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THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM in England, I believe, is the decline in Christianity. It is a Europe-wide phenomenon. Churchgoing in Britain is dwindling away, both among Catholics and Protestants. Rome has contributed to this decline by appointing weak bishops, believing that this will bolster ecumenism (a substitute for conversion). Church schools are funded by the state. Recently the Catholic bishop of Lancaster stuck his neck out and said these schools weren’t teaching proper Catholic doctrine; sex-ed amounted to “throwing condoms at children” increasing teen pregnancy, and so on. He was soon called to testify before a parliamentary committee whose chairman said:
“It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.”
He reminded us that “this is taxpayers’ money.”
That is exactly the outlook of the political classes, but normally it is left unspoken. Parliament can tolerate religion, even fund it, as long as people don’t really believe it. The bishop spoke out only because parents pressed him, it appears, and I won’t be surprised to learn that Rome reacts by urging the bishop not to jeopardize funding in future.
The decline of Christianity is something the intelligentsia has long sought, but the rise of Islam may be its most momentous consequence. And that is feared, not relished. Witness the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lame gesture of appeasement, calling for the partial recognition of Sharia law. One faith is moving into the spiritual vacuum left by the other. These, perhaps, are the most important underlying forces at work in Britain today. And rising prosperity is probably the most important cause of Christian decline. People will not think much about the next life when they have so many opportunities to indulge their appetites in this.
One night, on the BBC, there was a touching film called “White Girl,” apparently based on a true story. It showed one of these sad, broken families moving into public housing in a part of Bradford now controlled by Pakistani Muslims. (Bradford is a large northern town, once the center of the wool trade, and now one of the largest Islamic communities in Britain. I went there myself on a brief visit recently.)
The daughter of this chaotic family — the “white girl” — meets the neighbors and goes with them to the mosque. She tells her surprised mother: “When I pray it’s like everything’s not all bad and f***ed up, like somewhere there’s a place that I feel safe.” Muslim propaganda? Maybe. But also believable.
The great unanswered question is whether the welfare state that has so de-moralized family life in Britain will likewise undermine the Muslims. At present they seem to be flourishing. Peter Hitchens accepts that the Muslim rise and Christian decline are but the opposite poles of a single phenomenon. Possibly, the corrosive effects of welfare will undermine the Muslims as well. He described seeing young Muslim men tearing about in souped-up cars on his own visit to Bradford.
Possibly, also, the greater morale that Muslims now seem to enjoy will preserve their families intact. My impression is that their men have not yet been cuckolded by the state — certainly not in the mosque, and perhaps not in the home either. It’s hard to say. I don’t know of any good reporting that has yet been done on these crucial developments in Britain.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online