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Spiffing stuff, chaps (by the way, since we're Brits on an American website, we'd better talk how they imagine we all talk so as not to disappoint them), we've got some members! So tally-ho, let's get a good old chinwag started.

So... one thing that must be very clear to all of us is that for our colonial chums, announcing their atheism to their families and friends is a very big deal indeed - they describe it as "coming out of the closet" and some have even been ignored by loved ones as result. Over here, if you decide one day to mention your lack of belief in God to your parents, the most dramatic response you're likely to get is "shut yer cakehole kid, we're trying to watch Corrie."

It's probably fair to say that while 59.5% of people in the UK tick "Christian" when filling out the census, the vast majority of them are simply saying they're what their ancestors were - many will never have been to a church service and probably haven't prayed since they were made to at school. 24.7% tick "no religion" which isn't vastly different to the US figure of 18.2%, suggesting atheism has a toehold in both countries - so what is it that makes announcing lack of faith such a big issue for Americans and such a non-issue for us?

Jnei 8 Feb 13
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The U.K. has had several hundred years to "ditch the dogma" Give it chance it's on the rise....

Carolina64 Level 4 Apr 22, 2018

Well it's lush here in Blighty even though it's parky outside! To try and answer the question we don't have the equivalent of a bible belt like our friends in America do. I imagine the bible belt somehow gets stuck in the psyche when it doesn't actually need to. So, when it comes to announcing atheism it seems harder than it really is. These are just my thoughts. if I think of anything else I might post it. Toodle-pip for now (Ha Ha!)

Sandster Level 7 Mar 9, 2018

I think we do have a belt, and one that is similar in many ways to the Bible belt - but ours is centred on the sort of right politics you can find among the Daily Mail-reading Tory or UKIP voters you find living in it rather than on religion. In the villages where I live and work not going to church is no problem at all (in fact, most people don't) - but I certainly get some strange reactions if I mention I read The Guardian.


Pip-pip and Bernard's your uncle.

I remember a line from Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones' "One Night Stand" - the two of them doing their usual dialogue bit.

"I don't believe in God, heaven and hell, and all of that rubbish."
"Oh, I didn't realise you were Church of England."

The UK Anglican movement is, by and large 'Christianity Lite.' All of the flavour, only a tiny fraction of the calories. It has a "Believe what you want to believe. We're here for you if you want us" kind of an attitude, rather than the usual "Convert and do as we say, or burn in the fiery pit for eternity" one. And when your primary religion isn't obsessed with recruiting and breeding new, totally obedient followers, your society gets an opportunity to detach religion from everyday life. I believe the UK has a decent balance whereby most people respect each other's beliefs, but don't expect everyone else to live by their faith's moral code. That puts us in a position to detach religion from politics and law. Meanwhile, in the US, anti-abortionist politicians will happily stand up and say that if the rape of a 14 year old girl results in pregnancy, then that rape must have been God's will. A UK politician will be laughed out of a job for saying that gays are responsible for bad weather.

As with most closets, it's all about cultural norms, daring to deviate from them, and the perceived shame that you bring to your family when you do. The cultural norm in the UK is that your religion (or lack thereof) is nobody's business but yours. The cultural norm in the US is that religion is key to your acceptance by your community, with a good chance of being ostracised by those whose faith you choose not to follow. In the UK, I reckon this is largely down to the CofE's 'no pressure' attitude. If Catholicism or Islam had a stronger hold, then things might be very different.


Well me old mukka. Firstly the stats you have quoted are a little misleading. Whilst I am sure that the facts you are stating are verified, I am sure that other studies show different results. A recent study by the Richard Dawkins Foundation showed that the majority of us Brits (for the first time) did not associate themselves with a religion. But I still agree with you. It does appear that it is a bigger deal for the yanks to say those words than for us. Its not always the case mind, as I am certain that there are many people in the muslim community who are closet athiestS. Just watch 'exposure-islams non believers' on youtube. It is not always that easy to be open about a lack of faith in this country.

I am hopeful that we shall see a bigger decline in believers over in the US. A decade or so ago there was a big survey in the US about who people found the most and least trustworthy. They had all sorts of groups of people that they could vote on, Lawyers, nurses, Doctors, Jews, Christians etc. In last place (deemed the least trustworthy) were murderers, in second to last place it was a draw between rapists and athiests. Read that last sentance again and let it sink in. Since then whilst athiests over there still get a bit of a hard time, there has been changes and more people are now becoming more confident about speaking openly about athiesm. The more it is talked about the more, the more it is understood, and it is then more likely to be a viable option for people to choose.

RobH86 Level 7 Feb 14, 2018

You may well be right about the stats - I just googled "religion in the UK" and "religion in the USA" and went with the percentages I found there in order to make a point. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are many Muslims who consider themselves Muslim and atheist, as this is certainly the case among Jewish people - however, it's undoubtedly true that it's easier to admit to that in some cultures than other. I, for example, would feel entirely comfortable walking into any synagogue and declaring myself to be a Jewish atheist (and I'd probably have a good old chat and maybe a bagel mit lox un a shmear with the rabbi), but I can definitely see that in some other groups this might not be the case.


I say old chap you are going to create another Tea Party with the first part of your question ... that is for the Americans to answer not you pommy bunch of colonising half breeds!

FrayedBear Level 9 Feb 14, 2018

Jolly hockey sticks! I guess we are are more reserved here and keep our thoughts to ourselves, which is why the polls get it wrong with elections. We don't respond well to people telling us what we should think or do - we've had a millennia of that and are very weary of it. 🙂

GothRik Level 7 Feb 13, 2018

@GothRik from your mention of millenia am I correct in thinking that the first of your mob arrived in 1066 with that French Norseman William? As Marriot Edgar wrote " 'e shot 'Arold in th'eye as 'e sat on 'is 'orse with 'is 'awk on 'is 'and. 'E were off side but what could they do!" Go to my page and follow the link to SoundCloud then look for "the Battle of Hastings".
Yours however is the point that I make to @Jnei

@FrayedBear Woh there, when I say 'we',I mean the people, or peasants if you like, not the ruling classes/invaders. We've had various changes of power and rulers. The people just try get on with life and leave them to it, but quite often we get dragged into their petty arguments. Yes, I was dating back to 1066, as that was the point when the oppression started in this country, when English was banned for three hundred years, etc. Not 'our' mob at all.

@GothRik There are very few now who are not carrying a little bit of Celt, Angle, Saxon, Welsh, Scot, Norse, ....etc.

@FrayedBear Indeed, that's why I find nationalism and racism so ludicrous. I'm just a human 🙂

@GothRik Exactly.

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