In last week’s Sunday Post report on religion we revealed that non-believers in the UK outnumbered people of faith for the first time. Similarly, just a fifth of the population attended church at least once a month.
Despite these figures, we showed some of the areas where religion continued to have a huge influence on British society and highlighted its good work.
Then we asked you for your views. Did you think religion’s influence was rightly on the wane, or was it still central to your everyday life?
You responded in great numbers with a wide range of interesting views. Here are some of them.
Society has progressed hugely over the last 50 years, and it is no coincidence that this has occurred alongside the decline of religion.
Women have more equal rights and homosexuality is far more accepted. Despite this, religion still has a big influence on UK legislation.
Twenty-six Bishops are given seats in the House of Lords. A quarter of state primary schools are Church of England schools.
It is time we fully moved away from the archaic teachings of religion.
Laura Sheridan, Birmingham.
I go to church every Sunday for peace of mind and feel better when I come out.
In Scotland, all schools used to have an assembly once a week when a very short Christian service was given.
This was stopped so as not to offend pupils of other religions. But this is/was a Christian country. Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs all make a point of going to their various temples of worship regularly. Sadly, this is not the case with Christians now in Scotland, where very few are willing to give up an hour of their time.
But there comes a point in most people’s lives where they pray to God for help.
Thomas Erskine, West Lothian.
The Christian faith is still woven into the very fabric of British society, and that is for the good of all. Our date reflects 2016 years since Jesus was born, our public holidays celebrate Christian festivals, the laws of our land are based on Biblical principles of morality.
If you study the lives of all those in the world who’ve felt called to make a positive difference to others, you will find almost invariably that it is their faith that motivates them: Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Florence Nightingale, Charles Spurgeon, Dr Barnardo, William Wilberforce, and Martin Luther King, or more recently Bono and the Live Aid movement.
On a smaller scale, people of faith are quietly and without fuss or honour giving to the community by organising parent and toddler groups, luncheon clubs, job clubs, debt counselling, youth clubs, dementia support groups, drug and alcohol release groups, etc.
We are never going to have a world where religion is irrelevant, because people are body, mind and spirit.
They may not enter buildings as often to meet up, chat and share ideas, but that does not mean their beliefs are any less relevant. Quoting church attendance as a way of gauging belief in God is a very crude measure.
Mrs Jane Heath, Horwich, Bolton.
Religion hasn’t had its day and for the National Secular Society to say it’s a private matter and it shouldn’t have a role to play in policy-making and public services is wishful thinking to say the least.
Having faith is a way of life and isn’t just something to do for one hour a week.
While society increasingly loses touch with the Church, the Church certainly isn’t losing touch with society. Let’s not forget that every single day the Catholic Church, to give one example, feeds, clothes, shelters, heals and educates more people than any other organisation in the world.
Is that really a sign that religion has had its day? I don’t think so.
Martin Conroy, East Lothian.
I am sorry for Sam Hamilton (non-believer In My View, 3/4/16) who imagines that religion is merely superstition. He must be the only person on the planet who has not heard of a book that gives in-depth accounts from people of all walks of life who were eyewitnesses to the birth of Jesus, through to his resurrection, and afterwards.
I would suggest that he reads this book or even part of it.
It is called the Bible, by the way.
Mrs Ann Shepherd, Kinghorn, Fife.
I have never understood why religion tries to take the moral high ground. It is ironic considering the atrocities committed in its name and the questionable teachings of the Bible (has anyone read the Story of Job?).
It is great CrossReach has done so much for vulnerable groups, but what does that have to do with being religious? Do you have to be a Christian to be good?
As people, we have an innate moral compass. It is our humanity.
It is a travesty that religion has tried to hijack this for itself.
Jon Marshall, Edinburgh
Obviously not everything is perfect about modern secular societies but at least there is a growing tendency among their populations, fundamentalists aside, to examine the scientific evidence and no longer be swayed by religious diktat from on high.
I suspect, for instance, that this is one of the principal reasons why there is a dearth of young men and women aspiring to be clergy in most of the developed world these days.
In a democratic society, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, indeed any set of religious, philosophical or political beliefs, have to be subject to close scrutiny and challenge.
I see no logical reason why people, in general, should not contest beliefs and doctrines such as miracles, resurrection from the dead, transubstantiation, the immaculate conception and bodily assumptions into Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo (now dropped by the Catholic Church) as being biological and natural impossibilities.
As with life in general, people increasingly follow the evidence, none of which points to any deity suspending the laws of nature.
Stephen McBride, Largs.
I feel sad that people seem to get religion and faith mixed up.
I’m a Christian and am active in my Salvation Army Corp. Yet I am not allowed to state my belief without ridicule.
If you go on Facebook you get a lot of abuse and people congratulating Scotland because there are more responders stating they have no religion.
Yet when people are in need of food, warmth, support or even just a place to hide and recover they will turn up at the church hall.
And if you can’t help them as their needs are things the government controls, the response is often: “But I thought you were a Christian?”
Morag Lovie, Paisley.
Anyone thinking of taking Songs Of Praise off the air should consider all the elderly who are housebound, plus people in hospital and sheltered accommodation, who used to go to church every week.
The programme’s start time is moved about to fit in with sport or any other event enough as it is.
Peter Nelson, Chorley.