While atheists, “freethinkers,” agnostics, and others have differences between them, they are united by their lack of believe in Christianity and, according to a new study, as a supermajority believe that churches do not improve society:
A vast majority of non-Christians in the United Kingdom think the Church is not making any difference to society, and even about a third of the Christian population is uncertain of their religious institution’s significance, according to a new study by World Vision UK and Barna Global.
The study, which looked into how the U.K. public views the church, found that four out of five, or 81 percent of, non-Christians don’t believe that Christian churches are making a positive difference in the world. When asked if “Christian churches in the U.K. are making a positive difference in the world,” only 19 percent of non-Christians agreed. Forty-one percent said they disagree and 40 percent said they don’t know.
The survey, which was launched at Lambeth Palace last week, also found that even many Christians in the country say they are uncertain of the global (31 percent) or local (32 percent) significance of their churches, though they primarily give the institution a positive assessment.
Further, 33 percent of U.K. adults see the Church as a benefit to the world, and 35 percent see the religious institution as helping their own community. However, 31 percent disagree with the former, 26 percent with the latter.
This contrasts with what church leaders think the church’s impression is, as nearly half of them assume that non-Christians still celebrate the U.K. Church’s global impact. “The gap in perceptions grows wider when focusing locally; a large majority of church leaders (86% “strongly” + “somewhat”) agrees non-Christians welcome churches’ community presence—but, in reality, just one in five non-Christian adults (20%) says they do.”
“I think as a researcher who’s looked at the … challenging circumstances — the good, the bad and the ugly of some of the public perception of faith — a lot in the US as well as in the UK now, I think it can be discouraging,” David Kinnaman, co-founder of Barna, told Premier. “We have to be careful to not become cynical and depressed by that.”
He added, “I find that it’s not the first time the Church has had a poor reputation. Jesus himself promises that we’ll be misunderstood in our society and we actually don’t need to overly concern ourselves with the image — good or bad of the culture. We really need to worry about being faithful as Christians.”
The study was done “to equip the Church to be more effective in transforming lives for the sake of the gospel.”
Kinnaman noted in the study that the context of mission in the U.K. appears to be distinct from that of the U.S. “Christianity in the US engenders more strong feelings, both positive and negative. In the UK, public perception of the church emphasizes indifference; it’s defined more by apathy than antipathy.”
He continued, “More than that, though, Christians in the UK often display merely modest good will toward the Church. Compared to the US, Christians in the UK seem to struggle to see that their faith is making a difference. Yet, the study shows that churches are, in fact, serving a wide range of needs in the UK and around the world. Church leaders and Christians in the UK can develop more clarity and confidence that their faith is impacting their communities and the world.”
A similar study done by The Barna Group in the U.S. in 2007 showed that only 16 percent of non-Christians aged 16 to 29 years old had a “good impression” of Christianity. Young people had an even lesser positive impression of evangelicals. Only 3 percent of 16- to 29-year-olds who were not of the Christian faith expressed favorable views of evangelicals. In the previous generation, 25 percent of young people had positive associations toward evangelicals. (source)
Christianity is on the decline in the UK and has been for a long time. One might argue that Christianity has been in serious decline since the 16th century, for following King Henry VIII’s violent destruction of the Catholic Faith and the murder of many Catholic people and was a general policy that was followed by his successors, religion itself in England became a fractured thing that allowed for a multitude of cults to flourish so long as the recognition of the King as the “head” of the Church in England and thereby, the power of the state over religion was acknowledged. This was the essence of the Protestant Revolution itself in all countries, which was a struggle for power by avaricious men who sought to eliminate the boundaries between the government and the governed that the Church provided by making the Church wholly subject to the rule of the state.
All of this was done not for any sense of obedience or a desire to promote truth, but in the name of power, for as William Cobbett wrote in his book, The History Of The Protestant Reformation In England And Ireland, the revolution did nothing for anybody except to destroy the Church, concentrate power and wealth into the hands of a few men, and bring about the wretched, institutionalized poverty of the majority:
But such were the natural consequences of the destruction of the Catholic Church, and of the plundering of the poor which accompanied that destruction, and particularly of lodging all power, ecclesiastical and civil, in the same hands. However, although this terrible she-tyrant spared neither racks nor halters, though she was continually reproving the executors of her bloody laws for their remissness, while they were strewing the country with the carcasses of malefactors or alleged malefactors, all would not do ; that hunger which breaks through stone walls set even her terrors and torments at defiance. At last it was found to be absolutely necessary to make some general and permanent and solid provision for the poor, and in the forty-third year of her reign was passed that act which is in force to this day, and which provides a maintenance for indigent persons, which maintenance is to come from the land, assessed and collected by overseers, and the payment enforced by process the most effectual and most summary. And here we have the great, the prominent, the staring, the horrible and ever durable consequence of the ” Reformation ; ” that is to say, pauperism established by law. (source)
The effects of the Protestant revolution did not go unabated. As the famous British Historian and Catholic convert Kenneth Clark noted in his groundbreaking 1969 video series “Civilization” (episode 11, about 2:30 in the program), Christianity itself was for all practical purposes dead in the UK by the 18th century. This is not to say that Christianity itself had ceased, but that religion was, as many regard it in America, a wholly private matter whose connection is more so associated with the assertion of a cultural identity rather than a belief in absolute truth.
This reflects an observation that one can still see today, where to be a Christian in most of Europe, be it Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, is a form of nationalism before it is one of religious faith. For nearly three full centuries, Europe has been guided by the forces of nationalism who, in spite of strong efforts to abort Christianity from her presence, have been unable to fully do so. That said, religion has still remained on the decline
The most recent Faith Survey in the UK, 59% of people identify as Christian (regardless of denomination) and 25% have no religion. Thus, when speaking about the recent study concerning non-believers and their perception of Christianity, we can say it pertains to this segment of the population.
The current population of the UK- England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales- is about 65 million. Therefore the 25% translates to 16.25 million people. Since 81% of people believe that churches do not better society, this constitutes a total of 13.16 million people.
Citing the UK Faith Survey, there are as of 2013 approximately 5.43 million people who attend a church in the UK. The two largest denominations are Catholics and Anglicans respectively at 1.39 and 1.36 million people. This does not necessarily measure attendance at church, as there are a percentage of people who while being a member of a church do not go.
Concerning church attendance, the Faith Survey indicates that a mere 5% of “Christians” attend church in the UK at a whole. If we run this against the 5.43 million figure for members of a Church, this is a figure of 271,500 people who attend church.
If we take the entire figure of 59% of people in the UK who are Christians, and assuming that 5% attend mass, then we glean a figure of 1.91 million in attendance.
This means that in the most generous situation, 1.91 people go to church weekly in the UK, and in the most dismal and probably, realistic scenario, 271,500 people go to church.
Tennessee has a population of approximately 6.4 million people. According to the Pew Research Forum, 81% of Tennesseeans are Christians, and 51% say they go to church at least once a week.
81% of 6.4 million is 5.08 million Christians, and of those 51% who attend Church weekly, this equates to a total of 2.59 million people in the state of Tennessee alone.
This means that there are more Christians in the state of Tennessee, which is approximately 45% the size of the UK (Tennessee is approximately 42,000 square miles, and the UK is approximately 93,000 square miles) than there are in all of the UK.
That is how dismal the situation of Christianity in the UK is.
This is not a “new” situation, either. Christianity has been on the decline for a long time, but what is happening today is the fruition of centuries of apathy.
But as regards the study, consider there are no more than 1.91 million people who genuinely care about Christianity left in the entire nation who will stand for it. On the other side are a minimum of 13.16 million people who believe that the churches which these same Christians attend have NO good purpose in society.
That is outnumbered 13:2 in the very best scenario. I do not even speak here of a “physical” fight “on the streets,” but in terms of political will.
All governments in societies are reflections of the will of the people. In this way, a bad government is a kind of punishment because it reflects the malice of those who put said government into power because it is an extention of themselves. Politicians do not magically appear, but are from the stock of which a society is constituted. If the stock itself is poor, so will the leaders reflect this. It is the reason why such great care must go into the morals of a people, for it is upon morality that the edifice of civilization is constructed and if that morality crumbles so does the society that is built upon it.
The UK is a godless, heathen nation. It was a Christian nation once upon a time, but has since ceased to be. It was a long process, but at the current time the UK is at a point where it could be called, as some have already, a “post-Christian nation.” This is a but a euphemism for a return to paganism, and as paganism so aggressively persecuted the Church for centuries, so will the violence of the pagans return in a socially acceptable context.
It will be called by a myriad of names- the protection of minors, safeguarding women against sexual abuse, ensuring equitable treatment of persons in society, gender rights- the names themselves do not matter. What matters is that the establishment of religion itself in England, which was violently seized and forced to be subject to the arm of the government, has moved from controlling religion to now attempting to destroy it because it sees no purpose for it any more as the people themselves no longer believe there is any place for it. Indeed, this was always the will and end of what would happen inevitably with the Protestant revolution, as it was simply a vehicle for nationalism which would be parlayed into a return to paganism.
The benefits of the Church in society have always been known, for as many as people will say that religion is stupid or for fools, the Church throughout history has provide for the corporeal as well as physical needs of people, and no church compares in terms of magnitude as well as proportionality in said care of both than that Catholic Church.
But, just as the Protestant revolution showed, it was not done for concern for the people, but for the gain of power. Likewise, the disdain for the Church being showed today is an extension of centuries of work that is but at this time bearing its rotten fruit.