Church of England worshippers increase 0.8 per cent since 2009
The number of non-religious people falls from 50.65% to 48.6%
Rise in Church of England worshippers likely due to resurgence in patriotism and pride in Christianity, a report has found
According to a new report, for every person brought up in a non-religious household who becomes a churchgoer, 26 people raised as Christians now identify as non-believers.
The study, which is based on an analysis of the British Social Attitudes Survey and the European Social Survey, reported that the proportion of non-religious in the UK hit a high of 50.6 per cent in 2009. However, it has been decreasing ever since and hit 48.6 per cent in 2015.
However, the proportion of those who identify as Church of England worshippers has seen a slight increased from 16.3 per cent in 2009 to 17.1 per cent in 2015.
The proportion of self-describing Anglicans in Britain has more than halved, from 40 per cent in 1983, down to 17 per cent in 2015.
It was suggested an increase in patriotism and Christian pride has accounted for the rise in Anglican numbers and a decrease of those identifying as non-religious.
The study also shows that inner London is the most religious area of the UK owing to its large Muslim and migrant communities. The south-east of England, Scotland and Wales has the least-religious demographics.
Those identifying as non-religious were typically young, white and male – and increasingly working class.
Speaking exclusively to Conatus News, secularist and councillor of the National Secular Society, Chris Moos, said,
“The fact that still only about half of the British population identify as nominally religious is a stark reminder that for the largest group of people living in the UK, religion and politics are separate matters. Given that even one in four members of the clergy of the Church of England support the severing of church and state relations, the achievement of secular equality, where no one receives advantage or disadvantage because of their beliefs, is now more pressing than ever.”
Between 1983 and 2015, the proportion of Britons who identify as Christian fell from 55% to 43%, while members of non-Christian religions – principally Muslims and Hindus – saw a fourfold increase.
The avowedly non-religious – sometimes known as “nones” – now make up 48.6% of the British population. Anglicans account for 17.1%, Catholics 8.7%, other Christian denominations 17.2% and non-Christian religions 8.4%.
Academics have said this could show the church is recovering after losing a lot of followers after the release of Richard Dawkins’s atheist publication The God Delusion in 2006.
“That book was really aimed at those people who said they were Anglican but didn’t really believe in God,” Professor Bullivant said.
“So a lot of them stopped ticking Anglican on the forms and started to tick atheist instead.”
Bullivant also said the decrease in numbers may have stopped because the church is now left with a groundswell of genuine believers – and efforts to attract new worshippers could be effective.