Monday, 16 September 2013

BHA: British Social Attitudes Survey Shows 48% Of Britons Non Religious

The results of the 30th British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA) released last week show almost half of the population say that they do not belong to a religion. The increase in the non religious is almost entirely mirrored by a decline in the proportion of people who describe themselves as belonging to the Church of England, down from 40% in 1983 to just 20% now. Results show that religious identity in Britain has been in stark decline over the past three decades.

Likewise, the public’s attitude to various social issues is changing as well. Even people with a religious identity are less likely to hold a traditional view over issues such as abortion or assisted euthanasia, suggesting a weakening of religious institutions. Some differences are still striking however. In 2012, the gap between the level of acceptance of premarital sex between people of no religion and people who attend worship weekly has widened to a massive 62%, indicating that religious bodies are becoming more conservative on sexual relations, whilst British society as a whole has become more liberal on the same issue (only 11% of all people now would think that premarital sex is wrong, compared to 28% three decades ago). Attitudes to homosexuality are also changing and people of all beliefs are generally more tolerant than before (47% of all people would say that homosexuality is not wrong at all, as compared to only 17% in the previous survey), though again it has grown the most among those who are not religious.

Religious identities in Britain have been in decline over the past three decades with this trend set to continue. This government has taken an aggressive stance regarding the role of religion in public life, and have claimed that Britain is still a Christian country, but we again urge the government to take note of these survey results and to recognise that almost half of the British population are in fact non-religious, and reflect this in its policies.