New research confirms substantial majority of Scottish people are not religious and not spiritual

14 August, 2018

Photo: Marlusz Klunznlak

A new report, commissioned by Humanist Society Scotland, reveals that a substantial majority (59%) of Scottish people do not hold either religious or spiritual beliefs. The research carried out by Survation, polled over 1,000 Scottish residents about a range of issues relating to their religious affiliations and beliefs.

The report’s key findings are:

  • Most people in Scotland self identify as non-religious (59%)
  • Women are more likely to be non-religious (62%) than men (55%)
  • Most people in Scotland do not believe in life after death (51%)
  • The majority of the Scottish public do not believe in angels (60%), evil spirits (65%) or divine miracles from God (67%)
  • Most people in Scotland never pray (53%)
  • 60% reporting they never attended church outside of weddings or funerals they are attending

Commenting on the impact of the findings, Humanist Society Scotland Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said,

‘These figures show how the majority of Scotland’s population do not identify with a religion nor believe in key aspects of spiritual belief… By all measurements Scotland is no longer a faith-based country – and has not been for some time… This is important when it comes to the provision of public services for example, providers must ensure they recognise and meet the needs of everyone – religious or not.’

These findings are consistent with other recent surveys such as the 2017 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS), which found that 58% of Scots consider themselves non-religious, including 74% of Scots aged 18-34. The SSAS suggested that the only generation where religious belief was in the majority was Scots aged 65+, of whom only 34% were non-religious, compared to 57% of Scots aged 50-64.

Last year, Humanist Society Scotland conducted more marriages in Scotland that any religious group, including the Church of Scotland.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented,

‘The evidence suggests that Scotland is not only a majority non-religious country, but that the non-religious population is very firm in those beliefs – overwhelmingly rejecting supernatural, spiritual, and irrational beliefs.

‘In the light of these finding, senior politicians across Scotland need to stop claiming that Scotland is a “Christian country” as a means of justifying privileges given to religious institutions in politics and public life.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan on or 07951 176 245.

Read the full report:

Read a summary of the poll’s findings:

Read more about the work of Humanist Society Scotland:

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.