‘Dramatic decline’ in Britain’s Christian identity – shock report

The number of Christians in Britain has dramatically dropped over the past 36 years, while Atheists are steadily on the rise, a state-of-the-nation poll revealed.

As many as 3,879 people have been polled for the British Social Attitudes report last year, highlighting how Britain’s spiritual identity has been reshaped since 1983. Among those surveyed, only 38 percent of Britons described themselves as Christian, down from 50 percent in 2008, just 11 years ago.

This result is even more astonishing if compared to the one gathered in 1983, when this survey was first taken, with 66 percent of the Britons polled then describing themselves as Christian. On the other hand, the number of those identifying as Muslim has increased, going from one percent in 1983 to three percent in 2008 and 6 percent in 2018. 

But more than half of the people polled, 52 percent, describe themselves as non-religious, up from nearly 31 percent of those who in 1983 said they didn’t belong to any religion.

The decline of Christianity in Britain is even more “dramatic” because 2018 marks the first time the percentage of those describing themselves as Christian dropped below 40 since 1983.

The report by the National Centre for Social Research, published today, said: “The past two decades have seen international conflict involving religion and domestic religious organisations, putting themselves at odds with mainstream values.

“We find a dramatic decline in identification with Christian denominations, particularly the Church of England, a substantial increase in atheism and in self-description as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ non-religious but tolerance of religious difference.”  

The report also said the data gathered offered “compelling evidence that the process of secularisation continues unabated”.

As many as 11 percent of those surveyed who said they were religious said attended service at least once a week – a rate that has remained stable since 1998.

But 50 percent of the same group said they never pray, up from 41 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 1998.

However, the number of those who said pray “several times a day” is up from five percent in 1998 to eight percent. 

The report described the disaffection towards Christianity and religions in general is “generational”.

The report said: “Britain is becoming more secular, not because adults are losing their religion but because older people with an attachment to the Church of England and other Christian denominations are gradually being replaced in the population by unaffiliated younger people.

“To put it another way, religious decline in Britain is generational – people tend to be less religious than their parents, and on average their children are even less religious that they are.”

Almost two-thirds, 63 percent, agreed that religions bring more conflict than peace, while 13 percent disagreed.

The data also showed 51 percent of those polled “feel positive” towards Christians, compared to 30 percent for Muslims. 

Similarly, four percent of people have negative thoughts about Christians, compared to 17 percent of those saying they have negative thoughts about Muslims.

Responding to the findings, Andrew Copson, chief executive of non-religion charity Humanists UK, said: “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.

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As many as 6 percent of those polled said to be Muslim (Image: Getty Images

“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.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the National Secular Society, said the figures showed “the need for a serious rethink of the privileges granted to religion in Britain”.

He added: “Britain’s constitutional settlement and public policies should catch up with the opinions of its population.”   

The Church of England’s Director of Evangelism and Discipleship, Dave Male, said: “Times have changed and for many people ticking a box marked ‘Church of England’ or ‘Anglican’ is now an active choice and no longer an automatic response.

“In spite of this, the Church of England remains at the heart of communities with millions of people reached in their daily lives through our ministry and our message of the Good News of the gospel.

“Christmas attendance at Church of England services is at its highest level for more than a decade and the numbers attending church regularly rose in 2017.

“More than 33,000 social action projects are run or supported by Church of England churches including food banks, parent and toddler groups, holiday and lunch clubs.

“We are living in an era of rapid social change – but people are still searching for meaning and answers to life.

“Only this weekend, the General Synod heard that as many as 5,000 new congregations, mission communities and outreach initiatives have been set up in the past 15 years attracting a majority of people – 60 percent – who have not been churchgoers before.”

Written by: Alice Scarsi

First published 11.07.19: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1151679/christianity-news-christianity-at-risk-uk-religion

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