As I think about starting my new work in university chaplaincy, I’m even more interested than I was before about what it’s like to be a young person in the UK today, what questions young people have, and what they do or don’t believe.
So I was drawn to the headline on the YouGov site: ‘British Youth Reject Religion’. I’ll copy the main points below and you can come to your own conclusions:
Religious figures have the least influence on the lives of young Britons – and more say religion is a force for evil than a force for good
In the 2011 Census, 59% of the population described themselves as Christian and only a quarter reported having no religion. But a new poll of young people for the Sun by YouGov finds that the place of religion in the lives of young Britons is smaller than ever.
YouGov asked 18-24 year olds which figures have influence on their lives, and religious leaders came out on bottom: only 12% feel influenced by them, which is far less than even politicians (38%), brands (32%) and celebrities (21%).
The reputation of religion amongst young people is actually more negative than neutral: 41% agree that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world” and only 14% say it is a cause for good.
When asked if they believe in God, only 25% say they do. 19% believe in some non-Godlike “spiritual greater power” and a further 38% believe in no God or spiritual power whatsoever.
Amongst believers, the most represented denominations are Church of England (13%), then Roman Catholic (9%) and Muslim (4%).
The low influence of religious leaders doesn’t surprise me, because so few young people have real human contact with them. But I’m really taken aback by the 41% agreeing that “religion is more often the cause of evil in the world”.