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Bishop links fall in religion to big changes in society

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 15, 2012

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter

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Church of England leaders in the Westcountry said they were "challenged" but not alarmed by the latest Census figures showing a decline in religion.

As reported in the Western Morning News on Wednesday this week, the number of people professing to be Christian in Devon and Cornwall has fallen dramatically compared to figures recorded ten years ago.

At the same time the number of people ticking the "no religion" box on Census papers has soared. The 2011 Census revealed a marked shift in Devon and Cornwall amongst those who follow organised religions which included the Church of England, Catholic and all other Christian denominations.

Some 63.3% in Torbay said they were Christians, 61.5% in Devon county, 59.8% in Cornwall and 58.1% in Plymouth.

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Looking back to the 2001 Census in Torbay 76.2% declared they were Christian meaning the 2011 figure is down 12.9 percentage points.

In Devon county the figure was 74.8% indicating a fall of 13.3 percentage points – in Plymouth a recording of 73.5% shows a fall of 15.4 percentage points).

And in Cornwall the 74.3% shown ten years ago equals a dip of 4.5 percentage points.

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter said the church would take note of the findings but it was important to highlight the difference between religion and faith in God.

He said: "It's very interesting to consider the question of religion and faith.

"I meet a lot of people who say they do not follow a religion but they have faith.

"Had the question (on the Census) been about faith I think we would have got a different answer."

Bishop Michael said changes in western society generally had affected church attendance.

He said: "A lot of people see religion as an organisation and a lot of people have lost faith with large organisations including political parties and trade unions, so it's all part of a broader change in our society I feel.

"Modern life is of course so busy people might not have the time they used to, to commit to religion – they don't have the time or space to sit back and reflect.

"However, the Church of England in Devon has seen figures (church attendance) going gently up over the past five years."

Bishop Michael said it was possible for people to believe in God without necessarily belonging to a church.

He said: "There are those who choose to slip into a Cathedral anonymously rather than commit to a small village church.

"I'm not alarmed by these figures but I am challenged and I think we need to be.

"At a risk of sounding pious God does not always speak to us through the church – sometimes he speaks to us from outside, for example through the media and we must listen and see what we can learn."

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  December 16 2012, 11:07PM

    I refer to my previous comment "Perhaps that is a problem with the men who invented him/her/it/them." I am not the one that paraphrased a teaching of the bible, I merely observed that Christians throughout history have failed to live by it, you are almost excusing them by listing atrosities against Christians (carried out later). I'm sure there's a passage for that. You also miss the underlying point, you believe, I don't. I don't believe in something different, it's a very simple point. To requote (again) "I have no problem with live and let live, believe in what you like" Enjoy the Yule and the festival of Oestra (March next year I think)

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  • eyeopener  |  December 16 2012, 9:32PM

    @ Jungle_Jim Keep rattling them off by all means. "BTW, I was not talking about wars, i was thinking about such as the sytematic eradication of 'pagans', the spanish inquisition and the burning of 'witches'. All of which are theologically backed acts af barbarism. The old testament is also full of god's intollerance" Well I think your getting a tad confused here. Those who did the above did it in God's name, but throughout history similar acts have been committed because people did not share the same beliefs as their killers. Many Christians were put murdered by the Nazi's and under Stalin. To be honest I think my points were quite clear and I had a fair understanding of what you meant. You can slice it how you like, and distort the semantics as you see fit. I just happen to believe something different to you and if you can't live with that, then it's not my loss. May I wish you, everything you would wish yourself :))

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  • tuftyaurelius  |  December 16 2012, 9:07PM

    A paid clergy enjoying all the comforts of subsidised housing and fat pensions blatantly obscuring religious truths? What a load of self-serving parasites! Jesus Christ would be dumbfounded and very angry indeed. Churches should all be used by and for the homeless and others...clergy? Do we actually need these people?????????????

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  December 16 2012, 7:16PM

    And sometimes just rattling off a comment in reply to a rather odd statement I can't be bothered to double-check spelling. Cut it how you like, you knew what I meant and your definition confirms the point.

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  December 16 2012, 7:10PM

    eyeopener There is no requirement to prove non-existence, existence has to be proven. The very fact that you say 'it depends what you believe in' is acceptance of that. If something really exists the requirement of belief disappears. I have no probelm with live and let live, believe in what you like. The point is that not believing in something that cannot be shown to exist is not a belief, it is a natural state. BTW, I was not talking about wars, i was thinking about such as the sytematic eradication of 'pagans', the spanish inquisition and the burning of 'witches'. All of which are theologically backed acts af barbarism. The old testament is also full of god's intollerance

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  • eyeopener  |  December 16 2012, 6:55PM

    Jungle_Jim If your stuck for something to do you can always play 'spot the typo'. I have left a few in just to amuse you :)))

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  • eyeopener  |  December 16 2012, 6:54PM

    Jungle_Jim "To believe in something that cannot be impirically proven to exist is very different from chosing to not believe." If your going to feign an education by throwing in words like Empirical (means Empirical evidence (also empirical data, sense experience, empirical knowledge, or the a posteriori) is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation.[1] Empirical evidence is information that justifies a belief in the truth or falsity of an empirical claim.).... then its a good idea to spell the word right. impirically doesn't cut it. What spoils the impression more is spelling choosing chose (sic). I don't normally comment on other peoples use of 'English', my own is far from perfect, but I think it's fair game the moment someone assumes the air of being intllectually superior.

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  • eyeopener  |  December 16 2012, 6:48PM

    @ Jungle_Jim & nicold It is no more possible to prove that God does not exist than that he does. In the end it all comes down to what you believe in. You both seem to have a problem with the idiom might be "live and let live." I wouldn't have been upset if you had believed in little green fairies at the bottom of the garden. Yes, there have been many wars in the name of God, but the Soviet Union fought an atheist war. If anything is trite it is the notion that all Christians are perfect. They are no more perfect than the followers of any other belief or indeed lack of belief. You both seem to have a problem with the idiom might be "live and let live." Where are you from? The Exeter branch of the Taliban?

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  • nicold  |  December 16 2012, 5:33PM

    How intelligent is it to live your life on a BELIEF (not even close to fact) that MAYBE there is a God? Only the foolish would do that, but then as gullibility goes, they say there's one born every minute! People should live their lives using facts as a guideline, not fairy stories! No wonder we have so many problems!

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  December 16 2012, 5:17PM

    eyeopener To believe in something that cannot be impirically proven to exist is very different from chosing to not believe. As for your trite idiom, that is one not followed once the Christian faith became 'established'. Many have been tortured and killed in the Christian god's name (for that matter, in the name of most gods). Perhaps that is a problem with the men who invented him/her/it/them.

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