The secularisation thesis - Sample Essay

 

Furthermore, figures of marriages, baptisms and funerals have also been confirmed to have declined in the Church of England’s own figures. In 2002 the total number of marriages and blessings was 60,900 this declined to 57,500 equating to 3% less. The number of baptisms in 2002 was 151,400 this reduced to 139, 10 by 2008 and a decline in funerals taking place under religious auspices, also showed as in 2002 the total number of funerals that took place was 224, 800 whereas in 2008 only 188,100 took place declining by 3%. (www. cofe. anglican. org)

In addition The British Social Attitudes Survey indicates those self-described as members of the Church of England consist of 23% of the population (40% in 1983). 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly. Also 62% of people in the UK never attend a religious service. ( www. humanism. org. uk) However, viewing people’s attendances and looking at the involvement in institutionalised religion is not the only ways of measuring a person’s religiosity and evidence of support in the secularisation thesis.

The British Social Attitudes Survey shows that people who do not hold religious belief has increased overtime. The survey indicates that in the UK, those who profess no-religion have risen from 31% to 43% between 1983 and 2008. It also shows 37% of the UK population are sceptical, 35% have definite or doubtful. 25% of the UK population believe in God (however tentatively) and attend services (even less than once a year) (www. humanism. org. uk) Also if we look at the 2001 census it “identified 8. 6 million people in Great Britain who said they had no religion. Christianity is the main religion, with 41 million people.

Muslims were the largest non-Christian religious group – 1. 6 million – and their profile shows a young, tightly clustered, but often disadvantaged, community. ” (www. statistics. gov. uk) “Berger’s explanation assumes that high levels of intra-group support are necessary to maintain beliefs that are losing support in the general population. ” (www. findarticles. com) suggesting I think that in order to keep people believing in religion the churches need to have a better social support network and because they don’t or it’s not strong enough this could be one of the reasons as to why people are not attending the churches.

In the end though 52 % agree that “Britain is deeply divided along religious lines” Religion in the UK is estimated to have a ‘half-life’ of one generation. (www. humanism. org. uk) Also if we look at the In my opinion looking at the statistics above it is obvious that religion is declining. However I believe without religion people have a gap in their lives that they need to fill and I believe more now than ever people are looking to fill that gap.

I think society is turning towards alternative religions because it seems the Christian faith are neither modernising nor increasing awareness to try and make people come back to traditional values of religion which is why it has been declining. In addition to this with the increase of technology such as the internet there are so many ways people are now able to learn about all different religions and it maybe that they choose to pick certain aspects of a few different religions and pick and mix what they like from those different religions.

Furthermore in regards to Sunday attendance at church which statistical evidence has shown to have a declined in, I think this could be due to secularism, making people work and open shops on a Sunday could therefore mean people do not have time to go to church on Sunday. To sum up the points that have been raised so far there is much support from statistical evidence of the secularisation thesis such the decline of popular involvement in institutionalised religion. This can be seen in the decline of church attendance, fewer marriages, baptisms and funerals being performed under religious auspices.

There has also been supporting evidence showing less people have religious beliefs and attitudes towards religion in general and in god. This is shown through statistics which show that the number of people having a religion has declined. However, critics argue against secularisation thesis in a number of ways. Firstly, the validity of the statistics on participation in church based activities is certainly open to question. David Martin (1979) points out that questions relating to the reliability and validity of religious statistics are of fundamental importance in relation to the secularisation thesis.

I think methods of data collection in the past have probably been different and much less precise than today. Comparing current church attendance with late nineteenth century evidence is very much disputed. For example David Martin (1979) notes in Victorian Britain the growing middle classes tended to use Church attendance as a means of ‘creating and maintaining’ respectability. Regular Church attendance for this class, was more a means of being seen, by others as ‘pious’ ‘devout’ and respectable than necessarily being indicative of strong religious beliefs.

These comments raise the question that if church attendances in the past have been exaggerated by people using their attendance for social reasons rather than religious reasons then it is questionable as to whether or not it is valid to read declining attendances as evidence of a progressive loss of religious faith in our society. Though, we should not ignore the fact that for some people Church attendance serves a social function at certain times in their lives. For example people may practice religion because it provides a source of friendship and belonging.

Furthermore, it is possible that some churches may over estimate their figures of people attending to show impressive numbers suggesting statistics are not very reliable as people may not always tell the truth or in fact over exaggerate. I personally think that the Census on religion in UK is sometimes taken as a joke and people don’t put reliable or honest answers down as they may not take it seriously. One other criticism is that religion has under gone a process of change rather than a process of secularisation.

Institutional religion is only one form of religion and although this may be in decline, religion is not. Berger and Luckman (1963: cited in A. B. Thomas 2003) define religion as any way in which people make sense of the world. Religion is fuss a basic human activity because we all attempt to make sense of our lives and surroundings. Looking at it from this point religion can be seen as remaining strong in personal lives of individuals. Many surveys also suggest the lack of church attendance does not signify a lack of religiosity.

The surveys suggest there has been a privatisation of religion. Bruce argues that increasingly many British Christians watch religious programmes to express their religiosity. Overall the problem with the secularisation thesis is that there is no agreement among sociologists on the meaning of religion and this ultimately determines the nature of secularisation. This debate is too problematic to form a clear conclusion.

Bibliography Books P. Berger (1973): The Social Realty of Religion, Middlesex England: Penquin C. C. Udeani, V. Nimanong, Z. Shipeng and M.Malik (2008): Communication across cultures: the Hermeneutics of Cultures and Religions in a Global Age, USA:  D. Martin (1979): A sociology of English religion, Heinemann  M. Momen (1999):

The Phenomenon of Religion a thematic approach , England: Oneworld Publications  A. B. Thomas (2003): Controversies in management: issues, debate, answers, London: Routledge B. R. Wilson (1982): Religion in Sociological Perspective, Oxford: Oxford University Press Websites (2010) Provisional: Statistics for Mission 2008 [online] [Assessed on 21st November 2010] http://www. cofe. anglican.org/info/statistics/2008provisionalattendance. pdf  (2010).

British Humanist Association [online] [Assessed on 21st November 2010] http://www. humanism. org. uk/campaigns/religion-and-belief-surveys-statistics/british-social-attitudes-survey  (2006) Focus on Religion [online] [Assessed on 21st November 2010] http://www. statistics. gov. uk/focuson/religion Article  L. R. Peterson and G. V. Donnenwerth (1998) Religion and Declining Support for Traditional Beliefs [online] [Assessed on 21st November 2010] http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m0SOR/is_4_59/ai_53590309/pg_3/? tag=content%3Bcol1.