​Losing faith: Atheism rising in Britain, poll suggests

Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett
Religiosity in Britain is dying as almost one in five British people now identifies themselves as atheist, a poll for The Times has found.

The poll, made in conjunction with YouGov, surveyed 1,550 adults. It found 19 percent identify themselves as atheists, 7 percent as “agnostic” and 3 percent as “humanist.”

In contrast, 49 percent identified themselves as Christian, while 42 percent said they had “no religion” they directly identified with.

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The poll is one of the first to measure the number of self-identifying atheists in the UK, while previous studies had simply measured the number of people who believed in “God” against those who didn’t.

Additionally, the poll found Britons were fonder of Labour leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as a result of their admission they did not believe in God.

Additionally, the poll found David Cameron’s Anglican faith made little to no impact on the way voters viewed him, with only 12 percent of identifying Christians claiming the prime minister’s faith improved their opinion of him.

The poll follows statements by British author and comedian Stephen Fry, who earlier this month called the idea of God “capricious,”“mean-minded” and “stupid.”

“Political leaders would want to avoid polarizing opinion in that way, but again it’s evidence of a sort that people can express strongly anti-religious views and receive more applause than disapproval,” David Voas, professor of population studies at Essex University, told the Times.

READ MORE:‘Toxic brand’: Britons say religion does more bad than good, atheists ‘more moral’ than believers

“The mere fact that atheists are more comfortable than Christians in saying what they are is noteworthy. Certainly Americans would be astonished to hear that only 10 percent of British atheists feel uncomfortable telling people their identity,” he added.

In November, a poll by Huffington Post UK found more than half of Britons believed religion “did more harm than good,” with 60 percent of respondents saying that faith “caused more problems than it solved.”