Church decline could be ending, new report suggests
The rapid decline in churchgoers may be slowing thanks to a rise in patriotism and pride in Christianity, a new report is suggesting.
The study also indicates the rapid growth of non-religious people, described as 'the story of British religious history over the past half-century or so', may be stalling.
Analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey and the European Social Survey by academic Stephen Bullivary, professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary's University, Twickenham, suggests the rise of other religions may have contributed to a slowing of secularisation.
'People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness. There has been more rhetoric around Britain being a Christian nation.
'People are looking for ways to connect with others. I suspect a larger proportion of people who do say they are Anglican tend to be patriotic,' he said according to the Telegraph.
Although the proportion of non-religious people make up the largest group with 48.6 per cent of the population, analysis suggests this may have peaked in 2009 when it reached 50.6 per cent, declining in more recent years.
Over the same period the number of Church of England worshippers rose from a low of 16.3 per cent and has risen to 17.1 per cent.
'The proportion of self-describing Anglicans in Britain has more than halved, from 40 per cent in 1983, down to 17 per cent in 2015,' the report notes.
'That said, the past three years are worth highlighting. If talk of even a modest Anglican revival would be premature, one certainly can speak of a newfound stability.'
He added: 'After decades of bad news, this is certainly welcome for the Church of England.
'If I was in the Anglican Church I would be celebrating this.'
However the 'conversion rates' will continue to cause concern for church leaders with non-Christian religions having a significantly higher retention levels.
Overall for every Christian convert from a non-religious upbringing, there are 26 raised as Christians who now they are not believers.
Among other faiths the retention is much higher with 14 per cent of Jews, 10 per cent of Muslims and Sikhs and 6 per cent of Hindus.