Prince Charles has announced that he plans to change his title if and when he becomes King of England. His mother was crowned in 1953 as “Defender of the Faith.” Charles prefers the title, “Defender of Faith” or “Defender of the Faiths.” If so designated, he would be the first British monarch not to be the standard-bearer for Protestantism in his countrysince Henry VIII broke from Rome in 1530.
Why does Charles want to make such an historic change? Because Christianity has declined in the UK to 69 percent of the population, while those with no religion now make up 22 percent of the population. If these trends continue, the number of people with no religion will surpass the number of Christians in Great Britain in 20 years. In addition, the number of Muslims in the UK has grown by 37 percent, the Hindu population by 43 percent, and the Buddhist population by 74 percent.
Could such a trend occur in America? Is it already happening here?
For the first time, Gallup finds that a majority of Americans, 52 percent, believe the government should not favor any set of values in society. Eighteen years ago, 52 percent said the government should favor traditional values. Only 44 percent agree with that sentiment today.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s father is in the news after he and his son wrote a book called Our Sarah: Made in Alaska. Chuck Heath Sr. told an interviewer about his faith: “My God is a God of the mountains, a God of the streams, a God of the forest. Same God. Same God that you have. But, I worship in a different way. I pray. But I pray to the God of the mountains.” The interviewer replied, “But you don’t like all that, religiosity. That religion stuff.” Chuck Heath Sr.: “Yeah. Basically. You said it very well.”
G. K. Chesterton noted in 1924, “The nineteenth century decided to have no religious authority. The twentieth century seems disposed to have any religious authority.” Now the twenty-first century is choosing to be its own religious authority.
Here’s the good news: the darkness of our fallen culture cannot defeat the light of our risen King. The Bible calls Jesus “the light of mankind” and states, “The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out” (John 1:5, Phillips translation). The darker the room, the more visible the candle. That’s why Jesus instructs us to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).
Because there’s still a “God-shaped emptiness” in every human heart, the people you see today will respond to the God they see in you.
Dr. Denison’s cultural commentary originally appeared at http://www.denisonforum.org. It has been reposted here with permission of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture.