The Church of England has suffered a dramatic slump in its followers, shocking new figures show. Between 2012 and 2014, the proportion of Britons identifying themselves as C of E or Anglican dropped from 21 per cent to 17 per cent – a fall of about 1.7 million people.
Over the same period, the number of Muslims in Britain grew by nearly one million, according to a survey by the respected NatCen Social Research Institute.
NatCen’s annual British Social Attitudes Survey is the country’s longest-running and most comprehensive poll of public opinion, involving more than 3,000 people.
Participants were asked: ‘Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion? If yes, which?’ Figures from the survey going back more than 30 years paint an even bleaker picture, with the Church haemorrhaging nearly eight million followers in that time.
In 1983, 40 per cent of the British population – or 16.5 million people – identified themselves as Anglican or C of E, but this number has now more than halved.
Alarmingly for Church leaders, the worst losses have come over the past decade, with about 4.5 million fewer people affiliating themselves to the C of E or Anglicanism between 2004 and 2014.
In contrast, those who describe themselves as Muslim have jumped from 3.2 per cent of the population – equivalent to 1.5 million – in 2012 to 4.7 per cent or 2.4 million in 2014.
We know the number of Muslims almost doubled in the decade from 2000 to 2010, according to the census. If you assume Muslims were maintaining that rate of expansion, that would mean they would add another 6 million in this decade. So 1 million in 2 years is roughly in line with that. Still, even I find it hard to believe that they could go up by 6 million in a decade. I don't see how that rate of expansion can be sustained.