British pass another milestone on the journey away from faith

Sep 7, 2017 by

by Madeleine Davies, Church Times:

TWO Church of England Bishops have responded with equanimity to the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, in which the percentage of people who describe themselves as “not religious” is at its highest since the survey began. Just 15 per cent identify with the C of E.

“Saying ‘no religion’ is not the same as a considered atheism,” the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said on Monday. “People’s minds, and hearts, remain open.”

The National Centre for Social Research publishes results of its BSA survey every year, including the answer to the question: “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion? If yes, which?” In 1983, 31 per cent of respondents answered “no religion”. In 2016, the figure was 53 per cent, according to data published on Monday.

The percentage associating themselves with the Church of England has fallen from 40 per cent to 15 per cent, having remained at 17 per cent in the past two years.

This survey, like its predecessors, suggests that religiosity has decreased through the generations. In 1986, the percentage of those who ticked the “no religion” box was 55 per cent among the 18-24s.

Those who were aged 18-24 in 1986 now fall into the 45-54 bracket. In 2016, this group remained as non-religious as before: 56 per cent ticked “no religion”. Of the new cohort of 18-to-24 year-olds, 71 per cent ticked “no religion” in 2016.

Affiliation to the C of E also increases according to age, from three per cent of those in the youngest age group to 40 per cent of those aged over 70.

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