Christians in UK drop below 40 per cent while Muslims rise to 6%

There has been a 'dramatic decline' in Britain's Christian identity over the last 35 years - with a 'substantial increase' in atheism, a state-of-the-nation survey has suggested.

Slightly over one-third (38%) of the 3,879 people polled for the British Social Attitudes report described themselves as Christian, down from one-half (50%) in 2008, and nearly two-thirds (66%) in 1983.

Conversely, those identifying as Muslim increased exponentially - up from 1% in 1983, rising to 3% in 2008, and 6% in 2018.

The findings represent the first time the percentage of those describing themselves as Christian dropped below 40% since the survey began in 1983, although those identifying as no denomination Christian increased from 3% in 1983 to 13% in 2018.

More than half of all people polled (52%) said they do not belong to any religion, up from nearly one-in-three (31%) in 1983.

The report by the National Centre for Social Research, published on Thursday, said: 'The past two decades have seen international conflict involving religion and domestic religious organisations, putting themselves at odds with mainstream values.'

'We find a dramatic decline in identification with Christian denominations, particularly the Church of England, a substantial increase in atheism and in self-description as "very" or "extremely" non-religious... but tolerance of religious difference.'

The data shows 11% of those with a faith attended a religious service at least once a week, a rate which has remained stable since 1998.

Half (50%) of those polled said they never pray, up from 41% in 2008 and 30% in 1998, although those who pray 'several times a day' is up from 5% two decades ago to 8% in 2018, the data shows.

Almost two-thirds (63%) or Britons polled agreed that religions bring more conflict than peace, while 13% disagreed.

The data also showed 51% of those polled 'feel positive' towards Christians, compared with 30% for Muslims.

Similarly, 4% of people have negative thoughts about Christians (level with Buddhists), compared with 17% for Muslims.

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