From The Guardian:
Faith remains a potent presence at the highest level of UK politics despite a growing proportion of the country’s population defining themselves as non-religious, according to the author of a new book examining the faith of prominent politicians.
Nick Spencer, research director of the Theos thinktank and the lead author of The Mighty and the Almighty: How Political Leaders Do God, uses the example that all but one of Britain’s six prime ministers in the past four decades have been practising Christians to make his point.
So, this is a very good example of how the extent of secularisation has perhaps been exaggerated…
Read on: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/13/religion-faith-still-a-potent-presence-in-uk-politics-says-author?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Email
In class we have been discussing to what extent secularisation is taking place. Shiner argues that one of the key signs of secularisation is when religions ‘disappear’ from public life. Whilst there might be a disappearance compared to the past, often religious leaders are turned to and they act as ‘opinion leaders’ (two step flow) to the British people. An excellent example of this is when religious leaders from five faiths led a minute of silence in tribute to the four innocent victims who were killed during the Westminster terror attack.
Another good example is Radio 4’s Thought for the Day which frequently feature religious leaders.
The Rise of the Unaffiliated
America’s Largest “Religious” Group
The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.
From The Independent:
The Church of England is considering scrapping a law that requires churches to hold services on Sunday, after a big drop in the number of people going to church.
A paper posted on the organisation’s website reveals leaders are discussing plans to relax the centuries-old law that states services must take place every Sunday.
Read on: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/church-of-england-laws-end-sunday-services-vicars-archbishops-a7367226.html
Taken from The Guardian:
A new poll suggests that only 31% of people in the UK would like a copy of the Bible to take to a desert island. The Radio 4 programme’s imaginary castaways are given a Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, along with their choice of eight pieces of music, another book and one luxury item.
Reflecting the increasing secularity and diversity of British society, the poll found that 56% of respondents would not choose to take a Bible, and another 13% were unsure. Fewer than one in three welcomed the inclusion of a Bible in their musical and literary accompaniments to a solitary existence. There was a noticeable generational difference: 18% of 18-to-24-year-olds would choose a Bible, compared with 39% of over-65s.
I have marked a few practice essays today and there are a few things that I think are worth focusing upon:
- Introduction – try to give an overall picture of the debate; don’t just present the view of one side, very briefly outline what the range of views are.
- Always plan your 18 and 33 mark responses – 2 mins plan for the 18 and 5 mins for 33 – this will allow you to link the arguments rather than listing information (which is what so many students do).
- Try to link your paragraphs – the first sentence of the paragraph should link to the last and ideally, the title too.
- When you are supporting a point with evidence, list a range of examples and then choose one or two to analyse in more detail. For example, if you were writing about fundamentalism you might write: The relatively new phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism has occurred in a number of countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Within these societies there has been a significant movement to a strictly literal interpretation of Islam, one that is a closed belief system and punishes transgressions with often extreme punishment. In Iran, for example, since the 1979 revolution, the Shia regime has been seemingly intent on forcing its citizens to abide by their version of sharia law – anyone who fails to do so is at risk of arrest by the religious police. Moreover, the recent rise of Isis in some Middle Eastern countries signals that secularisation is not necessarily going to conquer the world instead Anthony Giddens and Steve Bruce argue that fundamentalism is a reaction to Westernization and perhaps this trend is likely to continue…
- Remember that unlike other parts of the world, Europe underwent the age of enlightenment (which Sociology was part of) and this is often considered to be a primary reason why many European countries have experienced secularisation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment
- You can refer to events in the past such as the medieval ages but do not dwell on these – focus on contemporary examples
- Utilise a range of sociologists – if you are referring to postmodernism during A02 evaluation make sure you mention at least a couple of postmodernists and give an overview of their particular theory/research
- Always try and give a balanced argument – cover all sides of the debate and then you can draw a conclusion based on your findings
- Don’t write about ‘society’ always identify which specific society you are referring to.
- Whilst it is good practice not to go into huge A01 detail, some of you are not giving enough of an explanation – make sure you explain the key ideas before moving onto A02a and A02b
- Secularisation usually refers to a decline in religious influence and/or religiosity – it is very hard to argue that the UK has not experienced a decline even if you take Davie’s argument that the only change is that there is believing without belonging now (privatization) – census statistics from 2001 and 2011 and mori polls (https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/2921/Religious-and-Social-Attitudes-of-UK-Christians-in-2011.aspx) for example do not support this.
- However, Berger does make a strong case for secularisation being a myth in many places: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/02/002-secularization-falsified