Cole Moreton: Is God still an Englishman?
When you find a book with an intriguing title on your bookshelf, and you have no memory of how it got there, there’s only one solution: read it.
If you still think of England, or even Britain, as a Christian country, think again. This country may have a long history as a predominantly Christian country, but “the times, they are a’changing”. Walk into most churches in the country, whether in a city centre or a tiny hamlet, and you only have to count the pew-capacity of each church to realise that, in bygone times, many more people attended church than the handful that do today. In fact, if it weren’t for the huge numbers of Christian immigrants coming in from Eastern Europe and Africa, the decline in numbers amongst the indigenous population would have synods and church boards scrambling in search of solutions.
Cole Moreton’s assessment of the state of play runs parallel to a description of his own brushes with the world of faith, moving from a high octane conversion during the Billy Graham rallies in the 1980s, through a more sedate commitment as a Church Times reporter in the 1990s, to the eventual abandonment of his faith during a particularly challenging period in his life. During the flow of his own faith narrative, he looks especially keenly at the narrative of the Anglican Church, the established church of England, with all the associated anachronisms and contradictions it poses in a predominantly non-Christian environment. Will it survive? Apparently not, according to Moreton.
Much more than just a decline in numbers attending and supporting their local churches, the demise of the church is also threatened by internal disintegration caused by issues such as gay marriage and gay bishops, women priests and bishops, and a monarchy that pretends to represent a majority religious view amongst the country’s citizens. According to Moreton, if the Church can’t move with the times and disconnect itself from antiquated beliefs and expectations, it will degenerate into a minority cult……..and may even disappear.