Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Declining Faith - The Fall Continues

Catholic Research Forum Reports 3 - The 'no religion' population of Britain | The Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society

Yet more confirmation, if any were needed, that Christianity in particular and religion in general are still declining rapidly in the UK. This report by The Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society, launched by St Mary's University, Twickenham, has shown that for every one person moving from no religious affiliation ('None') to affiliation with a Christian church, twenty-six leave the Christian faith and identify themselves as 'Nones'.

Nones are not the same as Atheists or Agnostics, of course, but other surveys have shown that disaffiliation is frequently a half-way house towards full Atheism. Having lost the group-affiliative rewards that membership of a church once gave, there is no longer any reason to accept the dogmas and group norms. Loss of faith often quickly follows as what would once have been regarded as a 'crisis of faith' is welcomed as the dawning of a new enlightenment.

The report, entitled Catholic Research Forum Reports 3 - The 'no religion' population of Britain, written by Stephen Bullivant, is based on the findings of the British Social Attitudes survey and European Social Survey. It's 'Ten Key Findings' were:

  1. Those who identify as ‘No religion’ (i.e., Nones, the nonreligious) are 48.6% of the British adult population. This is roughly 24.3 million people.
  2. Inner London has, by far, the fewest Nones in Britain at 31% (compared to 58% in the South East, and 56% in Scotland). Inner London also has, by far, the highest proportion of those from Non-Christian religions (28%).
  3. In 1983, 67% of Britons identified as some kind of Christian. In 2015, it was 43%. Over the same period, members of Non-Christian religions have more than quadrupled.
  4. British Nones are predominantly White (95%) and male (55%). Nevertheless, there are 10.9 million nonreligious women. Among 18-34s, men and women are equally likely to be Nones.
  5. Nones are younger than average: 35% are under 35, compared to 29% of all British adult. (To compare: just 6% of Anglicans are under 35, and 45% are 65 or older.)
  6. Among 25-54 year olds, the nonreligious have the lowest proportion of university graduates among main (non)religious groupings.
  7. Three-fifths of Nones say that they were brought up with a religious identity. Fewer than one in ten of those brought up nonreligiously now identify with a religion.
  8. For every one person brought up with No religion who has become a Christian, twenty-six people brought up as Christians now identify as Nones.
  9. 43% of Nones described themselves as being ‘Not at all religious’. 75% never attend religious services. 76% never pray.
  10. Nevertheless there are roughly 0.8 million Nones who both pray monthly or more, and rate their own level of religiosity highly. A further 2.8 million either pray monthly or more, or rate their own religiosity highly (but not both).

The extent to which the British have moved from their upbringing in terms of their current (non)religion can be gauged by comparing the charts labelled 1.1 and 1.4. Although now comprising almost 50% of the population, only 20% reported being raised as Nones; 71% reported being raised as a Christian of one denomination or another. Just 8% were raised as non-Christian religious.

As chart 3.1 shows, starting from a 38% base, the population of Nones has been boosted by a 25% contribution each from Anglican and other non-Catholic Christians. Catholics contributed 15% and non-Christian religions just 2%.

The lack of flow in the opposite direction from None to positive affiliation with any one religion is minuscule by comparison, as chart 3.3 shows. 92% remained None. Anglicans and non-Catholic Christians got just 3% and 2% respectively; Catholics 0.4% and other non-Christian religions 2%. There is nothing there to bring a crumb of comfort that disaffiliation is just a transient thing and people will come back eventually. Not only do they stay away but their children will also stay away.

Theists traditionally take comfort in the fact that None is self-identified non-affiliation, not self-identified Atheism, arguing that many of those who don't go to church or identify with any one religion in particular, never-the-less still believe in a god of some sort. It's a little strange that, faced with a tidal wave of Atheism flowing over them, religions such as Catholicism and Protestantism that, in previous centuries, fought murderous wars with one another over which had the true faith and which was the Satanic anti-faith, now welcome the fact that at least people subscribe to one or the other without regard to which is the real faith. It would even appear to be preferable to a Catholic that people become Muslim rather than Atheist. Clearly, there is solidarity in the priesthood when they are mutually facing redundancy.

The final chart above tests out the truth of the idea that the Nones are still religious to an extent. It shows that the huge majority - 65% are either Atheist (38%) or Agnostic (27%). 16% are what can best be described as deist but not believing in a personal god. Only 20% of Nones can be described as religious in the traditional sense of believing in a personal god, with various degrees of certainty. Only 3% had no doubts that a god exists.

There quite simply is not a vast reserve of potential recruits just waiting for someone to come up with a church they want to affiliate to. Disaffiliation is looking very much like a one-way process on the road to Atheism, secularisation and a rejection of religion in the UK.

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  1. Hallelujah, Rosa, and many thanks for the good news!

    Here are two more examples of such good news I love to hear and read more about, and I hope that goes for you too:



  2. Thanks Helmer. I'll read them and see if I can find some more good news to write about.

  3. Great news. Hopefully it is a longer general tend and not just a fashionable position to call yourself an atheist.

  4. Hello again, Rosa, I hope you haven't missed the good news in the following blog post:

    BTW, a bit OT, I admit, but here's another possible topic for you to write more about: the sexual obsession found among many Christians. See for example "Evangelicals Are the Ones Obsessed with Sex" . I just read in my Swedish newspapers this morning about a male Muslim driving instructor who told one of his female clients "Were it not because of Ramadan, I'd fuck the shit out of you since you're so fucking beautiful". Yeah, that's what driving lessons is all about. At least I suppose so.

    Apparently sexual obsession is not only a Christian phenomenon.

    1. The Abrahamic religions are obsessed with sex basically because it's males trying to control the sexual activities of females. Here's what I wrote in Ten Reasons To Lose Faith:

      "The Abrahamic faiths, especially Catholic Christianity, often resemble unhealthy sex cults where sex and sexuality are all-consuming obsessions. Instead of sex being the loving, bonding and recreational activity it has clearly evolved to be in humans, it is loaded with shame, guilt and embarrassment. This obsession leads many devout Christians to avoid sex with the same unhealthy obsession that an anorexic avoids food."


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