The Variations in Religious Beliefs in the British Isles Today

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The Variations in Religious Beliefs in the British Isles Today

As Item A indicates there are considerable regional variations in
religious beliefs within the British Isles and between Great Britain
and the Irish Republic.

It has long been the case for example that church attendance in
N.Ireland has been much higher than other regions of the U.K. -
particularly England. This could be explained partially due to the
significance of fundamentalism and fundamentalist denominations (eg.
Free Presbyterian, Baptist etc.) in N.Ireland - which promote a
literal interpretation of the Bible and are strongly opposed to
liberal theological trends.

The influence of fundamentalist beliefs is particularly
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All of these factors should persuade us to interpret carefully and
flexibly any surveys which claim to measure religious beliefs.

Qst. (b) Examine some of the problems involved in measuring the extent
of religious beliefs and activity in modern society. (8mks).

Ans. One of the major debates in the sociology of religion of religion
has been concerned with the extent to which modern industrial
societies can be described as 'secular' - the extent to which religion
can be seen to be losing social significance. The major difficulty
with the secularisation thesis is that in the same way as there is no
widespread acceptance of what 'religious' means, so too there is no
general agreement over the term 'secularisation'.

How secularisation is defined and measured is of central importance in
any consideration of how far contemporary societies have undergone a
process of secularisation.

It might be argued that there are so many difficulties involved in
operationalising this concept that it is 'impossible to determine
whether or not religion is in decline'.

At its simplest, secularisation refers to the general process of

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