The Telegraph, a London newspaper , carried the following story dealing with the state of “religion” in Britain. Unfortunately I did not find it surprising and wonder if there is any essential difference between what is pretty obvious in Britian today and the trend in the U.S. I’m inclined to think not. Anyway, here is the Telegraph’s article: RMF
Former archbishop of Canterbury: We are a post-Christian nation
Exclusive: Former archbishop of Canterbury says Britain is no longer a nation of believers, as Telegraph poll reveals Christians are reluctant to express their faith
Archbishop Rowan Williams
Britain is now a “post-Christian” country, the former archbishop of Canterbury has declared, as research suggests that the majority of Anglicans and Roman Catholics now feel afraid to express their beliefs.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Lord Williams of Oystermouth says Britain is no longer “a nation of believers” and that a further decline in the sway of the Church is likely in the years ahead.
While the country is not populated exclusively by atheists, the former archbishop warns that the era of regular and widespread worship is over.
His stark assessment comes after David Cameron ignited a national debate over the place of religion in British public life. The Prime Minister urged Christians to be “more evangelical” about their faith and claimed that Britain should be a more confidently Christian country.
His remarks, in the run-up to Easter, provoked a furious response from atheist and secular groups, and prompted a succession of senior politicians to give their views, culminating in Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England.
However, an exclusive poll for The Telegraph today discloses substantial support for the Prime Minister’s view. Findings from the ICM survey of 2,000 people conducted last week included:
• More than half the public – 56 per cent – regard Britain as a Christian country, a figure which rises to 60 per cent among men and 73 per cent among the over 65s;
• Almost two-thirds of practising Christians appear to be frightened of speaking out about their beliefs. The poll found 62 per cent saying the rise of religious fundamentalism had made Christians afraid to express their faith;
• Widespread concerns also emerge over the perceived vulnerability of Christians in the UK to abuse or discrimination. Sixty-two per cent of people who hold Christian beliefs but do not worship regularly say they feel Christians are given “less protection” than other religious groups by the state;
• Overall, 52 per cent of respondents described themselves as either practising or non-practising Christians, while a further five per cent said they belonged to another faith group. Some 41 per cent said they were not religious.
In the interview, Lord Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cam-bridge, accepted that Britain’s “cultural memory” was “quite strongly Christian”.
“But [Britain is] post-Christian in the sense that habitual practice for most of the population is not taken for granted,” he said. “A Christian nation can sound like a nation of committed believers, and we are not that.”
The former archbishop, who remains a member of the House of Lords, continued: “It’s a matter of defining terms. A Christian country as a nation of believers? No.
“A Christian country in the sense of still being very much saturated by this vision of the world and shaped by it? Yes.”
Lord Williams suggested that there may be “a further shrinkage of awareness and commitment” as a result of a lack of knowledge about Britain’s Christian legacy among younger generations, under the age of 45.
There may be opportunities for younger people to bring “a certain freshness” to the question of faith because they will not regard Christianity as “the boring old stuff that we learned at school”.
He rejected the suggestion that British Christians have been persecuted, although he acknowledged that some individuals have had “a rough time” as a result of the “real stupidity” of some organisations. His comments are likely to fuel the political controversy which erupted when the Prime Minister made his most outspoken comments about his Christian faith since becoming Conservative leader.
Mr Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, responded to the debate last week by suggesting that the Church of England should be formally disestablished from the state.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Lady Warsi, the senior Conservative peer and the minister for faith, defended the Prime Minister’s intervention, saying that “Christianity is part of the landscape of this country and always will be”.
However, she warned that many Christians now feel they cannot display their faith in public. She suggested that large numbers of immigrants from Christian backgrounds, such as Polish Catholics and members of Chinese and African churches, were leading to a religious revival in Britain.
“It’s when countries have a weak identity that things start to go wrong and people start to feel that they are under threat,” she said.
“Sadly that’s what happened in Britain for many years. Politicians didn’t talk about their faith because they were seen to be odd to do so.” This fuelled a rise in support for far-Right groups in the UK, she said.
“People say they are drawn to extremist groups because they feel their identity is under threat, that they are not allowed to be who they are or believe what they believe.
“That happens because people become unsure of what we stand for in our country. There is still sometimes a sense that the Christian heritage of Britain is not spoken about, not displayed. People don’t feel that they can dress in a Christian manner, can’t talk about Christianity and faith. These groups exploit that feeling and we have to stand up to that.”
Lady Warsi, senior minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and minister for faith, argued that immigration had the potential to strengthen Britain’s Christian heritage, rather than dilute the national faith.
“Some people fear that immigration somehow makes Britain less of a Christian country, but actually, the opposite is true. Immigration has played into the Christian revival in this country.
“Look at the facts of church-going today. Some of the biggest church-goers are people whose heritage is in Africa and the Caribbean. We have eastern churches and we have Chinese churches.
“There are Roman Catholic churches that have been revived and restored by people who have come to Britain from Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe.
“Britain is a Christian country, but you can be Christian of all sorts of background and heritage.
“The diversity of Britain is not taking away from Christianity. It has actually led to a revival of Christianity.”
The Telegraph/ICM poll today discloses that a majority of the public still regards Britain as a Christian country.
Some 56 per cent said Britain was Christian, compared with 30 per cent who said they thought the country was “non-religious”.
The online survey of 2,000 adults provided further evidence of concerns that Christian beliefs are being marginalised in modern Britain.
The poll found that 62 per cent of practising Anglicans and Catholics along with 61 per cent of non-practising Christians agreed that they were afraid to express their beliefs, and 56 per cent of Christians also felt that the state gives less protection to their beliefs than to those of other faith groups.
Some 14 per cent of respondents defined themselves as practising Christians, while a further 38 per cent said they were “non-practising” Christian