The Office for National Statistics recently released figures showing that in 2011 there were 247,890 weddings in England and Wales, a 1.7% rise from the previous year. Of these, 174,600 were civil ceremonies (5.4% increase) while religious weddings fell from 78,128 in 2010 to 73,290 in 2011.

70% of all weddings are now civil ceremonies and the proportion taking place in licensed venues is increasing year on year as enthusiasm for religion dwindles. The National Secular Society argues for a complete overall of the laws concerning marriage by requiring a first and separate civil ceremony in all cases followed by an optional blessing from a religious organisation. This sensible proposal which separates church from State already exists in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey. Here civil marriages performed by a national civil authority are the only legally recognised ceremonies. Married couples are then free to organise religious ceremonies on the same day or a separate day.

The IPSOS MORI poll of the 25 June 2013 shows that 55% of people in the UK support equal marriage but the House of Lords has just submitted a number of wrecking amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, many of which are rooted in Christian tradition. None of this looks very attractive in a civilised secular society and separating the church from the |State would seem to be the answer.