Churches must face facts - with hope

By Press Office
May 9, 2008

"Arguing about the latest statistics misses the point," says Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia. "The overall trend for many years has been a falling away of active affiliation from inherited church institutions."

He was commenting on the latest data from Christian Research which indicates a continuing serious decline in church attendance in the UK, the details of which are being disputed by the Church of England.

Barrow continued: "This does not mean the death of Christianity. It signals, rather, the end of an illusion that Christians are in a majority and that their beliefs and convictions have some automatic right to a privileged place within society.

"Christendom - the identification of the interests of church and governing authority - is no longer sustainable (even if you think it is justifiable, which we do not), because most people in Britain are not actively Christian. But the idea that religion and spirituality is disappearing is also an illusion. We now live in a multi-conviction society, and believers as well as non-believers need to adjust to this."

"For the churches, the opportunity is to focus on demonstrating a Gospel of reconciliation, justice and peace in practice - rather than becoming defensive, hiding behind privilege and trying to lecture people from a false position of lofty superiority", concluded Barrow.

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