Scotland much more secularized than US - half Christians - American survey finds

(Image: Barna Group)

Scotland is a divided nation when it comes to Christianity, a new survey has found.

It is a much more secularized country than the United States with just over half of all the people in the country in the United Kingdom describing themselves as Christians.

A survey by the Barna Group found that 51 per cent of the people in Scotland identity as Christians while the rest say they have other half identify with another faith or none.

In another poll the latest Scottish Annual Household Survey suggested that 27.8 per cent of Scots feel they belong to the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, a drop of 0.6 per cent on the previous year.

The Barna Group's survey, its first outside North America examined if the Christian community can flourish in a post-Christian context.

"Despite levels of secularization that are much higher than in the U.S., the research findings from Scotland will likely strike American readers as familiar," the study found.

It found increasing numbers of non-religious adults, declining church attendance numbers and fewer people engaged with the Bible.

The yearlong research effort was commissioned by the Maclellan Foundation and it examines the current state of the Christian faith in Scotland.

It identifies ministry approaches that seem to be working in this particular post-Christian context.

"While some of the trends revealed in the new report, Transforming Scotland, may paint an uncomfortable picture for church leaders, the research also shows surprising 'countertrends' that refute traditional expectations of secularization, including best practices among growing churches."

The survey finds the cultural trend to identify as Christian is in decline and younger adults are much less apt than older adults to describe themselves as Christian.

"As is also true of Americans, not all Scots who self-identify as Christian are fully engaged with or committed to their faith.

"For many, in fact, the label alone is enough. The power of Christendom's cultural legacy remains strong in Scotland, especially among older adults."

Barna found seven out of 10 self-identified Christians in Scotland are "legacy Christians" who do not believe basic elements of Christian doctrine or express personal faith in Jesus (69 per cent).

The Scottish Annual Household Survey's data indicates almost 1,500,000 people state an affinity to the Church of Scotland, the Edinburgh-based Ekklesia think tank reports.

Scotland has a population of some 5.3 million people.

Responding to the results, Rev. Colin Sinclair, convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council said: "These latest figures represent the challenges facing many established organisations in Scotland, not least the churches.

"Fewer Scots are identifying with the Church, even at a time [when] the Church of Scotland is helping provide care and support for increasing numbers of people across the country, of all faiths and none."

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