Census: Number of Christians in England and Wales down

34

Richard Dawkins will be interviewed today at 4:10pm London time on Radio 5 Live

He will also be on BBC Radio Wales tomorrow (time tba)

He was also on Sky News at 1:50pm London time. Please add your comments here if you watched that


The Christian population of England and Wales has fallen by four million to 33.2 million in the past decade, the 2011 census reveals.

It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, says English cathedral congregations have grown in recent years.

The number of people describing themselves as having no religion rose from 15% to 25% of the population.

The British Humanist Association said it was a “significant cultural shift.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “The overall decrease in the number of self-identifying Christians is consistent with recent social attitude and social value surveys.

“While this is a challenge, the fact that six out of 10 people in England and Wales self-identify as Christians is not discouraging. Christianity is no longer a religion of culture but a religion of decision and commitment. People are making a positive choice in self-identifying as Christians.”

. . . (BBC source)

2011 Census: Key Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011

Coverage: England and Wales

Date: 11 December 2012

Geographical Area: Local Authority and County

Theme: Population

Theme: People and Places

Theme: Labour Market

Key points

• The resident population of England and Wales on 27 March 2011 was 56.1 million, a seven per

cent (3.7 million) increase since 2001 with 55 per cent (2.1 million) of this increase being due to

migration. One in six people were aged 65 or over (16 per cent, 9.2 million).
. . .
link to full source

 

RDFRS UK/Ipsos MORI Poll #1: How religious are UK Christians?

(13 Feb 2012)

We are posting below the text of the first of two Press Releases that have been issued by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) today, revealing the results from a major national survey of the religious and social attitudes of UK Christians.

RDFRS UK commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out the research in the week immediately following the 2011 UK Census. It explored in depth the extent to which adults recorded as Christian in the 2011 UK Census (or who would have been recorded as Christian, if they had answered the question) believe, know about, practise and are influenced by Christianity, as well as their reasons for having described themselves as Christian in the Census.
. . .
link to full source

 

RDFRS UK/Ipsos MORI Poll #2: UK Christians oppose special influence for religion in public policy

We are posting below the text of the second of two Press Releases that have been issued by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) today, revealing the results from a major national survey of the religious and social attitudes of UK Christians.

RDFRS UK commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out the research in the week immediately following the 2011 UK Census. It explored in depth the extent to which adults recorded as Christian in the 2011 UK Census (or who would have been recorded as Christian, if they had answered the question) believe, know about, practise and are influenced by Christianity, as well as their reasons for having described themselves as Christian in the Census.
. . .
link to full source

Written By: BBC, Office for National Statistics (UK), RDFRS (Ipsos Mori posts)
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

34 COMMENTS

  1. Great news.
    Now people need to realise the difference between cultural christians and practicing christians and that the latter are considerably fewer than the former.
    Next step – bishops out of the House of Lords.

  2. Today I read the following comment on another blog (and no, it wasn’t written by me under another name):

    “Statistics can be interpreted in lots of different ways. The BBC chose to report these results as a fall in the number of Christians. They can also be used to argue that people who see themselves as Christians are very much in the majority.

    They do show that those who see themselves as Christians significantly outnumber those who see themselves as non-religious. When the BHA tries to ignore this fact by saying only about 6 million go to church regularly, they never follow up with their total membership of less than 28,000. I do get hacked off by the BHA saying, on the one hand that they want to be guided by an evidence based, empirical approach to life and then try to make out that Christianity is a minority interest compared to secular humanism. If they were honest they should say “the majority see themselves as Christians, and active churchgoers significantly outnumber signed up secular humanists”. Because that’s what the statistics indicate.

    On a different tack, are there any other significant statistics on identity which could claim 59% or more of the UK population? White/British certainly would be greater, but you don’t have much choice on that. Are there any markers of identity that we can choose for ourselves that score higher than 59%? With politics, if a political party gets around 45% of those who turn out to vote they consider it a major victory. Why should the BBC report so pessimistically on 59% identifying themselves as Christian?” (From: http://forum.ship-of-fools.com

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    A bit more honesty and logical consistency is required from the ‘non-religious’ when interpreting these statistics.

  3. If we are looking at earlier polls and figures, I suppose we need this one  – and our discussion of it! :-

      http://old.richarddawkins.net/… – Today, a quarter of a century on, there has been a steady and remarkable turnaround. In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion. Admittedly, some other surveys – including the last census – have produced different findings on these issues, usually to the
    advantage of the religious option.

  4. So the general population has gone up, and the number of Christians has gone down. OK still over 1/2 of the population, but the  no religion category  is the 2nd largest group at 5m, and has increased since the last Census.  Whatever way you interpret the data, it seems woo is on the fast train out of town!  Chatenooga woo woo!

    And remember the results of the IPSOS MORI poll.  Most of these so-called Christians don’t even know what their religion stands for!

  5. The reason why 59% of the UK population identifies itself as Christian is largely to do with their cultural background. For example, almost everyone who has been to school in the UK will have been forced to partake in regular worship of a broadly Christian character, by law, right through their childhood. We also have a national Christian church, with representatives permantly given seats in parliament. It’s quite amazing under these kind of circumstances that are forced upon all of us throughout our lives that over 40% of the population manage to disassociate themselves completely from Christianity.

    However you want to look at it, one thing is undeniable: there is a massive trend towards atheism and away from Christianity in the British population.

    I really don’t know where this figure of 6 million regular church goers comes from. That must include Muslims and other faiths too. I don’t know anyone who regularly goes to church, but then I am lucky enough to live in Norwich, the least religious place in the country – YAY!!!

  6. The down hill trend is welcome news, however what are the implications?  What if the xtians for example were not becoming secular or atheists but turning to more radical religious belief? 

    If they are becoming more secular does that pave the way for the decline in religious privilege? Or does it leave growing space for the spread of something more pernicous like islam? 

    An interesting study would be the movement among religions.  The bigots who were unhappy with the weak tea and sponge brigade’s views on women clergy moved to catholicism.  I have come across ex catholics and even jesuit priests who now roam around as JWs and Born Again Xtians. 

    The stats don’t really give us a full picture of what is going on

    I’d like to see more stats on what is happening in schools that might give us a longer term idea.

  7. The number of stamp collectors far outweighs the number of people who joined the “I Don’t collect stamps” association too.  Should we then draw conclusions about the popularity of stamp collecting ?  (Gets firm grip on pun control device, leaves Johnny-come-philately for others).

  8. Posted by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

    However you want to look at it, one thing is undeniable: there is a massive trend towards atheism and away from Christianity in the British population.

    Well, of course, that depends how you define ‘atheism’, which can mean the following:

    1) anti-theism
    2) apathetic non-hostile atheism (non-theism)
    3) open minded (not hostile to religion) agnosticism

    and probably a few other definitions as well…

    If the Christianity stats are being treated with scepticism on the basis that most of the 59% are not committed Christians, then honesty demands that the non-religion figures be subject to the same interpretation.  In other words, many people will say that they are not religious, but that does not at all mean that they are committed to some kind of atheist movement or agenda or are perhaps hostile to religion.  In fact, many of them could actually believe in God, but they steer clear of institutional religion.

    All sides are spinning these figures.  I prefer just to take them at face value: the majority of people in the UK identify with Christianity, while I also acknowledge that, for whatever reason, this figure has dramatically decreased in the last decade.  That is really all we can say short of conducting in-depth interviews with every member of the population!

  9. Well done Richard Dawkins. Just listened to the Radio 5 Live interview.
    I always like to listen/watch RD being interviewed by the media.
    RD has the ability to expose their negativity and yet still manages to get his points across with composure.
    Probably because RD tells the truth and the media likes to twist the truth.
    Had noticed how RD doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
    “Faith is on its way out”,”Christianity is declining”.Good to hear you say these key sentences.

  10. If the trend continues, I calculate it will take 13.625 years before the number of xtians equals the number of non-religious.

    Given the MORI poll RDFRS did at the time of the census we know that the census self-labelling as “Christian” is very loose anyway.

    In the UK, they are f**ked. Hurray!

  11. just like when the cowardly lion of The Wizard of Oz said- I do believe, I do believe, I do I do I do…
    If you promise someone good things if they believe some silly crap, they’ll hold on to those beliefs for a long time.
    I wonder how long people would hold onto a belief they were presented if it promised them misery and bad things? :)

  12.  

    paulmcuk
    I think a lot of people just tick one of the christian boxes because they were christened.

    There are certainly some who never go to church or care about Xtianity who did that – including some members of my family!

  13.  

    alaskansee
    In a recent poll 100% of children waiting for chirstmas presents identified themselves as culturally christian.

    ….. . . .. . with a high percentage of cultural Santa-ists!

  14. Great to see the “Daily Hate” give their take on this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new

    Note the REALLY scary pics of RD and the Hitch….

    Cant wait to see the Scottish figures when they come out.”Scotland has secularised faster than any nation in history” wrote a certain apologist a few months ago.

    Good. The tighter the chains, the greater the cry of “Freedom!” when they come off.

    SG

  15. SG:

    Good. The tighter the chains, the greater the cry of “Freedom!” when they come off.

    Could that be described as a “Wee’re Free!” moment?  Kind of ‘Wee Flea’  Davie Robertson on the road to Dalkeith, conversion type moment?

  16. Mr DArcy, “Road to Dalkeith” Hah! Like it! Actually it was Wee Flea Robertson who made that comment about secularisation. 

    Problem is however, its all very well for christianity to be in decline. But if there is an increase in Islam at the same time, then the net sum of faith-headedness might not change much.

    And if its wishy washy liberal christianity that is declining (the relatively harmless “More tea Vicar?” type) and what is left is hard core fundagelicalism, then if the liberal hole is then replaced by a rising tide of Islam, its not going to be too pretty

    On one side YEC charismatic homophobes. On the other the Allahu Akhbar brigade. Even if the sum total of both these groups is relatively low, its still a dangerous polarisation within the general Abrahamic faith-head continuum.

    Widespread secularism is still a long way off IMO.

    SG

  17.  

    In fact, many of them could actually believe in God, but they steer clear of institutional religion.

    Let’s pray for the day that that all believers steer clear of institutional religion.

  18. The Christian population of England and Wales has fallen by four million to 33.2 million in the past decade, the 2011 census reveals. It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, says English cathedral congregations have grown in recent years.

    I suppose it’s quite possible that cathedral congregations might have grown because church congregations overall have dramatically declined, and the remaining faithful are consolidating in a central venue where there is still some kind of atmosphere.

  19. The down hill trend is welcome news, however what are the implications?  What if the xtians for example were not becoming secular or atheists but turning to more radical religious belief?

    Well, although the Muslim category showed some growth, the rise of the No Religon category eclipsed it, indicating the overall trend is more towards secularity than away from it.
     Or are you worried about some kind of distillation effect?  That moderates evaporating away from the christian identity just increases the concentration of fundamental radicals among the residue, making it more corrosive?

  20. Great interactive maps….

    My take on info gleamed from the maps….

    Jews are most consistent…  Well done Jews!!  A+

    White people will tolerate anybody but not Black people and vice versa .. What is the story here, why can’t you people get along??  You guys are like the Arabs and the Jews (two siblings fighting each other!!)..  ;-)

  21. Hi voiceofarabi,

    You are extrapolating too far from the data, and you appear to have been overly influenced by the style of presentation.

    While I would be the last to say that there are no social issues in Britain centred on race and ethnic origins (the current riots in Northern Ireland and the looting and rioting of the Summer of 2011 being obvious examples), these are extreme and rare moments compared to the peace that rules for the vast majority of the time.

    The fact that people label themselves, and then group themselves together according to those labels, is so common – and so obviously self-selected – that it is not really worth the effort to address the phenomenon.

    Do not equate any such groupings in Britain with the segregation you may see in other countries.  Visitors to Britain from the US often comment on how difficult it is to see how areas with peoples of differing income level, race, ethnic background, etc. flow together – even in cities.  This is surprising given the US reputation as a generally liberal country.

    There are no true ghettos in Britain.  Formerly living in one area of the country is no barrier to moving somewhere else, nor is your home address an automatic label that will deter any but the most out-of-touch-with-reality employer.  Education, while falling in quality in recent decades and short of funds, is universal and accessible.  Social mobility is restricted by lack of opportunity – just as it is in all countries – but it is still easy (relative even to most European countries) for those starting at a disadvantage to freely enter a profession, start a business, or enter politics.

    The standing Commission on equality still has much work to do.  While I suspect it is not very effective, at least there is an active part of Government that is working on improving equality.

    Social mixing is also very common.  The number of people in Britain who claim some form of mixed ethnic heritage is probably second only to the US.  As far as I am aware only some Muslims have effective social policies that actively resist integration (to the extent that arranged marriages and marriages between cousins are far more common among Muslims).

    I have made many friends of different ethnic and cultural background.  I travel to their homes, and they to mine – and such goings on are considered unremarkable, normal.

    I may be in danger of painting too rosy a picture, but I’m looking at this in the context of ethnic strife in other parts of the World.  Britain is not some earthly paradise, but it is a very friendly place compared to most others.

    The price of freedom from totalitarianism and the price of freedom from ethnic conflict are the same: Eternal vigilance.

    Peace.

  22. According to the map… if you jump in your car and drive in
    a westerly direction, you will not find many Black people once you pass Dorset!!   And that’s not the only area that’s like
    that!!..  I am just saying!!

    “Peace” literally translates to “Salam” in Arabic… are you
    sure you are not Arab??  ;-)

  23.  
    Jumped Up Chimpanzee –
      I suppose it’s quite possible that cathedral congregations might have grown because church congregations overall have dramatically declined, and the remaining faithful are consolidating in a central venue where there is still some kind of atmosphere.

    That and the need for somewhere to congregate at all!

    http://www.churchofengland.org… –
    Around twenty Church of England church buildings are closed for worship each year.
    The list shown below gives information about buildings that are available for disposal and are being marketed for a suitable alternative use. Some of these are already under offer, but it may be worth registering an interest with the Dioceseor Agent concerned in the event that the current proposed use does not proceed.

  24. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s comment about an increase in Cathedral congregations says just that. There are more people attending cathedral services. I was a member of a cathedral choir for 16 years (1995- 2011). During that period I changed from Christian skeptic to confirmed atheist. I love the Anglican musical tradition; I have very fond memories of my fellow singers as well as of the congregation and clergy. Many, maybe most, of my fellow singers were agnostic or atheist, and belief in the central tenets of Christianity was not, it seemed, the prime motive for attendance at services for most people. The C. of E. is a social club and patron of the arts. It runs some good schools, so many parents affect an allegiance to boost the chances of their children entering. They will also attend, of course, to watch their children in church and cathedral performances; I did that myself as a parent of children at  a C. of E. Primary school. Cathedral attendance is about as useful a gauge for Christian belief as is a tick in a ‘Christian’ box on a census form.

Leave a Reply