Christian Cancellation of the Secular Truce

Church State signsFrom Tom Rees of Epiphenom:

People living in the United Kingdom will have noticed that Christians have been getting noisier in recent years. More clamor for more state-funded faith schools, more litigation, and more complaints against perceived anti-Christian bias.
Evidence of a religious revival? Or the death throes of a once-powerful ideology? A team from Erasmus University in the Netherlands has some answers.
It seems that when Christianity is popular, Christians are content with the idea of a firewall separating church and state. It’s only when Christianity begins to lose its influence over the population at large that Christians begin to campaign for the state to adopt a Christian character.
Looking at survey data from 18 Western countries, they found:

* The fewer Christians in a country, the greater the support among Christians for a greater public role for religion.
* The polarization of views between Christians and the nonreligious on a public role for religion is greatest in countries where there are fewest Christians.

Then they took a look at data from the Netherlands, where the proportion of Christians plummeted from 60 percent in 1970 to 35 percent in 1996. There’s a good time-series of data covering this decline in Christianity.
In the Netherlands, they found a similar picture. As the number of Christians declined, the support among Christians for a greater public role for religion went up, and the gulf in attitudes grew.
I guess these results are not too surprising, but they do highlight a reality that is often not fully appreciated, and that is that “secularization” is not a single thing or process. What’s more, it’s possible to have different aspects of secular (or religious) trends move in opposite directions, at least for a time. A resurgence of governmental interest in religion, and increased noise from religious adherents, can happen alongside increasing popular disinterest!

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