The United Kingdom is no longer a Christian nation according to The Spectator. The iconic publication reported that a recent survey found those claiming to have no faith, now outnumber Christians in Britain.
Around 48% of Britons admitted to having no faith; 44% called themselves “Christians,” and 8% admitted to following other religions, the survey of uncertain origins determined. If those numbers are correct, nearly half of the population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has no faith.
Most Britons still have a faith, but secularists are now the largest religious group in the country. Christians are now a steadily declining minority. People of faith in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland only outnumber nonbelievers; if the percentages of Christian and non-Christian believers are added together to reach 52%.
Britain’s Incredibly Shrinking Christianity
The rate at which number of British Christians is falling is astounding. In 2011, just five years ago; only 25% of the Queen’s subjects admitted to having no religion. That number doubled in just five years.
Just 15 years ago in 2001, almost 75% of Britons labeled themselves Christians. That means Britain’s attitude to religion has undergone a paradigm shift since the turn of the Century.
What is more interesting is that The Spectator’s writers believe that British Christianity will disappear this century. According to their figures there were around 35 million British-born Christians in 2001, that number fell to around 29 million in 2011, and will fall again to 25 million in 2021. It will drop to under 20 million in 2031, under 15 million in 2041, under 10 million in 2051, and less than five million in 2061.
The native-born Christian population in the land of C.S. Lewis will die out in 2067 according to this estimate. Organized Christianity in the United Kingdom will have completely collapsed long before then.
Since the current population of the United Kingdom is around 64.1 million people; this means British Christians will be out numbered four to one in less than 20 years. They will form less than 10% of the population by 2061.
Is America Next?
These numbers tell us how quickly a Christian majority can disappear. Many people will wonder if this could occur in the United States.
Around 70.6% of Americans described themselves as Christians in the last Pew Religious Landscape Study conducted in 2015. That number is actually lower than the percentage of Britons that declared themselves to be “Christian” just 15 years ago.
The same Religious Landscape study found that the unaffiliated; those with no religion, make up 22.8% of the US population. Pew also found that there were 22.64 million atheists and agnostics in the United States making up 7.1% of the population.
If Pew’s statistics are correct there are 72.8 million non-religious Americans out of a population of 319 million. That means more than 20% of Americans admit to having no religion.
It also indicates the United States could be closer to the British situation, than many American Christians would like to admit. Pew found that the US faiths suffering the greatest membership losses were the traditional protestant and Catholic churches; which are similar to the established Presbyterian and Anglican institutions in the UK.
Americans Believe but Never Talk about It
Some of the same trends seen in British religion are occurring the United States; another Pew study from April 15, found that 49%, almost half of Americans admitted they seldom or never talked about religion outside their families. Another 39% of Americans said they seldom or never discussed faith even with family members.
If those numbers are correct, 88% of Americans admitted to seldom or never discussing religion. For the record 33% of Americans seldom discussed belief outside their families, 16% never discussed their faith outside families, 26% seldom talked about spiritual matters with their families and 13% never discussed religion with their own families.
More telling was that less than 10% of Americans said they would try to convert somebody of a different faith to their beliefs. Pew found that just 5% of Americans under 35, 4% of Americans between 35 and 50, and 7% of Americans over 50 said they would try to change the mind of person who disagreed with their beliefs.
These figures are a far greater revelation of the weakness of American faith than anything else. Active promulgation of the faith is supposed to be a tenet of Christianity; yet more than 90% of Americans (and presumably more than 90% of American Christians) admit they do not practice it.
That study indicates that religion is of far less importance to Americans than we have been led to believe. America’s people could be as indifferent to religion as their cousins across the pond.
Yet organized religion is still an important force in the United States, because of vast differences between American and British Christianity. A key difference is the existence of large evangelical and Pentecostal churches that are more active and aggressive than regular protestant congregations. Another is many Christian institutions; such as schools, that exist outside the mainstream culture.
One has to wonder if America and Britain will go different directions, or if the United Kingdom’s current post-Christian reality is our future. Statistics seem to indicate that it could be.