Faith not declining

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ELAINE Ansell raises the point that many churches are closing and that as a consequence, the church sees a need to move into state schools (letters, August 23).

Firstly, church schools are nothing new: Davison, St Andrews and Broadwater C of E are all well over a century old.

Secondly, while it is certainly true that census records and other surveys show fewer people identifying as Christian, these do not reveal whether this is because numbers are falling, or because people no longer see a need to record a default faith now that “none of the above” has no social stigma. Many surveys show that “spirituality” in its various forms is actually increasing, which suggests that it is only formal religion, rather than faith in general, that is declining. In fact, it is predominantly the older, established churches that are closing due to falling numbers. Conversely, many newer churches have sprung up, generally in less traditional places in less formal settings. A quick search on worthingchurches.co.uk shows around 10 churches in school halls, youth centres and community centres. I know of churches operating out of cinemas and even in pubs.

Thus, while there is certainly a decline in formal Christianity, there is also clear growth in alternatives and in these, the younger age groups are particularly well represented.

Brian Steele

Shirley Drive

Hove