A. Religious Demography
24. The latest official national census of 2001 indicates the following data on religious affiliation for Great Britain: 71.8 per cent Christian, 2.8 per cent Muslim, 1 per cent Hindu, 0.6 per cent Sikh, 0.5 per cent Jewish and 0.3 per cent Buddhist, whereas 15.1 per cent of the population had no religion and 7.8 per cent of people chose not to state their religion. In Northern Ireland, 85.8 per cent of people answered the 2001 census question that they belonged to or were brought up in a Christian religion (40.3 per cent Catholic Church, 20.7 per cent Presbyterian Church in Ireland, 15.3 per cent Church of Ireland, 3.5 per cent Methodist Church in Ireland and 6 per cent other Christian denominations) whereas 13.9 per cent had no religion or did not state any affiliation and 0.3 per cent belonged to other religions or philosophies.
25. However, other surveys and opinion polls, which measure “belief” or “practice”, rather than “religious affiliation”, produce significantly lower figures for the Christian denominations. In 2007, approximately two-thirds of the British either did not claim membership of a religion or said that they never attended a religious service, compared with 26 per cent in 1964. Amongst those who do actually claim to belong to a religion, the proportion who attends a Christian service regularly has been falling. Another 2007 research report on churchgoing in the United Kingdom indicated that 15.5 per cent attend a service at least once a month whereas 28 per cent were former churchgoers unlikely to return and 32 per cent have never been to church and are unlikely to do so. In comparison to Great Britain, there are significantly more regular churchgoers than average in Northern Ireland, i.e. 45 per cent attending a religious service at least once a month. Surveys have also revealed that religious belief is strongly related to age and generations, with young people far less religious than their elders. Furthermore, the total number of people affiliated to non-Christian religions has increased in recent years and for most of them their religion seems to be a more important factor than it is for Christians.