There’s an interesting thread running over on Hacker News on the decline of church membership in the USA — which has dipped below 50% for the first time(1). That’s a big deal. The USA is one of the most devoutly Christain countries in the West, and its religious leaders wield a great deal of political influence. The figures reflect what has been happening in the UK for decades – an accelerating decline of membership and attendance across all demographics.
The number of people in the UK self-identifying as Christian stood at 58% in 2011, dropping 12% since 2001(3). That’s quite a steep decline. Attendance has dropped off a cliff too. The average C of E church service now fills less than thirty seats(2).
The reasons behind the decline are debated violently — but I think that they are well summarised by this comment:
It’s not about churches not being able to answer questions clearly; the reality is just that fewer people believe in gods.
I’m not a believer, but I’m not a militant atheist either. I find the downfall of organised religion interesting as a sociological phenomenon, but I don’t relish it.
What happens when the structures that underpin our legal and moral frameworks fall away? I guess we’re going to find out.
- Wikipedia – Religion in the UK