“Religion does more harm than good”, 60 per cent of Brits say
Poll shows that UK citizens think atheists are more likely to be moral individuals than religious people. British lawmakers say urgent action is needed to face the rise of anti-Semitism.
Christian Today, HuffPost Religion, The Guardian · LONDON · 10 FEBRUARY 2015 · 14:30 CET
Only 25 per cent believe religion is a force for good, though this figure grows a little within the younger generation: 30 per cent of 18-24 year olds polled said that religion does more good than harm.
"This leads me to conclude that religion has become a 'toxic brand' in the UK," Linda Woodhead, professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University. "What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some to that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people", she added.
On the other side, only 6 per cent of British people believe that atheists are less moral than religious people: "Most people understand that morality and good personal and social values are not tied to religious belief systems, but are the result of our common heritage and experience as human beings," argues Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association.
Last April, Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the UK is a Christian country; an argument backed up by politicians and faith leaders alike.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "It is a historical fact (perhaps unwelcome to some, but true) that our main systems of ethics, the way we do law and justice...All have been shaped by and founded on Christianity."
Farooq Murad, of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, agreed. "No one can deny that Britain remains largely a Christian country...we respect that," he said.
On the contrary, an open letter, signed by 50 leading academics and scientists and published first in The Telegraph, argued that Cameron´s words contributed to "foster alienation and division in our society". "At a social level, Britain has been shaped for the better by many pre-Christian, non-Christian, and post-Christian forces," read the letter,
The 2013 census revealed that 59 per cent of UK citizens identified themselves as 'Christian', which signified a decrease of 13 per cent in a decade.
ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE RISE
This week reports also made public that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain had risen to a record level in 2014. In July alone, there were more anti-semitic incidents in one month than the previous six months put together.
The rise in incidents prompted a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism and the British lawmakers said the government, police and prosecutors needed to take action "to ensure Jewish communities have the necessary protection from the continuous terrorist threat they face".