The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Consequences of De-Christianization
LONDON, NOV. 14, 2004 (Zenit) - Britain's Royal Navy stirred the waves last month when, for the first time, it gave official recognition to the practice of Satanism. According to an Oct. 24 report in the Telegraph, Chris Cranmer, a naval technician serving on the frigate Cumberland, is now allowed to perform Satanic rituals on board ship. He would also be able to have a funeral carried out by the Church of Satan if he were to be killed in action.
Cranmer is now petitioning the Ministry of Defense so that Satanism can be a registered religion in the armed forces. According to the Telegraph, the Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey, author of "The Satanic Bible."
The article quoted a Royal Navy spokesman as saying that Cranmer's unconventional beliefs would not cause problems on board ship. "We are an equal-opportunities employer and we don't stop anybody from having their own religious values," he said.
In an Oct. 26 commentary in the Scotsman newspaper, Bruce Anderson said that naval authorities gave the go-ahead to Cranmer because they feared a lengthy legal action that could have ended up before the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, costing millions of pounds. The government, he said, is at fault for "nervously allowing a rights-based legal culture to intrude upon the armed forces."
Sophie Masson, in a commentary published Oct. 27 in the Sydney Morning Herald, considered the religious implications. The Church of Satan, she noted, says that "we are our own gods." Moreover, they hold that all traditional sins are virtues, that altruism is a myth and that the Christian virtues are just hypocrisy.
"The most frightening thing is that our society has seemingly become so disconnected from meaning that it no longer takes seriously the very building blocks of its culture," she added. "To worship the principle of evil itself is to invite it into your life and the lives of those around you, sometimes in unpredictable and horrifying ways."
Decline in faith
The navy's recognition of Satanism is just one in a series of news items detailing the decline in Christianity in Britain. On Aug. 18 the newspaper Independent published details of a report by the UK Home Office showing that while most white Britons still call themselves Christian, in practice religion plays little part in their lives.
The survey, based on 15,500 interviews, showed 74% called themselves Christian. But among those who professed their Christianity, when asked what they considered important to their identity, religion was cited by only 17% of white Christians, after other factors such as family, work, age, education, gender, income and social class. By contrast, among black people, 70% of whom say they are Christian, religion was third on the list, and Asians placed it second, behind family.
The survey also showed a weak Christianity among youth. Just 18% of Christians aged 16 to 24 considered their religion as important. Religion was more important for young people in other groups: 74% of Muslims; 63% of Sikhs; and 62% of Hindus.
Then, on Nov. 4, the Times published details of another study pointing to a severe decline in traditional religion, and a rise of mysticism. The study, carried out by two specialists in religion from Lancaster University, Linda Woodhead and Paul Heelas, looked at Kendal, a town of 28,000 in Cumbria.
In their book containing the results of the study, "The Spiritual Revolution," the academics observed that only 7.9% of the town's population now attends church, down from 11% two decades ago.
The practice of what the authors term "holistic activity," while still limited, is fast-growing. Currently, 1.6% of the population of the town and environs engage in some kind of holistic activity. During the 1990s, the growth of this number was rapid, and if current trends continue, within 30 years the holistic activities will be the dominant form of religious worship.
Some of the comments cited by the study revealed dissatisfaction with being "preached at" and a preference for describing their religious needs in psychological language. But the Times article also cited the Reverend Brian Maiden, of Parr Street Evangelical Church in Kendal, who declared that he believes that the liberalism of Christianity has turned people off it. "The people of Britain have been inoculated with a dead, mild form of Christianity, which has given them resistance to the real thing," he said. "It has been diluted with human philosophy. People want to be told what to do and how to do it."
The occult gains force
Britain is not alone in the trend toward the occult and alternative spiritualities. In the United States, for instance, Halloween continues to grow in popularity, the Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 11.
Although many celebrate Halloween on a merely superficial level, the article noted that sales of Halloween goods this year are projected to grow faster, at 5.4%, than those of Christmas, 4.5%. According to the Los Angeles Times the National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will have spent more than $3 billion this season on Halloween products.
On a more serious level, news of Druidic influence in the Episcopalian Church has drawn attention. According to the Washington Times of Nov. 1, a Druidic "women's eucharist" and a "divorce rite," posted on the Episcopal Church's official Web site, outraged a number of Episcopalians. The rites were removed from the Web site after church headquarters began receiving complaints.
Shortly afterward, the Philadelphia Inquirer, on Nov. 5, reported that two Episcopal priests, a married couple, the Reverend Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk and the Reverend William Melnyk, had resigned from the leadership of a local Druid society. They may face disciplinary action from the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. During almost four years, while they led parishes in Malvern and Downingtown, the couple were also spiritual guides to local Druids, according to the Inquirer.
Another sign of the growing influence of non-Christian groups is the spread of Wicca. The term can cover a multitude of practices, but it is part of a neo-paganism involving the worship of diverse gods and sometimes the practice of witchcraft. According to an article by Christine Wicker titled "Teen Pagans," posted on the Web site of Belief Net, Wicca is increasingly popular among adolescents.
Its spread is fostered by the contemporary interest in the occult, as well as the ease with which information about these groups can be disseminated via the Internet. Attempts to put a number on followers of Wicca have not met with much success, according to data posted on the Web site of the multi-faith Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Estimates of their numbers in the United States range from a low 2,000 to a high of 5 million.
Death of morality
Leaving aside what the decline of Christianity means from a religious viewpoint, attention on the social consequences was the focus of a book published earlier this year, "The Strange Death of Moral Britain," by Christie Davies.
His book charts what he terms the decline of "respectable Britain" -- the increase in crime, drug use, illegitimacy, abortion, homosexuality, etc. -- and links it to the declining influence of Christian morality. Over the last few decades, notably since the 1950s, moral values once instilled by such institutions as Sunday schools have been replaced by a secularized attitude of minimizing harm, regardless of moral considerations.
Recognizing one person's right to practice Satanism may be dismissed as a trivial incident. But it can also be seen as symptomatic of a society that is rapidly becoming de-Christianized, a process that brings with it many unpleasant surprises.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Christian, Faith, God, Religion
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Deadly Flu Season: Vaccine only 36 percent effective during worst ...
- 'Living Lent': Tuesday of the First Week of Lent - Day 6
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 HD Video
- 'Living Lent': Monday of the First Week of Lent - Day 5
- Try this fun Lent Quiz today!
- Bl. Alvarez of Corova: Saint of the Day for Monday, February 19, 2018
- Daily Readings for Monday, February 19, 2018
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, February 19th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, February 18th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, February 17th, 2018 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education