Patterico's Pontifications

12/23/2007

Catholicism Is the Leading UK Christian Religion

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 12:11 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his conversion to Catholicism this week and new research shows he’s not the only one. Catholicism has become the leading Christian denomination practiced in Britain:

“Former prime minister Tony Blair’s conversion to Catholicism means he is now a member of the most popular Christian denomination in Britain, according to religious research published on Sunday.

Despite England’s official break with the pope in Rome during Henry VIII’s reign more than 400 years ago, making Anglicanism and the Church of England dominant, Catholicism is now the most practiced faith in the land.

The UK Times notes the influx of foreign migration from Catholic countries is responsible for the shift:

“Roman Catholicism is set to become the dominant religion in Britain for the first time since the Reformation because of massive migration from Catholic countries across the world. Catholic parishes will swell by hundreds of thousands over the next few years after managing years of decline, according to a new report, as both legal and illegal migrants enter the country.

It says that the influx of migrants could be the Catholic community’s “greatest threat” or its “greatest opportunity”. While in some places the Catholic Church has responded positively, in others it has been “overwhelmed” by the scale of the challenge. The growth of Catholicism in Britain comes as the established Church of England and the Anglican provinces in Scotland, Wales and Ireland face continuing, if slow, decline.”

In fact, both Catholic and Anglican attendance is decreasing in the UK:

“A survey by the group Christian Research published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed that around 862,000 worshippers attended Catholic Mass each week in 2006, exceeding the 852,000 who went to Church of England services. Attendance at Anglican services has almost halved over the past 40 years as the country has grown steadily more secular, the research showed, with only Pentecostalism showing any rise in popularity among Christian denominations.

While attendance figures for both Catholic and Anglican services are declining, Catholic numbers are slipping by a lesser degree as new migrants arrive from east Europe and parts of Africa, boosting Catholic congregations.”

Overall, this doesn’t paint a positive outlook for Christians or Catholics in Britain but the prognosis seems especially bleak for Anglicans, many of whom are members in name only and don’t go to church. One theory is that church attendance has suffered as the Anglican population in Britain has become more secular in its focus.

American Anglicans (known as the Episcopal Church of the USA or ECUSA) also emphasize secular, political positions. Like its British cousin, the ECUSA has experienced years of declining attendance or membership. In the 1960’s, ECUSA had over 3.6 million members but that number has steadily declined to less than 2.2 million and continues to fall.

Of course, it doesn’t help Anglicans or Episcopalians that they are led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who has a penchant for saying ridiculous things, or the fall out from the ECUSA’s consecration of the gay Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Nor is it a good sign that the ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says aloud that Episcopalians are “better-educated” than people of other religions and choose to
“reproduce at lower rates” because the church “encourage[s] people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

British Anglicans and American Episcopalians remind me of the Shakers.

— DRJ

32 Responses to “Catholicism Is the Leading UK Christian Religion”

  1. Things change. Chart a course and steer towards it.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. Somewhere in eternity, the shade of a fat old king is rather ticked off. Peter Noone should write a song about it. ]:-)

    M. Scott Eiland (113229)

  3. I blame Brideshead Revisited.

    It’s a great religion for closeted pedophiles.

    On a more serious level its praises have been sung (with tongue firmly in cheek) by the greatest of all British authors, Ronald Firbank, in his masterpiece Concerning the Eccentricites of Cardinal Pirelli.

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  4. Guy Fawkes Day has needed an update for a while now. The question is, should someone fail to blow up parliament on the same day, or create a new holiday?

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  5. only four more wives and the upcoming king charles iii will be tied with henry viii, and maybe he’ll throw the catholics out all over again.

    are you suggesting episcopalians are not better educated with a lower birthrate than say, baptists, who are reputed to breed like rabbits, perhaps on account of their abstinence training?

    assistant devil's advocate (ea9f0f)

  6. This isn’t really surprising. It’s something I’ve noticed on my trips to Europe. In most of Europe churches are tourist destinations, not places of worship.

    Skip (c69414)

  7. Nothing like Christian prejudices with the Muslims knocking at the door.

    In fact I wouldn’t doubt with it knocking a little harder there might be a desire to be part of a Christian Church that has has a larger more unified presence and more staying power. A reunification for the purpose of survival.

    jpm100 (b48b29)

  8. Not really.

    The Cathloic Church just has better sets and costumes than the others. Prettier Music too.

    But as alaways, the “book” needs work.

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  9. Nothing like Christian prejudices with the Muslims knocking at the door.

    I really have to wonder if there’s any topic some people won’t attempt to relate to the big, bad, scary terrorists.

    DRJ – I suggest an experiment. Or perhaps an excuse for a creative writing project. Please post semi-randomly on things that have nothing to to with the topic, and let’s see what happens. Some suggested possibilites:

    – Boll weevils
    – Removing that annoying sticky residue after peeling a sticker from a new purchase
    – The Nihon Ukulele Association

    I have to assume you’d get at least one hit.

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  10. Anglicanism is hollow, it has had all the vitality sucked out of it by political correctness.

    Let’s hope the Catholic church doesn’t go the same way.

    I’m not a Christian, but I can understand the importance of Christianity to European nations. They will be poorer without it.

    miriam (02c166)

  11. Religious people like their religion 100 proof. Straight from the cask with the taste of the sourmash and peat. Those who like it watered down and vanilla-flavored will taste it at your church once but then they’ll try the new mix at the other church next time.

    nk (c87736)

  12. Religious people like their religion 100 proof. Straight from the cask with the taste of the sourmash and peat.

    Hm, what church is this? A good Talisker 16, neat with a splash, and I might actually go. Somehow, though, even though she can’t stand that I’m an atheist, I don’t think my grandmother would approve of the church.

    fishbane (fbe4d4)

  13. “Anglicanism is hollow, it has had all the vitality sucked out of it by political correctness.

    Let’s hope the Catholic church doesn’t go the same way.”

    Just as long as it can cough up the cash to cover for its pedo-priests.

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  14. fishbane #11,

    Marx said that “religion is the opiate of the masses”. Now, where I’m at, opiates are hard to come by, expensive, and mostly illegal. A good bottle of Tennessee sour mash though …. 😉

    nk (c87736)

  15. nk’s #10 reminded me of the johnny walker red communion scene in the movie version of tommy.

    assistant devil's advocate (ea9f0f)

  16. Just as long as it can cough up the cash to cover for its pedo-priests.

    The rate of pedophilia among Priest is the same as the general public. The only scandal was that some Church leadership in North America covered up for these Priests. For that they deserved to be sued and some of them should have been jailed.

    However you wouldn’t know this from the popular media.

    Really, how often do you hear about Pedophilia from Teachers and children with the exception of the mid-teen boys and female teachers? Narrow that down to under 12, and you almost never hear about it. In fact I can’t recall any case. Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen. The Media just chooses to not dwell on the negative aspects of government run schools. But a religious organization, no problem.

    jpm100 (b48b29)

  17. Mary Stuart must be laughing somewhere.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  18. One possibility to explain Europe’s turn away from religion is the much different history religion has in Europe than in the US. Established churches, corruption, political power, wealthy elitist clergy, persecution, religious wars; the list goes on over centuries. Maybe it made a lot of people think this is all b.s.

    JayHub (0a6237)

  19. “The only scandal was that some Church leadership in North America covered up for these Priests”

    Not just in North Ameruica. Wholesale pedophilia among the Catholic clergy is a long-standing world-wide phenomenon.

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  20. “Religious people like their religion 100 proof. Straight from the cask with the taste of the sourmash and peat. Those who like it watered down and vanilla-flavored will taste it at your church once but then they’ll try the new mix at the other church next time.”

    -nk

    That’s it? Just the two extremes: Fanatic or Flake? Yikes…

    Why the negative view of religion, nk? You don’t have to answer (obviously), but if you would oblige me… it’s not often that I run into a conservative who’s anti-religion.

    It’s not often that I run into a conservative who quotes Karl Marx, either. Since when did you become a Fellow Traveler?

    Leviticus (662a2d)

  21. Leviticus #19,

    My mother carried me in her bare feet, up a mountainside, to a monastery of the Virgin. She laid me in front of the altar and the first worshipper who touched me became my godfather. Then she put me through nineteen years of education, including law school. I would no more renounce my religion than I would spit in her face. Neither would I ignore the education she slaved to give me in favor of what some priest preached me.

    nk (c87736)

  22. We can get all serious about this if you want but, as for me, NK’s sour mash comment just made me want a bourbon and Coke.

    DRJ (09f144)

  23. Comment by JayHub — 12/23/2007 @ 4:20 pm

    I think you’re right. A few years back someone made the point that Establishment in European countries pretty much set the stage for religion becoming less and less important to people there. Ironically, those in the U.S. who purport to see Christian theocrats under every bed, should be helping rather than resisting the feared theocracy, if what they want is for America ultimately to become as irreligious as Europe.

    Not that I think they could ever bring themselves to do it even if they did figure it out.

    McGehee (44241a)

  24. I think the Catholic Church attracts converts because it has not changed its dogma in centuries. Their answers are not blowin’ in the wind. I guess if you want the real deal, you go to the source.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  25. Patricia, I think you’re right at least in England. Tony Blair is by all accounts a very strong believer in Christianity. The Anglican Church there seems mostly to be a pale imitation of Catholicism that has lost the deep emotional part of worship and is often the subject of mild ridicule.

    Britain is still much more of a class conscious society than we are. I’d be interested to know if Blair really had not other choice than Catholicism there as a home for his strong faith because people of his social status simply don’t belong to one of those Low Church, Chapel, Protestant sects. Anybody know?

    JayHub (0a6237)

  26. JayHub,

    I don’t know how elite Brits feel about Protestant denominations (other than Anglicans) but I suspect Blair’s choice was heavily influenced by his wife’s Catholicism.

    DRJ (09f144)

  27. Given this I think it’s time to throw off the current imposters and restore His Most Catholic Majesty King Francis II to his rightful place as King of Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales.

    Polybius (e282a0)

  28. Thanks for the link to the interview with Bishopess Schori, in which I found this gem:

    (Pope Benedict) became embroiled in controversy this fall after suggesting that Muslims have a history of violence.

    So do Christians! They have a terrible history. Look at history in the Dark Ages. Charlemagne converted whole tribes by the sword. I think Muslims are poorly understood by the West, and it is easy to latch onto that which we do not understand and demonize it.

    They have a terrible history? Miss Schori holds the position of Presidening Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, and she refers to Christians as “they,” the third person plural?

    Wouldn’t someone who considered herself to be Christian have used “we,” the first person plural?

    This, to me, says far more about the decline of the ECUSA than anything else.

    Dana (556f76)

  29. Re: David, 19.

    Considering that wasn’t my point at all, do you always dishonestly discuss issues?

    jpm100 (b48b29)

  30. Oh that’s rich! You carry water for the church by the tankload and I’m dishonest!

    Anyone with half a brain knows that pedophilia is systemic within the church! That’s one of the reasons why I left it.

    David Ehrenstein (4ce68d)

  31. People with full brains might ask whether the rate of pedophilia in the church exceeds that of the population as a whole.

    SPQR (26be8b)


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