Thursday, 16 February 2012

50% of UK christians 'not religious'

Results from a survey of people who would have ticked the 'Christian' box on the UK 2011 census have been in the news this week.  Sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the detailed results of the first part of the survey to were revealed at the link in this sentence.   I found some surprising numbers about the way the church is crumbling.

The church is crumbling - Image by JasonRogersFotographie from here

50% of the christians surveyed admitted the amazing revelation "No I don't consider myself a religious person", and 49% have not attended any ordinary religious services or meetings in the last 12 months.  Two thirds of those had not even attended once in the last 10 years - the time since the previous census!

15% have never read the bible independently, 43% pray less frequently than once per year, and 18% do not even believe in the resurrection.  27% believe in astrology, and yet only 17% answered that they "believe in God and that Christianity is the only true way of knowing him".

At least 44% claim that "Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour of mankind".  However, that suggests that a majority do not believe in his divinity, and it is further revealed (although not divinely) that only 15% have "accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour".

When it comes to right and wrong, 8 times more christians look for guidance from their own inner moral sense, or the opinions of the family and friends than from religious teachings!

Remember - these are percentages of people who claimed that they ARE christians, not percentages of the population as a whole.

Perhaps less surprising, only 23% of these christians hold that "the bible is a perfect guide to morality and its teachings hold true today".  This low percentage is, after all, a figure that is believable when you think of the behaviour of people who you know.

Of course it is dangerous to extrapolate these numbers to the rest of the population - the 46% who did not claim to have ticked the Christian box.  It would be statistically incorrect to assume that none of the non-christians believed that Jesus is Lord and Saviour.  Surely some do, but it can't be a large proportion.

All in all, these results pretty conclusively indicate that the government has no business assuming that 'Britain is a Christian country any more'.  Christians of my acquaintance are getting quite worried about this.

My own worry is the Islam will get more of a foothold in my country.

Tomorrow - comments on part 2 of the survey.  Antidisestablishmentarianism is not favoured!


Rob Crompton said...

There was an interesting exchange between Richard Dawkins and Giles Fraser on Radio 4 on Tuesday. When Dawkins said that many people who call themselves christian turn out really not be be christians at all' Frasers said that people should be allowed to self-describe. That is, they are christians if they want to be thought of as such. That's fair enough, up to a point, but in my experience large numbers of conservative evangelicals and traditionalists will say that you aren't a chrstian if you don't believe in...fill in the gaps.

So it looks as if Dawkins agrees on this bit with the definitions used by the vociferous minority. So the main point to be made, surely, is that such folk ought not to try to justify positions of influence in democratic society on the basis on the extent to which society at large is christian. It's a bit like the old trade union block vote with which a union's entire membership could be claimed in support of a minority position.

Plasma Engineer said...

Yes Rob, I agree. It has resulted in some petty ridicule but I think that simply shows how desperate the theists are getting. Giles Fraser, after all, has not covered himself in glory in the last year.

With regard to the 'vociferous minority', I think part 2 of the survey confirms your ideas rather well. (Coming soon!)