Opinion Former Article

BHA: Growing majority of young people have no religion, government must start listening

Two-thirds of young people and half of the population as a whole do not belong to any particular religion, and the steady decline in religiosity in the UK is set to continue, the 28th report of the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey has found. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the findings, commenting that the government is ‘fast becoming out of touch with the population’ when it introduces policies and new laws with a religious bias.

Unlike the highly flawed Census question, which at best measures a weak cultural affiliation to religion, the BSA attempts to examine levels of religious affiliation, whether someone was brought up in a religion, and whether they regularly attend religious services.

The survey found half (50%) of people do not regard themselves as belonging to a particular religion while only 20% belong to the Church of England. 64% of those aged 18-24 do not belong to a religion. More than half of those brought up in a religion never attend religious services or meetings. The survey also found that levels of religiosity have declined over the past three decades and are likely to decline further, as older, more religious generations die out and are replaced by younger, less religious generations.

Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented, ‘It is quite clear that the population is becoming less religious, particularly as the proportion of younger people who have no religion grows, so the government is fast becoming out of touch with the population when it introduces policies and new laws which actually increase the role of religion in the state. Since the general election the government has set in place policies which will increase greatly the number of discriminatory ‘faith’ schools, those which open up vital public services to any number of evangelical religious groups without proper equalities protection, and has proposed not only to keep reserved seats for Church of England Bishops sitting ex-officio in the House of Lords but to give them even more privilege.

‘It is bizarre that the government refuses to take a more secular approach to public policy, to eliminate unjustified religious discrimination and religious privilege in places such as schools and the workplace and promote a real equality between people regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Andrew Copson at andrew@humanism.org.uk or 07855 380633.

As part of our campaign on the Census this year we commissioned our own survey which showed clearly that there were low levels religious belief and belonging in the population.

Read the 28th British Social Attitudes survey findings

More information on surveys and statistics on religion and belief.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief. 

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