LONDON (AA) – Almost half the population of England and Wales say they have “no religion”, surpassing those who identify as Christian, according to a new report on Tuesday.
In 2014, almost half of those consulted in research by St Mary’s Catholic University, London described themselves as having no religion, representing a significant rise on the 25 percent who chose the same designation in Britain’s last population census five years ago.
Those affiliating themselves to any denomination of Christianity made up 44 percent of the survey’s respondents.
Stephen Bullivant, a theology and ethics lecturer at the university, said the growth of “no religion” of a proportion of the population was striking.
He told the Guardian newspaper: “The main driver is people who were brought up with some religion now saying they have no religion.
“What we’re seeing is an acceleration in the numbers of people not only not practicing their faith on a regular basis, but not even ticking the box. The reason for that is the big question in the sociology of religion.”
London emerged as the most pious part of the surveyed area, with 60 percent of respondents they practiced Christianity or another religion.
The report did not include data from Scotland or Northern Ireland, which is widely considered to be the most religious part of the U.K.
The Church of England said the report did not suggest Britain was becoming more secular.
A spokesperson told the newspaper: “The increase in those identifying as ‘no faith’ reflects a growing plurality in society rather than any increase in secularism or humanism. We do not have an increasingly secular society as much as a more agnostic one.
“In a global context, adherence to religion is growing rather than decreasing. Christianity remains the world’s largest religion with over two billion adherents. In the U.K. the latest census found the overwhelming majority of people to have a faith.”