The idea of the UK as a Christian nation has been challenged in recent years. The latest survey says that more than half of the population has no faith and the share of the population who say they are Christians has fallen to just 15 percent – the lowest ever recorded.
But does this show that Britain has finally turned the corner, and are no longer a Christian nation?
“More than two-thirds of the population said they were Christian. This has now fallen to 41 per cent.”
What we’re seeing is an acceleration in people who are not only not practicing their faith on a regular basis, but that do not even identify themselves as Christian anymore.
“On one level one could argue that Britain will remain a Christian nation until a movement comes along that redefines it in explicitly secular terms.”
But it remains the case that religion is no longer the main background against which individuals and the Government measure their morality. Instead, many people who are looking for something to believe in are instead placing their trust in the occult or New Age beliefs and the relative popularity of “spirituality”. People also continue to look for meaning in alcohol, pornography, and recreational sex.
“The situation has been exacerbated by the comments of senior church figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who lamented earlier this year that “the British culture is becoming anti-Christian.”
Nick Baines also warned that a brand of “intolerant” liberalism circulates in the UK which is dismissive of the Christian faith. The Right Reverend Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, said “some secularists “have a problem” with religion being talked about.”
He made his comments after Theresa May said it is important people can talk freely about their faith following claims some Christians dare not speak about Christmas.
The result is that Britain’s Christianity is largely unexpressed
It seems that the Christians – maybe about a half according to polls – feel vaguely Christian but don’t know how to express it.
“In a strange way, Britain’s Christianity is largely unexpressed.”
Bishop Baines said: “Clearly there are some Christians who are concerned about whether they are free to talk about their faith in a respectful and appropriate way in the workplace.
“Equally, there are plenty of people who are not Christians who think that Christians shouldn’t, or think there is an issue around it. I call it religious illiteracy.
Sociologists will tell you that this makes no sense and that culture is what is expressed. But maybe religion, these days, is harder to express than other things amidst all the censorship and while it is clear Christianity is not reinventing the wheel: Christianity is at-least fusing modern tastes with smart messaging that sits with both traditional Christian values and contemporary concerns about the world.
Bishop Baines said: “There are people who have been disciplined or threatened with discipline for talking about their faith even though they have been asked about it. Someone makes a complaint and says they have been inappropriate. This is absurd.”
He added: “There is, amongst some Christians – this isn’t universal – a sense of being a little picked on or beleaguered.
“I think if you claim to be open-minded and liberal, why are you so frightened of religious expression?”
“It is a Christian festival. Are they going to tell Muslims they have got to strip Islam out of Eid? It’s ridiculous”
“Liberalism can become very intolerant of anything that doesn’t fit its own parameters.”
We have already seen a number of cases in Britain when Christians have been disciplined or sacked at work or expelled from school for expressing their faith.
We are clearly at the beginning of a new era and know the Church will continue, whatever happens in accordance with biblical teachings. As we Christians say, all things are possible through Jesus Christ who strengthens us.