UK: Religious marriages decline to a record low

“Since 1992, civil marriages have increasingly outnumbered religious marriages”, the Office for National Statistics says. Religious ceremonies now account for less than a quarter of all weddings.

Evangelical Focus

ONS, Premier · LONDON · 04 APRIL 2019 · 11:00 CET

Foto: Unsplash (CC0).,
Foto: Unsplash (CC0).

Less than a quarter of couples are marrying in religious ceremonies in the United Kingdom, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently revealed.

Although religious marriages in 2016 reached the lowest ever level, falling by 4.2% between 2015 and 2016, there was a 1.7% rise in the total number of weddings during the same period.

“There were 60,069 religious unions of a total of 249,793 weddings recorded. Only 61 same-sex couples (0,9%) married through religious ceremonies in 2016”, the ONS said.



According to the ONS, “in 1900, religious ceremonies accounted for 85% of all, but by the late 1970s it had fallen to 50%”.

Since 1992, civil marriages have increasingly outnumbered religious marriages every year”, statistics showed.

Researchers from the ONS said that the decline of religious weddings “is partly due to the long-term decline in the overall number of all marriages, but also due to the rise in popularity of civil marriage ceremonies”.


Civil marriage ceremonies have outnumbered religious ceremonies each year since 1992. / ONS.



“In 2016, for the first time on record, there were more than three times as many civil marriage ceremonies as there were religious ceremonies”, they added.

Civil weddings were restricted to a register office until the Marriage Act 1994, which permitted the use of other locations, including hotels, castles and stately homes.

“Low marriage rates show how much we have lost confidence in marriage, and yet marriages are as strong as ever - divorce rates are at their lowest level in 50 years”, Christian research Director at the Marriage Foundation, Harry Benson, told The Times.

According to Ellen Walker from Hall Brown Family Law: “Not too many years ago, society was more religious and there was an element of stigma to the idea of setting up home together without marrying or having children out of wedlock”.

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