Is the UK becoming atheist? The findings of a recent survey seem to suggest so
Nearly half the adults questioned in the most recent British Social Attitudes Survey said they had ‘no religion’, up from 31 per cent in 1983 and 43 per cent a decade ago. The figure now stands at 49 per cent.
The survey, carried out every year since 1983, asked around 3,000 adults in the UK their views on health, politics, current affairs, and religion.
The Office for National Statistics 2011 data reveals that 14.1 million people – about a quarter of the population in England and Wales – reported having no religion.
ONS figures show that between 2001 and 2011 there has been a drop in the number of people identifying as Christian, from 71.7 per cent down to 59.3 per cent, and an increase in those reporting no religion, from 14.8 per cent to 25.1 per cent.
The survey also revealed a dramatic fall in membership for the Church of England. Those answering to ‘Anglican’ have fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. Survey researchers suggest the number of Anglicans in Britain may have fallen by 4.5 million over the last ten years, from around 13 million to about 8.5 million.
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is reported to have said that the Church of England is one generation away from extinction.
In the name of being modern and pastoral, the relaxing of traditional Christian teaching and practice on issues like divorce, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, married clergy, female vicars, and most recently female bishops, appears to have done nothing to stem the tide.
Whether the question is about religious affiliation, practice, or belief, the situation is not looking good for those concerned with maintaining a Christian and natural law based society.
Meanwhile, a steering group within the Church of England is raising the issue of whether official liturgical books should be revised, so that God be referred to as ‘she’ and ‘mother’. Deck-chairs on the Titanic?