Christianity is in steep decline in Scotland, and the proportion of its population professing to be Christian is well below the equivalent figure for England and Wales.
In 2001, 65.2 per cent of the country’s 5,062,000 people claimed to be Christian. Ten years later, this proportion has dropped to 53.8 per cent of the 5,295,000 population.
In the land of John Knox, whose history has been blessed with numerous significant Christian revivals, these figures indicate the continued decline of the influence of the Christian faith in Scotland.
The analysis of the findings of the question on religion in the 2011 census was released in September by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), which had responsibility for the 2011 census in Scotland.
In England and Wales, the percentage of the population professing to be Christian was 71.7 in 2001 and 59.3 in 2011.
More than one in three of the people of Scotland indicated in the 2011 census that they had no religious belief at all, compared with a proportion of only 25.1 per cent in England and Wales.
Part of the reason for this difference is that Scotland has a smaller representation (only 1.9 per cent) of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs than England and Wales (7 per cent). Muslims, for instance, account for 4.8 per cent of the population of England and Wales, but only 1.4 per cent of the people of Scotland.
In 2001, the proportion of the Scottish population claiming to have no religion was 27.8 per cent. The increase to 36.7 per cent means that there are 532,000 more people with no religious element to their lives than there were in 2001.
In Scotland, respondents to the 2011 census could indicate whether they were Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic or ‘other Christian’. Between 2001 and 2011 the Church of Scotland has suffered a severe loss of numbers.
In 2011 only 32.4 per cent of the population claimed adherence to the Church of Scotland, compared with 42.4 per cent in 2001. This represents a loss of 428,000 adherents over the 10 years.