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Is the UK still a Christian country? Don’t just look at numbers May 26, 2015

Posted by P, J, or J in Statistics.

In a country where less than 25% of the population voted for the ruling party ‘only’ 64% consider themselves to be Christian but think of themselves as a threatened minority. Sometimes perceptions and percentages are very different things.

Pray and Bible photo from BBC article

The majority of people in the UK call themselves Christian – but it’s now a smaller majority.

Under the title “Is the UK still a Christian country?” a recent BBC article asked yet again “Are we losing our religion?” and concluded “The answer for the UK seems to be ‘Yes’, while the answer for the developing world is a resounding ‘No’.”

The picture chosen to illustrate the story was praying hands on a Bible. That’s a very good place to start but Jesus didn’t say “by this will all men know that you are my disciples, that you pray and read your Bibles”. From that ‘good place to start’ comes action and faith that is lived out and visible to all.

If current trends continue then by 2050 the number of people identifying themselves as Christian may fall as low as 45% and those claiming no religion may rise from 28% to 39%. The article looks at a few more statistics and comments before concluding: “Faith in politicians, government, the mainstream media and in many other institutions has diminished, yet the human search for meaning, identity and principles that unite us as a society has not gone away.”

It also advises “you have to be very cautious about predictions” and so I’ll be cautious about making any.

Predictions before the recent UK elections were interesting and mostly wrong. Conservatives won with 51% of the 650 seats but only 36.9% of the votes (still above second place Labour with 232 sets and 30.4% of the votes). Only 66.1% of those eligible actually voted so that means that only 24.4% of voting adults are being governed by the party they voted for. The Conservatives were pleased with this victory. Imagine how encouraged they’d be if they had 64% of the country even nominally behind them?

But paying lip service to Christianity isn’t enough. We like to judge our politicians on what they do not what they say. Christianity is the same. In the same passage that warns us about judging others Jesus himself said ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt7.22)

Christianity is not dying and it’s not going away.

Not everyone who used to call themselves Christians would have met Christ’s criteria for calling themselves his followers, and many of the current 64% would even struggle to say what ‘being Christian’ means to them.

A week before that very first Easter independent polls would have put Jesus’ popularity incredibly high. If their had been social media everyone would have been tweeting ‘that picture’ of him entering Jerusalem. A week later most would have deleted all traces of him from their profiles. Even Peter denied three times that they had ever been friends. Even after the incredible news of the resurrection his followers were still hiding away and fearing for their own lives. Then came the day of Pentecost and they burst out, speaking so that each person in the crowd heard in their own language and declaring all that had happened.

If you are part of the 64% in the UK or of the 32% globally that calls themselves Christian and don’t really know that story, look for it. (clue it’s in the Bible in the book of Acts). If you know the story tell it!

Above all, if you are a follower of Christ (especially in a community that won’t arrest or kill you for saying so) then don’t hide it, but recognize that people may listen to what you say but will also be looking at how you live.

Your country will not look like a Christian country unless the Christians look like Christians.


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