Link blog: anglican, c-of-e, church-of-england, christianity

The return to religion – Telegraph

“Church attendances, in freefall for so long, have started to rise again, particularly in Britain’s capital city. Numbers on the electoral rolls are increasing by well over two per cent every year, while some churches have seen truly dramatic rises in numbers.” (The electoral roll of a church is the only way the C of E has of recording membership: they don’t really go in for the formal process of the free churches, as it’s an established church).

This is interesting, though not sure how good the evidence of a revival is: you’ve got a couple of anecdotes plus evidence of a positive second derivative (decline is slowing). It’s interesting that this is always presented as being about an alternative to shopping and a search for meaning rather than being about the evidence. I suspect that’s the way it actually works though, depressingly.
(tags: christianity church-of-england anglican c-of-e telegraph uk religion)

4 Comments on "Link blog: anglican, c-of-e, church-of-england, christianity"

  1. I’m not sure the reported increase in attendance of Roman Catholic Mass counts as an easily-dismissed anecdote, given those numbers. In a simplistic model that says everyone in the UK has an independent and equal probability of attending RC Mass, we obtain a binomial distribution over about 61 million people with p=0.015ish, which is approximated by a normal distribution with sigma=950, making a rise of 3000 in a year a bit over 3*sigma and hence less than a 1/600 chance of a fluctuation that dramatic (either way) by pure chance.

    (Drat; I suddenly realise I’d been hoping for sigma=957.)

    Despondent churchmen judged that there were just too many alternative attractions — Sunday shopping, sports fixtures

    They forgot staying in bed!

    James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, agrees: “I’m firmly of the view there’s a spiritual impulse in everybody. But this impulse is episodic. For instance at times of bereavement or trouble, people open up and become more sensitive to the Christian faith. […] ”

    Is it just me, or does that comment smack of wilful blindness to the possibility of wishful thinking? Surely at times of bereavement or trouble you would expect people to increasingly want things to be true that make it all all right, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise if some proportion of them succumb to the urge to believe it just because it would be nice, irrespective of the merits of any given such proposition…


    1. Is it just me, or does that comment smack of wilful blindness to the possibility of wishful thinking?

      “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”, as C.S. Lewis wrote. The bishop probably sees it the same way: it takes dramatic events to wake people up, or something. As I say, it’s all about finding something more meaningful to do than shopping, apparently.


  2. As with climate change, does it make sense to look at a single year rather than the medium-term trend? Here’s a chart from British Religion in Numbers showing percentage of surveyed respondents who attend church at least monthly in Britain, 1983–2008 (caveat: “The data presented cover the white population only (non-whites were not sampled effectively until 1993).”)


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