With new beginnings often comes change. Whether the change is good or bad, well, that’s up to you to decide. But in one particular part of society over the last few years change has been inevitable. I’m talking about religion. Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism, nearly all religions have experienced some sort of change. Not only have individual religions changed, but religion in Britain as a whole has changed. Studies from British Religion In Numbers (a website that keeps tabs on Britain’s religions) found that since 1950 British religions have become more diverse, less formal, fewer attend a place of worship, fewer people are in a marriage and more say they don’t believe in a religion. This is a huge difference from the 18th and 19th centuries, when discrimination against atheists was common.
Christianity in Britain dominated from the Middle Ages and although it is still classed as a Christian country, change in the late 20th and 21st century mean that Britain now has a wonderful variety of all different religions.
A major change in the religious world is how women are viewed. Women used to be under the control of their husband or father because of the rules of society and religion. In the Christian community women are now allowed to have religious roles within the church. The first female priest was ordained in 1994, first consecration of female bishops permitted was in 2014 and the first female bishop in 2015.
In Hinduism, it was traditionally believed by some that women should never be independent. However, Hindu groups such as ISKCON and The Swaminarayan Hindu Mission treat both genders equally in religious and secular life.
In Buddhism, religious leaders made women eligible for admission into the Bhikkhuni Sangha – the Order of Nuns. “This opened new paths of culture, social services and opportunities for public life to women. It led implicitly to the credit of their importance to society, and in doing so enhanced the status of women.” Although not all religions have had major change, change can happen whenever. Hopefully, all religions change to become fairer, safer and happier.
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