New Survey Finds Majority of People in Scotland Have No Religious Affiliation April 6, 2016

New Survey Finds Majority of People in Scotland Have No Religious Affiliation

Congratulation, Scotland! You’re the latest country in which the majority of people have no religious faith! Furthermore, two thirds of the people who were raised with religion no longer attend religious services.

What a lovely Scottish church... What a lovely, probably empty Scottish church.
What a lovely Scottish church… What a lovely, probably empty Scottish church.

According to data released by ScotCen Social Research,

Two thirds of people in Scotland who say they belong to or were brought up in a religion “never or practically never” attend religious services, new research published today by ScotCen Social Research has revealed.

… The results also show that over half of people in Scotland are not religious; 52% of people say they do not belong to a religion, compared with 40% in 1999.

Most of this decline has happened in relation to the Church of Scotland. In 1999 over a third of people (35%) said that they belonged to the Church of Scotland but that has fallen to only a fifth (20%) today…

Ian Montagu, Researcher at ScotCen, said “Today’s findings show that Scottish commitment to religion, both in terms of our willingness to say we belong to a religion and to attend religious services, is in decline. However, this change doesn’t appear to be affecting all religions equally. Affiliation with the Church of Scotland is in decline while levels of identification with other religions remain relatively unchanged. As fewer Scots are acknowledging even a default religious identity, it is affiliation with the national church that is the hardest hit.

This isn’t surprising to anyone who’s been following the trends. Scotland legalized gay marriage in 2012 despite opposition from the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland. There’s also been an uptick in percentage of Humanist wedding ceremonies — more people than ever before want the Church to have no role at all in that celebration.

And when the 2011 census figures were released in 2013 and found that 36.7% of the population had no religion — higher than any other subgroup — the Humanist Society Scotland pointed out that their demographic was highly underrepresented because of the way the question was asked: “What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?” That implied you were supposed to have a religion. It’s possible many people put down the religion they were brought up in, which may not necessarily be an accurate reflection of what they believe now.

The question in the new survey was much more open-ended: “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?” It’s much easier to say “No” when you phrase it like that.

While there have been other years where the percentage of non-religious Scots topped 50%, there has never been a year in which 66% of the population admitted to “never or practically never” attending religious services even when they grew up in the religion (or currently practice it).

It’s a sign that the power is shifting away from the Church, just as it should be.

Stop it, Scotland. You’re making me jealous.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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