Friday, April 06, 2007

Rejoice, Rejoice, Churchgoing on the Wane.


A research report entitled ’Churchgoing in the UK’ has just been issued by ‘Tearfund’, which describes itself as, “…one of the UK’s leading relief and development agencies, working in partnership with Christian churches around the world to tackle the causes and effects of poverty.”

The Foreword to this report includes the following delightful news from the Revd. Dr. Steven Croft …

This report is essential reading for all concerned with the place and future of the Christian church in contemporary Britain.

The relationship between the Christian churches and the society around us is shifting rapidly. In order to understand these changes we need a range of different tools.

Membership and attendance figures collected by denominations give us part of the picture. For many years, Christian Research has also published regular and valuable Church Census information, taking a snapshot of the number of people who attend church on a particular Sunday.

This new research needs to be set alongside those figures. It offers a different perspective in that it surveys in detail those who don’t attend church as well as recording those who do. The results give us a detailed “map” of the population.

There is significant encouragement here for the churches. A very substantial part of the population in the United Kingdom still attend church regularly or occasionally during the year. Christians are not (as yet) the tiny minority that some would suggest. This statistic alone has major implications not only for the churches but for public debate and public policy.

However, there is other vital information in the survey. A third of the adult population now have no church background (in addition to those who belong to other faiths). They have never attended church apart from baptisms, weddings and funerals. This proportion is higher among younger people and is rising steadily over time. (emboldening mine)

Whilst the body of the report contains even better news…

Tearfund asked UK adults, “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?” Just over half (53%) of UK adults belong to the Christian religion, which is equivalent to 26.2 million adults in the population. 6% or 3.2 million adults belong to other faiths, meaning that three out of five UK adults have a religious affiliation. The remaining two fifths (39%), 19 million adults, say they have no religion. (emboldening mine)

But compare the foregoing with this evidence from the same report…

An identical question has been asked on the Government’s British Social Attitudes Survey for many years. The latest results from 2004 were very similar, indicating 53% Christian, 3% other faiths, 43% no religion. However affiliation to Christianity is higher on the Census. On the 2001 Census, 72% of the UK population said they were Christian, 5% other religions,
16% no religion and 7% declined to answer. However the Census in England and Wales asked a softer question “What is your religion?”.

These comparisons suggest a difference between nominal affiliation on a Census form and being truly committed to a particular faith. In England and Wales around one in four of those adults who would describe themselves nominally as Christian on the Census form do not consider that they actually ‘belong’ to the Christian religion. Similarly around one in six of people classifying themselves as other religions on the Census do not consider they ‘belong’ to that religion. (emboldening mine)

Quite clearly the conclusions drawn by the Tearfund report are correct but the figure of 72% as given by the 2001 Census and which is quoted regularly by churchmen to defend their intrusion into secular affairs has been known to be false for years, yet the church and its duplicitous and mendacious lackeys deliberately use this figure knowing it to be false.

But even more delightful news follows…

Among
UK adults:

* 4.9 million go to church at least weekly (10% of the UK adult population).

* 7.6 million attend church at least monthly (15%).

* 12.6 million attend church at least annually (26%).

* 28.8 million (59%) never or practically never go to church. (emboldening mine)

No wonder the churches are becoming even more histrionic in their attempts to preserve the unwarranted privileges that they have enjoyed, at our expense, for far too long. Let us hope that the decline in attendance accelerates, and that religions lose all their privileges whatsoever, making this a truly secular society once and for all.

Those who are interested can access the Tearfund report (it stretches to 50 pages) here.

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