Last week, the British Social Attitudes Survey released its latest report, and one aspect has gained a lot of attention – attitudes to religion.
The survey found that more than half the British population (53 per cent) now describe themselves as having no religion.
The proportion who define themselves as Church of England has declined from 30 per cent in the year 2000 to 15 per cent today.
And more than 70 per cent of younger people say they have no religion, compared to 27 per cent of those aged over 75.
I’m not surprised by any of this. These changes have been happening for a long time, at least since the 1960s.
The last generation where considerable numbers of children went to Sunday School was probably in the 1970s. When I was young in the 1980s, I was unusual among my classmates – I self-defined as a Christian, and was actively involved in a church.
Since then, these trends have continued.
Much about our culture has changed since the 1960s, and religion is just one aspect of this: employment, shopping, food, technology, wealth, car ownership, social attitudes, family patterns and many more aspects of our lives are hugely different today.
So yes, the number of people claiming to belong to a religion has declined.
But the big questions of life that we all need to answer still remain – who am I? What is life about? What gives life meaning? How do I live a good life?
We don’t necessarily need religion to answer those questions, but religions do claim to offer answers.
For Christianity, the answers are tied up with person who lived in the Middle East 2,000 years ago – Jesus Christ. The answers Jesus gives might be less popular than they once were, but I believe they are still meaningful and life-changing today.
At St Faith’s in Lee-on-the-Solent, we know not everyone believes the things we do.
But we’re here to offer anyone who’s interested the chance to find out about Jesus and the answers he gives to those big life questions.
We’re here to help people at those significant moments in life – births, marriages, death.
And we’re here to say ‘We think this matters, we think this is important. You may describe yourself as not religious, why not come, have a look, and see what it’s all about?’.
To contact Rev Paul call (023) 9255 6445 or go to stfaithslee.org.uk.