2011 census on religion (Tumblr transfer – written 16/12/12)

Religion and Christianity

This week the basic data from the 2011 UK Census regarding things such as ethnic groups and tenure of housing, in addition to figures on those who chose to answer the (optional) question about religion was released. Whatever the distorting presentations of the statistics will be, from both religious institutions and from secular or atheist ones, the fact of the matter is that ‘Between 2001 and 2011 the percentage of residents affiliating themselves with the Christian religion declined in all England regions and Wales.’ –

Between 2001 and 2011 there has been a decrease in people who identify as Christian (from 71.7 per cent to 59.3 per cent) and an increase in those reporting no religion (from 14.8 per cent to 25.1 per cent). All other religious groups saw a rise in percentage (except Judaism, which nevertheless did increase marginally).

These are the basic, pure statistics, whichever way they are interpreted it is not a great thing for Christianity, in just one decade those designating themselves Christians have fallen 13% whilst all other religions, and atheism, is on the increase. All these statistics will be skewed by virtue of the criteria different people apply when designating themselves Christians, some inclined to put that because they are baptised even if they never attend any form of Christian worship or make religion a part of their lives, whilst others may be integral parts of Christian life, people whose whole moral value system is based upon their religion, who go to Church every day or perhaps even work for it. But the fact remains that Christians are making themselves irrelevent. We don’t really need fancy statistics to show us that. Despite the many thousands of unpaid hours of voluntary service carried out by Christians, the many schemes and ideas run by them, not only for their fellow Christians but for all faiths and none, Christianity is seen as a stupid faith to belong to by the majority of people. It’s the 21st Century, people are exposed to so many more cultures and religions, and also many have turned away from religious institutions, which won’t be a great shock to those who frequent videos or topics about religion on social media sites such as youtube and twitter. The Church needs to get with the times, to overthrow the tables in the temple and learn to reconnect with the people if it is to survive without becoming a ‘cult’ and without persecution. The fact that the CofE has been seen to exclude themselves on ‘religious grounds’ from any discussion on gay marriage, with the implementation of the ‘quadruple lock’ has hardly helped strengthen our position. Of course there will be endless discussions about whether society should adapt to accommodate religion or if religion should change, but if we’re to be realistic then in order to survive then Christianity must change, our Christ was one who challenged the accepted social norms of the place of women, slaves etc, so why shouldn’t the 21st century Christian be proud to stand up for equality and change?

Thoughts on the Church and LGBT*Q (transferred from Tumblr – written 10/04)

I am falling out of love with the institution of the Church of England. There, I said it. I love the Anglican Church, the sheer broadness of views and beliefs and approaches which we manage to hold together in the face of disagreements. I’m cool with attempts to compromise, even on obviously right things such as women bishops because there are still many people who feel this is wrong or against their biblical and spiritual convictions. What I’m not cool with is the latest attempt by the faith and order commission of the General Synod (basically the boss bit of the CofE) to alienate pretty much all LGBT* Christians with its latest rejection and refusal to bless those in civil partnerships (see here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1715479/marriagetextbrochureprint.pdf).

Does the Church not realise how many LGBT* people are part of their membership, either lurking in the laity quietly, living with their partners but not being seen together because of the (unfortunately quite legitimate) fear of persecution or prejudice, or being part of welcoming churches and being able to be open about who they are?. Equally consider the numbers of gay clergy who are often known to be in an active relationship with someone of the same gender but are ordained anyway by bishops who believe the Churches stance on homosexuality to be bonkers?

Basically what this latest report does is to reflect the opinion of some within the CofE who happen to be quite senior, and apply it to all of us. The continued reiteration of the idea that marriage is only workable between a man and a woman, especially for procreation, and the many implications and superiority that that gives to those in heterosexual marriages – that single mothers struggle due to the lack of a husband, disregarding the reasons why that marriage may have broken down such as abuse, that same sex couples adopting would be ok but same sex couples having sperm donors or surrogate mothers isn’t because clearly only a man and woman can raise a child in the love of God…….how can the Church not see how blinkered this is?

Many many Christians struggle to accept their sexuality, even though it is just as much a gift from God as heterosexual love, because the Church remains stuck with this cumbersome definition of marriage which is exclusive, superior and frankly medieval. How disastrous would it really be to regard marriage as between two people that love each other, rather than between a man and woman who love each other?

The fact that many churches do already flex the rules by celebrating and blessing same sex couples appears to be alluded to in this report but in such obtuse and confusing language that any meaningful view on this from the CofE and Synod is lost.

Personally I read most of this report shaking my head but I despaired when I came to a part which said that ’ persons are not asexual, but are either male or female’…..once again the Church is out of touch with the ideas of transgender issues, the fact that asexuality does actually exist and makes up around 1% of society and the refusal to acknowledge those who transgress the construct of gender binaries…..GIANT SQUID OF ANGER :/

So yeah, the CofE, or at least it’s official statements and members (since there are many who disagree with this release) has done yet another fantastic job of alienating all LGBT* laity, clergy and wider population…

Wider reading: http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/5-april/news/uk/marriage-a-%E2%80%98gift-from-god%E2%80%99-that-does-not-include-same-sex-couples,-says-report