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 religion

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