The position of the non-religious in Britain

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Members of the UK's House of Lords will today (19 April 2007) discuss the position and rights of the non-religious in Britain today.

Formal religious attendance has decreased, but the government is putting more into to faith-based public services. Lord Harrison of Chester wants to bring attention to how the many non-religious people are affected by this approach.

The debate has been welcomed by the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, which says that in a post-Christendom era the churches' message would benefit from embracing plurality rather than seeking advantage over others.

Commented Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow: "The churches in this country have historically been privileged through things like Establishment, bishops in the Lords, tax breaks, legislative exemptions and state funding for their schools. But the Gospel message is about equality not privilege, neighbourly love not self-interest. We should not be afraid of an honest debate about fairness in public life."

Ekklesia has explored the changing religious situation in the UK in Faith And Politics After Christendom (Jonathan Bartley) and Redeeming Religion in the Public Square (Simon Barrow).