Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Journal Entry #2 - Thoughts on religion in England

So I've been doing a lot of preliminary research for my project and I haven't written any of my thoughts down about them yet. So here are a few of them.

I started my research by simply Googling "Religion in England". That brought me to the Wikipedia page that bears the same name. More interesting and informative was the "Religion in the United Kingdom", and I don't know why there are two different articles, but there you are. The first three sections of the latter article are fascinating, and have numerous interesting statistics about religiosity, attendance, and belief in the country. It is interesting to me that:

1) The EU-funded European Social Survey published in April 2009 found that only 12% of British people belong to a church.

2) In the UK overall, a Guardian/ICM poll in 2006 found that 33% describe themselves as "a religious person" while 82% see religion as a cause of division and tension between people.

3) Ten per cent attend church weekly and two-thirds had not gone to church in the past year.

So, the UK is becoming an increasingly secular place to live, along with the rest of Europe, which has "experienced a decline in church membership and church attendance." But what's interesting to me is why the country is becoming more secular, and I think the statistic listed on number 2 is particularly important. A large majority of people in the UK see religion as a cause of division. That seems to indicate that they have a generally negative view toward religion. If a lot of people have a bad attitude it, there's little wonder the younger generation is increasingly secular. (page 182 on that last link has a generation graph of religiosity).

This is all very interesting, and through it all I'm trying to find an angle that would be accessible to a young college student doing research among Londoners for 90 days. Perhaps I can dig a little deeper into what reasons people have for the generally negative view towards religion. Is it because it's restrictive? Is it because of poor leadership and/or scandal among church leaders? Is there a negative feeling about the church's history? Or is it because non-church related activities have become more popular, drawing people away from religious activities because there are more interesting distractions? Is it due to the way that religious history is taught in school?

I would sure like to know.

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