As well as this, attendance to religious events has declined in recent years for example, the number of young people who attend Sunday School has fallen from 55% in 1900 to just 4% in 2000 (Brierly ), however, this could be attributed to the expansion of the church in terms of holding more mid week events and therefore giving young people the chance to attend church youth groups on days other than Sundays.
Yet this does not explain the decline in church marriages6 and the decrease in those who are members of a religion7 and therefore it can be seen that secularisation is occurring at least in the UK and that this is therefore leading to a decline in the belief in Hell as, according to Wilson “the decline in organised religious participation indicates a way in which the churches are losing direct influence over the ideas and activities of man”
The views of post modernists such as Wilson can be logically concluded as seeing the decline in the belief in Hell as a good thing for society. According to those such as Wilson, the decline in the belief in Hell allows people to exercise their free will as they no longer feel afraid of eternal punishment for their wrongdoings. This consequently allows them to conduct their lives in the way that they want. However, this could then lead to a less integrated society and a breakdown of community.
This is due to the fact that if all exercise their free will, then it is unlikely that they will respect others wishes and thus they will become isolated, leading to an anarchical society. This is the view of Functionalists such as Talcott Parsons. They see the decline in Hell as the reason for the current increase in juvenile delinquency8 because a lack of belief in Hell induces a lack of fear of eternal punishment for their wrongdoings.
This therefore means that people lose the moral guidelines that are found in religion (as mentioned in the rationale) and so there is no reason for them to not exercise their free will. Due to this feeling that they may exercise their free will, young people in today’s society frequently break laws set out by the government and expect little or no punishment. This thus leads to the rise in juvenile delinquency that we see today and so it is important that a study is conducted into the effects people’s beliefs about Hell have on their lives so that it can be known whether the above views are correct.
New Right sociologists such as John Redwood also hold this view, but believe the link between the lack of belief in Hell and juvenile delinquency occurs differently. They believe that the lack of belief in Hell (coupled with an over-generous welfare system) led to the creation of 1960s values such as the condoning of cohabitation and homosexuality and the following of pop music which often glorifies shootings9 and other forms of juvenile delinquency.