The number of people in the UK who describe their beliefs as being Church of England or Anglican dropped from 21 per cent to 17 per cent between 2012 and 2014– a loss of around 1.7 million followers. The number of Anglicans in Britain is now thought to stand at around 8.6 million.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has warned that unless urgent action is taken the organisation is just ‘one generation away from extinction’.
The figures have been revealed as part of the NatCen’s British Social Attitudes Survey – the UK’s longest running poll of public opinion.
Over the same period the poll found that the number of Muslims in Britain grew by close to a million – making it the fastest growing religion in the UK. 4.7 per cent of Britons now describe themselves as Muslim – amounting to 2.4 million.
When asked about their religious belief the survey found that the most common response was having no religion. 49 per cent of people do not describe themselves has having any belief.
Peter Brierley – a former Government statistician who advises religious groups – said of the new figures: ‘It is very serious for the Church of England and they know it’.
‘The problem is that it has a lot of elderly members – but when they die off there aren’t enough younger people to replace them’.