University Chaplain says “church has made many mistakes” leading to dropping support with Christians

Written by on 9th December 2022

University of Sunderland’s Reverend Chris Howson spoke out believing the Church of England’s lack of progressiveness and forward thinking have caused a decrease in Christianity.

The Chair of Sunderland Interfaith and University Chaplain, Reverend Howson, believes inclusivity could be a problem causing the decline in Christianity. 

Reverend Howson, who is the associate priest at Sunderland Minster, said: “I think the church has made many mistakes and has lost people in their droves by being not progressive, not forward thinking enough. 

“I don’t think the Church of England feels like a very inclusive and forward thinking institution.”

The 2021 census showed that 46.2% of people identify as Christian.

The Chair of Sunderland Interfaith said: “Women were becoming priests and bishops, there was a movement in the idea that LGBT people would be able to have their partners in the church and there was a sense that things were moving forward. 

“That has all evaporated.”

Despite a decrease in Christianity, Reverend Howson remains positive and understanding: “If you supported Christianity but had a bad experience as a Christian I’m fine with people stepping away.”

Results from the survey showed a spike in religious diversity in England and Wales. Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam saw increases while 58 other religions were represented. 

“It’s great!” responded the University Chaplain, “My job is to encourage people to learn about Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Chirstianity, Buddhism, Paganism, etc. To learn about those things is really healthy to know.”  

The largest category to receive an increase, according to the census, was the no religion option, totalling a 12% increase. The percentage of individuals in England and Wales who identify with no religion stands at 37.2%. 

Religious diversity in households rose as well, 285,000 households have at minimum two religions represented, according to the census. 

Reverend Howson responded: “How good is that? I think it ought to be applauded.” 

The Sunderland Interfaith Chaplaincy Centre provides religious, spiritual and ethical support for students and staff who need it or are looking to explore these means. They also provide individuals with community resources, for example, contacts for places of worship. 

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