News

‘Anti-Christian culture’ is killing the C of E, says Archbishop

‘Anti-Christian culture’ is killing the C of E, says Archbishop

Plunging church attendances at Church of England services have been blamed on an increasingly “anti-Christian” culture in the UK.

Attendances, according to this report, are in free fall and are are now at its lowest levels.

Official figures – based on an annual pew count – show that only 1.4 per cent of the population of England now attend Anglican services on a typical Sunday morning.

Even the Church’s preferred “weekly” attendance figures, which include those at mid-week or extra services, has slipped below one million for the first time ever.

Overall average attendances at Sunday services across England fell by 22,000 to 764,700 in 2014 – a fall of seven percent in just five years.

The proportion of the population attending Sunday services now is only around one third of that in the early 1960s.

The Church said that even though some congregations have been growing strongly – primarily new evangelical “church plants” – the overall gains were being wiped out by the sheer demographic effect of older worshippers dying.

It estimates that it loses around one per cent of its membership each year through death alone. Clerics now expect numbers to continue to fall for another five years but believe there will be an eventual upturn.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, above, acknowledged the slump in an address to Anglican leaders around the world at a crisis meeting to discuss a split over homosexuality.

In a plea to archbishops and bishops from Africa and other parts of the “global south” not to break off communion permanently with more liberal branches of Anglicanism, he said it would be “easy to paint a very gloomy picture” about the Church of England’s prospects.

The culture has becoming anti-Christian, whether it is on matters of sexual morality, or the care for people at the beginning or the end of life. It is a struggle, but we are not losing.

In extracts from his address to the Primates, leaked through the Nigerian news website Vanguard, he added:

In this country many talk of the post-Christian society, but the Church of England educates more than a million children in our schools.

We are involved in almost all the food banks as, for the first time since the 1930s, we have hunger in this country. We are still a major part of the glue that holds society together.

A recent attempt to introduce assisted suicide was crushingly defeated in Parliament. We are exempted from the Same-Sex Marriage Act, showing that our voice is still heard against the prevailing wind of our society, and at much cost to ourselves, by the way.

The Church of England is still a primary source of leadership for communities, to the dismay of the secularists.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said:

The 2014 figures are not in any way a surprise. Whilst the recent trend of the past decade continues, it has been anticipated and is being acted on radically.

As part of a prayerful and considered response to these trends the Church is embarking upon the biggest renewal and reform process in over 150 years focusing our resources on prayer, evangelism, discipleship, vocations, leadership and training.

We do not expect that trend to change imminently or immediately over the next few years due to demographics. We lose approximately one per cent of our churchgoers to death each year.

Given the age profile of the C of E, the next few years will continue to have downward pressure as people die or become housebound and unable to attend church.

But the Church is pinning its hopes on a new multi-billion pound ‘reform and renewal’ drive.

Bishop James added:

The story is not one of inevitable decline. During 2013 to 2014 some dioceses continued to increase their attendance.

In the past 12 months alone there are examples of growth and new churches across the country.

In my own diocese the church of St Thomas Norwich has grown from 50 to 450 people in the past two years; in Bournemouth, St Swithin’s – a church which started in 2014 – now sees 500 people attending every week whilst in Birmingham St Luke’s Gas Street in is already attracting hundreds of young people since its beginning in 2015.

There are many others like these and each is a sign of hope. Attendance statistics do not tell the whole story.

There are many things that churches do that are not included in these data from running homelessness services and hosting foodbanks, to educating a million children a day in our schools to providing welcome and accompaniment to the least, the last and the lost in our society.

27 responses to “‘Anti-Christian culture’ is killing the C of E, says Archbishop”

  1. L.Long says:

    And this is bad? Why? OH! Right! your tax free income will drop! And a lot less people will take your BS seriously!

  2. Lucy1 says:

    Educating a million children? And still they can’t get bums on seats.

  3. Lucy1 says:

    Exactly, @L.Long. And they might have to give up their lovely privileged lifestyles, hobnobbing with the rich , titled and powerful, and worst of all, give up their very fetching dresses and hats.

  4. Steve says:

    Wooooo! Ceeeeelebrate good times, come on!

  5. Broga says:

    We could do with some figures showing the number of clergy who are atheists. They have jobs and probably couldn’t do anything else so they have to hang in there.

  6. Angela_K says:

    Let’s see: the CofE has its storm-troopers in the house of Lords, cult members in the house of commons, favourable access to schools, the BBC to do its bidding and tax exemptions – and this is an anti-Christian culture? What these whiny, intolerant Christians really mean is that they now have to obey the law, especially equality law and that, in their deluded minds, is anti-Christian. Also, we now have a younger, better educated generation who have seen through nonsense of religion.

  7. AgentCormac says:

    ‘But the Church is pinning its hopes on a new multi-billion pound ‘reform and renewal’ drive.’

    Really?! Really?!!!! Surely such riches would be better and more appropriately spent on helping the poor, giving aid to the sick and needy, and generally doing all those things that christians are supposed to do, but somehow think every other bugger should pay for. At the very least they should be spending their ill-gotten billions on repairing all those church roofs they keep ask their non-existent followers to dig deep for.

    How anybody with half a brain doesn’t see through these loathsome charlatans is utterly beyond me.

  8. Tom Thumb says:

    Angela_K i couldn’t say it any better and couldn’t agree any more!!!!!! Nuff said!?

  9. Justin Badby says:

    Is Welby stupid, disigenous or stupidly disingenuous.

    In this country many talk of the post-Christian society, but the Church of England educates more than a million children in our schools.
    WRONG – the CoE controls schools and pollutes the minds of children using taxpayers money.

    We are still a major part of the glue that holds society together.
    WRONG – you are prissying around on the margins of society. Common decency and simple adherence to the golden rule is actually the glue.

    A recent attempt to introduce assisted suicide was crushingly defeated in Parliament.
    YES – and what an appallingly evil act of inhumanity that was. The majority of the public support assisted dying and deeply resent that dying people are left in distress and pain to be the raw material for pious ministrations in the hope for deathbed conversions.

    We are exempted from the Same-Sex Marriage Act, showing that our voice is still heard against the prevailing wind of our society, and at much cost to ourselves, by the way.
    YES – you had to change because of the overwhelming public outcry. You changed in the face of the prevailing wind. You would have resisted but were too weak.

    The Church of England is still a primary source of leadership for communities, to the dismay of the secularists.
    WRONG – how can you be a primary source of leadership when most people are not listening to you. We secularlists are delightled that your influence is in terminal decline.

    Dear Mr Welby, admit it – the game is up. We don’t want you. We don’t need you. We have cast off the shackles of your evil doctrine. Emigrate to Africa where you can behave in exactly the way you want to … just as your colleagues in Africa actually do. And do me a courtesy and yourself a favour – stop lying.

  10. Justin Badby says:

    Welby should have stayed in the petrochemical industry.

  11. Broga says:

    The C. of E. and religion belong to a past age of superstition and ignorance. They go through the rituals, dress up, pick up their £300 a day in the Lords, have the run of the BBC but lack the wit to put a bit of intellectual dressing on their incredible beliefs.

    The beliefs are still crude and incredible and can only survive if they are not subject to challenge and unloaded on to the unthinking and gullible. The sanctimonious tone is there to hide the absence of content.

  12. RussellW says:

    The Anglicans are confusing ‘non-Christian’ with ‘anti -Christian’, they’re missing the point completely, members of the public aren’t hostile, they just don’t give a rat’s.

    Broga,

    Yes, surveys in the US have reported a significant % of atheist clergy, it’s a living, what use is a degree in theology.

  13. barriejohn says:

    If you want to know how the Archbishop’s mind works, and you have the time, you could do worse than watch this episode of Facing the Canon:

    https://youtu.be/6dvkBdXLx3A

    Secularism is not “anti-Christian”, but that’s the way that they see it after hundreds of years of privilege and entitlement; but isn’t that exactly what Jesus told his disciples to expect?

    “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.” Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

    (Luke 6: 22-23)

  14. Maggie says:

    I would far rather the number of followers of another religion were on the downward trend. Christians have, to a certain extent, been tamed of their brutal excesses.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Maggie: Despite all the noise that they make, Muslims don’t have anything like the influence on western society that the Christian Church does, but I agree that we need to make sure that their idiotic views are not given the “respect” that they demand (that always reminds me of The Godfather, and rightly so where they are concerned). If we don’t get the bishops out of the Lords soon you can bet your bottom dollar that we will have imams in the House as well, and from what we know about Prince Charles that day may not be far away now.

  16. andym says:

    Has any religious persecution in history managed to reduce numbers so drastically without just killing off adherents? If the C of E were persecuted, more than 1.4% of the population would attend services just out of solidarity, rather than belief.

    But persecution sounds so much more romantic and easier to come to terms with than, “no one gives a stuff about us any more.”

  17. barriejohn says:

    Some of the religious refuse to accept this pessimistic outlook:

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/world-more-religious-than-ever-rodney-starks-triumph-faith-secularism-atheism-154641/

    The evidence and our experiential knowledge of human nature strongly suggest his conclusions are correct. It appears that Dr. Stark’s research has found overwhelming evidence for what the Apostle Paul calls the “law written on the conscience,” which explains why we have never found a human society that did not have some form of religious observance.

    Can we conclude that human beings are “incurably religious” because God made them that way?

    No, we fucking can’t!

  18. barriejohn says:

    Did I make a mistake with the HTML there? The quote should be obvious!

  19. Broga says:

    I know many people who don’t go to Church apart from weddings. However, they still regard themselves as C. of E. and that is how they would describe themselves on a census. I know, from casual chats, that they have no awareness whatsoever about what they are agreeing when they say they are C. of E.

    When asked about what they mean by God the answer is often, “It’s what is in the bible” which they never read but still regard as factual.

    When the lack of evidence for a God is mentioned the answer often is, “Well there must be something there.”

    Yet these people are regarded as Christians. And I think that the fear of the C. of E. is that if the faith of such people were examined a few times on TV it would crumble. They are certainly not going to read Richard Dawkins etc.

  20. Stuart H. says:

    The real figure is worse.
    The reason for the move to a ‘weekly attendance’ figure from Sunday attendance in the 1990’s was so that weddings , funerals, concerts etc. could be slipped in. According to guidelines, as long as there was some sort of religious element (which could be as little as the vicar offering a prayer after some music group had entertained local pensioners) it can go in the weekly log.
    And the only reason the churches are running foodbanks is that they were consulted by government as part of the ‘Third Sector’ exercise which cuts public sector social services and hands them over to amateurs (and had it ‘suggested’) while secular charities and private sector firms were not. Which also explains why foodbank handouts of surplus supermarket stock (which was going to be thrown away anyway) can be restricted to anyone the church regards as ‘the deserving poor’ and denied to anyone else.

  21. barriejohn says:

    Stuart H: In that interview to which I linked above, Justin Welby explains (around 35 min) that the church runs food banks, provides marriage services, funerals, schools, etc, for people “because we love ’em”. He also states that Christians get their reward for doing such selfless things when they perform these acts for no particular reason at all. He also states that the purpose of all that they do is “to bring people to Christ”. He seems totally confused!

  22. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn : The verse was spot on. They should be happy. The more they suffer the closer they are to their non-existent god.

  23. barriejohn says:

    Cali Ron: Just what Bob the Burbler keeps telling us. And how well that also applies to Christians desperately trying to get parole (see next thread) – especially if they have been wrongfully incarcerated. WHY AREN’T THEY HAPPY THAT ALL THEIR SUFFERING IS INCREASING THEIR “HEAVENLY REWARD”?

  24. Stonyground says:

    Welby says that we are ‘anti Christian’ but I think that it is religion in general that many of us are against. Many people are aware of enough history to know that the unpleasantness that Islam currently represents is not unique to that particular faith.

  25. edwords says:

    ‘Many are called but few are chosen’ No big deal.

  26. Liverpudlian says:

    What the C of E don’t advertise is that their schools are selective. Candidates first have to prove a committed attendance at their place of worship, and from these the brightest and most promising are selected.

    Many families attend a church for up to a couple of years in advance of a child’s schooling. These must add considerably to the weekly pew-count – and include many who’ve no real desire to be there! Most drop off, anyway, once their child has a place in the school.

    I’ve long wondered why the attendance stipulation doesn’t apply to the student’s whole education period. I had a friend whose family jumped through all the church hoops to gain him a place. Once admitted neither he nor his family ever darkened the doors of a church again! He was never threatened with expulsion.