As the new census figures reveal the number of Christians in Britain has fallen by four million, I bet there are still some senior church figures scratching their heads and wondering why.
That dramatic fall in the number of Christians, from 72 per cent of the population to 59 per cent of the population, has occurred in the space of just ten years. But they’ve been ten crucial years.
During that time religion as a whole has had a pretty bad press – most of it self-inflicted. Small wonder 14.1m people, about a quarter of the population now don’t affiliate themselves with any kind of faith at all.
I’m not sure it is specifically the Church of England that’s at fault, but all faiths of all denominations. After all, we started the decade in question with the attacks on the twin towers by radical Muslims and ended it with continued controversy over paedophilia within the Catholic church.
Religion seems to complicate so many conflicts abroad, and at home domestic politics is just as divided along lines of faith.
Admittedly religious beliefs are often hijacked by extremists or merely tainted by a number of rogue individuals using their chosen belief as a smokescreen for illegal or immoral behaviour.
But not always. Often religion makes decisions on an institutional level which make them appear desperately out of date.
Only recently we’ve seen churches in uproar at the prospect of being forced to marry same-sex couples and we’ve simultaneously seen the government give in to their demands. And that comes on the tails of the Church of England voting against the creation of women bishops.
Misogyny and homophobia on clear display within the space of a few weeks - that’s quite an achievement by anyone’s standards.
And it isn’t lazy misogyny or lazy homophobia, it’s active. It’s taking assertive steps to prevent change, even when most of your average Brits consider it to be organic change. Which is ironic given the fact that more and more people are clearly having sex before they tie the knot, living together before marriage and increasingly having children out of wedlock.
In fact, according to the statistics out this week, the number of married people fell below 50 per cent and there were 400,000 more single parents and 504,000 extra cohabiting unmarried couples.
Yet this doesn’t quite attract the same level of religious disdain, does it?
Which makes Christianity’s world view seem very contradictory, very selective and, on the whole, very confusing.
Since 2001 churches of virtually every kind seem to have maintained the fixed-point-in-a-changing-world approach. They’ve either ignored change where it can be tolerated, or fought it where it’s judged beyond the pale.
Yet religious leaders will still be bemused as to why one in four Britons call themselves atheists. It should be patently obvious why.
And all the time, more liberal members of institutions lose their faith entirely or move away, leaving the core of whichever church they exit even more reactionary.
It’s a vicious circle which looks like breaking only when the majority of people in Britain lose faith in all faiths. And on the basis of the newly released census figures we are already well on our way.