Wednesday 1 June 2022

Christianity Faces Extinction in the UK Within 40 Years

Church of England ‘R number’ suggests bleak future, says mathematician

The Church of England (CofE) faces extinction within 40 years, according to the calculations of Dr John Hayward, a mathematician at the University of South Wales.

He arrived at this date by applying a technique normally used for assessing the increase or decrease in the spread of a pandemic such as COVID-19, which calculates at 'R' number. The 'R' number calculates how many people someone with the virus passes it on to on average. An 'R' number of one means the number of cases in the population remains constant; above 1 means it is increasing and below 1 means it is decreasing.

Interestingly, this view of religion and how it is spread is almost identical to the view expresed by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene that religions behave like a parasitic virus in the human memepool.

The 'problem' the CofE and other Christian denominations face is that they are not infectious enough. Dr Hayward has calculated the CofE's 'R' number at 0.9, the same as that for the Catholic Church and an 'R' number that a COVID-19 epidemiologist would have welcomed at the height of the Pandemic. This means their congregations could disappear by 2062. The Methodists, with an 'R' number of about 0.85 could be extinct by 2040, lingering on little longer than the United Reformed Church with an 'R' number of about 0.8.

Other Christian denominations in the UK fare even worse and only a handful have 'R' numbers about 1 - the Elim Pentecostal Church and the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.

Several churches in Wales and Scotland face extinction before 2050 (i.e., within the next generation). They are the Welsh Presbyterians, the Church in Wales, the Welsh Independents, the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The scale of the catastrophe facing the CofE can be seen from the change in membership since 1800, when 17% of the population were registered as members on the electoral role. That figure is now just 1.7%, i.e., a 99% decline in membership which fell below 1 million for the first time in 2019, at a time of population growth.

Given that rate of decline and the fact that the CofE now represents only a tiny minority of the population, the time is now well overdue for a review of its role in public life and especially its right to insert bishops into the UK's legislative upper chamber, the House of Lords.

The role of the monarch as titular head of this unrepresentative minority cult now needs to be abolished on the succession.

It's time to disestablish the Church of England

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