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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Thank God for Richard Dawkins!

The latest UK Census
Religious Views in 1000's UK Census 2011
Over here in the UK, the government runs a census every decade or so, and the results of the 2011 one have just come out. All sorts of interesting facts emerge, not least on the subject of "religion".

"We're not Christians"
One interesting result is the sharp decline in those calling themselves 'Christian' over the last ten years. In 2001 72% (or 37 million) said they were Christian but in 2011 only 59% (33 million) classify themselves as Christians - a decline of 13%.

In the same period the number of people saying they belonged to "no religion" doubled, no doubt in part due to a publicity campaign to encourage people to be more honest about which box they tick (see right).

Based on this 13% drop one group estimated that less than 50% of the population of the UK would be "Christians" by 2018.

Among the many reasons offered for this decline is the campaigning work of people like Richard Dawkins, through his book "The God Delusion" and various campaigns, such as his  London poster campaign (see below).

Should we be concerned?
If you believe in "Christendom" you should probably be afraid. If you believe there is such a thing as a "Christian nation" you'll be disappointed - after all, we are clearly becoming less of one.

But if you can't see for the life of you where the idea of a "Christian Nation" comes from, you will probably be encouraged, oddly enough. (In the New Testament there is no such thing as a "Christian Nation", just a new people, a new community, called the church, despised and scattered across the world).

Why be encouraged?
Because, at last the census is becoming more realistic. In a nation dominated by the false idea of "Christendom" people tick the Christian box because they think that you become a Christian by being "born one". If you are born into a Muslim home or Muslim country you are a Muslim, if into a Hindu home or country, a Hindu, etc.

This may well be true of religion, but it is wholly untrue of Christianity. To be a Christian you have to be born again - a miracle the Holy Spirit does at some point in life, rarely at birth, through the Word of Christ. Being born in a Christian home or a "Christian country" makes you no more a Christian than being born in a birthing pool makes you a fish (or an amphibian).

So, at long last, the statistics are becoming more realistic and honest. My own guess is that the stats are going to have to go down much further  before they reflect the proportion of people who are truly Christian.

True Christianity is on the way
And as we become secularised we will become persecuted, and to call yourself a Christian will be costly. All of this will deter people even more from putting an X in the "Christian" box. Finally, perhaps at a few percent we will have an accurate idea of how many in the UK are true believers.

And at that stage, as a persecuted minority - the norm for the history of the world by the way - we will again become effective and bold in preaching the Gospel to our already-lost culture.

So, though I never thought I'd say this, thank you Richard Dawkins for making the statistics in the UK a little more honest and realistic.

3 comments:

  1. Interestingly, despite this decline, Sunderland has come out in 2011 as 70.2% Christian, the 33rd (out of 346) most "Christian" region in the UK. Christendom rules supreme in the North East, as 193,000 certainly aren't part of our local churches (a generous guess would be around 2000)!

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  2. Nice post, I was beginning to feel that I may be the only one who saw the drop in the number of people describing themselves a 'Christians' as a good thing!

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