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Earlier this year a survey revealed that more than half of Britain’s adults do not have a religion. This figure (52%) shows a significant rise from the 31% recorded in 1983 (when the survey first began) of people who claimed not to have a religion. Further analysis of the findings indicates that in 1983 66% of those interviewed considered themselves to be Christians. Although the figure had fallen to 50% by 2008, only 38% now identify themselves as “Christian”. The reason for this decline appears to be secularism. The report, dealing with British Social Attitudes, stated: “Britain is becoming more secular, not because adults are losing their religion but because older people with an attachment to the Church of England and other Christian denominations are being replaced in the population by unaffiliated younger people.”




While Christianity has experienced a marked decline, Islam has shown an increase. In 1983 only 1% of the population identified as Muslim. This had increased to 3% in 2008, but the figure is now 6%. The number of Muslims in the country is of course higher now than in was in 1983. However, religion generally is in decline. When asked if they ever pray, some 50% said they never did – an increase from the 30% polled in 1998 and 41% in 2008. The question to identify those who pray several times a day showed an increase from 5% in 1998 to 8% today. This increase may be related to a greater number of Muslims in the country. Clearly people no longer identify automatically as “Anglican” which they would have done at one time. Another question relating to religious conflict also raised an interesting answer. Asked whether religions bring about conflict rather than peace, 63% agreed and only 13% disagreed.




These findings from The National Centre for Social Research really come as no surprise. Humanism is more powerful than it was a few years ago. It is a fact that humanistic or non-religious funerals are now much more common than they were. Church-attendance is in decline, and Britain is certainly a place where secularism thrives. Is this significant, and should anything be done to advance the cause of religion?




Many have attempted to do that by making “church” more appealing to the outsider. Websites abound, inviting people to come as they are without the need for a dress-code. The more-formal church service has become a relic of the past. Turning from what seems dreary, progressive churches have become places of fun, self-expression, and entertainment. There is often a disco-like atmosphere, with a band, loud music, dazzling lights, and dancing. Those leading the “services” can be male or female and are usually dressed informally. Churches of this kind often have no difficulty in getting people to come along, but from the survey’s findings it cannot be enough. The decline in religious interest has not been halted.




While 38% may currently call themselves Christians, the number of true Christians in actually considerably less. The real definition of a Christian must come from the Bible rather than rest upon our own opinion. In its essence a Christian is someone belonging to Christ – one of “Christ’s ones”. We are not born into this world as Christians, but we become Christians through an experience which takes place. That experience requires an individual to receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their life. Those who do this are “born of God” or “born again”. They become the true children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. We do not become Christians through living in a Christian country or having Christian parents. All this is taught in John 1:12-13.




While the survey is interesting, its results need to be interpreted in the light of the Bible’s teaching. Many people are religious, but few by comparison are born again. Religion depends upon a code of beliefs and certain expected practices. True Christianity means coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ and then following Him. Knowing Him is far more wonderful and satisfying than adhering to a religion. The Son of God came into this world to die for sinful people so that we might be forgiven. We need to turn from our sinful living and receive this Saviour for ourselves.