Only 43.8 percent of the population of England and Wales now define themselves as Christian, while 48.5 percent have “no religion,” and the rest have non-Christian beliefs, a new report has shown
The report—compiled by a researcher at London’s St Mary’s University—did not look at Scotland or Northern Ireland—but an April 2016 survey found that 52 percent of Scots said they were “not religious.”
In Northern Ireland, which has long been the most religious part of the UK, 7 percent said in the 2011 census that they belonged to a non-Christian religion or no religion.
The new report, titled “Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales: A statistical report based on recent British Social Attitudes survey data,” made a number of key findings, based upon an analysis of data collected through British Social Attitudes surveys over three decades.
These findings were as follows:
Some 48.5 percent of the English and Welsh adult population identifies as “no religion;” more than twice as many as claim to be Anglicans (19.8 percent).
Catholics (8.3 percent) make up a greater share of the population than do members of all non-Christian religions combined (7.7 percent).
In terms of affiliation, Inner and Outer London are the most religious regions; Wales and the North East are the least.
Inner London and the North West are the most Catholic areas. The proportion of members of non-Christian religions ranges from as low as one in 100 in the South West to over one in five in London.
The religious makeup of England and Wales has changed dramatically in the past three decades. Anglicans have suffered the biggest declines: from 44.5 percent in 1983 to 19.0 percent in 2014.
The Catholic population, however, has remained relatively steady throughout this period.
An estimated 3.8 million English and Welsh adults identify as Catholic. Meanwhile, an estimated 6.2 million say that they were brought up Catholic.
The age profile of Catholics is notably younger than that for Christians as a whole.
Some 44.4 percent of those who identify as Catholic are aged 18 to 44, compared to just 32.6 percent of Christians in general.
Among the main Christian denominations, Catholics have the strongest retention rate: 55.8 percent of cradle Catholics still identify as Catholic in adulthood.
But Catholics also have the weakest conversion rate: only 7.7 percent of current Catholics were not brought up Catholic.
The vast majority of all converts to Christian denominations have already been brought up in a different Christian tradition.
The churches convert very few people raised with either no religion, or in a non-Christian religion.
For every one Catholic convert there are 10 cradle Catholics who no longer regard themselves to be Catholic.
For every one Anglican convert there are 12 cradle Anglicans who no longer regard themselves to be Anglican.
Of those who currently identify as Catholic, 27.5 percent say they attend church services at least once a week. 39.2 percent, however, say they attend never or practically never.
Furthermore, 59.6 percent of all cradle Catholics say they never or practically never attend church.
There are clear positive correlations between regular church attendance and being female, older, and/or nonwhite.
Two-thirds of all weekly-or-more Mass goers are women. Almost a quarter of all weekly-or-more Mass goers are women over 65.
More than nine in 10 Christians are white, which is slightly higher than in the general population.