It seems that with Christmas inundating us with sparkling lights and the pressure to perform good deeds, now is the perfect time to address a problem that has been developing in the U.K. since perhaps before the twenty-first century: Britain’s problem with religion.
Whilst this seems an obvious statistic in the age of scientific consciousness and secular politics, it is a bigger problem than most would think. This is because an increasing number of British adults are horrified by the idea that Christianity is becoming unimportant, uncared for and unwanted whilst other religions are seemingly more present in our society.
The influx of immigration over the last hundred years means that the U.K. has become a diverse, multicultural society where everyone is trying to succeed. Whilst this seems an innocent and promising notion, the ignorant underbelly of the country, immortalized in middle aged politicians and the white middle and upper classes, seems adamant to ruin any glimmer of progression that makes itself known to the general public. We see it in the Daily Mail articles plastered with fear mongering front page titles warning of the consequences of responding humanely to helpless refugees, demonizing those who cross our borders who do not have white skin. And a ripple effect begins. It spreads across the country, validating the quietly racist, the powerful and the rich and imbeds within each individual a single message: that if you are not white, you do not belong.
Although race and religion are very different things, it is not so easy for some to recognize. Blinded by ignorance and hate, there is usually some short rule that finds its place in too many people’s heads: white means Christian means good, not white means probably a muslim means not good. Not only is this highly inaccurate and offensive, it offers the right wing media a higher pedestal to manipulate terror attacks in to easy examples as to why Islam deserves no place in the U.K. and consequently, why only white people belong here. So there is no surprise to me when I hear a radio debate about the loss of enthusiasm about Christianity in passing and how it is a horrific, terrible thing all due to the stupidity of young people and their lazy unwillingness to go to Church. Because Christianity has given xenophobes the perfect vehicle to spread their racist ideologies until the brink of moral panic is met, until the country collapses under the weight of their ignorance.
Why is it that an increasing disbelief in a meaningless social construct terrifies so many people? It is because it signifies change.
It signifies that the currents are tearing through the ocean and tumbling fresh waves forwards in to new and open beaches, ready to progress towards the next stage of social equality. The loss of a state religion means the loss of an ancient dogma that restricts so many of societies’ progression today. We see it in the fact that it took until 2013 for gay marriage to be legalized, the way that women’s bodies and lives are still dictated by roomfuls of men, the way that sexual assault is still a significantly blanketed issue, as if our government wants to so strongly hold on to the oppressive system of men as a power greater than women.
With disinterest in Christianity comes a more logical government able to grant women the freedoms they are desperately in need of, unchained by the shackles of upholding religious sensitivity to unreasonable extremes. A new way of democracy, a new way of life.
This is not to say that religion is the enemy of progression, as that is untrue. It is the way that government has made religion – mostly, if not always, Christianity – a tool for suppression, a way to silence women and the oppressed, to keep them from indulging in their basic human rights. To keep society from becoming more equal.
Religion is valid, Christianity is valid, but not in extremes. Everyone should be free to practice their own religion in any way as long as it does not affect or harm those who have no such beliefs, as long as it does not restrain society or promote hatred. So whilst the mainstream media are panicking about the emergence of a majority non-believing population, attempting to twist and turn it in to the perfect device to demonize other religions and form a cult out of their own, we can look forward to a better tomorrow, where religions exist harmoniously and politics are unencumbered by toxic agendas.
Christmas will come around next year in the cold of a British December and the same arguments will surface again. Only this time, it is necessary to understand the implications of this fear mongering and to challenge it, to perhaps punch a fist through a glass ceiling of sorts, to make a change.