Opinion Former Article

Latest British Social Attitudes survey shows continuing rise of the non-religious

Britain has continued its long-term trend towards being less and less religious, with the number of people saying they belong to no religion growing from two in five (43%) to a more than half (52%) over the last decade.

That is the headline findings of the 2018 British Social Attitudes Survey, the results of which are published today. The survey, which offers a detailed look at the non-religious and religious beliefs of the British adult population for the first time since 2008, concludes that there is ‘compelling evidence that the process of secularisation continues unabated.’ Humanists UK, the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people, has welcomed the report findings.

The survey found that 52% of people belong to no religion, 12% are Anglicans, 7% are Catholics, 19% are some other type of Christian, and 9% belong to a non-Christian religion. The rise of the non-religious is largely attributed to generational change – and with just 1% of those aged 18-24 saying they belong to the Church of England, the trend looks set to continue.

It also finds two-thirds saying they never attend religious services, just 31% describing themselves as religious, half saying they never pray, and 44% expressing atheist or agnostic beliefs. 35% think religious organisations have too much power, with only 5% taking the opposite view. But, at the same time, tolerance of people holding different religions has gone up.

Responding to the findings, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: ‘For the third year in a row, the British Social Attitudes Survey – the gold standard in reliable data on our society – has shown a majority of Brits are non-religious. With these trends set to continue, policy-makers in every field from education, to constitutional law, to health and social care need to wake up to such dramatic social changes, particularly the rise of the non-religious and the decline of Christianity.’

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For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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