Twitter icon

Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news


Religious Tolerance logo

Religious data from the United Kingdom

From 2008 until now

horizontal rule

2008 data:

According to reporter Ruth Gledhill, the document Religious Trends published by Christian Research estimates that:

bulletBy 2035, 1.96 million Muslims -- double the number attending today -- will be attending mosques. They will outnumber Christians who attend churches.

bullet Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the "Church of England, Catholicism and other denominations will become financially unviable." By 2030, the total number of Anglican churches in the UK will drop to 10,000 with an average attendance of only 35 persons per congregation.

bullet By 2050 only about 0.9 million Christians will go to church. There will be only 3,600 churchgoing Methodists, 87,899 members of the Church of England (Anglican), 101,700 Roman Catholics, 4,400 Presbyterians, 123,000 Baptists, and 168,000 independent Christians.

bullet Intensified calls for disestablishment of the Church of England, which has been the state church for centuries, will likely result.

Martin Salter, the Labour Member of Parliament for Reading West and a member of an Reading inter-faith group, said:

"I think all faiths could be treated equally under our constitution. These figures demonstrate the absurdity of favoring one brand of Christianity over other parts of the Christian faith and the many other religions that grace our shores."

Hazel Blears, the UK Communities Secretary said:

"We will look at these findings very closely. Britain is a secular democracy with a strong Christian tradition, but many faiths have a home in Britain."

David Voas, a professor of population studies at the Institute for Social Change at the University of Manchester, said:

bullet"The difficulty is in retaining the children who have churchgoing parents. So long as churchgoing is something that gets you laughed at, so long as there is a social stigma attached to being a churchgoing young person, it will be difficult to reverse the trend."

bullet For young Muslims, "Being religious is a way that you show you are different, that you are proud of your heritage. One of the ways young Muslims assert their identity is by being more observant than their parents." 1

Reporter Sarah Miloudi reports that, according to the same study, church attendance in Wales could decline to less than a quarter of its current level by 2050, from 200,000 to fewer than 40,000. Elsewhere in the UK it is predicted to fall by a similar percentage:

  • In England from three million to 700,000.

  • In Scotland it is expected to decline from 550,000 to 140,000 in the same period.

The study notes that members of the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations are mainly over 65 years-of-age, are dying off, and not being replaced. A church merger between the two faith groups is predicted.

Lynda Barley, head of research for the Church of England, disagreed. She said that her church felt there was “no reason” to believe attendance would drop as predicted.

The Anglican Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, noted that the role of the church in todays society is changing. Church attendance is no longer a good measure of its effect on society.

The Rev James Karran of the Ararat Baptist Church in Whitchurch, Cardiff, and of the non-denominational pub church, Solace, said:

"I have read about some figures of where we will be in terms of church going in the next few years. The church is seen as outdated and irrelevant. I do not think this is the case, and I think the Christian message of hope still has a lot to say. I think a lot depends on how this message is put across, as people see the old church buildings and 10 AM starts for services. ... [They] dont want that. The church is only just starting to realize things need to be done differently. It will take a few years before we know if this has worked." 2

horizontal rule

Results from the European Social Survey:

This survey is conducted every two years. One of the questions asked is:

"Do you consider yourself as belonging to any particular religion or denomination?"

Results for UK over the interval 2002 to 2008 indicate a slight negative trend:

Year % Yes % No

A slim majority of adults in the UK appear to be a member of the "NOTA" group: those NOT Affiliated with any faith group.

Also, many of those who claim to belong to a faith group have never darkened the doorway of a faith group in decades. Similar declines in affiliation and trends towards secularization are apparent in other western European countries. 3

horizontal rule

2009: A poll commission by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and conducted by ComRes:

The poll was synchronized with the introduction of a new BBC program called "Faith Diary" in early 2009. Adults were asked whether society:

"... should respect and be influenced by UK religious values."

Just under two thirds of persons sampled agreed.

A similar percentage agreed with the statement that:

"... religion has an important role to play in public life."

Robert Pigott, the religious affairs correspondent for the BBC wrote:

"... our poll tallies with other research findings -- that the proportion of people identifying themselves as atheists has not grown from its low base," despite the growth of what are seen as secular social values." 3

Professor David Voas, while at the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research in Manchester, said that the percentage of those who identified as Christians in the latest government census were a very uncertain and wavering number. He suggested that a full half of the adult population qualify only as what he called "fuzzy faithful."

Voas believes that they have:

"... only a vaguely defined notion of a 'divine entity'... [which makes] little difference to their lives". 3

He views the other half as non-adherents: people who may still pray but who believe in some type of "higher power" rather than a personal deity. They either do not go to church or attend church only to observe life transitions: baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

horizontal rule

Webmaster's comment:

With such a large group of UK adults having such a vague idea of a deity who has little impact on their lives, it might be an excellent opportunity for someone to promote Deism in the country. Deism is a belief system that involves a God who created the universe and its laws, started it up, left, and hasn't been seen since. It was a very popular belief system among the founders of the United States.

horizontal rule

Ekklesia suggests that:

"... this complex picture fits with a society in transition from an established settlement where Christianity dominated public life, ("Christendom"), to a mixed belief society where convictions are more contested - as recent public ... [arguments] about religion show."

Ekklesia's Simon Barrow commented:

'A dispassionate look at accumulated [UK] research over the past few years would indicate that institutional religion is on the decline, that strong belief commitment has devolved into less established forms, that the 'spiritual but not religious' constituency has grown, that a majority are vague and uncommitted in their beliefs, and that a secular mindset has grown without a significant increase in affiliation to explicitly non-religious groups.'

'People want faith and belief to be beneficent. They dislike extremism and domineering forms of religion, but neither do they want to see it simply excluded from public life. Perhaps the positive message to Christians and others is that they need to show the value of what they have to offer through practical example, not through trying to grab power and influence for themselves.'

Ekklesia has argued that the demise of a top-down 'Christendom' order should not be seen negatively by the churches, but as an opportunity to rediscover a more authentic, liberating Christian message and practice - one that Barrow says 'has often been obscured or defaced by the collusion of official religion and governing authority'." 3

horizontal rule

Results of the 2015 government Census:

The census found that the largest religious grouping in the UK were those of no religion. They total 49% of the adult population, a near majority. Smaller groups included 42% who identified as Christian; 5% as Muslim; 3% as of other religions. One percent did not state a preference. 4

horizontal rule

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ruth Gledhill: "Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour," The Times, 2008-MAY-08, at:
  2. Sarah Miloudi, "Church attendance in Wales plummeting" Western Mail, 2008-MAY-09, at:
  3. "Mixed picture emerges on British attitudes to religion in public life," Ekklesia, 2009-FEB-24, at: Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License.
  4. "Religion in the United Kingdom," Wikipedia, as on 2016-MAY-22, at:

horizontal rule

Site navigation: Home pageReligious information > Basic info > Religion in the UK > here

horizontal rule

Copyright 2003 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-FEB-19
Latest update: 2016-MAY-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or return to the "Religion in the UK" menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.