Just a short but heartening report from Humanists UK, which you can access by clicking on the screenshot below. (The pdf of the report—just an Excel file—can be downloaded here.) The take-home message is that the decline in religiosity in Britain is becoming precipitous, though Muslims, Jews, and Hindus, have increased—but not nearly enough to offset the decline in the majority faith of Christianity:
From the report:
The number of people in Britain who say they have no religion has increased by a staggering 46% over the past seven years, making non-religious people the fastest growing group in the country, according to new figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The data from the ONS, taken from the Annual Population Survey, show the number of non-religious people has increased by nearly a half since 2011 to 39%, with nearly 8 million more people now saying they have no religion.
. . . The results also showed a 15% decline in the number of people who say they are Christian (all denominations). People who said they were Muslim grew by 22%, Jewish 17% and Hindu 13%.
This continues the trend of secularization of the West, though Muslims are bucking that trend, both because they have a fair number of kids and also because of the opprobrium attending leaving the faith. The trend also parallels the finding in the US that “nones” (those who declare no formal religion, but can still believe in God or be “spiritual”) is the fastest-growing category of “faith”.
Humanists UK does note, however, that the question used to estimate religion is biased towards overestimating it, a conclusion that comes from a survey that asks a different—and more revealing—question:
But Humanists UK also raised concerns about the leading question used in the survey which asked ‘What is your religion?’ It has been advocating for the Census question and other survey questions on religion and belief to change to ‘What is your religion, if any?’, as the existing question tends to overestimate religious belief, acting as a measure of weak cultural ties rather than religious belief. The British Social Attitudes Survey, which uses a two-part question, estimates that 52% of British people have no religion.
Good news, I’d say, though Humanists UK still note the prevalence of faith schools (often state supported) and—something I didn’t know—”26 voting places for Church of England in Parliament.” SERIOUSLY?
I make my prediction again, though I won’t be around to test it: in 200 years religion will have largely disappeared from the West, church attendance will be minuscule, and the remaining religionists, including the Vatican, will be selling off their assets and scrabbling furiously to retain believers.