A report for the Church of England last week suggests that for many young people in the UK, Christianity is no more than a “faint cultural memory”. A minority are explicitly atheist – about one in eight – and around four times as many believe in either a personal god or a vague higher power. But by far the largest category are those who just find the question bewildering and not very interesting: “I don’t really know what to think” got 43% of the answers.
“Generally young people seemed quite content with this situation, happy to get by with what little they knew about the Christian faith,” wrote Sylvia Collins-Mayo, one of the report’s authors. What people trust, or “have faith in” are their families, their friends, and themselves.
Will this continue? Will all the memory of Christianity attenuate and disappear in the way that so many forms of it have already vanished? If that is a real threat, what might stop it? Is there anything that can once more make a vague Christianity a normal and natural part of being English, in the way that a vague indifference now seems to be?