The phenomenon of disappearing Christians seems to be a current British phenomenon (hurrah).

Er, why,
and why not in the USA too?

Please, let's spread this welcome trend worldwide. But why is it not happening like this in the United States?

In the Daily Telegraph of 16 December 2009 (on the front page) Martin Beckford, the Religious Affairs Correspondent, wrote:

“Only half of Britons consider themselves Christian, a sharp decline on 25 years ago, an academic study suggests.
One professorial analyst described a large proportion of the country as the “fuzzy faithful”, people who have a vague belief in god but do not belong to a particular denomination or attend services. However, most people still say religion helps bring happiness and comfort, and regret its declining influence on modern society.”

Sociology Professor David Voas, University of Manchester, analysed the data. He said: “More and more people are ceasing to identify with a religion at all. The key distinction in Britain now is between religious involvement and indifference.”

His analysis will be published in January 2010 by the National Centre for Social Research. It considers the results of 4486 interviews that were conducted in the respected survey on British Social Attitudes survey in 2008. It shows that just 50% of respondents call themselves Christian, which is down from 66% in 1983.

The proportion having “no religion” has risen from 31 to 43%. Non-Christians, including Muslims and Jews, represent 7% of the population, which is a steep rise from 2% 25 years ago and is largely due to Muslim immigration encouraged by the Labour government.
The steepest fall was among those who say they worship in the Church of England. This is down from 40% of those who call themselves Christians to 23%. Official church figures show that average Sunday attendance was 978,000 in 2007, compared with 1.2 million in 1983.

The proportion of Roman Catholics declined only slightly from 10 to 9%.This is partly because of a vast increase in the numbers of Catholic Poles and other eastern Europeans into Britain.
37% of people questioned “did not believe in god” or were unable to say whether some supreme being exists. 35% had a definite belief in god or a belief with “occasional doubts.”

A mighty 62% said they never attend services in a place of worship.
How different this is from the situation a century ago. And how different it is from the people of the Americas.
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Tags: Christian decline, percentage christians, unbelief

Views: 111

Replies to This Discussion

I suggest a version of herd immunity has come into play.

As more people are exposed to others without the religion virus, or even one's own particular strain of it, the decline will continue, and maybe accelerate. There are still groups who try to maintain isolation from the non-infected, and thus maintain the immersion required for the infection to thrive.

The US of A has a larger percentage of infected persons, immersion is the rule, and isolation difficult to achieve.
Please, let's spread this welcome trend worldwide. But why is it not happening like this in the United States?
The US of A has a larger percentage of infected persons, immersion is the rule, and isolation difficult to achieve.

There is still a huge stigma associated with Atheism in the states, somehow a lot of American Christians seem to think that without Christianity a person can't be moral, in my experience more so then (non-baptist) European Christians do.
I do find this an interesting aspect in the British "form" of religion. However, looking back culturally, either through readings or media, it seems that England has always had a very differnt view of how the populace and clergy interacted. To me it has always seemed very 'casual'. "Hello, I like gardening, cats and I'm a vicar..." It just has not come across as the focal point of daily life for many.

Here is America, especially in the South, I may have to interject that the fundamentalist attitudes and the displays of "Jesus Saves", "Jesus Love You", signage are almost in lock-step with displays of Confederate Flags, 'Bubba's Army' bumper stickers, and the like. I can only attribute these issues to what I consider our poorer standards for education in general in the states. Education here wants to be an extention of Sunday school in some areas. Additionally, the sad fact is that these very same 'christians' display less of the moral fibre of christianity and more of the elements of the South's adherance to Jim Crow laws and an affinity for subdued (or overt) KKK affiliation. In other words, they are the most intolerant, bigoted and mean-spirited (if not undereducated) people you can find if you do not think and believe as they do.

Religion here is more of a status symbol or somewhat of a societal marker. "I'm Bill, I like fast cars, fast women, beer and I'm a christian..."

(and yes, I already apologize for my obviously slanted view on the people I see around me day in and day out).
I grew to adulthood in the deep South, and I share many of your view points. I feel there is something in conservative Christianity that sounds a familiar chord in mindset of most Southerners. Before I attended collage, I did blue collar work in my home state of Louisiana. I remember driving through numerous towns bordered with signs reading "Jesus is Lord of Madill" or whatever the name of that town might be. My coworkers were astonished at my outspoken atheism and liberal politics. I'm not sure which alarmed them the most or even if they were able to separate the two in their minds. My parents were fundamentalist Pentecostals, and I have heard all sorts of strange, racist, sexist, and unscientific ideas. For example a, I've heard minsters proclaim that African-Americans can't go to heaven, that men possess one less rib than do women, and that African-American slavery was justified by the Curse of Ham.

For these, and other reasons, I quit attending church and became an atheist as a teenager. Even before I became an atheist, I had found myself disagreeing with the racial content, theory of hell, and the creationists stories I heard in church. Despite my anger at being born into such a backwards lifestyle, I sometimes wonder if I would today be an atheist had a been born to a liberal Catholic family like those I came to know while attending a liberal Jesuit university.

I understand your feeling about living in the South as an atheist.
I lived in Florida for most of my life, and although I was never a church goer there, I know that there are evangelicals everywhere!

The ones I'm familiar with though are not the confederate flag/bubba types. They look ordinary from the outside, are nice people and seem in everyway "normal"; they have bright, home-schooled kids, play rock & jazz music, some even drink and smoke. But they all have that "Jesus Saves" and "Jesus loves you" at the ready. The ones I know are transplanted from Northern states.

I prefer my Christians to be the NASCAR, beer-swillers...obvious and out-in-the-open. But there are thousands upon thousands (I'm afraid) that are average folks that just happen to be delusional in this one aspect of their lives.

I am confused and seriously dismayed by the existence of these people. I don't understand how normal, intelligent, family people can be crazy, deluded god-bots.

Why is Christian religion so pernicious in USA and not in Britain?

I once heard someone describe the Anglicans as the only church to successfully remove God from their liturgy without it being a great disruption to their core beliefs...something like that. Evangelical USA churches constantly harp on Jesus' love, Jesus' dying for our sins, blah, blah. They really do keep the Christ in Christmas, whereas other country's churches have been either lax in this dept. or, more likely, simply had to give way to science and the incredulity of their congregations, in order to keep them coming in on Sundays.

Maybe I'm saying that Americans are more easily brainwashed by the repetitive "Jesus" messages. (Like you said, educational differences.) American Christians may be less inquisitive, less thoughtful or mindful of the incompatibility of their faith with facts, or they stubbornly want to remain stupid for god.

Brits...not so willing to give up their rationality perhaps. Could be a by-product of dealing with the problems associated with a large Islamic pop. which may create negative associations with all religions for Brits.
I think part of it is a general distrust of the of the government. When religion is so entwined with government, one way to express your dissatisfaction with the "ruling class" is to reject their anglican church. Furthermore, I think if the right wing keeps hugging religion so close to it, we (hopefully) will be in a similar situation eventually. That's change I could believe in!!
Here in Canada the government does a "religious census" every 10 years ending in 1, so the last was in 2001. We were at 72% which was down from 83% in '91, which was down from 90% in '81. Definite trend going on here...we'll see where we are at in 2011. These are specific to Christian religion and the stats show a continual decline for every christian denomination. So we're getting there, slowly but surely.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/can_rel0.htm
One more in my mental "stack of reasons" to move the two hours north to canada:)
Come to the Netherlands, or one of the Nordic countries. Religion has a much smaller influence in our daily life because atheists are not a minority here. I have real protection from religion, and most theists are quite moderate, even liberal compared to for instance average theist in the USA.
I May take you up on that....
It's not that expensive to take a plane ticket to Amsterdam from the states... what are you waiting for? :D
is that an open invitation to us all or just to RR?

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