Scotland is becoming a post-religious society with a clear majority of people abandoning organised faith, research has suggested.
Findings from the country’s most authoritative survey of public attitudes has revealed that almost six out of ten Scots identify as having no religion. The figure of 58 per cent, the highest recorded, is up six points in a year and 18 points from 1999, when the figure stood at four in ten.
The differences between the moral stances of mainstream churches on issues such as same-sex marriages in church and the opinions of the public and the state are partly to blame, analysts say. The churches are seen as “socially conservative”, particularly alienating the younger sections of an increasingly liberal society.
The research, carried out for the ScotCen annual Scottish social attitudes survey, showed that the percentage of people identifying with the Church of Scotland had almost halved from 35 per cent to 18 per cent since 1999, while the corresponding figure for the Catholic Church fell from 15 per cent to 10 per cent in the space of a year.
Three quarters — 74 per cent — of young people said that they had no faith, compared with 34 per cent of those people over 65. The surge in secularism is also highlighted in the fact that 80 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 years old said they had been brought up in non-religious households.
Ian Montagu, a researcher with ScotCen, said: “There is now a significant difference between the stance of a number of religious organisations and that of both the state and the majority of public opinion on many social issues.
“Therefore, if an increasingly liberal population find that they are unable to square their views with the views of any given religion, they may be less likely to feel like they identify with that religion.”
• Full story at The Times.