Social trends in belief and living

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Research in UK by Christian thinktank Theos shows big big changes in religious belief: one in five believes in astrology or horoscopes, one in ten in Tarot or fortune telling and nearly three in ten people believe in reincarnation. These are much higher figures than similar research carried out in 1950 by Gallup. Although not included in the survey, ‘karma’ is also a very common belief here in UK.

What this surely demonstrates is that a large percentage of the UK population (and doubtless similar populations elsewhere in the West) are effectively believing most of the tenets of Buddhism though they would be mostly unaware that they are doing so. They will also largely hold a postmodern worldview, though again may be unaware of the concepts of ‘postmodernism’ or ‘worldview’. By contrast, relatively few British people have converted to Islam despite prolonged missionary work and some very well-produced islamic outreach websites. It is estimated that 10,000-20,000 British people (largely women) have moved over into Islam.

Over the same 60 years, the West has seen a huge decline in marriage. According to UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), in the 1970s nearly 80 per cent of women were married by 25, compared with 25 per cent now. About 50 per cent of 25-year-old females in the late 1970s had given birth. Although the figure has now fallen to 30 per cent, that is still more than the number getting married. The ONS report also showed that the number of people getting married has dropped to its lowest level since 1895.

Civil (ie. gay) partnerships are also falling in UK.

And in USA, the latest Barna Report suggests that Americans who consider themselves to be Christian have a diverse set of beliefs – but many of those beliefs are contradictory or, at least, inconsistent.

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