The slowing decline of religion – and the generational challenge for Christianity

Topic Selected: Religion

General Article icon Type: General Article

The proportion of the total population who see themselves as belonging to a particular religion has been on the decline – from around two-thirds (65%) back in the mid-1980s to just over half (53%) by 2011. That’s not particularly surprising or new – the Census figures released last year show a similar decline, although differences in the question mean the proportions are different.

This is quite a fall – the sort of change that would raise concern for the long-term survival of religious attachment. This decline, however, is almost entirely related to changes in the generational make-up of the population, similar to the patterns we’ve seen with political attachment.

As with political identification, there is very flat affiliation with a religion within each generation over time – and each has a lower level of religious attachment than their elders. But having said that, the gaps between generations are getting successively smaller, so

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