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Archbishop Justin Welby waves with the class of 1994 that, for the first time, include women. St Paul’s Cathedral.

CANTERBURY, England, December 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Christian belief and worshipping is plummeting in England, and the choice to ordain women has not stopped the rapid decline to near extinction of British Anglicanism. 

According to the most recent British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS), 53% of all adult Britons describe themselves as having no religion. This is the largest percentage of non-believers in Britain ever recorded. In 1983, only 31 percent of Britons had no religious affiliation. In that same year, the religious majority belonged to Anglicans, who headed the list at 40 percent.

This has changed dramatically. The percentage of Christians has declined in the United Kingdom. Robert Harding of the National Centre for Social Research stated that the drop in the number of adherents belonging to the Church of England “are most notable.” 

Over the period 1983 to 2014, the Anglican population of the United Kingdom almost halved, falling from 16.5 million adherents to 8.6 million, from 40% of the British population to 15%. Between 2012 and 2014 alone, the proportion of Britons who described themselves as Anglicans fell from 21 to 17%, a loss of 1.7 million people in two years. 

And, of course, the drop in Anglicans has also led to a drop in church attendance. According to the Faith Survey, 1,370,400 people in England were recorded as Anglican churchgoers in 1980. In 2015, there were only 660,000

Citing the BSAS, the Spectator reported that “Anglicanism is declining faster than any other majority denomination. With the current rate of decline, it would be set to disappear from Britain by 2033.”

Only 3% of adults under 24, and only 5% of British adults between the ages of 25-34, identify as Anglicans. The Guardian cited a lack of agreement over issues like same-sex marriage and ethnic diversity for alienating “almost an entire generation of young adults.” However, some Anglicans believe that doctrinal and liturgical instability has led to the decline. 

In an article titled “Women clergy will be the death of the Church of England,” Anglican Kathy Gyngell commented that a correlation between the rise in female clergy and the drop in Church attendance cannot be ignored.

“And guess what, as the wimmin have risen, church attendance has fallen. It's halved in the forty years since my dad retired with more churches losing congregation members than are gaining them. If there is no correlation between these two trends, then I am the Pope,” she wrote. 

“But instead of waking up to this self fulfilling downwards spiral of destruction, all the Church of England feebly does is push it further. Having women bishops has become more important than dealing with declining church attendances – as though 'gender equality' was of spiritual significance. It is not. It is purely ideological and political. It says more about women's demands for status and power than about any godly calling – more about the modern female ego than about spiritual humility that is for sure,” she continued. 

“No wonder congregations drop off and no wonder there are fewer baptisms, weddings and funerals in church. No wonder at all when those leading the Church are too blind to see this connection or are too ready to sacrifice their belief and their mission on what can only be described as the altar of gender politics,” she added. 

The Church of England began ordaining women to its priesthood in 1994, and by 2014, 32% of Anglican clergy in England were female. 

A former Anglican, now a Roman Catholic priest, Father Paul Martin told LifeSiteNews that one significant reason for the decline in Anglican membership and practice is the rise of relativism and secularism in western society. 

“People no longer feel a need for God in their lives, especially a God who must be worshipped and adored,” he stated. “Anglicanism was always going to be especially vulnerable because it has traditionally offered people ‘pick and mix religion’. Find a God for yourself that you are comfortable with and then a church and parish that best expresses what you want.”

Unfortunately the ‘pick and mix’ attitude has been taken to its logical conclusion.

“Now – largely because they have not been challenged to think differently – people are taking the choice option a stage further and saying ‘Actually when I think about it I don’t want or need God at all. I’m fine on my own. And if there is such a thing as eternal life then I’ll take it as my right rather than something I have to consciously seek and find’,” Martin explained. 

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Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian journalist, essayist, and novelist. She earned an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto and an M.Div./S.T.B. from Toronto’s Regis College. She was a columnist for the Toronto Catholic Register for nine years and has contributed to Catholic World Report. Her first book, Seraphic Singles,  was published by Novalis (2010) in Canada, Liguori in the USA, and Homo Dei in Poland. Her second, Ceremony of Innocence, was published by Ignatius Press (2013). Dorothy lives near Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband.