Christians might seek alliances as their overall numbers shrink

editorial image

The steady decline of Christianity in the UK continues, new research has found.

More people now identify as having no religion than people who say that they are Christian.

The findings relate to England and Wales, but those two countries make up almost 90% of the UK population, and so any findings there will dominate UK-wide results.

Northern Ireland, and to a lesser extent Scotland, still have notably higher levels of church going and faith, but Christian religious belief is in decline in those two countries as well, even in the Province which has the highest levels of UK faith.

Northern Ireland has long been closer to America than to Great Britain when it comes to things such as church attendance rate, and indeed been closer to the Republic of Ireland.

In the 1990s the Catholic Irish had one of the highest attendance rates of any groups in the British Isles.

But even the Catholic church has suffered marked declines in attendance, on both sides of the Irish border.

These are trends that are affecting much of the western world. Countries such as France and Sweden now report majorities of the population who describe themselves as atheist.

Many people believe that the decline of religion is a good thing, but there are still millions of British, and hundreds of thousands of Northern Irish, people who feel sadness at the trends, and fear for the decline of Judeo Christian values.

The notion, for example, that life begins as conception is a decreasingly widespread one.

The change in social attitudes is likely to lead to greater solidarity between churches such as the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant ones, who will find they have more in common with each other than with irreligious people.

There were even reports that the DUP benefited in the election from Catholic votes due to its conservative line on social questions, although such support was probably small. But such tactical voting could become more common if the number of Christians keeps shrinking.