How Christianity kills itself

Jul 16, 2021 by

by Tomiwa Owolade, UnHerd:

The death of Anglicanism is not the end of this country’s religious story.

Perhaps the most extraordinary cultural transformation in Britain over the past half-century is the decline of Christianity. Two generations ago, two-thirds of the country identified as Christian; fewer than 40% now do. Only 12% of British people now identify as Anglican — the state religion of the country. Only 1% of 18 to 24 year olds are Anglicans.

In America, the picture seems more rosy. 65% of Americans identify as Christian. But ten years ago the figure was around 75%. And in the early 1980s it was close to 90%. The trajectory is clear.

There is, of course, a distinction between identifying as a Christian and going to church every week. On the latter front the picture in Western Europe is strikingly bleak. As Harriet Sherwood puts it in the Guardian: “In the UK, France, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, between 56% and 60% said they never go to church, and between 63% and 66% said they never pray”. But what interests me more is disaffiliation — the lack of willingness to espouse even a Christian identity.

This is secularisation: the transformation of religion from an integral part of civic life to a fading husk. The relationship between Christianity and secularisation, framed this way, looks antagonistic. Secularisation is Christianity’s bête noire.

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