In Brief... England: a Nation in Religious Decline

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In Brief... England

a Nation in Religious Decline

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The overall percentage of the population in England attending church has dropped from 11.7 percent of the population in 1979 to 7.5 percent in 1998. Merseyside (the Liverpool area), the Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey) and the Isle of Wight are still 10 percent or above, but every other county in the country is below that figure. These new figures (statistics for 1999-2000 apparently are not yet fully available) have been compiled and analyzed by Peter Brierley, former cabinet office statistician for the British government.

In terms of raw attendance, the survey spotlights South Yorkshire as the least devout county in England with a figure of 4.5 percent. The highest attendance is in Merseyside (12.1 percent), which has the largest concentration of Roman Catholics in England.

The Catholic auxiliary bishop of Liverpool, Vincent Malone, explained the national decline in terms of people's growing feeling of self-sufficiency. He said: "Everything seems to be within our own control. We don't have the same need of dependency or the need to look beyond ourselves." We don't seem to rely on God anymore.

Note: This survey does not include Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but the vast majority of the population of the United Kingdom is in England.

Source: The Sunday Telegraph.