Britain has reached new heights of secularization, with almost half of Britons now identifying as non-religious, a new study reveals.
According to ‘The “No Religion” Population of Britain’ report by Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, non-religious people, known as ‘nones’, account for 48.6 percent of Britain’s population.
Although there has been an overall trend towards secularization in Britain, the figures also show record numbers of people from non-Christian faiths, such as Islam and Hinduism.
The number of British people identifying as Christian dropped from 55 percent to 43 percent between 1983 and 2015. By contrast, non-Christian believers such as Muslims and Hindus quadrupled.
“The rise of the non-religious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century or so,” Bullivant said.
“Looking at the long-term pattern, the non-religious share of the population has shown strong growth over our whole period,” the report states.
“The year 2009 was the first in which nones outnumbered all Christians put together.
“With the single exception of 2011, this pattern has held ever after. In two years, 2009 and 2013, nones formed a majority of the adult British population.”
However, the research, carried out with data from the annual British Social Attitudes survey and the biennial European Social Survey, also highlights how the falling number of worshipers with the Church of England seems to have stabilized.
Bullivant said patriotism might be driving this trend, as Christianity and Englishness tend to be conflated.
“People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness. There has been more rhetoric around Britain being a Christian nation,” he said, according to the Times.
“I suspect a larger proportion of people who do say they are Anglican tend to be patriotic.”
In 1983, the number of Anglicans accounted for 40 percent of Britain’s population. This dropped to 16.3 percent in 2009 before it slid back up to 17.1 in 2015.
The research also shows a spike in the number of ‘nonverts’, namely people who have been brought up believing in a certain religion, but who have turned to be non-religious.
Most ‘nonverts’ – more than six in 10 – are Christians, mainly Anglican and Catholic.
According to the report, most ‘nones’ have been brought up in Christian households; overall, a mere 2 percent of ‘nones’ have been raised in non-Christian homes.
The rate of people converting to non-religion was recorded as 14 percent for Jews, 10 percent for Muslims and Sikhs, and 6 percent for Hindus.
Bullivant pointed out how non-religion has stopped being an exclusive middle-class feature.
“It used to be middle-class people, who had gone to university, who were more likely to step out of their parents’ religiosity,” he said, as cited in the Guardian.
“As having no religion has become the norm, vast swaths of working-class people are now also identifying as nones.”