Those militant secularists, eh? Who’d have thought that they were powerful enough to reduce church attendance to something like 15%; belief in Christ’s divinity and resurrection to around 25% and acceptance of an afterlife to under 50%. Oh, hang on. No, they’re not. The sociocultural trends that have precipitated the decline in religious belief and observation can’t be pinned on rampant secularists; after all, Richard Dawkins, as Christians are now gleefully observing, is neither omniscient nor all-powerful. The Church should realise that people aren’t trying to force it into irrelevancy: it is irrelevant. (Though some, I shall admit, are trying to make it even more so.) If its officials and members feel that they can play a valuable role in our society – and I’m not saying they can’t – they should begin to demonstrate it because at the moment they’re of interest to few people but, er – the secularists.

On the other hand, I’m rather fond of English Christianity. It’s one of the most peaceable and compassionate forms of religion that has existed. I mean, I suspect you’ve heard few Anglicans insisting that we have a God-given duty to start wars. And I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard an English evangelist proposing that someone be killed for insulting Christ. Heck, when was the last time prominent British Christians even proposed that someone should be banned from saying something? Around the time of James Kirkup’s poem in the ’70s? Nobody deserves too much acclaim for things they don’t do, of course, but the point is that Anglicanism and evangelism have given tremendous comfort to millions while doing extraordinarily little harm. Whether it’s correct or not I don’t mind if it endures; because, for one thing, I’m not sure where else people will indulge their desire for transcendence and it may be in places that are rather uninspiring or rather too inspiring.

Besides, I like the churches. Oh, someone give me a slap before I start talking about the number 29 bus going down Garboldisham Road.

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