It’s often said that Britain’s church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn’t come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. Every ten years the census spells out the situation in detail: between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in Britain fell by 5.3 million — about 10,000 a week. If that rate of decline continues, the mission of St Augustine to the English, together with that of the Irish saints to the Scots, will come to an end in 2067.
That is the year in which the Christians who have inherited the faith of their British ancestors will become statistically invisible. Parish churches everywhere will have been adapted for secular use, demolished or abandoned.
Our cathedral buildings will survive, but they won’t be true cathedrals because they will have no bishops. The Church of England is declining faster than other denominations; if it carries on shrinking at the rate suggested by the latest British Social Attitudes survey, Anglicanism will disappear from Britain in 2033. One day the last native-born Christian will die and that will be that.
Thompson goes on:
But the point stands: Christianity is dying out among the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic inhabitants of Great Britain. The Gospel that Augustine and his 30 monks brought to England when they landed at Ebbsfleet in ad 597 is now being decisively rejected.
Saint Paul tells us that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek; the Almighty is not interested in ‘heritage’, the new name for ethnicity. But since Britons with Anglo–Saxon and Celtic ancestors make up 90 per cent of British Christians, that rejection represents a devastating loss of faith.
It has all happened so quickly. Anglicans in particular are abandoning their faith at a rate that (in more ways that one) defies belief. According to the British Social Attitudes surveys, their numbers fell from 40 per cent of the population in 1983 to 29 per cent in 2004 and 17 per cent last year.
He has warnings for the Catholic Church in England too, which cannot rely on immigration to fill its pews. Read the rest of his article here. He concludes:
Not necessarily in the United States of America either.
To juxtapose the perhaps dark future for Christianity in England to its bright and glowing past, go see these pictures of stained glass from Canterbury Cathedral, the former Catholic church appropriated by Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. More on the exhibition at the Cathedral's website.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!