The Church of England suffered the most dramatic decline, while Catholics remained relatively stable

For the first time, more than half of Britons say they are not religious, a survey suggests.

The National Centre for Social Research found that 53 per cent of adults described themselves as having “no religion” in a survey of 2,942 people. The figure was even higher among those aged 18 to 25, with 71 per cent saying they had no religious affiliation.

The biggest decline was among self-described Anglicans, whose numbers have collapsed by 50 per cent in under two decades. Just 15 per cent of Britons now identify as Anglican, down from 30 per cent in 2000. Among the under-25s, the figure is as low as three per cent, compared to 40 per cent of those aged 75 and over.

By contrast, the number of Catholics has remained stable, staying around 10 per cent over the past 30 years.

Religious affiliation is falling among every age group, even among the older demographics, although “no religion” still remains a minority option among the oldest groups.

The Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, pointed out that the figures, while “troubling”, say nothing of genuine belief.

“In this modern world people are more willing to be honest and say they have ‘no religion’ rather than casually saying they are ‘CofE’. This honesty is welcome,” he said.

“Of course the latest BSA figures bring a continuing challenge to the churches, to speak clearly of our faith into a sceptical and plural world. But saying ‘no religion’ is not the same as a considered atheism. People’s minds, and hearts, remain open.”