Falling levels of religiosity in Scotland underline the need for a review of its place in education

  • New research from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey finds majority (52%) not religious.

  • Largest decline in religious identity for Church of Scotland (from 35% in 1999 to just 20%).

  • Humanists issue a renewed call for debate about the role of religion in Scottish education.

New findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey have been released today, highlighting further declines in the religious identity of the Scottish population.

The new findings show 52% of people say they are not religious, compared with 40% in 1999 when the survey began.

The proportion who say they belong to the Church of Scotland has fallen from 35% in 1999 to just 20%.

Other religious groups, including Roman Catholic (15%) and other Christian (11%) have remained steady and the number of non-Christians has remained at 2%.

The research, published by ScotCen Social Research, also reveals attendance at religious services is at the lowest level recorded since 1999.

Responding to this news Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive, said:

“It really is time for politicians to catch up with the reality of modern Scottish society.

“It’s completely unjustified that church groups continue to enjoy historic privileges in the state education system. These anachronisms should be confined to the past, and should not play any part in a 21st Century education system.

“In this election year we will continue to highlight inconsistencies which exist in the Scottish education system.

“As we approach polling day, we urge politicians to catch-up with the views of modern Scottish society.”


Notes to editors:

For further comment please contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or gary@humanism.scot.

Original source data: http://www.scotcen.org.uk/media/1133140/SSA-Religion_tables.pdf

HSS-commissioned research: In 2011 HSS commissioned research from Progressive/YouGov which highlighted a flaw in the 2011 census question. When asked ‘What religion are you’, the census question, 58% answered positively. However, when asked the less leading question ‘Are you religious’, 56% answered No. Full details: https://www.humanism.scot/what-we-do/research/hss-independent-research-on-religion-and-belief-in-scotland-2011/

In 2012 HSS commissioned research from YouGov to identify if parents were aware of their parental right to opt-out of Religious and Moral Education and Religious Observance. The results found that four out five parents (80%) were either ignorant of their rights or originally found out through a source other than school. Worryingly, 39%, over a third of parents were not aware of their right at all. Further information at: https://www.humanism.scot/what-we-do/research/religion-and-education-2012/

In March 7 2016 HSS released a detailed exposé of unelected religious representatives on local eduction committees: More information at: http://enlightenup.scot/new-enlightenup-campaign-expose-details-of-unelected-religious-representatives/

External research: 70.8% of 14-17 years have no religion (Survey of young Scots, 2013, http://aqmen.ac.uk/referendum/youngpeople)

In August 2015 the Scottish Households Survey found that nearly one-in-two households in Scotland are non-religious: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/08/3720

About Enlighten Up: The Enlighten Up campaign is an initiative of Humanist Society Scotland which aims to promote a fair and inclusive education system where pupils and teachers are not discriminated against because of their religion or belief. More info at: http://enlightenup.scot/

About HSS: Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.


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