UK Christianity (2005-2025)

Measuring the Christian population in the UK.

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Introduction

UK FlagResearch carried out by Brierley Consultancy in the UK, and published in Church Statistics gives an insight into the membership of churches, the number of places of worship and ministers. Data was published for 2005-2010, together with forecasts up to 2025.

The British Religion in Numbers website has additional data on Christianity in the UK.

Also included on this page are statistics from the UK Census, which was held in 2011, and the British Social Attitudes Surveys (1983-2014).

 


Key Findings

Belief in God - 2016

A poll by You Gov in December 2016 produced the following results for persons asked if they believe in God or a higher spiritual power:

I believe in either God or a higher spiritual power

28%

I do not believe in either God or a higher spiritual power

38%

I believe in some kind of spiritual power only

20%

I am unsure of my belief regarding either of these

14%

Some key findings from the Church Statistics1 report are:

  1. UK Church membership has declined from 10.6 million in 1930 to 5.5 Million in 2010, or as a percentage of the population; from about 30% to 11.2%.
    By 2013, this had declined further to 5.4 million (10.3%). If current trends continue, membership will fall to 8.4% of the population by 2025.2

  2. In England, membership is forecast to decline to 2.53 million (4.3% of the population) by 2025.

  3. Over the period 2005-2010, the major Christian denominations such as Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian all saw falls in membership. Orthodox, Pentecostal and other new churches (Evangelical and Charismatic) on the other hand, saw an increase in membership.

  4. Church membership is declining in all four constituent countries of the UK, but in England the decline is relatively small, whereas the biggest decline appears to be in Scotland.

1 The Church Statistics document gives an overview of the various definitions of 'membership' used by different Christian Denominations.

2 Source: Church Statistics 2



Church Attendance in Britain

Brierley Consultancy have also published statistics for church attendance (as opposed to membership) for the period 1980-2015. Key findings are:

  1. Church attendance has declined from 6,484,300 to 3,081,500 (equivalent to a decline from 11.8% to 5.0% of the population).

  2. England has the lowest percentage of the population attending church in 2015 (4.7%), just below Wales at 4.8%. In Scotland, the equivalent figure is 8.9%



Notes:
1. ROCOR = Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
2. The Fastest growing churches are Fresh Expressions (+273%) and the Romanian Patriarchate (+233%).



WIN/Gallup Survey (2014)

A 2014 survey of approximately 64,000 people in 65 countries revealed the UK to be one of the world's most irreligious countries, with only 30% of those surveyed identifying as 'religious'. In contrast, 13% said they were convinced atheists and 53% of those surveyed said they were not religious.

The top two and bottom two countries together with the UK are shown below:

  • 100%
  • 80%
  • 60%
  • 40%
  • 20%
  • 0%
  • Thailand
  • Armenia
  • UK
  • Japan
  • China
  • 94%
  • 93%
  • 30%
  • 13%
  • 7%

Country: % Religious


General Statistics

Results

A 2015 article published by the Spectator magazine, gives the following statistics for Christianity in the UK:

According to the UK Census, between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in Britain fell by 5.3 million - about 10,000 a week. With a continued rate of decline at this level, the number of UK-born Christians would reduce to zero by 2067.

The British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS) indicates that Anglicanism is declining faster than any other major denomination. With the current rate of decline, it would be set to disappear from Britain by 2033.

Source: Spectator magazine, 2015

In 2014, 17% of persons identified as Anglicans in the BSAS:

Source: Spectator magazine, 2015
17%

This represents a fall of 23% since 1983.
Between 2012 and 2014 the proportion fell from 21 to 17%: a loss of 1.7 million people in two years.

Between 1983 and 2014, the percentage of British Catholics fell from 10 to 8%.

Source: Spectator magazine, 2015
8%

Religion in the UK - Census 2011


Christian

59.5%

Muslim

4.4%

Hindu

1.3%

No Religion

25.7%

In percentage terms, the numbers of Christians fell by 12.4%.

For the four constituent countries of the UK, the Christian percentage was as follows:


Irreligion in the UK - Census 2011

Percentage of persons who indicated they were not affiliated with any religion.

England

25%

Northern Ireland

7%

Scotland

37%

Wales

33%

The 2011 census saw the numbers of irreligious persons rise from 7.7 million in 2001 to 14.1 million, a rise of 10.3% to 25.7%.

In one city in England (Norwich), the percentage of irreligious persons was as high as 42.5%.








British Social Attitudes Surveys (1983 Onwards)

BSAS 2014



Question wording:
'Apart from such special occasions as weddings, funerals and baptisms, how often nowadays do you attend services or meetings connected with your religion?'

Question wording:
'About belonging to different kinds of groups or associations. Do you belong and actively participate; belong but don't actively participate; used to belong but do not any more; or have never belonged to - a church or other religious organisation?'

BSAS 1983-2014


    Source: BSA Data

Note: The BSA data indicates that, over the period 1983 to 2014:

1. The Church of England population has nearly halved (from 16.5m to 8.6m);
2. The Catholic population has remained relatively steady (from 4.1 to 4m);
3. Non-Christian religious numbers have increased five-fold (from 0.8m to 4m);
4. Persons of no religious affiliation have nearly doubled (from 12.8m to 24.7m).

SSAS 1999-2015


    Source: SSA Data