Almost half of under-24s do not believe in God, according to a new poll on religious belief.
The YouGov/Times poll showed evidence for a large generational difference in levels of non-belief.
While just 10% of those surveyed over the age of 60 said they were atheists, a third of 18-24 year-olds described themselves that way. 46% said they did not believe in “any god”.
The poll found that 42% of adults in the UK said they had no religion, including 19% describing themselves as atheists, 7% agnostics and 3% humanists.
49% of respondents described themselves as Christian and 9% were listed as “other”.
The Times reported that “33% said that they did not believe in ‘any sort of god or greater spiritual power’, compared with 32% who believed in God and 20 per cent who believed in a spiritual power.”
The poll also revealed that political leaders were viewed more positively if they said they did not believe in god.
National Secular Society president Terry Sanderson said: “This poll is further evidence that organised religion has lost its hold on the imagination of the British people. What it hasn’t lost is its residual power over them.
“Politicians really need to think very carefully about the amount of influence they accord to ‘faith leaders’ who are speaking for a very few people these days.
“The continuing spread of ‘faith schools’ is going to create another problem soon – when these young atheists mature, they may feel that they do not want such an education for their children and yet so prevalent are religious schools there will be an increasing conflict of interests.”