Why is the church still such a force in our society when most of us disregard its clerics’ teachings? asks Nick Cohen.
A few months ago, Suffolk police stopped me for driving over 30mph. My excuse that East Anglia was so flat it was impossible not to break the limit did not wash, and they sent me on a speed awareness course. Very good it was too. After surveying the human cost of bad driving, I resolved never to speed again. Unfortunately, the instructor was over-fond of his own voice and his lecture went on for hours. “I hope he winds up soon,” I whispered to the woman next to me. “I am meant to be speaking to the National Secular Society.”
The number of people who say they have no religion jumped from 15% in the 2001 census to 25% in 2011. If the remaining 75% were believers, this leap in free-thinking would be significant but not sensational. But those who say they are religious are not faithful to their creeds, or not in any sense that the believers of the past would have recognised. Church attendance is in constant decline.
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