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Church decline has ended, report suggested

Sun 14 May 2017
By Premier Journalist

A detailed new report suggests that a decline of the number of church members may have ended.

The information comes from an analysis of data from the annual British Social Attitudes survey and the biennial European Social Survey carried out by Professor Stephen Bullivant in his report, The ‘No Religion’ Population of Britain.

Prof Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, told The Observer newspaper: “We’ve seen a vast shedding of nominal Christianity, and perhaps it’s now down to its hardcore."

Prof Bullivant said that the Church was recovering after losing a lot of believers after the publication of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion in 2006.

He told The Telegraph that the release of Dawkins' book had stopped a lot of latent Anglicans from describing themselves as Christian. 

Prof Bullivant said: "That book was really aimed at those people who said they were Anglican but didn't really believe in God. So a lot of them stopped ticking Anglican on the forms and started to tick atheist instead."

He also suggests a link between patriotism and Christianity, stating "People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness”.

The proportion of people who say they are Church of England worshippers rose from 16.3 per cent in 2009 to 17.1 per cent in 2015. 

He believes that efforts to attract new worshippers could be working.

The report also shows that one in four people who say they are of no religion pray.

A previous BBC survey found that one in ten non-religious people believe that Jesus did rise from the dead and one in five believe in life after death.

Overall, for every Christian convert from a non-religious background, there are 26 raised as Christians who are no longer believers.

Islam is expected to be the world’s largest religion by 2075 but the growth of Christianity is still very high across sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and China.

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