From the National Secular Society Newsline (U.K)
First published Nov. 25, 2005
A new report has revealed a significant increase in the number of people in Northern Ireland who now see themselves as having no religion.
The report from the University of Ulster and Queen’s University, claims that on current trends, those with no religion will form the second or third largest group in Northern Ireland by 2011.
The new report said that those with no religion are more likely to come from Protestant than Catholic families, but, there has also been a significant decline in church attendance among Catholics.
The report suggested that disaffection with politics was causing the growth of this secular group. "The results indicate strong support for the view that disaffection from politics has been a motivation to reject religion," said Prof. Ian McAllister, the report's author. "However, this move towards secularisation does not suggest a reduced role in politics for religion. In particular, people who are the most religious are often the most politically active, and so exert the most influence on parties and politicians. If secularisation is to have any impact on the political process, those who see themselves as secular will have to re-enter politics and influence it from within."
The full report is here at www.ark.ac.uk/publications
(follow the link for "Driven to disaffection: Religious Independents in Northern Ireland")
Terry Sanderson is the vice president of the National Secular Society (U.K.). He is also the editor of the weekly NSS Newsline, in which this article first appeared on Nov. 25, 2004.