While I was offline for a month, I kept a note of any links and news stories worth commenting on. Now that I’m back, I’m aiming to post two short items a day here, about stuff that happened during my online absence, until I’ve cleared the backlog. This is one of those.
The latest British Social Attitudes survey indicates that 51% of people in this country identify as having “no religion“.
That’s most people. Only a minority in the UK, apparently, are sufficiently bothered about any particular religion to count themselves a member of it.
There’s a margin of error, obviously, and other surveys have given different results. But it’s clear that we’re a significantly and increasingly secular country.
But as the Guardian article points out, religious tolerance appears to have been on the increase in recent decades, as much as its adherence has been becoming sidelined. Christianity may be more open to ridicule than it used to be, but failure to hold a particular faith is much less widely seen as an inadequacy or inherent unsuitability for any kind of public office.
And Christmas still seems to be as popular as ever. Interest isn’t obviously waning, nobody’s trying to have it banned or renamed Winterval, and not being religious doesn’t seem to be holding people back from enjoying whatever festivities are there to be enjoyed.
Even if most people really aren’t religious any more – which it looks like will soon be undeniable in the UK, probably within my lifetime – that doesn’t need to worry the remaining religious people at all. The New Atheism movement hasn’t been working towards an atheist majority; we’ve just been trying to earn the respect, recognition, and non-religious rights that a lot of people haven’t wanted to afford us in the past.
So long as none of those same rights are lost to religious people just because there aren’t as many of them as there used to be, they’ll cope fine in the minority.