David Voas, Simon Research Fellow at the Cathy Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, University of Manchester, England & Abby Day, Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex, UK
There is probably no common understanding of the term “secular” among ordinary people, or even among scholars. Britain is formally a religious country in a way that many modern states are not, having (different) established churches in England and Scotland. There is also a willingness to countenance religious involvement in the machinery of government: the Church of England is represented by a number of its bishops in the upper house of Parliament, and in 2000 the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords even recommended that other religions should be represented as well, increasing the number of religious seats. The Labour government under Tony Blair did not accept the proposed extension of religious representation, but neither did it suggest eliminating the bishops.