Thursday, May 08, 2008

Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour

If this drives Churchgoers onto their knees it will be good.

From The Times, Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
May 8, 2008

"Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation, research published today suggests.

The fall - from the four million people who attend church at least once a month today - means that the Church of England, Catholicism and other denominations will become financially unviable. A lack of funds from the collection plate to support the Christian infrastructure, including church upkeep and ministers’ pay and pensions, will force church closures as ageing congregations die.

In contrast, the number of actively religious Muslims will have increased from about one million today to 1.96 million in 2035.

According to Religious Trends, a comprehensive statistical analysis of religious practice in Britain, published by Christian Research, even Hindus will come close to outnumbering churchgoers within a generation. The forecast to 2050 shows churchgoing in Britain declining to 899,000 while the active Hindu population, now at nearly 400,000, will have more than doubled to 855,000. By 2050 there will be 2,660,000 active Muslims in Britain - nearly three times the number of Sunday churchgoers.

Coming just months after the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested that the introduction of aspects of sharia into British law was unavoidable, the report is likely to fuel calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England.

Martin Salter, the Labour MP for Reading West and a member of Reading inter-faith group, said: “I think all faiths could be treated equally under our constitution. These figures demonstrate the absurdity of favouring one brand of Christianity over other parts of the Christian faith and the many other religions that grace our shores.”

Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary with responsibility for community cohesion, said: “We will look at these findings very closely. Britain is a secular democracy with a strong Christian tradition but many faiths have a home in Britain.”

The report makes it clear that Christianity is becoming a minority religion. It also reflects the changing nature of religious practice worldwide and will further aid the stated aim of the Prince of Wales who, on his Coronation, hopes to become Defender of Faith rather than Defender of the Faith."

Salter seems to think all religions are of the same validity. Blears is simply wrong. England and Scotland are constitutionally Christian countries. While England has an established church the heir to the throne will not, thank God, get his wish. He too seems to think all religions are equally (in)valid.

Many evangelical churches are growing. Ours is. God blesses the gospel. Those churches in decline need to recover the gospel. Then they too will grow.

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