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Secularisation

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Secularisation

  1. 1. SCLY3: Beliefs in Society
  2. 2. Text book definition: the decline of religion; the process whereby religious beliefs, practices and institutions lose their importance or influence; e.g. fewer couples now marry in church and many people disregard religious teachings on issues like divorce, homosexuality etc. Dictionary.com definition: to make secular; separate from religious or spiritual conne ction or influences; make worldly or unspiritual; imbue with secular ism. It is evident that the term ‘secularization’ is a problem is assessing it.
  3. 3. Based on evidence from the 1851 Census of Religions Worship, Crockett (1998) estimates that in that year, 40% or more of adult population of Britain attended church on Sundays. In comparison to today’s figures, sociologists suggest that the 19th century was a ‘golden age’ of religiosity. Changes: o A decline in the proportion of the population going to church; o An increase in the average age of churchgoers; o Fewer baptisms and church weddings; o A decline in the numbers holding traditional Christian beliefs; and o Greater religious diversity, including more non-Christian religions. Explanation (s) for trends: o In 1966, Bryan Wilson argues that Western societies had been undergoing a long-term process of secularisation. He defined secularisation as ‘the process whereby religious, beliefs, practices and institutions lose social significance’. For example, church attendance in England and Wales had fallen from 40% of the population in the mid-19th century to 10-15% by the 1960s. Church weddings, baptisms and Sunday school attendance has also been declined, leading Wilson to conclude that Britain has become a secular society.

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