creative commons

Church of England sees dramatic decline

Tue 05 Sep 2017
By Alex Williams

The number of people belonging to the Church of England and other Anglican denominations in Britain has halved in less than two decades, according to the National Centre for Social Research.

The new British Social Attitudes survey found 15 per cent of people in Britain described themselves as Anglican last year, compared to 30 per cent in 2000. The number of Catholics has remained relatively stable.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: "Of course it's always troubling for the institution of the church to see numbers declining and to hear how younger people are less and less engaged with the life of the church.


"But the church is not an institution. The church is that community of men and women whose lives are centred on Christ. We do care about numbers, but only because we care about people."

For the first time, the number of people who do not profess any religion (53 per cent) now outnumbers those who do, according to researchers. The proportion professing to be non-religious has gradually increased from 31 per cent in 1983.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said: "God remains relevant. The church remains relevant.

"We in the church, and all who love the church, need to keep finding ways to show and tell those who say they have 'no religion' that faith - faith in the God who loves them still - can make that life-transforming difference for them and for the world."

He added: "In this modern world people are more willing to be honest and say they have 'no religion' rather than casually saying they are 'CofE'. This honesty is welcome."

The latest British Attitudes Survey found 15 per cent of people consider themselves Anglican, nine per cent Catholic, 17 per cent other Christian denominations and six per cent other religions.

According to the statistics, the move towards an increasingly secular society appears to be partly driven by young adults. The number of 18-24 year olds professing to hold no religion increased from 62 per cent in 2015 to 71 per cent last year.

Humanist UK's Andrew Copson said: "How can it be right that 97% of young people today are not Anglicans, but some 20% of the state schools to which their children will go belong to the Church of England?

"More generally, how can the Church of England remain in any meaningful sense the national legally established church, when it caters for such a small portion of the population?"

There has been a decline in religious affiliation among all age groups but those with no religion among the oldest people remain in the minority.

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