Church of England's decline slowing down due to patriotism -report

The decline that the Church of England has been experiencing since 2006 may be slowing down due to a rise in patriotism, a new report has found.

(REUTERS / Nigel Roddis)The Minster in the northern English city of York, where the Church of England General Synod is taking place. December 13, 2011.

When Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" was published in 2006, the Church of England suffered a significant decline in its number of members. However, St. Mary's University theology professor Stephen Bullivant observes that this trend may have slowed down since 2013 due to the rise of patriotism and pride in the Christian faith, The Telegraph relays.

"People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness. There has been more rhetoric around Britain being a Christian nation," said Prof. Bullivant. "People are looking for ways to connect with others. I suspect a larger proportion of people who do say they are Anglican tend to be patriotic."

In October, the Daily Mail reported that the number of Anglican churchgoers who attend Sunday services dropped by 14 percent in 10 years. In 2005, the Church of England recorded a Sunday attendance of 875,000, but that figure dropped to 764,000 in 2014 and continued to go down to 752,460 in 2015.

Aside from that, the Church of England recorded an 18 percent decline in the number of wedding ceremonies, 28 percent in funerals, and 11 percent in baptisms. Attendance on Easter and Christmas were not spared from the decline, as there was a 13 percent and 14 percent drop in the number of people who attended the services from 2005 to 2015.

Based on an analysis of figures from the British Social Attitudes Survey and the European Survey, the proportion of people who claim to have no religion surged to 50.6 percent in 2009, but it has already gone down to 48.6 percent in 2015. The proportion that claims to be Church of England members has also gone up from 16.3 percent in 2009 to 17.1 percent in 2015.

Bullivant notes that the release of Dawkins' book had prevented a lot of Anglicans from openly declaring their faith, since the book targets people who claim to be Anglican but do not really believe in God. Now that only genuine worshippers are left in the church, the decline has stopped and efforts to invite new members could also be yielding positive results.

For Bullivant, the news of the halt in the Church of England's decline is a good one. He said the development is worth celebrating, given that the church has been beset by bad news the past few decades

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