The 31st annual British Social Attitudes survey (BSA), published yesterday, has found that 50.6% of the population saying they have no religion (up from 47.7% last year), with just 41.7% regarding themselves as Christian (the lowest ever figure). The survey was published on the same day as David Cameron reiterated his claim that Britain is ‘a Christian country’. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has pointed to the survey as showing this is not the case.
In his foreword to the programme for yesterday’s all prayer breakfast, David Cameron wrote ‘I believe very deeply that we should be confident in Britain about our status as a Christian country… Greater confidence in our Christianity can also inspire a stronger belief in our work as politicians to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives – and it should inspire our support for churches and faith organisations in the vital work they do in our society and around the world. Whatever our political parties and whatever our disagreements these are values we share.’
However, not only did the latest BSA survey show the lowest ever figure for Christianity, it also found 76% thinking that being Christian is not an important element of being British, up from 68% in 1995.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘It is highly ironic that the same day the Prime Minister repeats his claim that Britain is a Christian country, the new British Social Attitudes survey shows that most people are not religious – with a lower proportion being Christian than ever before. The truth of the matter is that we are a diverse society bringing together individuals and influences from Christian, other religious and non-religious backgrounds and that diversity is something that we should celebrate. Trying to label the whole nation with one religion fosters alienation and division.
‘It is time that the Government wakes up to the policy implications of this and stops giving bishops privileged places in the House of Lords, stops funding ever more religious schools and requiring every school that is not religious to have a daily act of Christian collective worship.’
For further comment or information, please contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059 or Andrew Copson, Chief Executive at email@example.com or on 07855 380 633.
The BSA survey was conducted last year and asks ‘Which religion or denomination do you consider yourself as belonging to?’ 50.6% responded by saying No religion, 41.7% Christian (comprising 16.3% Anglican, 8.8% Roman Catholic and 16.6% other Christian), 4.6% Muslim, 1.5% Hindu, 0.5% Jewish, 0.4% Buddhist, 0.3% Sikh and 0.4% other non-Christian. The latest BSA figures can be found at http://www.britsocat.com/ and http://www.bsa-31.natcen.ac.uk/
Read extracts from David Cameron’s latest comments: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10905469/Cameron-tells-MPs-Christianity-can-make-politicians-good.html
In April the BHA organised a letter from over 50 public figures challenging the Prime Minister’s previous claim that Britain is a Christian country: https://humanism.org.uk/2014/04/20/nobel-laureates-campaigners-peers-philosophers-broadcasters-authors-write-open-letter-challenge-prime-ministers-christian-country-claim/
The BHA has also produced an infographic seeking to answer, ‘Is Britain a Christian country?’ http://humanistlife.org.uk/2014/04/28/infographic-is-britain-a-christian-country/
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.