Number of non-believers in Britain reaches record high, poll reveals

(Wikimedia Commons/Kai Hendry)The Canterbury Cathedral is featured here in this image.

The number of non-believers in Britain has reached its highest level, with more than half of the population describing themselves as having "no religion."

The British Social Attitudes Survey, conducted by the National Centre for Social Research last year, has found that 53 percent of respondents identified themselves as having "no religion," and only 15 percent said they belong to the Church of England. Those identifying themselves as Anglicans have halved in number since the year 2000, when 30 percent said they belong to the nation's church.

Among those aged 18 to 24, only three percent said they belong to the Church of England, compared to 40 percent of those aged 75 and over.

The number of those who identify themselves as Catholics have remained stable at around one in 10 in the past 30 years. The proportion of Christians belonging to Pentecostal and Methodist groups have also stayed the same at 17 percent.

Overall, the proportion of non-Christians have jumped from two to six percent, according to The Telegraph. Half of the respondents who belonged to other faiths were Muslims, a third were Hindu, followed by a smaller number of Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists and other groups.

Humanists U.K. chief executive Andrew Copson said that the findings were proof that the Church was experiencing an "ongoing and probably irreversible collapse in adherents."

"It is long overdue that the Government woke up to the demographic reality of today's Britain and recognises that ever-increasing state funding for religion, and public emphasis on the activities of religious groups, is the reverse of what the public wants," he said.

The number of believers among older demographics have also shown a significant decrease, with half of those aged 55 to 64 saying they had no religion.

When the British Social Attitudes Survey was first conducted in 1983, 31 percent of the respondents said they had no religion. At the time, 40 percent of the population said they belong to the Church of England. More than two-thirds identified themselves as Christian, but the figure has now fallen to 41 percent.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. Paul Bayes, said God and the Church "remains relevant," adding that saying "no religion" is not the same as a considered atheism. He maintained that people would recognize the point of faith when they see the difference it makes.

"We need to keep finding ways to show and tell those who say they have 'no religion' that faith - faith in the God who loves them still - can make that life-transforming difference for them and for the world," he said, as reported by BBC.

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