4 comments on “Why critique religion?

  1. Hi, I find the statistics for church attendance interesting. I know of several churches in Derby that have outgrown or are about to outgrow their buildings. These are the churches know as charismatic. Pentecostal, evangelical or spirit led are other terms used. Either way they are churches seen as non- traditional due to the more relaxed nature of services. The buildings are often more ‘disability friendly’ and they have an inclusive nature.
    However they are criticised for their biblical stance of non acceptance of gay relationships, sex outside of marriage and in some cases, the role of women in the church. They don’t do ‘religion’ they do faith.
    Research into why these churches appear to be growing would be really interesting.
    I have been a part of 3 churches in Derby city, Assemblies of God, Baptist and New Frontiers. Apart from spending 10 weeks in the summer at the latter of these, I have been ‘un-churched’ for the last 4 years. I don’t know where I belong any more although my faith is still real and strong and I choose to get involved in Chaplaincy stuff at Uni for the moment.
    I shall follow your research with interest Naomi.

  2. This got me thinking…
    Most often what I notice are the perimeters grouping sets of beliefs. There appears to be a great deal of overlap, be it areas of contention or agreement (& unsurprisingly I also notice those concerning LGBT & women most).

    Is this driven by a generic psychological need to define oneself against a set of “I am” statements laid out by others with whom we wish to belong or rebel? Or, put bluntly, my cave / your cave? Really? Still?

    So much of society is constructed this way. Polarities, and rebellions against them that cut smaller chunks. Attach labels to the parts. Labels, the naming of parts, allows for quick classification (supporting stereotyping) and rapid processing (reducing thought).

    Perhaps this is why ignorance is considered bliss; because it knows not what it does.

    Any one or group acting in a role as a leader of others, which I very much consider religion to be (as well as, for example, politicians), is doing harm if it allows ignorance flourish.


  3. Lisa: Perspective is definitely relevant. As I’m trying to suggest above, sociological theories of secularization are definitely too simplistic (or have been until recently). The post I quote from might interest you in terms of secularization.

    Statistics vary a lot regarding how many people go to church regularly, but it’s clear that at least 90% of people in England do not. For comparison, about 40% of people in the US attend church *every week*, and the various numbers I can find for Ireland suggest that that at least 60% attend regularly there. (Having trouble confirming these statistics, but I can work on it.) We’re talking a massive shift, then, from pre-WW2 numbers of about 70% church membership, and 30-40% regular attendance – http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/19/4/446 .

    You may see churches everywhere, but you’d mostly find they’re not very full. My church averages 30-50 a week in a building that can hold over 200. I wonder if a lot of what you’re seeing is the remains of a formerly Christian country’s heritage, rather than current structures. (Church schools being a different issue, and an interesting one, but not just about religion.) That’s what I mean about a society defining itself *against* religion. It appears to be everywhere because something else is establishing itself against it. Maybe.

    Of course, these numbers only relate to Christians, not to the many other religions in the UK. But it’s clear that there’s been a major, if gradual shift towards a secular society in recent years. At the same time, I think you’re right that our society is pluralist rather than necessarily secularized. The secularization process has started, but it may well not move in a straight line towards less and less religion in society. And yes, I think perspective is interesting in that sense. I’d like to read more of sociology of religion stuff that’s written by non-religious researchers.

    Thanks for the comment! Useful food for thought.

  4. I’m not convinced that the world is as secular as this post seems to hint.

    For instance the Atheist Bus Campaign (which Walker’s cartoon spoofs) was prompted by religious bus ads and led to countless religious counter-ads. In sheer number terms there were far, far more religious than non-religious bus ads on the road.

    Maybe it depends on the perspective of the author? I’m an atheist so I see religion wherever I look. For instance I’ve got a couple of churches and about 5 religious schools within 5 minutes walk of my flat. But because you have Christian beliefs you see secularism wherever you go?

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