A report from the statistical arm of England’s Bible Society claims that within a generation the number of people attending Church of England services will be a tenth of the current—and already plummeting—amount. Peter Brierley, former executive director of Christian Research, says that based on a “snapshot” church census and an extrapolation of recent church attendance trends, only 87,800 people will be attending Anglican services in 2050 —down from almost 1 million today. Critics say the study is incomplete and doesn’t factor in the growing sector of para-church worship. Many also argue that it’s extremely difficult to form an accurate prediction in such religiously tumultuous times for the country.
Yet the downward trend of England’s longstanding religious establishment is undeniable. “Church attendance has already been in decline for over 60 years, all over Britain, in all major denominations and across all age groups, except the over-65s,” said Keith Porteous-Wood of the National Secular Society. “Independent statisticians now have enough data to predict confidently that the decline will continue until Christianity becomes a minority sect of largely elderly people, in little more than a generation.” [guardian.co.uk, 12/21/08]