THE number of Church of England (CofE) bishops in the unelected House of Lords should be cut to make room for other religious leaders, according to a report released yesterday.
Ceremonies and national events should be more “pluralistic” to reflect huge changes in British faith, the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life (Corab) also said.
This is to encompass the “striking” rise in the number of people who identify as atheist or agnostic — now almost half of the population, it added.
Corab vice-chairman Dr Ed Kessler said: “Society has changed beyond all recognition in two generations, but policy-making in this area has been piecemeal and haphazard.
“Public policy needs, as a matter of urgency, to be overhauled to be much more pluralistic and much more welcoming of difference.”
The report also said there had been a “general decline” in church affiliation — with just two fifths of people now saying they are Christian.
Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism have also overtaken Judaism as the largest non-Christian faiths in Britain.
Archbishops of Canterbury and York and bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the affront to democracy that is the House of Lords and there are another 21 seats for bishops based on their length of service.
The Electoral Reform Society has campaigned for fairer representation by calling the whole upper chamber into question by dubbing it a “retirement home.”
A Cof E spokesman rejected the report as using the “old-fashioned view that traditional religion is declining in importance and that non-adherence to a religion is the same as humanism or secularism.
“Most public opinion is strongly opposed to the marginalisation of Christianity.”