In a nation that is often described as "post-Christian," a spark
of revival might be on the horizon.
A breeding ground of Darwinian evolution and
atheism -- and more recently, spreading Islamization -- England has
been recognized as falling away from its Christian heritage for
generations. But recent survey results released by Oxford
University indicate that a large majority is ready for a return to
its Christian roots.
And just how many Brits ascribe to the belief that Christianity
should make a comeback? A YouGov poll reveals that nearly
two-thirds (64 percent) of the 1,800 participants in the study
believe that Christianity should be taught in schools because
children need to learn about it in order to understand English
history. Furthermore, 57 percent say that learning about
Christianity is essential for students so that they can truly grasp
But do the English think that Christianity should be taught for
reasons other than to bolster their historical and cultural
knowledge? It was found that a slight majority, or 51 percent of
those polled, believe that Christianity provides a moral compass
that helps children decipher right from wrong.
Failed humanism ushering in Christianity?
The poll results came as a pleasant surprise to Christian
leaders seeking to influence culture with the Gospel.
"It is striking that so much of the
public sees the need for Christianity to be taught properly,"
expressed Andrea Williams, who serves as chief executive of Christian
Concern. "We are often given the impression that teaching about
Jesus and His message is old-fashioned and irrelevant to a modern
generation. But this survey shows that many people value the
Instead of new philosophies, naturalistic worldviews or modern
psychology, which have proliferated in England for more than a
century, citizens of the island nation have come to the realization
that a return to the core teachings of the Bible is the way to true
A substantial segment of those polled (43 percent) maintained
that a greater emphasis should be placed on the teachings of
Christianity in RE (Religious Education) lessons. At the same time,
37 percent of participants in the survey are concerned that many of
the RE instructors cannot teach Christianity effectively because
they know little about it.
These figures indicate that Christianity is not a fading
religion or worldview that's being swept under the rug. The need
for responsible and ethical behavior is no longer being
"This is not surprising, given that our society is increasingly
confused about a basis for moral decisions, for human dignity and
for community," Williams explained. "Jesus is the personal basis
for this, as well as the foundation for so much of our nation's
culture and history."
Reasoning behind the research
When Oxford University's Department of Education took to the
streets to administer this public opinion poll, it set out to find
whether Christianity should be taught through RE lessons. The team
of researchers was to come away from this study with answers
explaining how this world religion should be taught in the
classroom with greater intensity and meaning.
Oxford's Dr. Nigel Fancourt, who is heading a project to enhance
curricula in schools throughout England, notes that Christianity
has typically been taught in schools in an incoherent fashion. He
also contends that the presentation of Christianity to students has
been too stereotypical and continues to be taught in a way that
often lacks intellectual development.
The underlying motivation behind the project is rooted in a
legal requirement that schools throughout England should teach
curricula that accurately portrays Christianity as the building
block for the nation's religious heritage. Consequently, it is
anticipated that Christianity will be the only religion studied
during the course of students' schooling in England.
A touchy but rewarding topic to teach
Despite the exclusive focus, Fancourt contends that Christianity
─ the world's most influential and widely followed religion with
reportedly more than 2 billion adherents worldwide ─ will be taught
"It is treated in the same way as other religions but studied
more frequently," Fancourt explained.
Even so, researchers maintain that there could be a fine line to
be walked while teaching Christianity. They point out the potential
and legitimate fears educators might have ─ that their delivery of
instruction might be considered as evangelistic in nature.
To avoid pitfalls, Oxford's academic team is developing a free
web-based introduction to teaching Christianity class. It is
scheduled to go live in September and is geared to equip primary
instructors at the trainee level.
Yet one secular argument conveys concern that this Christian
instruction can work to exclude a majority of students who don't
consider themselves Christian ─ possibly leading them to challenge
their own beliefs.
"Christianity should be taught about, and taught about well, but
not, as at present, to the exclusion of other approaches to life
and not in any pretense that it is relevant to the developing
beliefs, values and life stances of most young people, over
two-thirds of whom have non-religious worldviews," asserts Andrew
Copson, a member of the British Humanist Association. He contends
that poll results indicate most British people see Christianity as
less of a religion and more of a historical and cultural
But regardless of the challenges the new curricula on
Christianity may face, it is generally agreed upon by both sides of
the religious spectrum that the intensified religious studies
project to be implemented across British schools will work to
"For several years, inspection reports have
shown that the teaching of Christianity, which is a key part of the
RE curriculum in our schools, is too weak," stated project
supporter John Keast, of the Religious Education Council of England and
Wales. "With almost total withdrawal of government support for
RE, it is good to see a major university project, sponsored by
charitable trusts, providing a positive way forward."