Those of us in the US who are atheists and other forms of skeptics and are surrounded by religious people tend to look enviously at countries in Europe that seem to have thrown off those shackles a long time ago. I have long argued that things are not nearly as bad as they seem and that there are increasing signs that disbelief in the US is growing and it will only accelerate with time.
There was an interesting article in The Telegraph by Fraser Nelson about the state of religion in the UK that pointed out that the lack of religious faith in Britain is actually quite a recent phenomenon.
The current opposition Labour party leader Ed Milibank is quote open about the fact that he is not a religious person and recently made a speech where he said that he did not have a religious faith though he had faith in humanist values. The writer of the article pointed out how remarkable it was that such a statement seemed to provoke hardly any comment, let alone a fuss. This is a far cry from the state of affairs during the Thatcher years when a former Labour party leader made a similar statement.
When Neil Kinnock spoke about his atheism, he was monstered, as if this were evidence of his otherness. In fact, he was at the vanguard of a growing secularist trend. Today religion has become, if anything, a handicap to those governing modern Britain. Tony Blair judged it best to keep quiet about his faith. David Cameron has declared a Christianity-lite, one that comes and goes like “Magic FM in the Chilterns”.
Over the past 30 years, the two single most striking changes in Britain have been mass immigration and the collapse of Christian worship. The former has only partially offset the latter. Pews have been emptying at the rate of 1,500 souls per Sunday, and churches have been turning into pubs almost as fast as pubs have been closing. Deconsecrated churches now stand all over the country, like memorials to an era where weekend worship was the focal point of the community and “Sunday best” meant something. Today, just one in seven Brits says they worship every week. Regular church-going is as odd, now, as atheism once was.
So take heart, fellow heathens! History is on our side, and the arrival of unbelief in various forms as a majority viewpoint is going to be more like a wave that suddenly sweeps over the US rather than a slow creeping tide.