19 September 2018, The Tablet

The spiritual-but-not-religious people are those who can’t be fagged to go to church

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Melanie McDonagh's Notebook

 

Heaven knows, I enjoy a spat about religion as much as the next person. Show me an argument about the English translation of the liturgy, and I’m in there; ditto a catfight over clerical celibacy. As for the re-ordering of churches, I can lose friends over it.

But sometimes we have to deny ourselves the simple pleasures of squabbling for the sake of it and focus on the larger context for our disputes. And that is, Christianity in Britain (and to a lesser extent, in Ireland) is in a perilous state. Last week, a survey from the National Centre for Social Research suggested that in 15 years, the number of 45-54-year-olds who describe themselves as C of E fell from 35 per cent to 11 per cent. This bears out data from the British Social Attitudes survey last year suggesting that only 3 per cent of adults under 24 described themselves as Anglican

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