Islam has been gaining on Christianity for years in Great Britain and is now only one percentage point behind Anglicanism among the share of the population aged 16 to 29.
An astonishing new report out of St. Mary’s University in Twickenham has revealed that only seven percent of young adults in the UK self-identify as Anglicans, compared to six percent who say they are Muslims. If current trends continue, Islam will soon pass the Church of England, despite the latter’s privileged status as the official religion of the state.
It will be a while longer before adherents of Islam exceed Christians outright among the younger generation, but the UK is headed for that as well. At present only 21 percent of British young adults self-identify as Christians.
The study, titled Europe’s Young Adults and Religion, found a slight variation based on gender, with 7 percent of females aged 16-29 self-identifying as Muslims but only 4 percent of males in this group calling themselves followers of Islam. Similarly, only 5 percent of British males in the same age group identify as Anglicans, while nearly double that—nine percent—of females identify members of the Church of England.
The number of young adult Catholics has already overtaken that of the Church of England, with some 10 percent of British between the ages of 16 and 29 professing the Catholic faith.
Among those who identify as having no religion, 20 percent—or one in five—were raised in a religious household and subsequently abandoned the faith of their upbringing. Significantly, seven-eighths of these young adults have abandoned some denomination of Christianity, while an insignificant number (less than one percent) left Islam.
This means that among young adults, Muslims in the UK have far greater staying power than Christians generally, and are far less likely to leave their faith to become non-religious (“nones”).
Moreover, the UK has a significant gap in fertility rates between Muslims and non-Muslims, with Muslim women having an average of 2.9 children compared to the 1.8 had by non-Muslims.
This means that not only are Muslims less likely to abandon the faith of their upbringing, they are also having many more children than Christian couples.
Overall, however, young adults in the United Kingdom are among the least religious in post-Christian Europe, with approximately 70 percent self-identifying as having “no religion,” the report found.
The author of a report, Stephen Bullivant, said that all the data indicate that religion in Europe is “moribund.”
“With some notable exceptions, young adults increasingly are not identifying with or practising religion,” said Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s.
“The new default setting is ‘no religion,’ and the few who are religious see themselves as swimming against the tide,” he said.
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