Journal Article

Christianity in Britain, R. I. P.

Steve Bruce

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 62, issue 2, pages 191-203
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712455
Christianity in Britain, R. I. P.

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Rodney Stark has again claimed that secularization is a myth based on exaggerating the religious vitality of the past and under-estimating that of the present. This article takes issue with the first point briefly but concentrates on showing that, in the case of Britain, even if we confine ourselves to comparisons of religiosity in 1851, 1900 and 2000, the evidence is of clear and dramatic decline. Recently gathered data on church membership and church attendance are presented. They show that unless long-stable trends are reversed, major British denominations will cease to exist by 2030. While we may legitimately argue about the causes and timing of secularization, no amount of supply-side revisionism will change that fact that organized Christianity in Britain is in serious trouble.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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