Universe Column for October 29th 2006
by David Alton
From time to time the Manchester-based Maranatha Community has issued a State of the Nation address. They pose the question whether a non-religious society is a happier and more fulfilled society than a religious one. Looking at some of the data you can see what they mean.
This is a snap-shot of contemporary Britain:
Children’s Lives Ruined:
* Over 60,000 children now live in care; 98% are admitted due to family breakdown, 800,000 children have no contact with their fathers;
* 32,465 children and young people are on child Protection registers
* 384,200 children in England alone are categorised as “in need.”
* According to the Children’s Society, 100,000 children run away from home each year.
* 1 in 3 (4.4 million) British children are living in poverty compared with 1 in 10 in 1979.
* Family Life In Tatters
* Divorce has doubled since 1971, from 80,000 to 157,000 p.a.
* The UK has the third highest divorce rate in Europe.
* 13% of divorces occur within 3 years of marriage
* Family breakdown is estimated to cost the economy £4 billion a year.
Dysfunctional Families :
* In the past 20 years there has been an increase from 12% to 41% of births outside marriage.
* Up to 40% of fathers lose contact with their children within two years of
The Destruction of Life
* There have been more than 6 million abortions in Britain since it was legalised in 1967.
* 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in abortion: 600 every day; 6 million in 40 years.
* Eugenic abortion is permitted up to an even during birth on a baby with a disability.
* More than a million human embryos have been destroyed or experimented upon.
* The cloning of human embryos for “therapeutic” purposes has been legalised
* Attempts are under way to follow Holland and Belgium by legalising euthanasia.
Loneliness, Despair and Suicide.
* More than 140,000 people attempt to commit suicide each year.
* Every day 4,000 children call Childline. Since it was founded in 1986 it has counselled over 1 million children.
* Last year the Samaritans answered 4.6million calls from people in despair – one every seven seconds.
* Suicide accounts for 20%of all deaths among young people aged 15-24
* Suicide rate among young people has doubled since 1985 and recent figures show further increases in France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain and Finland.
* The number of alcohol related diseases has more than doubled since 1980.
* Drink abuse is costing Britain £55 million a day.
* Children as young as 6 are being treated for alcohol abuse
Dependency on Drugs.
* The number of 11-15 year olds taking drugs in England has doubled since 1998.
* 1987: 26,000 drug offences 1998: 128,000 drug offences
* 15 million Britons admit to having used cannabis; 2-5 million are regular users.
* According to the BMJ “cannabis could kill 30,000 people a year”
* “It is quite worrying that we might end up in 10 or 20 years with our psychiatric hospitals filled with people who have problems with cannabis” –Prof.Hamid Ghodse, former President of the UN’s Narcotic Control Board.
* 2005: Scotland had 55,800 registered heroin addicts.
* 7.7 million ecstasy-type tablets were seized in one recent year alone.
* There are more than 900 organised gangs involved in the trade of heroin and cocaine in the UK.
* 2005: Just 3 drug dealers who were convicted had no record of violent crime.
* More than 160 babies were born addicted to purified cocaine during one recent twelve month period alone; and a study by the University of Manchester found that in the North West, 71 per cent of the region’s adolescents had been offered drugs over a twelve month period.
Crime And Disorder
* Offences involving firearms have doubled since 1997
* Gun crime in the UK claims 30 victims daily
* The average life span for people who get involved in gun crime in Manchester is 24 years.
* Prison population is up 85% since 1993. It’s now more than 77,000 and projected for 90,000 by 2010.
* 7,000 under 18s go through the juvenile prison system annually – a 50% increase since 1992.
* 1 in 10 doctors are physically assaulted by patients or their relatives each year.
* In one recent year 27% of people were victims of crime
* The Head of the Home Office Statistics Unit accepted that the true level of crime in the UK is around 60 million crimes a year.
….and the statistics go on and on. All of which takes us back to the question of whether deeply secular Britain can honestly say that it’s better off without God.