Religion is on the decline in Scotland. Research by the Scottish Household Survey shows only half of Scots today have any religious affiliation. The number of non-religious Scots has risen to 49.8 percent from 40 percent in 2009. The number of Scots who identified themselves with the Church of Scotland has dropped from 34 percent to 25 percent.
The Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, however, is not surprised about the decline. Rev. Dr. Richard Frazer, a minister at Greyfriars in Edinburgh, revealed that this decline in religious sentiments was something he always saw coming. He said this decline does not mean the people are no more spiritual. Rather, he believes people today simply do not want to follow an institutional way of life and are looking for more “open” ways to express their “spirituality.”
Rev. Dr. Frazer revealed the Church of Scotland had anticipated this change in spiritual needs from a long time. As such, the Church has already taken measures to adapt to the changing times. The Church leaders have taken up certain initiatives to cater to the spiritual needs of the modern people already. The main focus of their initiatives is to take the church and religion directly to the people, rather than keeping it concentrated in church structures alone. Reflecting on the study’s findings, he said the figures only give a partial picture of the whole story. He added that the initiatives the Church has taken are successful to a great extent, a fact that cannot be shown through numbers.
"Many of the initiatives of the Church of Scotland over recent years have sought to meet people where they are, rather than expecting everyone to come to the church," Rev. Dr. Frazer said. With the changing attitudes and needs of people, religion now serves them in the form of regular community activities.
"We have almost 1,400 congregations, and there are many where activities throughout the week are as much a part of church life as the activity of Sunday morning worship.
"In some cases there may even be more people affiliated to groups associated with the church than there are church members. These activities include everything from lunch clubs, mother and toddler groups, social enterprises and the organizing of professional support such as counseling and social care, offered to everyone, regardless of belief."
Not concerned with the research, Rev. Dr. Frazer said, “they will not diminish the social impact the Church of Scotland has in communities the length and breadth of the country."