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A quarter of ‘non-religious’ Britons admit to praying


A quarter of people who say they have no religion admit to praying, a report has found.

Nearly one in four people in Britain who claim to be non-religious say that prayer forms a part of their life, while a similar proportion admit to attending religious services.

The study by the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, found that nearly half the British population now identifies as non-religious – however, nearly three fifths of these still profess some level of personal religiousness.

Around four per cent of people who claim to be non-religious even admit to praying daily, with over a quarter of non-religious over-75s praying at least monthly.

Although only 20 per cent of the population say they were brought up without a religion, nearly half now describe themselves this way.

Three in five non-religious people said they were raised as Christians, while fewer than five per cent of people raised non-religious now identify as Christians. This means that for every person raised with no religion who has become Christian, 26 people have gone the other way.

Professor Stephen Bullivant, Director of the Benedict XVI Centre and author of the report, said: “Those identifying with ‘No religion’ make up almost half of the population of Great Britain and this is the first detailed profile we have of this hugely significant group.

“The growth of the non-religious is the topic in the religious history of Britain – as elsewhere –over the past several decades, and this data highlights the complexity of what that actually means in practice.

“Equally interesting, however, is the fact that in recent years – since 2009 – ‘No religion’ has stopped growing as a share of the population. It’s by no means in decline, of course, but we’re no longer seeing year-on-year increases. Meanwhile, in the last few years, the Anglican share of the population has finally stabilised, after a long period of gradual decline.

“What is certain, is that the challenge for the churches is twofold: 1) improve the “retention” of those brought up as Christians so that a much higher proportion remain as Christians in adult life, and 2) seek new ways to reach and attract people raised outside of Christianity.

“As things stand, for every one cradle None who has become some kind of Christian, there are twenty-six cradle Christians who have become Nones later in life. So there’s a lot to be done.”