Poll: Most Scots never pray and only attend church on special occasions

A majority of Scots only attend church on a special occasion, the survey found. Picture: Allan Milligan
A majority of Scots only attend church on a special occasion, the survey found. Picture: Allan Milligan
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Scots are becoming increasingly indifferent to religion, with the majority of young people describing themselves as not having any faith, according to new research.

Almost 70 per cent of Scots aged between 18 and 24 said they were not religious, while the figure for the nation as a whole is almost 60 per cent, a poll of more than 1,000 adults found.

Once a country with a majority Christian population, the results show that Scotland is now a nation where most people never pray and only attend church for weddings and funerals.

The survey, carried out by polling company Survation on behalf of the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS), also found that the majority of people (51 per cent) do not believe in an afterlife.

A similar proportion (53 per cent) said they never prayed, while 60 per cent said they never attended church outside of weddings, funerals and other special occasions.

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The biggest religion in Scotland remains Christianity, with 37 per cent identifying as such. Of these, more than half (58 per cent) said they were part of the Church of Scotland.

Researchers also questioned people about detailed religious beliefs. In all cases, the majority of those questioned said they did not believe in concepts such as heaven, hell or a day of judgement.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) did not believe in hell, with a similar proportion stating they did not believe in divine miracles. Angels and evil spirits were also dismissed by 60 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.

The study also uncovered significant regional variations in religious belief. The North East of Scotland contains the most non-religious people, at 66 per cent, while in Glasgow the majority was only 55 per cent.

Glasgow also had the highest proportion of people who reported praying at least once a day (20 per cent), compared to just 11 per cent in the North East.

Those from mid-Scotland and Fife were the least likely to attend church, with people from Glasgow most likely to attend at least once a week.

“These figures show how the majority of Scotland’s population do not identify with a religion nor believe in key aspects of spiritual belief,” said HSS chief executive Gordon MacRae.

“While it is important to recognise that faith plays an important part in a minority of people’s lives, the majority do not.

“By all measurements Scotland is no longer a faith based country – and has not been for some time.

“This is important when it comes to the provision of public services for example, providers must ensure they recognise and meet the needs of everyone – religious or not.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “This poll shows that more than one in three Scots identify with being Christian. That is actually an increase on the numbers in the Humanist Society Scotland’s Survation poll of 2017.

“The Parish Church is there to celebrate with families in the happy times but also to provide support during the difficult and sad times.

“Irrespective of the Church’s popularity, that calling remains the same and is why today you still find Christians active at all levels of society.

“Whether we are many or we are few the church will always seek to be a force for good in society.”

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