Despite the Church Of England being the official state religion, the amount of people in the UK who aren’t religious has risen.
That’s according to a new survey by the National Centre for Social Research.
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The survey found that 53 percent of Britons say that they are not religious at all.
This was based on a survey of 2,984 adults. A similar survey in 1983 found that only 34 percent of people in the UK said they weren’t religious.
A slightly differently-worded survey in 2009 found that 51 percent of Britons said they had no religion.
The difference being that this recent survey asked whether people are religious at all, the 2009 one asking whether they followed a religion at all. Simply put, this survey indicates 53 percent don’t believe in god while the former one suggests 51 percent don’t follow religion.
The trouble with these surveys is that there’s a huge divide between being an atheist and not being religious.
After all, just because you don’t follow say, Christianity, doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t believe in god or intelligent design. It’s a complex issue and pretty difficult to survey.
One thing is for sure though: irreligious people in the UK out-number those who attend organised religious services and ceremonies.
This has led some to question why faith has such representation in UK institutions.
Around 7,000 state schools out of the 20,000 or so in Britain are faith schools. Almost all (98 percent) of those schools teach Christianity. In addition, there are 26 places for bishops in the House Of Lords, a right established by ancient statutes.
On the other hand, contrary to popular belief, the church does not receive subsidies from the government.
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The church is considered a charity, therefore it does not pay taxes and can claim gift aid. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the church makes around £1billion every year in donations. But this isn’t profit.
The church is responsible for the upkeep of 45 percent of Britain’s listed buildings which takes a huge chunk out of their finances.
They also have to pay their staff and clergy members.
Finally, the church’s charitable givings are over £1bn a year. Yep, you read that right. The church gives out more money each year than it brings in.
The only way the church makes money is with a £5.5bn investment portfolio managed by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group. In fact, the Anglican church makes 60 percent of its earnings through gift aid and if it was forced to pay taxes it would cease to exist.
Other countries where the majority is irreligious
Of course, Britain isn’t the only country in the world where the majority of people don’t follow religion.
The largest survey on the matter took place in 2014. The WIN-Gallup International Association (WIN/GIA) Poll asked:
Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say that you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?
Of the 64 countries surveyed only 20 had a population where the majority did not consider themselves religious.
The figures below are the combined results of people who considered themselves ‘not a religious person’ and also so-called convinced atheists. This should give a picture of how popular organised religion is.
- China – 90 percent
- Sweden – 76 percent
- Czech Republic – 75 percent
- Hong Kong – 70 percent
- Netherlands – 66 percent
- Israel – 65 percent
- Japan – 62 percent
- Germany 59 percent
- Australia – 58 percent
- Switzerland – 58 percent
- South Korea – 55 percent
- Spain – 55 percent
- Austria – 54 percent
- Azerbaijan – 54 percent
- Canada – 54 percent
- Vietnam – 54 percent
- France – 53 percent
- Denmark – 52 percent
- Ireland – 51 percent
- Latvia – 50 percent
So there you go. It seems that religion is most unpopular in technologically advanced countries including those in Europe, Australia, and east Asia. The notable outlier is the US where only 39 percent considered themselves either not religious or convinced atheists.
Will religion ever make a comeback?
It’s hard to say. It’s been in decline for years but recently we’ve seen more prominent positions from hard line, fundamentalist sects of religions.