UK among the least religious countries in the world; just over half of Americans say they are religious

(Photo: REUTERS / Baz Ratner)

It was once the bastion of Christianity, giving birth to many of the world's major denominations and sending out missionaries across the continents.  But today the UK is one of the least religious countries in the world.

That's according to a new survey by WIN/Gallup International into the religiosity of nearly 64,000 people across 65 countries. 

The survey asked people to define themselves as "a religious person", "not a religious person", "a convicted atheist" or "do not know".

Only 30 percent of Brits described themselves as religious, with the lion's share of the population, some 53 percent, defining themselves as not religious  Thirteen per cent said they were atheists.

Also ranking at the bottom for religiosity were China, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Japan.

The largest proportions of religious people could be found in Thailand, Morocco, Georgia, Bangladesh, and Armenia.

In the U.S., 56 percent of people said they were religious.  A third said they were not religious and six percent described themselves as atheist. 

In total, 63 percent of those surveyed across the 65 countries described themselves as religious, followed by 22 percent who said they were not religious, 11 per cent who said they were atheists, and four percent who did not give an answer.

The survey found a correlation between religiosity and wealth, with people increasingly unreligious the better off they were.  

The uneducated and those with only primary school level education were also more likely to be religious. 

In terms of continents, Africa was the most religious, at 86 per cent of the population. Western Europe and Oceania had the least religious populations by continent.  

Jean-Marc Leger of WIN/Gallup told The Telegraph: ""Religion continues to dominate our everyday lives and we see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high.

"Furthermore, with the trend of an increasingly religious youth globally, we can assume that the number of people who consider themselves religious will only continue to increase."

Churches across the traditions and denominations in the UK have been experiencing steady decline over the last half century, most particularly the Methodist Church.  African-Caribbean and evangelical congregations are among the few bucking the trend.

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