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Two thirds of people in Scotland who say they belong to or were brought up in a religion “never or practically never” attend religious services, new research published today by ScotCen Social Research has revealed.

The findings from ScotCen’s Scottish Social Attitudes survey uncover that the proportion of people in Scotland who attend religious services is at the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 1999. The number who say they don’t attend services has been steadily increasing over the previous 16 years from 49% in 1999 to 66% in 2016.

Half have no religion

The results also show that over half of people in Scotland are not religious; 52% of people say they do not belong to a religion, compared with 40% in 1999.

Most of this decline has happened in relation to the Church of Scotland. In 1999 over a third of people (35%) said that they belonged to the Church of Scotland but that has fallen to only a fifth (20%) today. At the same time the proportion/s belonging to other religious groups, including Roman Catholic (15%), other Christian (11%) and non-Christian (2%) have/has remained very steady.

Ian Montagu, Researcher at ScotCen, said “Today’s findings show that Scottish commitment to religion, both in terms of our willingness to say we belong to a religion and to attend religious services, is in decline. However, this change doesn’t appear to be affecting all religions equally. Affiliation with the Church of Scotland is in decline while levels of identification with other religions remain relatively unchanged. As fewer Scots are acknowledging even a default religious identity, it is affiliation with the national church that is the hardest hit.”


Download the data tables.

For more information contact Leigh Marshall 07828 031850

Notes to editors

ScotCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

The Scottish Social Attitudes survey aims to produce high quality survey data to inform both public policy and academic study. It has a long time series (dating back to 1999) on public attitudes towards devolution and independence. Further details about ScotCen Social Research and the Scottish Social Attitudes survey are available at

The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes survey interviewed a representative random probability sample of 1,288 people between July 2015 and January 2016. Data are weighted to reflect known patterns of non-response bias and the age and gender profile of the Scottish population.