Church of England troubled over peak of non-believers' proportion in British population

Leaders from the Church of England have expressed concern over the peak in the proportion of non-believers in the British population and the plunge in the proportion of its members. However, they are still positive that it could attract some of the people who claim to have no religion.

(Wikimedia Commons/Hans Musil)Canterbury Cathedral, September 2005.

A British Social Attitudes survey revealed that the proportion of people who said they were members of the CofE had dropped to 15 percent. Only three percent of Britons 18 to 24 years old claimed they were with the Church, while the proportion of non-believers had gone up from two to six percent, The Telegraph detailed.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Revd Paul Bayes, appreciated the honesty of the subjects in the survey who said they had no religion compared to those who claimed they belonged to CofE but were not that committed to it. While he admitted that the figures present a challenge to churches, he also said that those who say they have no religion have open hearts and minds.

"In this modern world people are more willing to be honest and say they have 'no religion' rather than casually saying they are 'CofE'. This honesty is welcome," said Rev. Bayes. "Of course the latest BSA figures bring a continuing challenge to the churches, to speak clearly of our faith into a sceptical and plural world. But saying 'no religion' is not the same as a considered atheism. People's minds, and hearts, remain open."

In a report titled "The 'No Religion' Population of Britain," St. Mary's University professor of theology and sociology Stephen Bullivant revealed his analysis of the BSA and the biennial European Social Survey which showed the rise of the nones. He pointed out that the number of nonverts --- those brought up in a certain religion who now claim to have no religion --- has increased and that more than 60 percent of this group used to be Anglican or Catholic Christians, The Guardian reported earlier this year.

Bullivant also told the Observer that the rise of the nones may have come to a standstill in the last few years. He added that the Catholic population has remained steady mainly due to the immigration of people from Catholic-majority countries.