Obsessed with genitalia, the Church of England is on a suicidal trajectory

Archbishop of Canterbury-elect, Justin Welby, is taking over a Church headed for oblivion

AROUND 1,100 people a day in England and Wales are abandoning their Christian identity, according to new census data revealed yesterday – and, according to a report in the Independent the established Church of England

Has never looked so out of touch with the rest of Britain.

Analysing the data for the newspaper,  Jerome Taylor wrote:

If I were a Lords Spiritual right now, I’d be rather nervous about keeping my job.

He added:

It must come as no surprise that the same decade which has resulted in four million fewer people calling themselves Christian has also been a period in which Christianity has been paralysed by polemical debates about genitals – mainly what type of genitals you have and what you do with them.

True, secularism has been consistently on the rise since the Second World War. But at times over the last ten years it has felt like Christianity – and the Church of England in particular – has rarely talked about anything other than sex in the form of women bishops and gays.

It leaves the Church of England facing a genuine crisis. The historical goodwill traditionally shown by the British public and political classes towards Anglicanism is beginning to run dry. Why on earth, people are asking in greater number than perhaps ever before, do we let such an organisation continue to represent Britain when it is becoming so unrepresentative of the British people?

In its analysis of the data – which shows that the number of people declaring themselves Christian in Britain has fallen from 72 percent to 59 percent, and that those declaring they have no religion has risen from 15 percent to 25 percent – the National Secular Society asked:

So what has happened in this country in the decade since the last census? What has caused this huge flight from religion?

The answer, it suggested, was:

Complicated, but we have to take into account that in that intervening period we have had the trauma of 9/11 and the subsequent rise in Islamic militancy. We have seen a lurch towards conservatism within Christianity, with the Catholic Church becoming aggressively political and reactionary. But the Anglican Church, too, has been taken over by evangelicals with an agenda that repels people, even those who have been traditionally attached to the Church of England.

It added:

After the debacle over women bishops, we have seen another demonstration of the inhumane approach that the Church of England is taking to same-sex marriage. Some of the rhetoric coming from the bishops and their supporters in parliament is verging on the crackpot.

There is nothing wrong with them being out of step with the opinions of the rest of the nation, but they have to accept the consequences of their stance – and that is a wholesale defection of their supporters.

It also pointed out that:

We should also not underestimate the effect of the surge in New Atheism prompted by people like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. The influence of their thinking, particularly on young people, has been tremendous. As the Catholic commentator Damian Thompson wrote in the Daily Telegraph: ‘It cannot be said too often: the default position of people born since 1980 is agnosticism or atheism’.

The flight from Christianity, particularly among the young, is not just a British trend. Back in 2009, according to data from Project Teen Canada, more teens now identify as Muslim than Anglican, United Church of Canada and Baptist combined.

The percentage of teens who identified as Roman Catholic had declined by one third, and the percentage who identified as Protestant was down by almost two-thirds.

Reginald Bibby, the University of Lethbridge sociologist who headed up Project Teen, says the grey zone of those who believe in God, but don’t regularly practise an established religion, is rapidly emptying out, leaving behind two distinct camps: teens who are very religious and actively practice their religion, and those who don’t believe in God at all.

Said Bibby:

For years I have been saying that, for all the problems of organised religion in Canada, God has continued to do well in the polls. That’s no longer the case.

Belief is learned, pretty much like the multiplication table. So is non-belief.

It’s a huge shift, and Bibby says it may be a worrying one. While it’s true that today’s teens seem to be more responsible and mature than previous generations, the surveys still find that teens who belong to an organised religion – including Christianity, Islam and other faiths – tend to put a higher value on trust, honesty and concern for others. Religion has long been a “source of stability,” he says, not to mention a moral compass of sorts.

For instance, 95 per cent of young people who “definitely” believe in God or a higher power also think this entity “expects us to be good to each other,” while just three per cent of atheists agree.

As the percentage of religious teens falls, Bibby wonders just how that will affect Canadians’ ethics and behaviour.

We may well find Canadian society doesn’t need belief in God to hold onto our values. But right now, it appears to be a source. The question is, do we have any functional alternatives in place?

Hat tip: Canada Dave (Canadian report)


33 responses to “Obsessed with genitalia, the Church of England is on a suicidal trajectory”

  1. Yewtree says:

    I think your analysis of the reasons for the decline of the C of E are about right. And that is a brilliant headline.

    Meanwhile, no-one seems to have noticed that the number of out and proud Pagans has doubled since the last census.

    CENSUS 2011
    Other religion: Animism 541
    Other religion: Occult 502
    Other religion: Druid 4,189
    Other religion: Heathen 1,958
    Other religion: Pagan 56,620
    Other religion: Pantheism 2,216
    Other religion: Reconstructionist 251
    Other religion: Shamanism 650
    Other religion: Thelemite 184
    Other religion: Wicca 11,766
    Other religion: Witchcraft 1,276
    Total = 80,153

    Not included in the above total: Traditional African Religion 588, Vodun 208, Taoism 4144, Shinto, 1075, New Age 698, Native American Church 127, Chinese Religion 182, Satanists 1,893.

    2001 census figures:
    Pagan 30,569
    Wiccan 7,227
    Druid 1,657
    Pantheist 1,603
    Heathen 278
    Asatru 92
    Animism 401
    Ancestor Worship 101
    Celtic Pagan 508
    Total 42,436

  2. OurSally says:

    >95 per cent of young people who “definitely” believe in God or a higher power also think this entity “expects us to be good to each other,” while just three per cent of atheists agree.

    What? Three percent of people who don’t believe in deities think that deities expect something from us?

  3. Broga says:

    The panic amongst C.of E.members is such that they are losing whatever nerve they had to defend themselves. I heard a woman vicar on Radio 5 Live yesterday evening debating with a Humanist: Evan Harries I think. She was close to hysterical. She was so out of control that she shouted and gabbled over her opponent and the interviewer. They couldn’t calm her down. She had the same answer that the bible told us what to do sexually and morally. She was so out of control that she couldn’t countenance the fact that most people don’t follow the dictat of these 2,000 years old stories.

    We now have the religious explanations and a favoured one is that even if people don’t go to church and don’t describe themselves as christian they have a “spiritual dimension.” I think we are all going to have “spiritual dimensions” forced on us whether we want to or not.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Here’s another one:

    Mr Cameron said he is an enthusiastic supporter of marriage and he does not want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.

    Yet however well-intentioned, and despite huge opposition from Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, by attempting to change the natural meaning of marriage, he seems utterly determined to undermine one of the key foundations of our society.

    He is luring the people of England away from their common Christian values and forcing upon us a brave new world, artificially engineered. ?

    To extend marriage to gay people he intends to impose the will of a tiny minority on the vast majority.

    If the Prime Minister proceeds, he will pervert authentic family values with catastrophic consequences for the wellbeing and behaviour of future generations.


  5. barriejohn says:

    Of course, Broga. We all have a “spiritual dimension” and THEY have been appointed to look after it, whether we like it or not. Isn’t that nice?

  6. […] Christian Politics News Source-… ____________________________________________________ < We have seen a lurch towards conservatism […]

  7. James B says:

    While the decline in Christianity was widely predicted, one number that I would not be surprised to see going up is the average age of those dwindling numbers. I strongly suspect that this statistic would be even more alarming for the god squad.

  8. The Woggler says:

    Norfolk is looking like a good place to retire to.

  9. JohnMWhite says:

    @OurSally – I was thinking the same. That statistic looks like it is very misleading. I’d have to see the actual question posed but it could very well be that 3% of atheists asked misunderstood the question, or 3% of atheists asked thought that it was merely hypothetical, or that only 3% of atheists believe the usually posited Abrahamic god prioritises being nice over murdering homosexuals. Certainly it seems unlikely that only 3% of them believe it is a good thing to be good to one another. I do not like the implication that Bibby is approaching here, once again suggesting that atheists are essentially amoral.

  10. Trevor Blake says:

    We may well find Canadian society doesn’t need belief in God to hold onto our values. But right now, it appears to be a source. The question is, do we have any functional alternatives in place?

    This is breaking news so perhaps Mr. Bibby is understandably not aware. But it turns out around two thousand four hundred years ago this question was answered in what came to be known as Euthyphro’s Dilemma. [link]

    Is doing good what God says to doing good is? Then everything God says is good, is good – including slavery, murder, rape and all the other atrocities found in the Bible. Is doing good something that exists independent of God? Then we don’t need God to do good.

  11. Stephen Mynett says:

    @ BJ and Broga
    I am quite at ease with my spiritual dimension, it is called Bowmore, although any of the other Islay malts would be as acceptable.

  12. Broga says:

    Despite the decline in Christianity we are about to be deluged by the BBC with the “good news.” How that comments grates on the senses. The priests and vicars can deluge us with their sermons in the sure and certain knowledge that there will be no challenge to the absurdities they shamelessly state as facts. And the BBC, with its control by “people of faith”, will, as far as they are able, insert the “truth of the Christmas message” into every possible airwave.

    This is the time above all others when it is bad form to challenge that “truth” however absurd it is. Some of the most crass performers on the BBC will lend their minimal talent, despite their ignorance of the subject, to pushing the “message” on to their unthinking and unresponsive listeners. And we can rely on Elizabeth Windsor, that good Christian and enthusiast of the minimum wage for her servants, to be a supporter of the “Christian truth.”

    Never mind. The festival is pagan and I intend to enjoy it.

  13. Broga says:

    @Stephen Mynett. Sounds good. We spent a few years holidaying on Islay (Queen of the Hebridies) when our children were still of an age to want to accompany parents. We crossed to Jura one time. Probably the lonliest feeling place I have ever been on. Many happy memories of Islay and its people and not least its distilleries and its malts.

  14. Stonyground says:

    I noticed that those cultural Christians that the Church grudgingly accepted as being so, but still counted in when it suited them, were nothing more than cultural Christians now that millions of them have jumped ship. I also agree with JamesB that their aging demographic is likely to be a big problem for the Church. These people are the last remnants of a generation that grew up when regular church attendance was reasonably common.

    On the subject of the spiritual dimension, I like Jura, but this Christmas I have gone for a 12yr old Balvenie.

  15. Matt Westwood says:

    Why do they call it “good news“? It happened (if it happened at all) two millennia ago. That’s hardly “news” in anyone’s book, unless you happen to be a continent enjoying the heady buck and roll of continental drift …

  16. Broga says:

    Matt Westwood: The street fundies are keen on “the good news.” I heard one hollering this a few years ago. He shouts, “Have you heard the good news?”

    Passerby replies, “No. What is it?”

    Fundie, “The Lord is risen. He is alive and at work today in this very place.”

    The pb hurries past shaking his head. I wonder what part the fundies have played in the dropping C.of E. numbers. The paedo priests have made a big contribution, of course.

  17. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    To extend marriage to gay people he intends to impose the will of a tiny minority on the vast majority.

    I think this person will find that the majority are quite happy to let gay people marry, the majority don’t want to impose discriminatory rules onto a section of the population and are more than willing to accept gay marriage. It’s a minority that want to keep segregation and bigotry going.

  18. AgentCormac says:


    I suspect that the street fundies do put an awful lot of people off as they come across as such fanatics (apart from their rag-tag group of minders, have you ever seen anybody listening to what they have to say?).

    But I think the real rot probably started to set in with the rise of the happy-clappies. They completely alienated swathes of my grandmother’s generation (the bedrock of Anglicanism) who saw their familiar and respected rituals, their reverence for the clergy and the solemnity of their services replaced almost overnight by a bunch of guitar-strumming, endlessly cheerful hippies singing half-baked ditties. And once the happy-clappies had moved on to something else (the stock market, probably), all the church had left was rows of empty pews and a sinking feeling that somehow it had all gone horribly wrong.

  19. Matt Westwood says:

    My niece is such a new-age xtian happy-clappy (having been born into it and grown up with it as the daughter of my equally barking sister). I had the great fortune to go to her wedding a year or two ago, and so experienced some of the “half-baked ditties” that pass for religious songs in such a place. Sheesh. It was worse than being at a Whitney Houston concert, and that even *before* she died. Fortunately one of the other songs was a good old-fashioned hymn that had a specific number of verses, each of which had a definite beginning and a definite end, and had been designed from the point of view of being singable by everyday mediocre voices.

    The problem with the new-age hymns is that they repeat the same vapid line over and over again with an ever more histrionic and conspicuously emotional delivery. Made me want to shout out, “Yes we get your point, you’ve got the hots for JC, now get on with the bloody vows, I need a fucking drink!”

    My other niece, that is her sister, takes more after her uncle than her mother, thank fuck, or I’d just go fucking mental every time I went to visit.

  20. Matt Westwood says:

    … and are there any cartoonists anywhere out there who are willing to caricature Justin Welby’s head as a lightbulb? It just occurred to me that’s what he looks like.

  21. barriejohn says:

    Justin Portal Welby: Jauntily worst pleb

    Alas, no light bulb!

  22. tony e says:

    You bunch of heathens!

    Surely the delicate taste of Auchentoshan is better than the peat infested nonsense you have suggested?

  23. Matt Westwood says:

    Early morning mirth: “The internet is no place to bash the Bishop!”

  24. AgentCormac says:

    Ha! Ha! Very good, Matt!!

  25. Ken says:

    The truth or otherwise of the Christian faith is not determined by the number of its adherents at any one time.

    Since when, incidentally, was the C of E obsessed by anything, let alone genitalia?

  26. Matt Westwood says:

    “The truth or otherwise of the Christian faith is not determined by the number of its adherents at any one time.”

    What is it determined by, then? The Bible? Which bits of it?

    The point about genitalia is the obsession with which particular set you were born with: the declaration that if you weren’t born with the full male set you can’t be the boss.

    Oh, and of course the worry that people are going to put them in places which aren’t sanctioned by the laid-down law, whether it be a person of the opposite sex that you haven’t gone to the religious authorities to get their approval, or whether it be someone of the same sex that, well you get the message.

  27. barriejohn says:

    Matt: The comments were better than the cartoon!

    Justin is a frightfully good chap. Great-nephew of Rab Butler, the former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, don’t you know.

    Went to St Peter’s boys prep school, then Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, so he’s one of us, not some state-educated pleb.

    Good move by Cameron appointing him.

  28. barriejohn says:

    AgentCormac: He stole it! Didn’t you follow the link?

  29. David Anderson says:

    ¡Me cago en dios! Ken’s here.

  30. Katie Murphy Ex catholic says:

    the sooner we get rid of the curse of religion the better. It is the cause of most wars or a supporting cast.

    eg WWII – a madman catholic leveraged the hatred of Jews from the catholic church to get elected in Germany in 1933. 55 million died , including 6 miollion jews, about 45000 gays and hundreds of thosuands of others eg gypsies

    Japan entered WWII on the basis that they thought hirohito was a god or demigod. It took Nuclear ruin to get them to wake up

    All the many acts of terrorism and mass murder by a limited number of extremists Muslims are due to their belief they are the hand of God.

    the dark ages of zero social and economic progress came courtesy of the vatican which still thinks it can control the world

    the same church whose heirarchy also hid the vilest of crimes by their sex starve priests

    the same church which did the Chrisitan crusades (actually catholic) that killed tens of millions of muslims during the crusades. No wonder some of them hate us.

    It goes on and on – Religion – stuck in the mud for its based on faith, not reason. they dont dare change knowing that if one thing changes, the whole BS is called into question.

  31. Stephen Mynett says:

    Good post KM. Not only did was Hitler a catholic he also had a lot of support from the EKD (German protestant churches). Of course, if you have ever read any of Martin Luther’s writings you could be forgiven for thinking you had accidentally picked up a copy of Mein Kampf.

    Mind, some of the jews dont help themselves with their “we are always victims attitude.” I once had one accusing me of trying to ignore the number of jews murdered, simply because, I pointed out that as a registered disabled person I would have been scheduled for termination by the Reich. That is probaly why I dont discriminate, if you are a religionist you are a danger to a free society.