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Statistics in more details

Summary: Religion Demographics

Population estimates by religion are available through Scotland's 2011 Census.

  • In 2011, 54% of the population of Scotland stated their religion as Christian - a decrease of 11 percentage points since 2001, whilst 37% of people stated that they had no religion - an increase of nine percentage points.

  • The proportion of the population who identified as 'Church of Scotland' fell from 42% to 32%, whereas the proportion who were 'Roman Catholic' stayed the same at 16%.

  • After Christianity, Islam was the most common faith with 77,000 people in Scotland describing their religion as Muslim. This is followed by Hindus (16,000), people from Other religions (15,000), Buddhists (13,000), Sikhs (9,000) and Jews (6,000). Even with these groups added together they still accounted for less than 3% of the overall population.

Source: Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 1 (Published: October 2014)

 

Religion in Scotland 2001 to 2011

Source: Overview of Equality Results from 2011 Census Release 2 (Published: March 2014)

 

 

2011

% of Total Population

Number

Church of Scotland

32.4

1,718,000

Roman Catholic

15.9

841,000

Other Christian

5.5

291,000

Buddhist

0.2

13,000

Hindu

0.3

16,000

Jewish

0.1

6,000

Muslim

1.4

77,000

Sikh

0.2

9,000

Another Religion

0.3

15,000

All Religions

56.3

2,986,000

No Religion

36.7

1,941,000

Not Answered

7.0

368,000

All no religion/Not answered

43.7

2,309,000

Base

100

5,295,000

Source: 2011 Census: Release 2A (Table 7. Published: 2013, NRS)

 
Religion by council area, Scotland, 2011
  • There was a 10.6 percentage point fall between 2001 and 2011 in the proportion of people reporting they had a religion.

  • This decrease occurred in all 32 council areas in Scotland. Some of the more rural council areas experienced the largest falls; in Angus there was a drop of 14 percentage points. Many urban council areas in the west of Scotland experienced smaller reductions, with Inverclyde recording only a 5 percentage point drop in the proportion of its population reporting a religion.

Change in proportion of population reporting a religion by council area, Scotland, 2001 to 2011

Source: Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 1 (Published: October 2014)

 
Scottish Household Survey 2016
  • Since the harmonised question on religious belonging was introduced to the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) in 2009, there has been an upward trend in the proportion of adults reporting not belonging to a religion, from 40% in 2009 to just over a half of adults (51%) in 2016. There has also been a corresponding decrease in the proportion reporting belonging to ‘Church of Scotland’, from 34% to 24%.

Source: Scottish household survey 2016: annual report (Last updated: September 2017)

 

Marriages
  • Just over half (52%) of all marriages in 2016 were civil ceremonies, carried out by a registrar – compared with 35% in 1975. There were 15,066 civil ceremonies in 2016.

  • The number of religious and other belief system marriages has fallen by 44% since 1975. Most notably, there were declines in Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic ceremonies. In 2016, there were 3,675 marriages carried out by Church of Scotland ministers, with clergy from the Roman Catholic Church carrying out 1,346 marriages.

  • Between 2005 and 2016, the number of marriages conducted by the Humanist Society of Scotland increased considerably. In 2016, there were 3,040 marriages carried out by the Humanist Society of Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Population 2016 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends (Last updated: August 2017, NRS)

 

Useful Links

Religion Page

Demographics Page

2011 Census output

2011 Census Output

Follow the links below to get Religion related interactive maps, charts, and data tables from Release 2A of Scotland's 2011 Census:

  • An interactive chart showing religion in Scotland, in 2011, by council area

  • An interactive map showing religion in Scotland, in 2011, by council area

  • Religious groups in Scotland, change between 2001 and 2011 - Excel, csv, PDF

  • Religion by council area, Scotland, 2011 (percentages) - Excel, csv, PDF

  • Religion (UK harmonised) at different output levels:

                       - Scotland - (Excel, csv, PDF)

                       - Council area - (Excel, csv, PDF)

                       - Health Board (Excel, csv, PDF)

  • Religion (Scotland) at different output levels:

                        - Scotland - (Excel, csv, PDF)

                        - Council area - (Excel, csv, PDF)

                        - Health Board - (Excel, csv, PDF)

  • National level Religion summary table:

                        - Religion - Excel, CSV, PDF

Publications and Outputs

Publications and Outputs

NRS Scotland Statistics (NRS) A range of National statistics/Official publications are available on the National Records of Scotland website.

2011 Census Releases (NRS) A summary of the 2011 census releases, with links to statistical bulletins. Age and gender is covered in releases 1A and 1B. Disability, ethnicity and religion is covered in releases 2A. Further detailed breakdowns are provided in release 3

Scotland's Census 2011: Data Visualisation Tool (NRS) These interactive maps and charts let users explore council area ethnicity and religion statistics across Scotland.

Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Religion and Belief Evidence Review (2013) A comprehensive review of available evidence in relation to religion

Experiences of Muslims living in Scotland (2011) This is the final report of a study into the experiences of Muslims living in Scotland, with specific focus on experiences of discrimination and religious intolerance.

Scotland's Population 2016: Infographic Report (NRS, August 2017) Scotland's Population 2016 - The Registrar General's Annual Review of Demographic Trends 162nd Edition

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 2 (March 2015) Brings together relevant statistics from the census and other sources to paint a highly detailed picture of equality in Scotland. The policy areas covered are Labour Market, Education, Housing and Transport. The BSL section contains data by age.

Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census: Part 1 (October 2014) Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census, including Ethnicity, Gypsy/Travellers, Religion, Disability and BSL and contains data by age.

Overview of Equality Results from 2011 Census Release 2 (March 2014) This paper provides further analysis of equality data originally released from the Census by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). It pulls this together into a user friendly format providing new analysis and insight, particularly around deprivation. The main equality strands included in the paper are ethnicity, religion and disability.

Data

Data

Scotland's Census

National Records of Scotland - More up to date information is available, as well as data tables including time series information, from the National Records of Scotland website.

Scotland's Census Data Explorer - Download data, charts and tables from the 2011, 2001 and 1991 Censuses.

Scotland's Census Results 2011 - Download data tables from the most recent census releases.

Future Developments

Future Developments

The main set of statistical outputs from Scotland’s Census 2011 have now been published and we are working through the requests received for commissioned outputs. For further information on submitting a request, visit the Commissioned Outputs page.

Planning has begun for Scotland’s Census 2021 and will build on the success of the census in 2011.

Select below for further information on:

Census

Future publications

Contacts

Contacts

Demographics

National Records of Scotland Customer Services: Statisticscustomerservices@nrscotland.gov.uk