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Anglican church on verge of extinction… here’s hoping others follow…

The Globe and Mail is reporting this morning that according to the church’s own internal report, the once mighty Anglican church of Canada is only one generation away from extinction.

Regular attendance is declining at all Canadian Christian churches, except for the Roman Catholic Church, whose small increase is attributed to immigration.

But Anglicanism’s problem is aggravated because it is primarily a tribal church, the offspring of the Church of England. It has traditionally been home to Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent who increasingly have no ethnic identification with the church, said religious studies professor David Seljak of St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont.

A similar problem burdens the Presbyterian Church – offspring of the Church of Scotland – which is losing adherents almost as quickly as the Anglicans.

As an atheist who sees the demise of an archaic institution like church – any church – as reason for celebration, I still have to wonder about why this is happening.

The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.” (my bold)

According to the report, the diocese – “like most across Canada” – is in crisis. The report repeats, without qualification or question, the results of a controversial study presented to Anglican bishops five years ago that said that at the present rate of decline – a loss of 13,000 members per year – only one Anglican would be left in Canada by 2061.

Is Canada really becoming a post-christian society? Are Canadians becoming more intelligent, more secular and in general more cynical of institutions generally? Or has this particular church brought about it’s own demise? I little of each, I wager. And if so, can the other churches be approaching the same fate? One can only hope though it is unlikely I will see this in my current lifetime.

As a postscript, one thing I have often wondered is why we still have highway signs pointing out the direction to the nearest church? Did or do folks have spiritual “emergencies” that demand they find a church tout de suite?


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  1. In Ontario, probably not any more. I have no doubt that they were, but since at least the Harris days, anyone can pay the province to put a sign up on the highway. There are some rules about what goes on it, but for the most part, you could have a blue and white sign on the 417 that says “Trashy-Dome” and point to the exit that goes to your house.

    Not sure who pays to maintain them once they’re up though.

  2. I can remember a number of spiritual emergencies in my teens and 20’s. Many a morning I’d be before the porcelain altar saying “Oh God, not again.” or something to that effect. Not sure I’d need a sign on the highway to sort that out though.

  3. I did my bit. I was confirmed in the Anglican church when I was 12, and officially declared an atheist in 1989 or thereabouts.

    I agree with SM. The weakening of the middle-of-the-road religious yahooery will expose everyone to more extreme religious yahooery. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

    1. trashee says:

      Here’s another question, you ol’ intelligent cephalopod, you – are public funds being used to erect and maintain this signage?

  4. dave1949 says:

    While I don’t disagree that the major churches are suffering in this greed at all costs society the fringes are growing at an alarming rate. People are not going to throw out 2000 plus years of looking to someone to tell them what to do instead of thinking for themselves.
    Thinking takes energy. Must lie down now and rest.

    1. trashee says:

      Lay down and rest. Yes, always wise words.
      And yes. I’ll be a meerkat in my 437th next life before the 2000 years wears off…

  5. SM says:

    I wouldn’t be so happy about this yet. The protestant middle-of-the-road churches were what kept the extremists like the fundies in check all those years. Yes, there were the few bible thumpers on the margins 30 years ago, but the bulk of the Wasp crowd could be found in the polite we-go-to-church-but-we-dont-talk-about-religion region of society. Yes, they influenced society, for the most part, when laws trumped their customs, they backed off.

    As many of them split off into agnosticism, atheism, and general inertia, the others go to the more actively evangelical churches, who have it as their mandate to politicize their values.

    I suspect that the continued weakening of the middle will mean the extremists will become a bigger factor that the rest of us will have to deal with, on a nearly daily basis, as one group after another after another tries to take away our charter rights in favour of their extremist doctrines. We’ll be wishing we had more anglicans….

    1. trashee says:

      Hiya, welcome, and thanks for your comment.
      I really hadn’t thought of it from that angle, but you’re right. The non-completely wacko religions (I include the rc church as one of the wackos) like Anglicanism and the moderate Protestant sects are preferable. I guess I was thinking of things on more absute terms.

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