United Kingdom

David Cameron Was Right When He Called the U.K. a 'Christian Country'

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Credit: Johan Bakker/wikimedia

British Prime Minister David Cameron has caused a minor controversy in the U.K. by writing in the Church Times that "I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country." After the article was published, 50 public figures signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph objecting to Cameron's article, saying:

Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established Church, Britain is not a "Christian country". Repeated surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.

Unlike the American president, the British head of state (Queen Elizabeth II) is the head an established church (the Church of England). However, as the signatories of the letter to The Telegraph rightly point out, most Britons "are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities."

As the chart below from The Washington Postbased on 2011 British census data—shows, almost 60 percent of Britons identify as Christian, and a little over 25 percent are not part of a religion.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post goes on to mention that according to the results of the 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey, 48 percent of Britons did not belong to a religion. In 2013, the Church of England said that church attendance rates were "stabilising" after years of decline, with 1.1 million attending weekly services in 2011. The U.K. has a population of almost 64 million. The British Humanist Association claims that many Britons identify as religious for cultural reasons, not because they believe in religious metaphysical claims.

While it might be the case that the British are not very religious, it is hard to deny that the U.K. and its institutions are drenched in religious history and culture, as Harry Cole explained in The Spectator:

Leaving aside the fact that 59% of the UK population self-defines as Christians, we need only look at our institutions and state structure to see how bizarre this row has been. England has an established church. English bishops sit in our Parliament. A glance around the rim of our £1 coin will show you that our Head of State has another far more interesting title – Defender of the Faith. The Left weren't so snooty about the Archbishop of Canterbury, our state-declared spiritual leader, when he was defending foodbanks.

We have a constitutional framework, legal system and legislature that is built around Judeo-Christian values. Almost every single bank holiday we have in this country is to mark some sort of Christian festival. Tens of thousands of children are educated every day in church-supported schools, and what is the first word of the national anthem again?

The British may not be a particularly religious bunch, especially compared with Americans, but they undoubtedly live in a Christian nation.

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  1. I’m not surprised that so many pols came out in opposition to Cameron’s statement. But what I find really surprising is that every cab in the nation wasn’t parked in protest.

    1. “Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established Church,”

      This is what makes the British such pussies.

      Your typical pom will laugh at the infantile religious Americans, but they don’t have the balls to end a “state church” or for that matter, a fucking MONARCHY!!!

  2. The UK would be more interesting if it was a Jedi country.

    1. “These aren’t the guns you’re looking for Constable.”

      1. “Yowouer a pawt of the Webel Aloyance and a twator. Take her away!”

        1. Golf Clap

        2. I thught you, of all people, would have made a comment about evacuating “now? at the moment of our triumph?”

          1. Are you using your wife’s account to make racist jokes? Her post above seems very out of character.

            1. Yes, that was absolutely me. She logged me out unbeknownst to me.

            2. Please. Islam is not a race, and a joke about Muslim cab drivers is not a “racist joke.”

              1. Truth be damned, the comment was intended to make Sloopy feel guilty.

                1. What the fuck makes you think I’m even capable of feeling guilt? I’m a libertarian, dammit!

          2. Not sure why you would think that, but okay. Was that supposed to be a Dunkirk allusion or something?

            1. It’s Grand Moff Tarkin’s most famous line, you ignorant hick.

              1. Surely he would know that… right? Its so hard to tell with the kids these days.

                1. I fear that he’s furiously scrolling through The Phantom Menace script to find it right now.

                  1. That’s low, sloop. I laughed.

                  2. I don’t know. Mesa day startin pretty okee-day with a brisky morning munchy, then BOOM! Gettin very scared and grabbin that Jedi and POW! Mesa here! Mesa gettin’ very very scared!

                    1. lol

                      Worst.

                      Character.

                      Ever.

              2. You would a prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system!

    2. We already have one New Zealand.

      1. New Zealand is a penal colony. That’s where they sent Tom Paris.

        1. What the hell is a ‘Tom Paris’?

          1. Hugh thinks its clever to make Voyager references apparently. He probably thinks Kate Mulgrew is cool too.

            1. [clever and memorable Janeway quote]

              1. Now that was funny.

            2. “These are not the Janeway/7 of 9 slashfic novels you are looking for.”

              1. Yeah, I write those under a different handle.

                1. Yeah, I write those under a different handle.

                  I always knew you were a freak.

  3. What percentage of the pie chart is chavs?

    1. What the hell do you think that 3.2% represent?

      1. The Welsh?

      2. The part that *aren’t* chavs?

  4. Britain is a Christian country.

    The US is not a Christian country, but a country full of Christians.

    1. A good distinction to make, and an important one as well. I believe one of the reasons religion thrives in the United States, as opposed to Western Europe, is that religion, being a private institution, is free to be a personal choice. It seems paradoxical, but I think that in those European countries with a tradition of state religion, being irreligious is one way people choose to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Or perhaps they figure that the government will “take care” of God, or something. Whereas, in America, it seems the opposite.

      Just my 0.02.

      1. Makes sense to me. Religious states tend to be very unenlightened and progress (I mean real individual and technological progress, not the current iteration that’s merely code for redistributive) is stagnant. People there tend to think of the state as a representative of God, and in most cases believe all needs should be the responsibility of the state.

        1. I’m still amazed that the British monarchy wasn’t abolished out of shame in 1936 when that abdication crisis shit hit.

          I mean really? An entire government was going to resign because the King wanted to marry a divorced woman?

          1. “Children love repetition” is the only reason I can think of for any nation of subjects wanting to remain subjects.

            Lords and Ladies? Pish! It’s an insult to humanity to think any one person would be able to lord over others in any sense of the word.*

            *Unionized police officers, 9/11 survivors and Boston Strong Lockdown supporters included.

          2. They were probably a lot better off without that particular king anyway.

      2. Shorter HM: Government fucks up everything, including religion.

      3. *I believe one of the reasons religion thrives in the United States, as opposed to Western Europe, is that religion, being a private institution, is free to be a personal choice*

        Yeah, or it could be that two world wars and a few genocides really soured a lot of people on the omnipotence of the Lord.

    2. You are not wrong, but are being somewhat pedantic. “A Christian country” can have two meanings: an officially Christian country, and a country full of Christians. The US is a Christian country in the second sense.

      1. I don’t think it’s pedantic at all. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country; Turkey is a country full of Muslims. And that makes all the difference.

        1. I don’t think it’s incorrect to call a country that is mostly X “an X country.” “Turkey is a Muslim country” is not wrong. “The US is an English-speaking country” is correct, even though we have no official language. “Italy is a pasta-eating country” is true even if pasta has no official status and some Italians don’t eat it. Language is flexible that way.

          1. I think you should call it a “mostly X country” if most people there are X.

          2. Yes, I went to a “white high school” because blacks were only about 25% of the enrollment.

            I think everything needs to be defined (pigeon-holed if you please) and defined in exactly this way. The world would be more easily understood and governed.

            /sarc

      2. I think it is a very good distinction to make. But that will depend on what exactly you mean by “country”. I tend to think of “country” as referring to the combination of territory and government. Even if everyone but one person were Christian, I don’t think that makes it a Christian country.

        1. Go one step furher: Even if EVERY person were Christian, it wouldn’t make it a Christian country unless Christianity was the one and only religion endorsed by the State.

  5. Church of England, cake or death!

    Oh, you’re the only one today!

  6. Unlike the American president, the British head of state (Queen Elizabeth II) is the head an established church (the Church of England)

    In America the State fulfills both functions.

    1. I really don’t think that’s true. The US is one of the most religious non-Islamic countries in the world today.

      And I know it is hard to believe for libertarian Christians, but there are quite a few sincere Christians out there who are quite leftist. The state is just as often (if not more) supported by religion as it is a substitute for religion.

      1. “The US is one of the most religious non-Islamic countries”

        Not true. Most of the Catholic dominated countries have higher percentages of “religious” people than the USA. Also don’t forget some Hindu and Buddhist dominated countries have very high “religious” ratings.

        ref/ galllup poll found on Wiki.

    2. ” the British head of state (Queen Elizabeth II) is the head an established church (the Church of England)”

      The phrase “off with their heads” comes to mind as a solution.

  7. Plus Christ supposedly appeared at Glastonbury Tor. Blake’s Jerusalem goes beyond the exceptionalism of God Bless America by stating that England is now the Holy Land.

    Brits all look like they have been gnashing their teeth.

    1. People thought they were making a new Jerusalem in New England too.
      Blake is a lot more amusing, though.

  8. OT: Looks like the MillerCoors Beer Distributors in FL are going to let InBev take the fall for the terrible SB1714, and the negative press it has generated.

    In a reversal of sorts, the Beer Industry of Florida, a trade group representing primarily MillerCoors distributors, now opposes a bill in the Florida Senate that small brewers say would hurt their business.

    We’ll see. I hope the brewers win out, and it has been a great opportunity to educate my suddenly political beer-snob friends about the difference between pro-market and pro-business politics. I think the House bill will win. It got stripped of its stupid provision to not let one brewer’s tasting room host another brewer’s beers without using a distributor, so it basically just legalizes growlers.

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