Saturday, October 16, 2004

What about religion in the UK?
Through the Valparaiso University study's maps posted here yesterday we looked at religion in the US. Perhaps somebody on location in the UK full-time (David Holford?) can give a report but based on what I remember and on the news, etc.:

An obvious difference is there are lots more Anglicans! Still, only about a third of the people in England are Church of England; about 7% actually go to church. (Makes you wonder about the viability of Establishment.) Like Catholic Europe of which England was a vital part in the Middle Ages, there are village churches, geographical parishes. What's left of that is pride of place: the people don't go but they are proud of 'their' church and oppose its closing. Of the four factions in the C of E (Anglo-Catholic, Central, Evangelical and non-Christian Broad Church) the most thriving one in the pews is Evangelicalism. The ACs are on the ropes of course because of the attempted ordination of women to the priesthood, legalized on 'Black Martinmas' 1992. The clergy are more Broad Church than the laity.

Like the States, it's between the RCs (probably the most robust single denomination) and the Evangelicals (both Anglican and various Free Churches). Not only are the secular majority gaining on the Christians but as I recall so are the Muslims, much more so than in America, thanks in part to immigration from the former colonies such as Pakistan. When I was in Birmingham 15 years ago the big new house of worship going up was the mosque. The C of E has schools, some of which are 100% Muslim students.

It's still possible to be High Church there, even if you're RC, and was 15 years ago, more so than in the States - you simply had to look for it. Mainstream RC is a smidgen better than Stateside but not by much.

As David will tell you there is an Orthodox presence that parallels America's - largely immigrant and ethnic with a small Anglo presence thanks to conversions, some of which is disgruntled traffic from the C of E - but is much, much smaller.

Don't know much about Scotland except it's between the nominally Presbyterian majority (?) in the state Scottish Kirk and a big RC minority dating from 19th-century Irish immigration.

(In England the RCs are substantially immigrant and ethnic Irish too. You can get several of the latest Irish newspapers in the narthex of the church!)

Haven't a clue about Wales: largely nominally Methodist?

Anglicans are a small minority in Scotland and I think Wales too; in both historically they've been High in reaction to the Protestant majority.

The Scottish Episcopalians (just about the only other Anglicans besides Americans who call themselves that) used to be positively Catholic but alas that's all gone now what with lady clergy and the turncoat Richard Holloway.

Northern Ireland: well, everybody knows the Presbyterian majority who came from Scotland 400-500 years ago and the RC minority hate each other.

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