Over half of Britons have no religion

Britons religion godless society National Centre Social Research

The proportion of people in Britain who describe themselves as having no religion is at its highest ever level according to a new survey.

The National Centre for Social Research shows Britain is becoming an increasingly godless society, as the proportion of non-believers is at a record high of 53 per cent. The 2016 research shows this is up from 48 per cent in 2015.

The proportion of nonbelievers has increased since the survey started in 1983, when the proportion saying they had no religion stood at 31 per cent.

The proportion of people describing themselves as Catholic has remained relatively stable, at around one in ten, over the past 30 years, while just 15 per cent of people in Britain consider themselves Anglican, half the proportion who said this in 2000.

Those reporting they belong to non-Christian religions account for six per cent. The data, drawn from 2,942 interviews with a random sample of adults, showed that 17 per cent belonged to other Christian denominations.

Driven by young people

The fall in religious affiliation has been driven, at least in part, by young people. In 2016, seven in ten of those aged 18-24 said they had no religion, up from 62 per cent in 2015.

There has been a decline in religious affiliation among all age groups between 2015 and 2016, but among the oldest people, those with no religion are in the minority.

Four in ten people aged 65-74 say they have no religion and this drops to 27 per cent for those aged 75 and over.

And when it comes to the Church of England, young people are particularly underrepresented. Just three per cent of those aged 18-24 described themselves as Anglican, compared to 40 per cent of those aged 75 and over.

Pause for thought

Roger Harding, Head of Public Attitudes at the National Centre for Social Research, said: “The falls in those belonging to the Church of England are the most notable, but these figures should cause all religious leaders to pause for thought.

“We know from the British Social Attitudes survey that religious people are becoming more socially liberal on issues like same sex relationships and abortion.

“With falling numbers some faith leaders might wonder whether they should be doing more to take their congregation’s lead on adapting to how society is changing.”

So much power

Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson questioned how the Anglican Church could still hold so much power in the country with its dwindling membership.

“How can it be right that 97 per cent of young people today are not Anglicans, but some 20 per cent of the state schools to which their children will go belong to the Church of England?” he asked.

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