7 in 10 young people in the UK are non-religious, new research finds

21 March, 2018

Research published today by academics at St Mary’s University Twickenham and the Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP) has revealed the decline of religiosity in the UK among young people is amongst the greatest in Europe.

According to the report, 70% of young adults aged 16-29 years-old in the UK identify as having no religion, while 10% identify as Catholic, 7% as Anglican, and 6% as Muslim. Only 7% of British young adults say they attend religious services on at least a weekly basis.

The figures reveal that the UK has the fifth least religious young adult population of anywhere in Europe, with only the Czech Republic, Estonia, Sweden, and the Netherlands above.

The findings are consistent with previous research on the decline of religion in the UK. Last year the British Social Attitudes Survey found that 71% of 18-24 year-olds say they belong to no religion, while just 3% say they are Church of England and 5% say they’re Catholic.

Reacting to the report, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: ‘The overwhelming majority of young people in the UK – more than at any other time in history – identify as non-religious. But despite this, a third of all state-funded schools are faith schools, rising to 40% at the primary level. Many of these are legally permitted to refuse entry to non-religious families, and the UK Government is proposing to pave the way for hundreds more in England over the next few years. What’s more, even schools without a religious character are required to hold religious worship. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, this must be every day.

‘In other words, our education system is currently set up in such a way as to discriminate against the majority of children within it. It is an education system that is no longer fit for purpose. The state ought to address the disproportionate and undue influence of religion in our schools immediately.’


For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on jay@humanists.uk or 07970 393 680.

Read the full report Europe’s Young Adults and Religion: https://www.stmarys.ac.uk/news/2018/03/study-benedict-0318

Read Humanists UK’s previous news item ‘Latest British Social Attitudes reveals 71% of young adults are non-religious, just 3% are Church of England’: https://humanists.uk/2017/09/04/latest-british-social-attitudes-reveals-71-of-young-adults-are-non-religious-just-3-are-church-of-england/

Read more about Humanists UK’s work on faith schools: https://humanists.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.