“The UK is 25% non-religious”: what does that mean…?

I am prepping a few new posts to get the blog up and running after a brief hiatus.  However, I wanted to highlight the recent UK census results that were published on 11th December 2012, because I think that this is an issue that deserves more attention than it gets.  In particular, the number of people identifying as having “no religion” increased from 15% of the population to 25%, while the number identifying as “Christian” declined from 72% to 59%.  The implications for British society are two-fold:

1. Britain is not a Christian country

The decline in Brits identifying as Christian is compounded by the issues of belief vs belonging: a lot of people identify as Christian for cultural reasons rather than any theological motivations.  For example,  only 48% of people identifying as “Christian” believe that Jesus was a real person, only 15% of people attend church once per month, and those numbers are declining.  All this talk of basing government policy (which affects us all) on the morality of a book believed in only by a few is now officially bunk.

2. The Church of England no longer deserves special status

People are often amazed when they learn that there are 26 bishops who sit by right in the House of Lords.  This is anachronistic at best, but when those bishops vote as a significant bloc in derailing progressive legislation on issues such as euthanasia, and LGBT rights, it is nothing short of obscene.  There is no reason now not to go ahead with disestablishment – the removal of special status from the Church of England in terms of tax breaks and legislative roles.  This lack of progressive thinking on the part of the Church is clearly demonstrated through the rejection of the motion to permit women bishops, which failed to pass in November 2012.

The UK will be much healthier when it is governed based on secular, humanist values that both reflect contemporary society and allow change over time.