Earlier this week, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey warned that Christianity might be going extinct in the UK, maybe even in one generation’s time. This, Lord Carey said, is because the Church is failing to attract young people to its fold: “We have to give cogent reasons to young people why the Christian faith is relevant to them,” he said. Carey’s statement was echoed by another Anglican authority, the Archbishop of York, who said that the Church is too often focusing on “reorganising the structures, arguing over words and phrases” over evangelising. Such failings mean that the Church may be in danger of losing its “nationwide presence”.

Not everybody thinks that British Christians are on the brink of extinction. In fact, Cristina Odone suggests in the Telegraph that the exact opposite might be happening. Not only is Christianity not dying out, she says, but what we are witnessing are the first shoots of a “Christian Spring”. And why is this? Because believers are finally fighting their “secularist enemies” by uniting behind the faith’s new revolutionary front led by Pope Francis (who else?). “The extraordinary impact of Francis has been felt not only among his immediate audience – Italians, who are now retuning to Mass – but, incredibly, among the intelligentsia that is traditionally so sceptical of Christian values,” she writes. So, even the godless can’t resist the charms of the new Pope. Here in the UK, Christianity has almost as luminary a figurehead in Archbishop Justin Welby, who has “shown Christianity in a new light: inclusive, compassionate, and above all truthful.” To Odone, these men are now heading the Christian Spring, whose emergence is already visible in the backlash against the by-products of secularism: porn, bloated bankers and OTT celebrities.

Could it be that Odone has misunderstood the enemy against which Christians are supposed to rise against? It may come as a surprise to some, but secularists are not out to eliminate Christians. While some secular individuals certainly engage in such behaviour, secularism itself does not set out to mock believers “for holding dear their heritage and its immortal values” as Odone claims. Secularism - as often explained but still frequently forgotten - is not the same as atheism. In fact, take a look at our panel’s opinions on the topic and you’ll see that believers can be secularists, just as well as the faithless can doubt the concept. Therefore, there is no reason to think that secularists wish for “Christians to be driven back into the catacombs” – Christian secularists probably do not lobby for such a change of venue. Secularism only seeks to offer every belief (and non-belief) an equal footing in the public sphere. Yes, that means no communal Christian prayers before meetings, but it also excludes mandatory readings of God Is not Great.

What about Christianity’s new poster boys? The popularity of Pope Francis (and up to a certain level that of Welby) even among the non-religious can’t be denied. But their popularity doesn’t necessarily imply the end of secularism. Pope Francis’ non-judgemental attitude towards homosexuals and atheists, his interest in people’s real opinions on family, and attempts to undo the centuries of financial secrecy of the Papal state – aren’t these all ways to bring the Church closer to the people whose understanding of values such as tolerance, inclusivity and transparency no longer have a basis in biblical doctrines or priestly utterings? The same goes for Archbishop Welby: his support of women bishops and calls for the Church to repent over the treatment of homosexuals show that he knows that ancient doctrines are not applicable to today’s believers’ views. Secularism does not mandate any ideological changes for Churches, but to stay relevant these organisations need to appeal to the people whose values are increasingly formed in a secular environment.

Lastly, Odone’s suggestion that the “generous response” to the Philippines’ disaster is somehow a sign of the “Christian Spring” is plain odd. Christian relief organisations undoubtedly do wonderful work, but such statements seem slightly insulting to the many secular individuals and organisations also working to get aid to those affected by this catastrophe. No religion (especially only Christianity) owns the “immortal” values of charity, honesty, humility or love. These are human values, and secularism gives everyone space to hold them for their own reasons.