“The growth of religious diversity: Britain from 1945,” Gerald Parsons

Maruf Khwaja
14 September 2005

The growth of religious diversity: Britain from 1945

“The growth of religious diversity: Britain from 1945”
edited by Gerald Parsons
Routledge | December 1993 | ISBN 0415083265

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Recommended by Maruf Khwaja: “Several waves of religious curiosity have swept over Britain during the last two or three decades without disturbing too much its growing reputation for irreligiousness or at least lack of reverence for organized religion. What I looked for and couldn’t find until quite recently was a study on the growth of religious diversity in Britain.

Unknown to me the Open University, in tandem with Routledge, had produced precisely such a tome way back in 1993. It is a precise but concise study on the growth of “non-European” religions since immediately after the Second World War, whose end precipitated the first wave of what was originally commonwealth immigration that was to change the very nature, shape and probably the future of British society.

As a veteran of numerous operations in hospitals around the world, I usually hesitate before taking a book to a surgical ward (I am having my left knee replaced on Sunday). If you start reading before the operation, your concentration is diluted by apprehension about what is due to take place. Will you live to read the end? And if you put off the reading till later, maybe the drugs in you won’t even let you do it. But this is a book (like the superb Karen Armstrong and A. C. Grayling volumes) that has no real beginning, middle or end. You can take it up or leave off anywhere you wish.”

What the publisher says: “(This book) considers the significance of religion in post-war Britain, concentrating on the decline of the specifically ‘Christian society’ and the emergence of a culturally and religiously plural society. Three core questions are examined in depth: to what extent and in what ways has religion remained a significant factor in British culture and society in the period since 1945?, what role does religion play in interpreting and understanding the development of a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society in post-war Britain, and to what extent has Britain remained (or ceased to be) a ‘religious society’ during this period?

About the author: Gerald Parsons was Head of the Religious Studies Department at the Open University from 1996 to 1998. His other publications include Perspectives on Civil Religion (2002).

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