It comes to Britain

It comes to Britain

: Both the Observer and The Times of London write about the religious right coming even to Britain, where, says the Observer column, only 16 percent say religion is very important to them:

The worldwide Anglican communion is in disarray, and only 16 per cent of Britons say that religion is very important to them. Yet God is suddenly the referee of choice for a secular nation. Leading churchmen want to take abortion to the ballot box and though the Prime Minister warns evangelical Christians that faith and politics don’t mix, the religious right smells power.

Says the Sunday Times Review:

Meanwhile, Michael Howard had made abortion an election issue and suddenly secular Britain found itself in the distinctly weird position of having to ìdo Godî, of having to face the fact that, like it or not, the Big Guy is back.

These are, of course, tentative steps. Howard and Blair know perfectly well that playing the God card in the modern, know-nothing, believe-nothing UK is a high risk move that is likely to be met with blank stares from the masses. Fewer than 8% of us go to church, since 1968 the number who believe in God has fallen from 77% to 44% and the number who positively do not believe in God has soared from 11% to 44%. If secularity can be defined as the destruction of conventional religion then we are, indeed, a secular nation.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, seems therefore to be right, though not for reasons that would make him particularly happy. Backing calls for a reform of the abortion law last week in this paper, he wrote: ìThe idea that raising the issues here is the first step towards a theocratic tyranny or a capitulation to some neanderthal Christian right is alarmist nonsense.î

A debate begins but on a different scale.