A Clear Majority in the UK are not religious

According to the latest Social Attitudes Survey, 53% in the UK are not religious, and rising to 71% in the 18-25 year group and the CofE is facing its own Armageddon as it heads towards total irrelevancy.
The annual Social Attitudes Survey has become very well respected as a measure of social attitudes in the UK. It is undertaken by NatCen – the National Centre for Social Research. It asks key questions every year, including one on religious belief, so we can see changes from year to year. It also ensures that the answer relates specifically to religion by first asking “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?”. This avoids a problem with the Census in that it simply asks people to choose their religion from a list and thereby invites people to associate with a social grouping (or worse still, register a vote against other groups). Thus the Census always reports an improbably higher level of religious belief than the Social Attitudes Survey.
The results published this year (the data is from 2016) show another significant move away from religion. Those reporting that they have no religion is now up to 53% of the overall population (58% in Scotland) – now a majority of the population, with the figure being 71% for the age range 18-24 years, which aligns well with the feedback from local schools, where RE teachers generally report around 70 to 80% non-belief. That younger age group will feed through to the next generation of parents and inevitably the progress will continue – we know that few actually change their religion as they go through life.
Of course, we need to understand what “No Religion” might mean to people in this context, and here your guess is as good as mine. I’d like to assume that this means Atheist, or even Humanist, but I’m not sure we can make that assumption – it may include people who have some general belief in an abstract deity, but isn’t a member of any recognised religion. However, religions like to claim those people as being religious because they may be “Spiritual” whatever that means, but the CofE has also started to claim that it is the natural home of Humanists (and even that it invented Humanism) but there is no reason we should take any of these claims seriously. Certainly there seems to be a general assumption in the press that people with no religious affiliation are therefore not religious, and that would follow given our experience with school children and the very low levels of belief in that age group.
If you use historic data to plot the trend since the survey started in 1983, those with ‘No Religion’ has grown from 31% to 53%. Roman Catholics are down from around 11% to 9% today, which is remarkable as we are importing it from Eastern Europe with immigration. “Other Religions” (Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism  etc) are up, but still under 10% and “Other Christian” denominations are also up very slightly at about 17%. The real crisis is with Anglicanism – the CofE is down from 40% to 15% over that time.
So, there are two key points in the data:
– “No Religion” exceeded “Total Christian” around 2009
– “No Religion” became the overall majority around 2015
So, where does this leave the politicians’ who frequently claim that the UK is a Christian Country?

Advertisements