New research shows decrease in religion in Scotland

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New research released by Humanist Society Scotland has revealed that over 70% of Scots say they are not religious. A rise of from 56% who said the same in 2011.

Polling firm Survation asked 1,016 Scottish Adults between 8th and 12th September if they were religious, with 24% saying they are and 72% saying they are not.

Based on these findings the Humanist Society are questioning the way in which census data and other studies of religion are being carried out which give higher figures of religiosity.

Census data and the Social Attitudes Survey rather than asking if people are religious ask if they “regard yourself belong to any particular religion”. In the most recent example of this question, carried out by the Scottish Social Attitudes survey in 2016, over 40% of people said they did “belong” to a religious group.

Commenting on the difference in findings Chief Executive of the Humanist society Scotland Gordon MacRae said,

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

“These new findings raise concerns about the official statistics on the adherence to religion in Scotland.

“We know that many people identify with a particular religious community, usually due to family ties, but are not themselves practising that religion.

“These latest finding would suggest there could be as much as a 15% difference between ‘official statistics’ and the reality of religions place in the Scottish public daily lives.

“This raises major questions about key policy decisions made by government regarding special rights given to religious bodies under law. For example the right of Scotland’s churches to hold the balance of power on local education committees.

“We need a new consensus in Scottish politics that respects and protects individuals right to freedom of religion and belief and separating this from policy making. Scotland’s democracy needs to get to a place where we stop blurring the lines of church and state.”

This is not the first time evidence has shown this difference between official statistics and the real religious adherence of the Scottish public. Back in 2011 research carried out by Progressive/YouGov revealed only 35% of the Scottish public said they were religious compared to 58% who said they “belonged” to a religious group.


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