45 percent of Brits would describe themselves as either atheists or non-religious, according to new data from Statista’s Global Consumer Survey (GCS), with London showing the lowest share of atheists and non-religious people in the country. This is likely because the capital has the highest percentage of worshippers practicing other religions, including Muslims who make up 13 percent of the area’s respondents, and Hindus, who make up 4 percent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Northern Ireland also doesn’t have many atheists and non-religious people. This is due, however, to it being a highly Christian country, where 63 percent of people practice the faith. The GCS data does not show the Protestant-Catholic divide.
Irreligion appears to be taking a hold of the Isles, with the Office of National Statistics noting a rise in the number of non-religious people in Britain between 2011 and 2018. Christianity in particular seems to be losing ground, with the 2011 census of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland finding that 59.3 percent of residents defined themselves as Christians, down from 71.6 percent in 2001. GCS data provides a more recent account, revealing that on average the figure now stands at only 41 percent. It is worth taking note that the GCS data is a poll of the online population, while census data reflects absolute numbers of the entire population.
Academics are putting this declining trend down to a rejection of the church for being immoral and out of touch; a statement reflected in the GCS numbers, which find that 57 percent of people aged 60-64 defined themselves as Christians versus 53 percent of 55-59 year olds, and only 29 percent of 18 to 19 year olds. Abby Day, professor of race, faith and culture at Goldsmiths, University of London, explains this phenomenon, telling The Guardian: “Post-Christians are motivated by ethics concerning gender and sexual equality, social justice, climate change and compassion. The churches failed to deliver on those moral issues and so lost moral authority. Today’s younger generations have a different sense of soul, meaning and morality, and it’s one that rejects the church’s record of abuse, racism, homophobia and sexism.”