The results of the recent UK census make dismal reading for all Christians in this country. Not only has the number of people identifying themselves as Christian markedly declined over the last 10 years, so has the number of people getting married. Christianity is probably not on the point of extinction in this country – but if it were, this is what its terminal decline would look like. So there is no reason at all to be cheerful. The decline in marriage is particularly worrying: what would a country where marriage ceased to exist look like?
The Guardian, predictably, sounds cheerful about this increase in diversity, given, partly, one suspects, because “diversity” is, in our contemporary Newspeak, synonymous with all that is good and true. But its editorial has this to say:
Since the EU has become for the Tory party the symbol of everything that is wrong and strange about the world, it can be said that the census results, too, will increase hostility to it in the party. That is not just because some papers will predictably run on the increasing numbers of “foreigners” and “foreign-born” which the census reveals. The changing country that the census reveals is also a problem for conservatives in that it marks the disappearance of any kind of traditional English identity to which these foreigners could be assimilated.
Never mind the problems the conservatives may face, just look at that last sentence again. “The disappearance of any kind of traditional English identity” is surely not just a problem for conservatives, but for the rest of us as well.
The Guardian seems to think that we can get on without our traditional identity, and that its loss is not to be mourned. Well, perhaps there were aspects of the traditional identity that were not good, but the fact remains that a culture must have some sort of identity, something that unites us all. If we do not have shared and unspoken assumptions held in common, then this will mean endless arguments about practically everything, without some common standard to which we can all appeal to end the arguments.
The Americans have arguments, but they all end, if they continue long enough, at least in theory, in the Supreme Court, for all Americans love and revere their constitution. Here in Britain, a lack of a shared identity and shared assumptions is already apparent. That is why we are arguing over the nature of marriage and indeed sexuality per se; what was once a matter for agreement is now polarised. On one side stand those who believe marriage is as old as humanity and not to be interfered with; others think that “equality” (which is ill-defined) trumps all. But it goes further than this. We have a Conservative Prime Minister who thinks that conservatism means supporting gay marriage; and other conservatives who think the exact opposite. One thing is certain: the word conservative has now become meaningless, insofar as it can mean two opposite things at the same time.
So we need a national identity, if only to give us a sense of belonging and to save us all from this constant bickering. The Christain identity served us well. What will replace it? Something must, because we cannot continue like this, and nature abhors a vacuum. Unlike some, I do not think Islamification is on the cards; but something malign may well be round the corner, indeed, already here, and that is the dictatorship of relativism that Benedict XVI so presciently foresaw back in 2005. As he said then:
“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
This dictatorship of relativism will be nothing like the diversity so beloved of the Guardian. Indeed, such diversity is largely illusory. The only solution to this coming dictatorship is, of course, a return to faith and the realisation that we are not sovereign, God is. It is his world, not ours. But that seems a long way off. In the meantime, may God have mercy on us all, particularly those of us who get on the wrong side of the new dictators.