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‘Church of Eton’ and arithmetic challenged

by
27 June 2014

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From Mr Richard Barnes
Sir, - There is a mathematical mistake in your report "Survey reveals falling numbers" (News, 20 June). The reduction in the percentage of people identifying themselves as C of E from 27 per cent in 2003 to 16 per cent in 2013 is a drop to, not of, 59 per cent of the 2003 figure. So the opening statement that the proportion has "more than halved" is also wrong; it has fallen by two-fifths.

Correcting the maths is easy; identifying the reasons is trickier. Obviously "C of E" is no longer the default answer that it used to be, while being spiritual, secular, or atheist has become more fashionable. Another decade of confusion over gender and sexuality cannot have helped, either.

Dare I also suggest, however, that the Archbishop of Canterbury's brave new Church of Eton, all Alpha and no Omega, may be off-putting to those whose faith is tenuous rather than strenuous, and who feel that they are no longer worthy to count themselves as Christian?

Since I am not healthy, wealthy, white-smiling, and driven, I sometimes wonder whether the Church would prefer me outside being missioned to rather than inside needing pastoral care.

RICHARD BARNES
7 Dinham Crescent
Exeter EX4 4EF

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