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La population sans religion

Many Britons no longer regard themselves as belonging to any religion. Most people do not participate in formal religious practice, with the exception of special ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. In the 2011 British Social Attitudes survey, 46.1% reported having no religion, and this percentage is higher among the youngest respondents.

The people who chose ’No religion’ on the census (25.1% in 2011 and 14.8% in 2001) can probably be regarded as fairly definitely non-religious, as opposed to merely noncommittal. Explicit ’no religion’ responses were nearly twice as high in Scotland as in England and Wales, for reasons outlined above.
It is noteworthy that of the one million people born in south Asia, only one percent described themselves as having no religion (and from Pakistan and Bangladesh, the figure was less than one half of a percent).
Of the not quite 50,000 residents born in China, fewer than 30 percent specified a religious affiliation, as against almost 78 percent for the general population. In the sociological debate over whether (to simplify) religion is rooted in upbringing or choice, this result would clearly support the former ; religious liberty and pluralism in Britain have not attracted the majority to any institutional affiliation.

It is also interesting to note that the ‘no religion’ proportion among the American-born is actually higher than for British natives, despite the considerably higher level of religious practice in the US. While one is tempted to suggest that the 144,000 Americans are disproportionately liberal/secular refugees, the more likely explanation is that they are especially likely to be students and young professionals, groups that are among the least religious. Indeed, the figures for Oceania (heavily weighted with young Australians and New Zealanders) show ’no religion’ at 30 percent, twice the overall level.

D 11 septembre 2012    ADavid Voas

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