The results of the just released 30th British Social Attitudes Survey show almost half of the population say that they do not belong to a religion.
The increase in the non religious is almost entirely mirrored by a decline in the proportion of people who describe themselves as belonging to the Church of England, down from 40% in 1983 to just 20% now. Results show that religious identity in Britain has been in stark decline over the past three decades.
The public’s attitude to various social issues is also changing. Even people with a religious identity are less likely to hold a traditional view over issues such as abortion or assisted euthanasia, suggesting a weakening of religious institutions.
In 2012, the gap between the level of acceptance of premarital sex between people of no religion and people who attend worship weekly has widened to 62%, suggesting that religious bodies are becoming more conservative on sexual relations, while British society as a whole has become more liberal on the same issue – only 11% of all people now would think that premarital sex is wrong, compared to 28% three decades ago.
Attitudes to homosexuality are similarly changing and people of all beliefs are generally more tolerant than before (47% of all people would say that homosexuality is not wrong at all, as compared to only 17% in the previous survey), though again it has grown the most among those who are not religious.