The Church of England should drop religion and take up politicsby Peter Kellner / December 12, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
Back in 1957, Gallup asked people a range of questions about their faith. They found that most people were Christians who regarded Jesus Christ as the son of God. Most people drew a clear distinction between religion and politics and wanted religious leaders to worry about our souls, but not about government policy.
Half a century later, YouGov has repeated Gallup’s questions and discovered a precipitous decline in religious belief. The decline in church attendance reflects more than a stay-at-home culture dominated by television and computer technology. It flows from a collapse of faith in the central tenets of Christianity.
Back in the 50s, fully 78 per cent thought either there was a personal God (41 per cent) or “some sort of spirit, God or life force” (37 per cent). Just 22 per cent were either atheists (6 per cent) or agnostics (16 per cent). Today there are almost exactly the same number of religious as non-religious Britons. And atheists now easily outnumber believers in a personal God.
There has been an even sharper collapse in the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God: down from 71 per cent to 27 per cent. And the decline looks set to continue. Whereas 35 per cent of people over 60 hold this belief, the figure among people under 25 is only 9 per cent.
Large numbers of doubters can even be f…