The Anglican Communion led by the Church of England boasts having an estimated 80 million followers around the world, the third largest Christian Communion in the world. However at home in the UK the Church of England speaks out on an impending crisis with congregations empty and young people turning their backs on the Church. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey gave the dire warning admitting that the Church of England had failed to invest in young people and within a generation the Church of England faces extinction. Upon hearing this news I can say that my only regret is that such an event couldn't happen sooner. It would be dishonest of me to say that I have nothing but contempt for organised religion and the collapse of such institutions is not something to be feared.
The Most Reverend, Dr John Sentamu has claimed that in recent years the Church has got too hung up on wording and phrases and arguments over whether or not to accept women bishops have not been healthy for the Church or attracting new people to Communion. In a lot of senses he is right, I'm an atheist so no amount of change would persuade me to join the Church but you only have to look at how out of date and irrelevant this institution is, The Church is rightly seen as both sexist and homophobic, being those two things might have worked 50 - 60 years ago but today in the 21st Century they haven't got a hope in hell of selling that rubbish to the general populous.
When it comes to outdated views, ideas around sexual morality have in recent years placed the Church at odds with the general public, its' own followers and the Government. The issue of homosexuality has caused massive divisions within the Church with some calling for complete tolerance and acceptance while others have called any sort of acceptance out of step with Church doctrine and something that has to be opposed. Unfortunately for Christians the leadership of their Church seems to have stuck with the latter or at the very least trying to appease those with such viewpoints. In regard to equal marriage Dr Sentamu said that "defining marriage as between a man and a woman was not discriminatory against same-sex couples." To a lot of people that is discrimination, that devalues the love and fidelity that is shared between same-sex couples. On the wider subject of same-sex marriage when the legislation was being passed through Parliament senior members of the Church were described as being deliberately misleading such as claiming that the Government was about to force the Church to conduct such marriages against their will and they would be forced in front of the European Court. Both claims were untrue. To be fair other clergymen were deeply unhappy with the opposition of their own Church and claimed that the Church did not speak for them.
The role of women in the Church has also caused deep divisions within the Church embarrassing debates to enter the public sphere.Women gained the right to be ordained as priests in 1992 but deep and heavy disagreements remain in the Church. Many now push for women to be ordained as Bishops but this has once again opened up a great divide within the Church. With traditionalist members arguing that the right to become priest was either enough compromise or a step too far already they are fighting tooth and nail to prevent further change in the institution. The traditionalist will wave the Bible around and claim that they have divine backing whereas many modern thinkers see the damage that such thinking does to the Church.
The Church has for the past century struggled to find its place in the world, since the Enlightenment religion has slowly seen its role decline to the point where its ability to influence public has begun to dwindle away completely. The problem with religion and this is not just something that is an issue for Christianity or the Church of England is that the Western world has changed so drastically, leaders could once use religion as a tool to ensure oppression and domination. That is no longer the case and where as it was once the done thing to "spread the word" even that is no longer seen as acceptable. People today do not want anything forced down their throats, even though Church leaders such Dr Carey have noticed a problem they still believe that a new approach to get the new on board is what needs to be done. Unfortunately for people like Dr Carey they still don't get it, people don't want religion. For the Church to maintain power it needs sheep, people who will follow without question, in the world as it is today that is not possible. Indoctrination no longer holds sway, most people will seek out religion if that is what they wish, forcing it on people will never work in the 21st century. Religious leaders might claim they have God given authority but what does that really mean anymore?
The absolute failure of the Church of England to accept that it is out of date is possibly the final nail in the coffin for the Church. Sunday congregations are said to be half what they were in the 1960s and many who attend Church claim that the priests and bishops continue to drone on about the same old issues that they have already lost on and that the message is boring. The Church is seen as both cliquey and unwelcoming.
As for me I cannot wait for the Church to finally collapse, the Church is steeped in homophobia, sexism and racism and its role in the world is one that only holds people back from the dignity and the equality they deserve. This is not an attack on an individual to seek salvation in whatever form they wish to find it, this is an attack on those who would wish to use religion as a means to control and oppress. There is no room for something so outdated and evil in this world.