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Britain’s loss of religious faith: how should we interpret shocking new statistics?

8 May 2017

1:10 PM

8 May 2017

1:10 PM

Just 30 per cent of Britons feel that their religion or faith is important to them, according to the 2017 Ipsos MORI survey of global trends. That puts us at the bottom of the international table: only Swedes (29 per cent), Belgians (27 per cent) and the Japanese (22 per cent) are more secular than we are, according to this poll.

The global average, meanwhile, is 53 per cent. Muslim Indonesia heads the list with 93 per cent. Christian America is on 68 per cent, despite a recent slump in church attendance. (I’m always a bit suspicious of what Americans tell pollsters about their faith.) Even Australia – hardly a nation that flaunts its piety – is on 42 per cent.

In this week’s Holy Smoke podcast, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson joins Cristina Odone and me to discuss these findings. We reach three quite different conclusions – as you’ll hear when you listen to our lively exchange of views. But none of us thinks that the clock can be turned back, or that a large-scale Christian revival is a realistic prospect.


Meanwhile, bear in mind one thing. The 30 per cent of Britons who say their faith is important to them includes immigrants from profoundly religious countries. How secular would we be without them? Is it possible that Britons were never particularly religious and that, as one historian put it to me, “we’re far too busy worshipping ourselves to be a truly Christian country”?

You can listen to our discussion here:

And please subscribe on iTunes for a new Holy Smoke every other Monday.

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