LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new report shows hundreds of churches have closed in London while almost the same number of mosques have opened. Less than two weeks after the deadly attack outside Parliament that killed four and injured 50, a report from the international policy thinktank Gatestone Institute reveals that at least 500 churches have been shuttered in recent years, many converted to private homes or bars, while the city has seen the cropping up of 423 mosques, along with more than 80 sharia courts.
Last week Church Militant reported on the new Pew study predicting an Islamic overtake of what was once, for centuries, Christian Europe. In London, the societal change is rapid and is becoming increasingly visible. It can be seen from the name "Muhammed" becoming the most popular British baby name in 2012, to a doubling of the number of Britons converting to Islam, to the May 2016 election of Mayor Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city.
One Shia Muslim leader in the United Kingdom remarked in March, "I feel that London has more Islamic values than many of the Muslim countries put together."
The remarks were made at the Benedict XVI lecture, an "interfaith" gathering featuring the archbishop of Westminster, Cdl. Vincent Nichols. The same cardinal made remarks to the BBC in November that Britons could learn from "the vibrancy of the Muslim faith." Former Anglican archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has gone a step further, calling for "constructive accommodation" of Sharia law in the United Kingdom, which he also called "unavoidable."
A Pew Research poll recently showed that the United Kingdom is on track for a 59-percent Christian population by 2020, while a Lancaster University study showed that only 42 percent of British respondents identified as Christian at the beginning of last year. There is an abundance of data showing an abysmal trend towards collapse of the Church of England, to which one of the former archbishops of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has responded by remarking that Christianity in England is "one generation away from extinction."
What the poll did not parse in the data that was presented regarding predictions of the religious landscape of the world by 2050 is what is sometimes called "religiosity," i.e., the extent to which people strongly believe and actively practice their faith. Measures of religiosity include frequency of attendance of religious service and how respondents answer questions about how important religion is in their daily life. Regarding service attendance as a measure of religiosity, Muslim attendance at public prayer in the United Kingdom is forecast to surpass Catholic Mass attendance by 2020.
The number of Catholic adherents in the United Kingdom has dropped from 10 percent in 1983 to 8 percent in 2014, but the mild slope is owing largely to the influx of Catholic migrants from Africa and Eastern Europe, a trend that is not set to continue in coming years.
In every major city in England, Muslims make up sizeable portions of the population, from 15.8 percent in Manchester to 24.7 percent in Bradford. Unlike the United States, Islam in the United Kingdom is largely influenced by hardline schools of Islamic thought, which control the majority of mosques there.