How many are we?

Many people are Humanists without realising it. This is hardly surprising given the lack of exposure Humanism receives. The subject has generally been omitted from school curricula, unlike the teaching of religion. The BBC, even now, wont allow Humanists to contribute to ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4.

The last national census in 2011 gives some idea of numbers for the ‘non-religious’, most of whom are likely to be on the Humanist spectrum. Nationally the percentage of respondents reporting that they had ‘no religion’ increased from 14.8 to 25.1 during the period 2001 – 2011.

Religious affiliation England & Wales. 2011 Census. Office of National Statistics.

However, this headline figure does not tell the full story. Responses are bound to be skewed by the way the question is framed. There will be many who declare they are a member of a faith simply because that is the faith they inherited from a parent. The lack of precision in the methodology of the census is remarkable given the importance of the statistics to assessing and planning our national needs.

In addition, the headline figure does not reflect the demographic of belief. Other surveys show that younger people are less likely to be religious than older people.

The British Social Attitudes Survey, published in September 2017, shows that the trend towards non-religious belief has continued unabated. Overall 53% of those surveyed said they belonged to no religion. That rose to 71% among those aged 18 – 24.