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Monday, December 07, 2015

Is Britain still a Christian country?

The conclusions of the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life, chaired by former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss that Britain has seen a "general decline" in its Christian affiliation and the time has come for public life to take on a more "pluralist character" is hardly surprising. Nor should that change be mourned.

The commission says that only two in five British people now identify as Christian, while there has been a general move away from mainstream denominations to evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism have overtaken Judaism as the largest non-Christian faiths in Britain.

We should celebrate the fact that our country is culturally and religiously diverse and accept that this brings many benefits to our society.

According to the Independent the report concludes that major state occasions such as a coronation should be changed to be more inclusive, whilst the number of bishops in the House of Lords should be cut to make way for leaders of other religions:

The report also recommends scrapping the law requiring schools to hold acts of collective worship, reducing the number of children given places at schools based on religion, and including non-religious figures on the BBC’s Thought for the Day.

There also needs to be an overhaul of how religious education is taught, it argues. Many syllabuses tend to “portray religions only in a good light … and they tend to omit the role of religions in reinforcing stereotypes and prejudice around issues such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race.”

With the exception of the recommendations on the House of Lords, all of this is very sensible. As far as the second chamber goes, my view is that there should be no appointed members in it at all, including bishops. They should all be elected.
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