Letter: Declining faith

Richard Lucas and Alan Reid (Letters, 31 December and 1 January) are a little out of date concerning the popular status of Christianity in Scotland. It was once the case, as they state, that 65 per cent of Scots identified themselves as currently Christian, but that was at the 2001 census. The position has changed significantly.

The Scottish Household Survey found, using the same census question, that the figure had fallen to 57 per cent by 2008. This change was almost entirely due to declining identification with the Church of Scotland (which fell from 42 to 35 per cent of population during 2001-8) and with "other Christian" (which declined from 14 to 9 per cent), whilst identification as Roman Catholic remained largely stable at around 15 cent. Some 40 per cent of Scots identified in 2008 as "no religion", up from 28 per cent in 2001.

In a UK-wide yearly poll by the British Household Survey, the proportion of people of "no religion" passed half for the first time in 2009.

However, Mr Lucas is probably correct to identify such change as resulting mainly from a diminution in those with "nominal" Christian identity.

But his suggestion that "committed" Christians as a percentage of society are growing is more difficult to detect since weekly church- going is very small (less than 10 per cent) and continues a long-term decline stretching back to at least the early part of the 20th century.


Professor of Religious and Cultural History

University of Dundee