Cal Thomas: Islam to Take Over UK

Conservative pundit Cal Thomas warns that Britain will soon be dominated by Islam:

According to “British Muslim Magazine” editor Sarah Joseph, by the year 2020 mosque attendance could surpass church attendance in Britain.

She says between 10,000 and 50,000 per year convert to Islam in England and that the country currently has 1.8 million Muslims.

And why is this?

One of the few things I learned in physics was that nature abhors a vacuum. So does the spirit world…In England, where only about two percent of the people bother to attend church, Islam is about to become the dominant faith…Unless it rediscovers the God of scripture, it will be powerless to defend itself against militant, fundamentalist Islam.

This is nonsense. First, the figures: 10,000 converts a year would be very impressive, let alone 50,000. Unfortunately, I do not have access to Sarah Joseph’s magazine (called Emel, by the way), so I can’t check either where she got her data from or even if she has been cited correctly. However, according to a site quoted on British Muslim website Revival:

There are perhaps 10,000 British converts to Islam, predominantly white, middle-class women.

That’s 10,000 in total, not 10,000 every year: a rather more credible figure. According to Nicole Borque, an academic expert in conversion to Islam in the UK (and, I suspect, someone Thomas didn’t even spend one minute looking for on the net, let alone contact):

I would estimate that there are probably around 200 converts to Islam in Glasgow alone, but that’s just a rough estimate. The data is difficult to acquire.

Besides, even if there is currently a rapid increase in conversions, that does not mean the rate will continue for the next fifteen years. As Charismatic Christians discovered in the 1980s and 1990s, there comes a point where most of those attracted to the movement will have joined, and conversion rates drop.

Now, to Thomas’s lack of any analytical ability: here are a few basic points he couldn’t even be bothered to raise:

  • Why are people converting to Islam? Some may be attracted to militant fundamentalism, but very many may well be converting nominally purely for marriage purposes. A number will have come via a New Agey interest in Sufism. There may be plenty of other private reasons (Borque has considered some of these). Most of these people will never become fundamentalists.
  • How many converts drop out? Many young people join religious or political movements, only to leave after a period of time – there are only three hundred Unification Church adherents in the UK, for instance.
  • How many members of ethnic minorities in the UK are, or have become, merely nominal Muslims? Converts may well be cancelled out by secularisation and nominalism within the established Muslim communities.
  • Why do so few people go to church? Nobody is stopping them. It seems that most people are happy with a nominal affiliation, encountering church only for weddings and funerals. There is no “spiritual vacuum” for most people. A small minority show an interest in other forms of spirituality, but most of them are more likely to turn to Eastern religions, the New Age or New Religious Movements than to Islam. Of the minority of the minority that does become interested in Islam, only some of them will choose militant forms, and most of them only temporarily.

In short, the idea that Britain is “powerless” against militant Islam is bunk. Most people simply are not interested in religion, and for those who are militant Islam is a less attractive option. But then, I suppose Thomas’s job is fear-mongering for his own purposes rather than writing serious articles.

UPDATE (2 April 2004):

Sarah Joseph has been kind enough to leave a comment in which she clarifies the statistics used in Emel:

Hello Richard Came across your website. I am Sarah Joseph as cited by Cal as cited by Gulf Daily News which seemed to go every where.

What I said was not as dramatic as quoted. The “Islam as dominant UK religion” was the headline given to a rather bland statement about Church/Mosque attendance – where I had cited figures taken from a Church study done in 2001)

The quote re 10,000 to 50,000 conversions every year is inaccurate. There are no numbers on conversion to Islam in Britain. There are “guess-timates” that there are currently between 10,000 and 50,000 people who have ALREADY coverted (I would go with the lower figure but the 2001 census confused us all by the number of people that ticked Muslim and White). There are probably about 1000 new converts per annum based upon Mosque statistics, but these are difficult to gauge.

So hope that helps clarify things – not as exciting I know!

Best wishes Sarah Joseph