UK Anglicans are in serious decline, say researchers

05 June 2015

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Decline: analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey has suggested that "generational displacement" is taking place: each generation is less religious than the next so as older generations die the overall population becomes less religious

Decline: analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey has suggested that "generational displacement" is taking place: each generation is less rel...

THE decline in the proportion of British people who identify as Anglican has accelerated in the past decade, new analysis from NatCen statisticians suggests.

The proportion who say they are Anglican in the British Social Attitudes survey has fallen from 40 per cent in 1983 to 17 per cent in 2014. In the past decade, the proportion has fallen by two-fifths: from 28 per cent in 2004.

The researchers say that the survey results suggest that the number of Anglicans has fallen by as many as 4.5 million over the past ten years, from about 13 million to 8.5 million.

The biggest group remains those who say they have no religion: 49 per cent, up from 43 per cent in 2004 and 31 per cent in 1983.

Other Christian denominations have remained stable over the past 30 years. Roman Catholics make up eight per cent of the sample, down from ten per cent in 1983. The "Other Christian" sector has remained static at 17 per cent.

The proportion who identify as Muslim has grown from about 0.5 per cent in 1983 to five per cent in 2014.

The 2014 survey consisted of 2878 interviews with a "representative, random sample of adults in Britain". Naomi Jones, head of social attitudes at NatCen Social Research, said: "One explanation for this might be that the numbers of Catholic and non-Christian people in Britain may have been supplemented by migrants with strong religious beliefs.

"Another explanation could be that, in the past, religion played a more prominent role in people's identity. We know from recent NatCen research that people are less likely than in previous years to see being Christian as an important component of being British.

"Therefore, fewer British people may feel that the Church of England is an important part of their identity nowadays."

A C of E spokesperson said: "The comprehensive 2011 Census showed that almost 60 per cent of people in the UK identified as Christian. The Church of England continues to be an active presence in every community, supporting foodbanks, debt-advice centres, clubs for children and young people, and many more activities along with regular Christian worship.

"The Church is currently consulting on a process of both renewal and reform led by the Archbishops which seeks to join in with the work of God in growing his Church."

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