Faith in religion is dwindling, but when will British politics reflect that? | Polly Toynbee

The decline in belief shown by the latest British Attitudes Survey is not reflected in diminished religious influence

In these dark times the Enlightenment itself can seem in retreat. Fact-free emotion wins over reason and the hard-earned liberalism of centuries is thrown into reverse. Donald Trump and Boris Johnson succeed by flamboyantly disregarding truth. Gwyneth Paltrow disseminates Goopy nonsense, Jeremy Hunt dabbles with homeopathy, and mystical claptrap from crystals to hopi ear candles encroach on the domain of evidence-based medicine. The frightening rise of anti-vaxxers puts at risk the gigantic progress in disease control. Are we heading back to the dark ages?

No, is the answer. Breathe a sigh of relief. These strange irrational phenomena are only marginalia in the onward march of reason. The annual British Social Attitudes survey is the best mirror we have to show us an image of who we are, what we think and how we change over the decades since it began asking the same questions in 1983.

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