53% of British people have no religious affiliation whatsoever and that trend is playing out across the country in a number of different ways. Earlier this year, the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party, Tim Farron, stepped down after he claimed he couldn’t reconcile his party’s progressive views with his anti-gay evangelical Christian beliefs.
And now, the Times of London reports on a new survey done by YouGov, finding that two-thirds of respondents want religion to play no part in a politician’s decisions.
The survey asked almost 1,700 people whether politicians “should feel free to use their religious beliefs to inform their political decisions”, or whether they should “keep their religious views separate and not allow them to influence their political decisions”.
In response, 65 per cent of respondents said political figures should keep their religious beliefs cordoned off from their decision making, with just 14 per cent saying the opposite. The remaining 21 per cent chose neither option or said they did not know.
It got even worse for religious leaders.
62% of people wanted to get rid of the 26 guaranteed seats held by Church of England bishops in the House of Lords (their upper house). The respondents said no religious leaders should have “an automatic right to seats,” and it’s hard to argue with that. While there have been considerations to decrease the number of bishops’ seats or include representatives from non-Christian faiths, those ideas haven’t gone anywhere. Eliminating the seats altogether isn’t even an option right now. But only 8% of people say they support the status quo when it comes to the bishops.
It seems that the people who witnessed their nation succumb to a crisis of uncritical thinking last year with Brexit are fighting back against all forms of irrational thinking. They want policies backed by evidence and reason, not religious dogma. And they want to be represented by people who work for them, not some inflexible religious authority.
It’s not like the poll is going to lead to sudden change, but political leaders should be aware that the people seeking reform far outnumber the traditionalists. If things were to change, there wouldn’t be much vocal opposition. After all, what decent democracy grants more than two dozen seats in government to unelected leaders of one religion?
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Mark for the link)