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Modern Britain is now a secular society to what extent do sociological evidence and arguments support this view?

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Introduction

'Modern Britain is now a secular society' to what extent do sociological evidence and arguments support this view? Being able to come to a believable conclusion about this statement could be quite hard due to the many definitions of religion and secularisation in the first place. There are so many different definitions for these that defining it correctly once aren't the case. However secularisation is overall seen to be the decline in importance given to religion. Wilson put forward the idea that religion has declined and is now less important / influential in society than it was in the past. This was known as the secularisation thesis. Wilson focuses on statistical evidence relating to religious institutions and their activity. Church attendance statistics are used for evidence of secularisation in the UK and these vary and show big differences. The fall and rise of statistics in different areas show that religion has little influence today. ...read more.

Middle

how the world was created. People have therefore become increasingly disenchanted with religion. However people say that Wilson maybe overemphasising the influence of rationality, evidence tells us that people at times prefer religious explanations to scientific explanations. Social attitude surveys tell us that 70% of the UK population profess a string belief in god. Many people subscribe to quasi religious concepts such as luck or fate. There has been a decline in commitment to beliefs. Membership of high commitment organisations has generally decreased and low commitment organisations membership has increased. The popularity of some cults may be explained by the fact that they do not demand a great deal of commitment. Wilson argues that the church is no longer involved in important areas of social life such as politics. He says that politicians have no interest in making sure their policies meet with the approval of religious leaders. ...read more.

Conclusion

He argues that sects are the last outposts of religion in a secular society and are a symptom of religious decline. He also suggests that members of sects are only partially committed to their beliefs and that they are more committed to follow a charismatic leader or modern lifestyle. He sees sects as shot lived and members drifting in and out of them. Wilson sees many NRMs and NAMs as only quasi religious, so despite their growth he sees this more as evidence for secularisation than against. However studies by Greely and Nelson have shown that the growth of NRMs indicates that society is undergoing a religious revival. Nelson argues that whilst the established churches might have lost touch with people's spiritual needs, newer organisations are experiencing revival. The rituals of organisations like the church of England are interpreted as stale,boring and lacking a genuine commitment. Nelson suggests that people are turning instead to evangelical Christian fundamentalism in the form of house churches and charismatic pastors who encourage a more informal and exciting form of worship, which is especially attractive to young people. ...read more.

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