Majority of Britons have no religion: survey

Some 71 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in Britain surveyed in 2016 said they had no religion, up from 62 percent the previous year. (AFP Photo/PAUL ELLIS)

London (AFP) - Britain is becoming an increasingly faithless society, according to a new survey that found 53 percent of people now describe themselves as having no religion.

This proportion is the highest ever, up from 48 percent in 2015 and 31 percent in 1983 when the British Social Attitudes survey was begun by the independent National Centre for Social Research.

The trend is evident across all age groups but is particularly marked among young people, with 71 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed in 2016 saying they had no religion, up from 62 percent the previous year, said the survey out Monday.

The majority of older people still have some faith -- only four in ten of those aged 65 to 74 describe themselves as having no religion, and only 27 percent of those aged 75 and over.

"This increase follows the long-term trend of more and more of us not being religious," said Roger Harding, head of public attitudes at the research centre.

"The differences by age are stark and with so many younger people not having a religion it's hard to see this change abating any time soon.

"The falls in those belonging to the Church of England are the most notable, but these figures should cause all religious leaders to pause for thought."

Affiliation to the Church of England has declined markedly in recent years, with just 15 percent of Britons now considering themselves members -- half the proportion of 2000.

However, the proportion of Catholics has remained relatively stable, at around one in ten.

Six percent of Britons said they follow a non-Christian faith, down from eight percent in the previous year but up from two percent in 1983. The survey did not go into more detail.

The 2016 survey involved interviews with 2,942 people, who were asked: "Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion. If yes, which?"

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