Today the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science published the results to a survey on 'Religious and Social Attitudes of UK Christians in 2011', helping Dawkins claim Great Britain is not truly a 'Christian country', as the national census has always suggested, and therefore the church should be removed from British society. The survey results, although based on a small sample relative to the census, were very interesting and I have to admit I agree on some of the points Dawkins took from it when speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning.
|Richard Dawkins; a self-professed champion for atheists.|
- 54% of people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland said they recorded 'Christian' as their religion in the 2011 census
- of those, 72% say they count themselves Christian because they were christened or baptised into the religion, just 28% said it was because they believed in Christianity's teachings
- 49% of them said they have not attended a church meeting once in the last 12 months, apart from special occasions such as christenings, weddings, funerals (hatch, match and dispatch!), 17% said they had once or more a week
- in fact, 24% who hadn't been in the last 12 months had never been
- as many people pray weekly or more (35%) as never pray (37%)
- only 36% completely believe in Heaven, just 18% in Hell and 8% believe in reincarnation
- just 17% see Christianity as the only way to know God (John 14:6)
- 68% do not believe Jesus physically rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 17-19)
- 60% have not read the Bible of their own choice for over a year, if ever
- 65% in fact do not know that the first book of the New Testament is Matthew
- 64% relate being a Christian with 'being a good person' or 'how you are brought up', just 22% relate it with accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour
Personally, I agree with Dawkins that these results show that Great Britain is not a 'Christian country'. Though none of these things can ever say whether someone is a Christian or not (that is between God and the person), I think the fact that only half of the country claims to be Christian, half of those don't attend church regularly, the majority do not read the Bible, many do not pray and few have belief in the core aspects of the Christian faith shows that, unfortunately, the UK is more secular than Christian.
There has been argument that Dawkins cannot say who is Christian or not but, from my personal experience, the essence of being a Christian is that your everything is in Christ and for Christ. This will reflect in someone's character, in their life, in what they say and do and believe; they will be recognised as Christians by their fruit (Matthew 7:17-20).
The bigger debate is the presence of Christianity in British society but that is for another post. The sad state of affairs is that, thought there is a great history and tradition of Christianity in Great Britain, there is no longer. Now, the church that is left, the remnant of that history, has a responsibility to proclaim the true gospel across the land to make Jesus' name and his gospel (literally, good news) known (Matthew 28:16-20).
It is so sad that in countries like this, where we are free the most to worship, the people reject it and are often reluctant to stand up for it. In countries where the gospel is forbidden, the church is thriving. May we rise to the challenge and step out boldly in faith and by the power of the Spirit that the people of Britain would know the gospel for what it truly is.
Listen to Dawkins on Radio 4 below: