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Half of the respondents in the UK had a positive experience of Christians. The survey coincides with the launch of Faitheism, a book by Krish Kandiah.
ComRes interviewed 4,087 British adults online in two waves between 2nd – 6th March 2018.
The survey was released to coincide with the launch of Faitheism, a book by founder and Director of the adoption and fostering charity Home for Good, Krish Kandiah, which talks about the relationship between Christians and atheists.
GENERATION Z, MORE OPEN TO RELIGION
According to ComRes, Generation Z (18-24-year-olds) is more open and positive about faith than older generations.
Just over half of members of Generation Z responding to the survey had a positive experience of Christians and Christianity, and 62% felt comfortable discussing their religious beliefs, which is higher than any other age group.
CHURCH ATTENDANCE AND RELIGION AS A NEGATIVE INFLUENCE
Additionally, two-thirds of them said they never went to church; attendance by the remaining third ranged from once or twice a year (20%) to several times a week (2%).
Among the other age-groups, 31% of over-65s and 22% of those aged 45 to 54 went to church, the lowest proportion of any age group.
The survey found only 10% of the general public agreed with the statement that 'religion is a negative influence on society'.
Half of the Generation Z respondents pointed out they disagreed with that. In the next age group (25-34), 14% agreed.
Across all age groups, only 7% said Christians were more fun than atheists. Among Generation Z, 38% indicated they would have more fun socialising with an atheist than a Christian, compared with 11% who said Christians were more fun to socialise with.
“REAL OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE WITH RISING GENERATION”
These results “are real opportunities for us to think positively and creatively about engaging the rising generation”, Krish Kandiah told Christian Today.
“The older 'New Atheists' such as Richard Dawkins were still a presence in public discourse. However, I am trying to shift the debate and show how we can build some common ground”, he said.
Kandiah believes that churches and cathedrals were attractive to young people looking for a “quiet sacred space”.
“Cathedrals are going through the roof, I was speaking to one of the canons at Westminster Abbey, they're expecting 1.5m people through this summer. So people recognising this sacred space is important”, he told the Daily Telegraph.
The British author added that young people had become interested in spirituality through the rise of techniques such as mindfulness, which was leading them to church, even if they didn't actually believe in a Christian god.
“Things like the Alpha course were designed for people who were coming to church but didn't necessarily believe the stuff. So I think the church has been following this trend for a while, which is maybe why we are seeing this uptick in younger people”, Kandiah said.
The survey was published the day after the Church of England announced it was establishing more than 100 new churches, mostly in urban areas, some of which will be aimed at attracting young people to worship and engage in social action.