Posts Tagged ‘university chaplaincy’


I moved to Newman House last week, and I haven’t had a chance to post since then. It’s great to be here after all the anticipation of the summer. Things are pretty quiet, in the sense that most of the students have not arrived for the new academic year yet. There is a handful of medics (those who have begun their clinical training start at the beginning of September), departing students from last year, and summer guests. The rush of the new year begins properly in about two weeks.


It’s a fascinating part of London to live in. Euston and Regents Park to the north; Bloomsbury, the British Museum and all the university colleges to the east; the hubbub of Covent Garden, Soho and the West End directly to the south; and the high energy of Tottenham Court Road (and the restaurants of Charlotte Street) to the west. I’m having great fun exploring the local streets, working out where to get my hair cut, where to post a letter, which cafe is good for reading or meeting or surfing the net.

And above all, I’m beginning to get my head and heart round what it means to be involved in university chaplaincy. I’ll report back in a few months…


The local landmark is the BT Tower. Not a pretty building, but one that seems to hold its place in the affections of Londoners, if for no other reason than that in its Dalek-like way it has always been there (i.e. been there for most of our lives). You can see the top of the tower from my bedroom window. (The photo is from the street round the corner). Now I get a thrill whenever I see it from some distant part of London and think ‘that’s my home!’


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As I think about starting my new work in university chaplaincy, I’m even more interested than I was before about what it’s like to be a young person in the UK today, what questions young people have, and what they do or don’t believe.

So I was drawn to the headline on the YouGov site: ‘British Youth Reject Religion’. I’ll copy the main points below and you can come to your own conclusions:

Religious figures have the least influence on the lives of young Britons – and more say religion is a force for evil than a force for good

In the 2011 Census, 59% of the population described themselves as Christian and only a quarter reported having no religion. But a new poll of young people for the Sun by YouGov finds that the place of religion in the lives of young Britons is smaller than ever.

YouGov asked 18-24 year olds which figures have influence on their lives, and religious leaders came out on bottom: only 12% feel influenced by them, which is far less than even politicians (38%), brands (32%) and celebrities (21%).


The reputation of religion amongst young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% agree that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.

When asked if they believe in God, only 25% say they do. 19% believe in some non-Godlike “spiritual greater power” and a further 38% believe in no God or spiritual power whatsoever.


Amongst believers, the most represented denominations are Church of England (13%), then Roman Catholic (9%) and Muslim (4%).

The low influence of religious leaders doesn’t surprise me, because so few young people have real human contact with them. But I’m really taken aback by the 41% agreeing that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world”.

You can see the full results here.

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