Religion, Spirit and Self Empowerment
Why the UK is losing its religion to Atheism
Atheism in the UK has reached record levels, so why are people losing faith?.
“Only church leaders possess states without defending them and subjects without governing them.” So said Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli in his historical treatise The Prince. Religion, he suggests, is a political necessity, the tool of a ruling class unable to rationally legitimise the massive social inequality of feudal society.You wouldn’t believe it… but having no religious affiliation is now world’s third biggest ‘faith’ after Christianity and IslamChristianity is the largest faith with 2.2 billion adherents or 31.5 per cent of the world’s population
There are about 1.6 billion Muslims around the world – or 23 per cent of the global population
Whilst such a system might seem positively medieval to us now, in the age of the 1 and the 99% and lease-only housing in the capital, it seems that the legacy of ye olde, aristocratic Britannia might not be so remote. Religious states still exist also – Saudi ‘women can’t drive’ Arabia, for instance – and ‘secular’ Britain must count itself as one of only two sovereign states in the world to theocratically maintain the presence of unelected bishops within their political system (the House of Lords). The other is Iran.
But the times they are a-changing, and if the world wars of the 20th century began to erode religious faith in the west, then the proliferation of the world wide web has only exacerbated that process. “Religions have depended on the relative isolation and ignorance of their flocks, forever, and this is all breaking down,” asserts Daniel C. Dennett, the co-director of Tufts’ Centre for Cognitive Studies.
Dennett’s theory is certainly lent support by a recent YouGov poll, which found that “the place of religion in the lives of young Britons is smaller than ever.” Asked by YouGov which figures had any influence whatsoever on their lives, only 12% of British 18-24 year olds said religious leaders influenced them, less than half the number influenced by brands (32%) and politicians (38%), and significantly lower than those influenced by celebrities (21%).
So why are we losing our religion? The global economic collapse certainly seems to have triggered a collective loss of faith in figures of authority in every sector of society, and the process of globalization also sped up the process of ‘atheisisation’. Perhaps we have also reached saturation point with regard to the scale and number of sectarian civil wars, religiously sanctioned, if not encouraged, violence and politico-religious corruption. Atheism UK President Mark Embleton shares this view. Asked why increasing numbers of young people are claiming atheism, he answers:
“Because they’ve thought about it. There’s much more information available through the internet now than there was for older generations, so young people can easily access opinions for and against religion. Also, the more recent publicity and reporting of such things as child abuse by clergy, Islamic terrorism, religious resistance to equality for women or homosexuals, etc., has turned many people away from religion, not just young people.”
Embleton says he became an “active” atheist when he received jural disapproval for taking the affirmation in the witness box, rather than swearing on the Bible (yes, that is still a British practice).