The march of secularism means Britain may no longer be a Christian country in just 20 years, a report said yesterday.
If trends continue, the number of non-believers is set to overtake the number of Christians by 2030. Research by the House of Commons Library found that while Christianity has declined, other religions have seen sharp increases.
In the last six years, the number of Muslims has surged by 37 per cent to 2.6million; Hindus by 43 per cent and Buddhists by 74 per cent. But the number of Sikhs and Jewish believers fell slightly.
The researchers said the number of Christians had only held up to the extent it has because of high levels of immigration over the last decade.
Secularists argue that Christians should no longer have privileged access in Parliament when the number who believe in God is declining so sharply.
Researchers came to their conclusion after studying the Labour Force Survey, which is carried out every year by the Office for National Statistics. It is the most authoritative survey because of its regularity and its large sample size of 50,000.
It found that in 2010 there were around 41.1million Christians in Britain – down 7.6 per cent over the past six years. There were around 13.4million non-believers, up 49 per cent over the same period.
The study, Religion in Great Britain, concludes: ‘Between the fourth quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of 2010, the Christian population fell from 78.0 per cent of the population to 69.4 per cent, while the group of people with no religion grew from 15.7 per cent to 22.4 per cent.
‘If these populations continue to shrink and grow by the same number of people each year, the number of people with no religion will overtake the number of Christians in Great Britain in 20 years, on this measure of religious affiliation.’