HALF of the British public regard themselves as having “no religion”, while just one in five now has an affliation to the Church of England, the results of the latest survey by British Social Attitudes (BSA) suggest.
The BSA conducts about 3000 interviews each year with a representative sample of the British population. A total of 20 per cent of those surveyed said that they belonged to the Church of England — half the total of almost three decades ago, when the BSA statistics were first compiled in 1983 by the National Centre for Social Research.
More than half the respondents who said that they were brought up in a religion said that they never attended religious services, while 14 per cent said that they did. A total of nine per cent of respondents said that they belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, compared with ten per cent in 1983.
The survey found that more women than men were religious, and, of these, more women attended religious meetings (35 per cent compared with 25 per cent of men), while the political affiliation of people with faith was evenly split among the three main parties.
The report said that the decline in religious affiliation was largely due to the falling numbers in the C of E, which had halved since 1983, compared with other denominations, which had remained relatively stable.
It suggested that the decline had primarily been brought about by younger generations’ non-participation in religious activities, and concluded that the ongoing decline was likely to continue.
The effect of this, the report concluded, was likely to be “a continued increase in liberal attitudes towards a range of issues such as abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia”.
This could lead to a reluctance among young people in the future to allow “matters of faith to enter the social and public spheres”, meaning that the Government’s desire to “do” God could alienate certain sections of the population.