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In the News

Secularisation in the UK: Is Collective Workshop Archaic?

Sarah Butler

15th November 2023

This 2023 article tells us that ‘more people under 40 in England and Wales now declare “no religion” than profess to be Christian – the first time the UK’s dominant religion has been pushed into second place in any age group’ demonstrating a decline in Christianity. However it’s important to remember that, within many minority ethnic groups in the UK, religiosity is high for a variety of religions.

The number of young Christians has fallen significantly.

More than 50% of people in their 20s in England and Wales are not religious, compared with 37% a decade earlier. This is expected to bring certain debates to the forefront, whether state schools should still be required to provide “broadly Christian” daily worship, and the role of the Church of England in parliament. Could this impact on education policy? And perhaps wider legislative processes?

There are now 9.8 million Christians aged under 40, but 13.6 million people with no religion. Campaigners for non-religious people said the figures “make plain that the UK faces a non-religious future”. You may like to consider how this affects the role for religion of creating social cohesion? What does it mean to fulfill this function for 9.8 million people, but not the wider population? Will that function of promoting cohesion be reduced if schools no longer have to provide collective worship?

The article cites campaigners for non-religious people suggesting the UK government needs to ‘renegotiate the place of religion or belief in today’s society’. This may address traditional religion only, but have they considered the Spiritual Revolution that some sociologists argue we have seen in recent decades? Does much of this depend on how we view and define religion and beliefs in contemporary society?

Also in this article, Abby Day, a professor of race, faith and culture at Goldsmiths, University of London, argues that the church is outdated and therefore no longer relevant to young people. She describes the Christian Church as “radically out of step” leading to generational change where ‘baby boomers, the millennials and generation Z are all turning away from Christianity’.

Andrew Copson, the chief executive of Humanists UK builds on this, saying that: “Today’s results only serve to underline the archaic place that collective worship and faith-based discrimination have in our schools.”

Is this hard quantitative evidence that the place of religion in our society is rapidly declining, or is this a Eurocentric, Christian-centric aspect of a wider, global picture?

Sarah Butler

Sarah is an experienced Head of Social Sciences, EPQ Coordinator and Sociology examiner.

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