If you’ve been taking an interest in the detailed results of last year’s census, you’ll know that one of the standout statistics is the plunge in the number of people describing themselves as Christians.
And more alarming to those who have a belief in a higher being is that the number of people who baldly state that they have no religion at all is increasing at an even faster rate, so it’s not as if some other band of God-botherers has a better deal on at the moment and is headhunting the holy.
The figures are no surprise to me, I just think that these days people are prepared to be more honest about where they stand.
In the days when you could be hung, drawn and quartered, or at the very least excommunicated, for eating fish on a Friday or taking the name of the Lord in vain, people played along and if they weren’t entirely convinced by all the bells and whistles they knew it was best to keep it to themselves.
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Now they have no hesitation in saying that, while they might not have looked into the subject quite as deeply as God-denier in chief Richard Dawkins, they reckon it’s all a load of nonsense.
That’s fair enough, but I do wish they wouldn’t be so two-faced about it.
Over the next few days there will be much santimonious sentiment being spread around – Christmas is, after all, first and foremost a Christian festival of observance and even if you don’t go to church just singing along with the carols links you in with centuries of religious observance.
It’s not so much the case these days at the start of life, with baptism more of an option rather than a necessity, but churches are still considered to be a key ingredient of any self-respecting wedding or funeral, even if participants living or dead would never usually consider attending a service.
And you can be sure that parents who wouldn’t know an apse from their elbow will have been pleased as punch if their little angel had been picked to be Mary. Joseph or even one of the Three Wise Men at the school nativity play.
If you believe, more power to your elbow – but if you don’t, you shouldn’t cherry pick from the church.