religion in society, making up around 71.7% of the population. This new Census still has Christianity making up a majority of the population, but it shows it has decreased swiftly, right down to 59.3%.
What is causing this decrease? What is causing people to make that decision, that decision to turn away from their faith and tick the “No religion” box? That is the purpose of this article, to address the problem the church has at the moment, the problem which is causing an enormous amount of people to turn away from their faith.
Well, for starters there are many issues such as ‘gay marriage’ which have caused outrage in the church, yet in society there has been a massive demand for this law to be passed, giving gay men and women the chance and the choice to become married citizens. This only shows the divisions between that of the people’s opinions and beliefs and that of the church’s opinion and belief. These boundaries between the two are becoming enormous, growing every day, every year. Something which is normal in society such as homosexuality has a feeling of non-acceptance in the church. I’m not saying the church are homophobic, I’m saying that they neither hate gay people, nor do they support them.
For example, how does gay marriage affect society in a negative way? It doesn’t, quite the opposite, it makes our society a forward looking, active, rights for all society. Isn’t this what Jesus demonstrated and ‘campaigned’ for- ‘an equal society’- rights for all- where everyone has a choice and no one group of people is excluded from making these decisions. This is the reason why Christian followers in the UK have declined; the church states they want a better, more equal society, but in reality their actions demonstrate a different belief.
Another example is women bishops. Why can’t women be bishops, why can’t women represent other Christian women at the tip of the church? Why can’t women have an equal say at the top of Christianity in Britain? After gay marriage this is probably the biggest reason why people are turning away from faith. How the way the church operates is extremely different from the developed, still developing social attitudes that the rest of society adopts.
The church is simply lagging behind society. Twenty years ago, sadly you would expect this type of anti-women behaviour; you would however, not ever in a million years think that still in 2012 we still would have male only bishops. In the workplace, women are constantly banging on the door, the door to equal rights to men and it is being opened to them, but in the church it seems it has simply smashed the door in their faces.
The people of Britain want a church that is forward looking and reflects the views of the British people, they want a church evolving all the time, constantly adapting to its new environment. They do not want a church that is out of date, which does not reflect people’s opinion. They do not want a church which is still against issue like ‘gay marriage’, like ‘women Bishops’, issues which are supported by the people but shouted at by the church.
This current census of the decline in the church almost reflects the situation of the Republican Party in the United States. In the way that the Republican Party did not adapt to the wider society, it did not move forward socially, therefore it has received a lot of bad press and a serious decline from previous supporters.
The church can be an extremely good and effective tool, bringing together communities, giving activists such as Martin Luther King the principals and skills to make enormous positive changes on society. But the direction it is going in is completely the opposite, from a good tool, to a bad one- and gradually people are throwing it away. The church needs to move forward, it needs to get back to the peloton; otherwise future censuses will only get worse for it.
By Gabriel Dobrashian-Yates