Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What have the noughties done for God?

From the BBC

Standing in the little parish church in Thwaite in Suffolk you get a sense of the challenge facing religion in the noughties, or at least the established orthodox religion - Anglican Christianity - that has dominated England for 500 years.

For all of those five centuries the church of St George was the spiritual home of the people of this small settlement, amid fields of wheat and barley on the flat lands of East Anglia.
But last year it was declared redundant, like more than 200 other Anglican churches in England during the noughties.

Public scepticism

Other denominations have closed even more churches and chapels.
The decline in Christian influence goes much further than dwindling Sunday congregations.
A stern secularism has marked public life during the last decade, with legislation protecting minorities such as gay people against discrimination, which some Christians say undermines their freedom to practice - and even preach - a gospel that considers active homosexuality sinful.

A government that famously did not "do God", introduced civil partnerships and abolished the law against blasphemy. It seemed to reflect a new public scepticism about the influence of organized religion.

Producer Stuart Denman and I spoke to the social commentator Simon Jenkins, an atheist who has nevertheless written one of the leading books about the country's best church buildings.
Simon Jenkins says people are ready to question religious beliefs.

"People are now saying 'I want the law to answer to me. I don't want to be told by a hierarchy, by a religious ruler, what I can believe, how I can behave'. Those days are over."

More here-


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