Comments: Religious and Social Attitudes of some British Christians

This isn't a peculiarly British way of being religious and it doesn't represent "overwhelmingly secular" views about gay rights or any other issues. The idea that it does assumes that conservative evangelical Christianity is the norm, so that religion is a matter of adhering to socially conservative values about gay rights and other hot button issues. The rejection of these doctrines is not secularity: religion is not a matter of holding socially conservative views about sexuality or anything else and rejecting these views is not secularity. Construing religion this way is letting the Evangelicals, OUR ENEMIES, our detestable enemies who we should work to destroy, set the agenda.

Religion consists of beliefs about the supernatural and ceremonies aimed at getting in touch with supernatural beings.

Posted by baber at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 5:55am GMT

If Richard Dawkins is the Sponsor of this work, no wonder it's biased against spirituality. What else could one expect?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 9:27am GMT

Er... are the Evangelicals our enemies, baber? I'd even go so far as to say I count some of them as my friends. Many are misguided and some hold detestable views, but I'm not sure I'd say any are "our detestable enemies who we should work to destroy." Or even "*whom* we should work to destroy."

I'm starting to think that a tolerant and gently ironic attitude to religion might indeed be something distinctly British. We have been (mostly) spared the culture wars that make Christians and secularists alike so rabid in the US. Unlike Western Europeans, we don't have two centuries of left-wing anti-clericalism and right-wing reaction to contend with. We are exceptionally fortunate to have a (mostly) gentle and benign church establishment gently and benignly arguing itself out of existence. An erudite archbishop sketches plans for a more holy society, and the plutocrats in power deride or ignore him. Ours is the polite-but-bored Church of the Laodicaeans. Nobody's feathers are ruffled. Our Christians don't have to make too many sacrifices and our atheists have little to complain about. No wonder nobody cares about religion; there's so very little at stake.

Posted by rjb at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 9:43am GMT


I don't know you so I can't guess what's been said and done to you to make you feel this way but it's gut wrenching to hear you feel I'm your enemy and detestable and need destroying. I'm sure you can find evangelicals who have said equally angry things so please don't hear that as a cheap criticism, just an observation on what a sad place the church is in.

The good thing about this site is the chance to hear how people you disagree with think and feel about you. I find that humbling, saddening, and useful in (I hope) making me a better person to have a discussion with for the people I meet who disagree with me.

I do agree with your point about how you define 'religious' and 'secular'. The papers have gone for the 'government' section of the results. The ones under 'practice' in the link above shed more light on beliefs and ceremonies.


Posted by Charlie at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 10:40am GMT

"Construing religion this way is letting the Evangelicals, OUR ENEMIES, our detestable enemies who we should work to destroy, set the agenda."

I am so feeling the Christian love in the room right now.

Posted by A Detestable Evangelical at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 3:56pm GMT

Trust the demon sex in a deviant form to raise its pretty little head in the first comments to this post. Forget it. The unavoidable truth of Dawkins's comments on Christianity in England are uncontrovertedly accurate, mores the pity. We live in a biblically, doctrinally, historically, theoogically illiterate society where, for some, Christianity means, if anything, being nice, or thought to be nice.

Many no longer read the scriptures, know the order of the books of the New Testament, the creeds, the hierarchical order of the Church, Christian history in these islands, or prayer beyond petition. The reasons for this are legion and secularism, spread over many years, is partly to blame. The way religion is taught in state schools is ludicrous and no longer gives an account of the life of Christ, only episodes like his birth; nothing about his death and resurrection. I wish profoundly that this was not so, but it is. As for the calibre of many who are ordained these days in the Church of England, it hardly exists, and what emerges are a legion of ill-educated Sunday School teachers.

Posted by John Bowles at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 4:34pm GMT

Hmmm .... but surely the Pope has been making "the hot button issues" THE test of Christian Europe - and as we see in the thread above he has some qualified support.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 5:01pm GMT

OCICBW, but I'm sensing Impersonation Trollery in the first post on this thread.

Personally, I believe there are bigoted *aspects* of the religion that calls itself "conservative Evangelicalism" which are at enmity w/ the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But persons---beloved Imago Dei---are not "detestable enemies", ever. They should be loved beyond/out of their errors, not (God forbid!) "destroyed."

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 15 February 2012 at 11:15pm GMT

John Bowles. Do I detect a certain sense of isolation on your part here? Do you feel unprotected from the big bad world? Or are you just out of touch with the real world of Gospel values of justice, mercy and truth.

Christians were not promised an easy way. Lord Carey's cries of 'persecution' would be silly if not understood to be fundamentally partisan and untrue.

Those coming forward for ordination today are not people without a real desire to be part of the Gospel Mission - whether evangelical or catholic. Seminary will inevitably sort the 'free-loaders' from the rest. And anyway, many theologs today are female - eager to test their vocation, a calling from God. Priesthood is not an alternative career.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 5:14am GMT

Well if knowing Matthew is the first book of the Bible is the mark of a Christian, St Paul really was not one ...

I think the survey is totally wrong-headed and does try to force normal liberal Christians into a corner.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 7:30am GMT

What interests me is the gap between the 17-18% who go to church regularly and the 30% who pray, say they have strong beliefs and strongly identify as Christian. This seems to indicate that church has lost 50% of 'active Christians'. My experience as a woman in her 50s is that many of the people I know who once went to church no longer do so, or only rarely, though their faith is intact. Between fundamentalism, traditionalism and well-meaning social clubs for the retired, churches are apparently not offering what we are looking for. (Though many individual saints are to be found in all).

Posted by Amanda Goody at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 11:40am GMT

The results dont necessarily confirm that the nation has little Christian faith, merely that it does not have much love for Jesus - in terms of who He is, what He has done, or how He asks us to respond to His love - i.e love Him by following His Father's commands.

Posted by David Wilson at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 12:34pm GMT

Reply to Fr Smith

You live, I believe, in New Zealand, far from the British Isles. Doubtless you have your own local problems, but the situation in Britain could not be more different.

Professor Dawkins was addressing the reality of Christianity here and the skin-deep superficiality of identification with it. For those of us who live here, it is experienced all round and has resulted in Christianity as something deemed to being nice. The hard words of Jesus would be deemed deeply unchristian if quoted on their own terms. His nastiness on occasions denied.

I dislike Dawkins who in his manner and appearance remind me of a former generation of careerist cathedral canons but his obervations are uncomfortably accurate.

When were you last in Britain? The calibre of the episcopate and clergy would surprise you in comparision with the past. It is as if what used to be designated as secondary modern standards prevail. In comparison with Dawkins's dulcet, eccesliastical tones, they sound like clods.

Posted by John Bowles at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 5:07pm GMT

"Well if knowing Matthew is the first book of the Bible ....."

I didn't know that ......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 9:51pm GMT

"love Him by following His Father's commands."

- David Wilson -

Precisely: "Love God, and your neighbour as yourself" - that's what Jesus tells us!

If you don't love yourself - warts and all, how can you love you neighbour?

The Church ought to be in the business of teaching us how to love God first, then to accept God's love for ourselves - which will be the clue (knowing god's love for us) as to how we should learn to love our neighbour.

I've always like the Gospel paradigm of 'Mr Do as you would be done by'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 11:16pm GMT

"When were you last in Britain? The calibre of the episcopate and clergy would surprise you in comparision with the past." - John Bowles -

In direct response to J.B.: I was born and lived in the UK for 21 years. I have 2 clergy family members living and working in the UK. I was last there 7 months ago, and am constantly in touch with Church affairs in the U.K. C.of E. was my alma mater.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 17 February 2012 at 10:07am GMT

Martin Reynolds

rosemary Hannah's confusion of the Bible with the New Testament is a classic illustration of Dawkins's point and, if she is an ordained minister of religion, mine.

Posted by John Bowles at Friday, 17 February 2012 at 10:40am GMT

Question 23 in the survey asks about the first book of the New Testament.

Posted by John Roch at Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 6:43pm GMT
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