New survey results are showing two interesting trends in English religious life. Fewer people are willing to identify as being part of a specific church but about the same number of people are identifying themselves as Christian or Anglican as have been for some time now.
From an article on the results on the Church Times blog:
If […] you ask: Do you regard yourself as a Christian, an Anglican, etc.? you get a consistently higher figure. This is the form of question asked in the 2001 UK Government Census, and independent surveys continue to confirm its finding that seven people in ten describe themselves as Christian.
Its not that there isn’t a decline in religious adherence; but we know that half of people continue to regard themselves as Anglican, and so these new figures appear to overstate that decline.
Prebendary Barley also suggested that the Anglican decline at the end of the 20th century had virtually halted. Local church counts of worshippers for the last nine years record 1.7 million Church of England worshippers each month in each year.
The question for us in the Episcopal Church is whether or not the Church of England’s attendance stabilization after years of decline represents our future. The Episcopal Church attendance numbers are dropping right now, though not quite as steeply as they did in England over the past decades. Does the English experience point to our future, or does our experience point to theirs?