Happy 2017! Some interesting news coming out of the United Kingdom as we observe New Year’s festivities. It appears that the UK might have had a surge of citizens abandoning their faith after a dodgy year full of terrorist attacks, unexpected election results, and refugee crises throughout 2016.
A YouGov poll, as reported by The Times, found a four-point drop in respondents who stated they believe in a higher power (from 32 percent last February, down to 28 percent now). While it is difficult to point to this year’s string of maligned events as the single source of the decline, it is a rather stark drop to occur over a single year. For comparison, over the previous 25 years the drop had been about one percent per year.
The number of respondents who claimed that they do not believe in any god at all rose from 33 percent to 38 percent, which, again, is a sharp change for just a year’s time. While other factors can certainly be at play, there is the possibility that a substantial portion of the faithful in the UK could not reconcile the idea of a loving god with what they were witnessing in the world around them. It should also be noted that this was only a single poll of only about 1,600 people.
Just as in the United States, the younger generation in the UK is more likely to be atheist or agnostic, with 46% of that demographic stating there is no god. The percentage decreases as you look at the older generations. The population of the UK has been progressing towards secularism at a faster rate than the United States. The Times also reports that back in 1991, in a British Attitudes Survey, about 50 percent of respondents stated they believe in a god.
Do you think that we will see similar trends in the United States and elsewhere? Maybe it will depend on what we see happen in 2017 before we see a really dramatic series of changes in the religious population of the US.