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Christianity faces bleak future in UK: Survey

By Shyam Bhatia in London
Last updated on: September 09, 2003 03:16 IST
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Traditional Christianity faces a bleak future in the United Kingdom where people are turning to, among other things, yoga and New Age spirituality, a opinion poll has revealed.

Although many Britons still believe in God and find Jesus Christ inspirational, thousands of others are abandoning the church, replacing it with activities that focus on themselves.

Pollsters Mori interviewed 1,001 people as part of the lifestyle survey on the eve of a BBC television show.

They found that belief in Christianity had begun making way for belief in Islam and New Age spirituality. Half the population was unable to name any of the four New Testament gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. There are almost as many practising Muslims (750,000) as practising Christians (one million).

A spokesman for theĀ  television show that commissioned the survey said, "The rise of the consumer-oriented society and an emphasis on the individual have challenged traditional forms of worship.

"The outlook for traditional Christianity is bleak. But it's different elsewhere. Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Buddhists remain sizeable groups and New Age beliefs are now mainstream.

"For many, reflexology, reiki, spiritual healing, yoga and crystal healing are part of everyday life," he said.

Four out of ten surveyed fear terrorism or war. Family, health, money and the environment are major worries for at least 26 per cent while 52 per cent believe in heaven, 40 per cent in guardian angels and 38 per cent in ghosts.

Only 13 per cent named the late Princess Diana as an inspiring personality as opposed to 20 per cent opting for former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Fifty-six per cent said their parents had had the most influence on their lives. Some 23 per centĀ  believe in reincarnation.

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Shyam Bhatia in London