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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Theos Trying To Guilt-Trip Society over Christmas

The National Secular Society was dismissive of a report to be published tomorrow by the Christian think tank Theos claiming only 12% of adults have a detailed knowledge of the Christmas story.

Terry Sanderson, President of the NSS, said: “The vast majority of people know the basics of the Christmas story – because we have all been told it repeatedly since early childhood. Christianity is taught by law in every school, so it is hardly surprising. Pupils are even required to “take part” in daily acts of worship. If after all this, so many people know so little about the detail, it is an indication of their lack of interest in the topic.

“This is not a matter to celebrate or to moan about, it’s a simple fact of life. The churches will have to come to terms with the fact that their mythology is now competing with exciting tales such as Harry Potter, The Golden Compass and Lord of the Rings. It is clear that young people find these stories far more engrossing than the traditional Bible stories.

“The big claims that Theos makes for the significance of Bible stories are overstated. The world will keep turning if people don’t know who is related to whom in the Bible. Large independent surveys show around two thirds of secondary school children do not define themselves as religious. They are no longer getting their morality from traditional sources, and indeed many are scornful of churches’ outdated attitudes to homosexuality and contraception. Yet many are concerned, involved, caring and creative – and most don’t look to get their inspiration from traditional religious sources.”

The subtext of Theos’s report as in so many of these hand-wringing Christmas stories emanating from evangelicals is to create the impression that there is something wrong with people who do not believe what they believe. What Theos will never volunteer is that church attendance has been in decline for seventy years to the point that only one in 14 are now in church on an average Sunday. Nor that this decline is predicted by Christian Research to continue to the point only one in 50 will be in church on an average Sunday by 2040.


Published Sat, 08 Dec 2007