57% of Britons (30 million people) believe Jesus rose from the dead according to a recent survey carried out by the think tank Theos. Half of them believe in the bodily resurrection, as opposed to spiritual resurrection. Over 50% believe in life after death. 40% believe Jesus was the Son of God. 43% believe the Easter story is about Jesus dying for our sins. Only 23% claimed to be atheists.
So here is yet further proof that Britain is not as secular as some people make out. It fits with the 2001 Census which recorded 71.8% of Britons claimed to be Christian. However, the forces of militant secularism continue to ignore these facts and to undermine (or rather contradict) the widespread Christian views of the British population.
I firmly believe in protecting the rights of religious minorities. But, whether consciously or not, the constant emphasis on Britain being multi-faith is undermining our remaining Christian heritage and, because the country is increasingly falling down the crack between the various religions, it is effectively furthering secularism. We need to remember the following figures: 2.8% are Muslims, 1% Hindu, 0.6% Sikh, 0.5% Jewish and 0.3% are Buddhist. Important minorities, yes, but clearly Britain still regards itself as Christian, especially when one adds that only 15.1% claimed no religion.
What am I arguing for, some privileges for the church? No. I am arguing against militant secularism which is very evident in our society. The Christian Faith has a strong humanitarian concern and, without such a religious foundation, moral standards will gradually and inevitably decline. If, as seems to be increasingly the case, decision-makers enforce secularism in society, this will affect such things as:
- Care for the vulnerable: including the unborn (that has already widely happened) and the elderly – the slippery slope of euthanasia is not far away.
- Marriage and the crucial benefits of a stable family (that has already widely happened with very widespread harmful effects).
- A sense of the sacred which is essential to morality. I understand the reasons why bishops supported the abolition of the blasphemy laws but it will contribute to the growing and widely influential contempt for Christianity amongst the non-religious minority in Britain. We need to beware the removal of the sacred. Someone said: “Where nothing is sacred, nothing has intrinsic value. Everything is thus a commodity, acquiring value only from economic use. … Where nothing is sacred, there is no awe, no humility, no sense of limits…and no guilt or shame.”
- The opportunity for people to hear the Gospel of Christ. I am deeply saddened that the message of days like Good Friday no longer impinges on the consciousness of British people, and even Easter is thought to be only about bunnies and eggs. If the Christian festivals are marginalized, this will remove opportunities for people to experience worship and to hear the Gospel
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction