Sunday, 3 July 2011

Religion and the decline of the West


While 92% of Americans believe in God, only 35% in Britain do and 43% say they have no religion, according to Britain's National Centre for Social Research. According to “Shmuley" Boteach, an American Orthodox rabbi who writes in the Wall St. Journal, 

‘This decline of faith and optimism may account for why Britain—once the most advanced nation on earth, which gave the world parliamentary democracy and its inimitable centers of higher learning—is today more famous for exporting reality shows like Big Brother and Project Catwalk. For while religion affirms the infinite dignity of the human person, its absence robs life of its sanctity. Exploitation for fame and humiliation for cash are the inevitable outgrowth.’

I am not completely convinced that loss of belief destroyed the Empire. Atheism is maybe a sign of and cause of decadence but other European countries are also pretty Godless, especially the Protestant ones like Scandinavia. So are the Buddhist countries. Only the USA among developed countries still God-fearing. How sad that Romania will go the same way: loss of faith; consumerism; mass immigration; etc., etc. 

The Rabbi sounds more like a Christian should than most Anglican bishops but we expect this. (The Chief Rabbi in the 1980s was the only religious leader who talked much sense and that amusing snob Julian Critchley said Mrs. Thatcher wouldn’t retire till she made him Archbishop of Canterbury). Rabbi Boteach is understandably shocked by the prevalence of aggressive atheism in British intellectual life but I don’t mind atheism. I object to teaching comparative religion to even young schoolchildren instead of religious instruction. In state schools the bible is no longer taught as fact. In Sweden a law has been presented to parliament making illegal the teaching of a religion as true. Only in such ways can upholders of the ideals of the Enlightenment and  the French revolution deal with their fear of Islam. 

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