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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Guardian has reported this, recently:

The secularisation of Britain has been thrown into sharp focus by new research showing that for every person brought up in a non-religious household who becomes a churchgoer, 26 people raised as Christians now identify as non-believers.

The study also shows that inner London is the most religious area of the country, mainly because of its large Muslim and migrant communities. The least religious areas are the south-east of England, Scotland and Wales. People identifying as non-religious are typically young, white and male – and increasingly working class….

It paints a picture of a Britain in which Christianity has seen a dramatic decline – although figures suggest a recent bottoming out in recent years. The avowedly non-religious – sometimes known as “nones” – now make up 48.6% of the British population. Anglicans account for 17.1%, Catholics 8.7%, other Christian denominations 17.2% and non-Christian religions 8.4%.

Between 1983 and 2015, the proportion of Britons who identify as Christian fell from 55% to 43%, while members of non-Christian religions – principally Muslims and Hindus – quadrupled….

Non-Christian religions have significantly higher retention levels; overall, only 2% of “nones” were raised in religious homes other than Christian. The “nonversion” rate was 14% for Jews, 10% for Muslims and Sikhs and 6% for Hindus. The picture is very different for people brought up as non-religious – 92% continue to identify as “nones” as adults. Conversely, the proportions of the non-religious who convert to a faith are small: 3% of “cradle nones” now identify as Anglicans, less than 0.5% convert to Catholicism, 2% join other Christian denominations and 2% convert to non-Christian faiths….

However, the study’s author goes on to mention that the market for nones might have reached saturation, with a stabilisation in the proportion of nones. Part of this comes down to growths in non-Christian religions (and something can be said for Islam with its strong memetic failsafes). As nominal Christianity has fled the scene, we are left with a hardcore remnant that is harder to shift.

There are some interesting comments regarding educational qualifications and religiosity:

Bullivant identifies a generational shift in terms of education and religious affiliation. Among older nones, a high proportion had degree-level education. But the nones’ above-average levels of higher education fade further down the age groups. Thus the non-religious have the lowest levels of degree-level education among 25- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds. (The proportion of graduates is highest among Catholics and the non-Christian religions, he notes.)

My first-hand experience is that religion simply does not play a major part in so many people’s lives here, unlike across the pond, and where people might have begrudgingly attended church out of nominal Christian duty in the old days, now they simply don’t bother. It is absolutely socially fine to admit to not believing. Indeed, these days, in the UK, you are deemed a little odd when you say you do believe.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...