Less than a third of people in Britain now consider themselves ‘religious’, a new poll by WIN/Gallup International reveals. The finding strongly contradicts the most recent census which showed nearly three quarters of people had a religion.
The research questioned around 1,000 people each in 65 countries worldwide to compile the figures, providing a snapshot of global faith that suggests worldwide believers outnumber atheists and the undecided two-to-one.
This is a pattern that is only reversed in a small number of nations worldwide, including the most atheist nation China, where only seven percent are believers, and the United Kingdom, where the Christian faith is suffering a steady decline and only 30 percent of respondents reported being religious.
According to the poll, the UK was the sixth least religious countries in the world, and one of the least religious in Europe. Although the research did not include difficult-to-access nations, including many African countries and a number of Islamic theocracies in the Middle East where adherence to the Muslim faith is a legal requirement, it did find some countries where faith is almost universal.
While 94 percent of Thai respondents reported being religious, Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia and Morocco were all tied for second place at 93 percent. Worldwide, the African continent and the Middle East were the most religious overall, whereas Western Europe was the least, standing at the tipping point to becoming the first majority Atheist and Agnostic region, reports the Independent.
Despite the striking nature of the figures presented by the poll, the results for the United Kingdom stand in contrast to the findings made by the more representative national Census for 2011. Although the government research found a decrease in the number of Christians had again fallen in the preceding decade, the 59 percent who declared themselves to be followers of Christ suggests a more positive image than the Gallup poll.
All counted, only a quarter of the population of England and Wales reported they had no religion at all in the 2011 census.
Regional analysis of the census also revealed some interesting local variation in the distribution of religion in the UK. While London was the most religiously diverse area in the UK, with some some boroughs having a number of Muslims resident at seven times the national average, it found the north of England was the most Christian. One area of Liverpool had over 80 percent Christian residents in 2011.