Britain is losing its religion, research has found, as the proportion of non-believers is the highest it has ever been.
More than half of the population has no faith and the share of the population who say they are Church of England Christians has fallen to just 15 per cent - the lowest ever recorded.
Just three per cent of those aged 18 to 24 said they belonged to the Church of England, while the proportion overall of non-Christians has tripled from two to six per cent.
Church of England leaders said the findings were "troubling", but expressed optimism that the church could still attract some of the 53 per cent who said they had no religion.
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said: "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.
"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."
But Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson said the figures were proof that the Church was undergoing an "ongoing and probably irreversible collapse in adherents".
"It is long overdue that the Government woke up to the demographic reality of today’s Britain and recognises that ever-increasing state funding for religion, and public emphasis on the activities of religious groups, is the reverse of what the public wants," he said.
The proportion of believers is also falling among older demographics, though the figures much higher than among the young.
Half of those aged 55 to 64 said they had no religion, the first time religious people have not been in the majority in this age group.
Of the overall six per cent belonging to other faiths, half were Muslim and a third were Hindu, with Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and other groups all smaller.
The figures from the British Social Attitudes Survey done by the National Centre for Social Research were first produced in 1983.
In that year 40 per cent of the population identified as Church of England, a figure which has been steadily declining ever since.
More than two-thirds of the population said they were Christian. This has now fallen to 41 per cent.
However the proportion of "other" Christians, including Pentecostal and Methodist groups, has stayed exactly the same at 17 per cent, and the proportion of Roman Catholics has shifted only slightly from 10 per cent to 9 per cent.
This is thought to have been partly fuelled by immigrant communities. Denominations such as Pentecostal churches, attended by those from areas such as west Africa, are among the fastest-growing.
Eastern European immigrants are also thought to have kept the proportion of Catholics steady over the past 30 years.
Not so sure about the bit I emphasised in bold - some wishful thinking there, I think.
I would say "no religion" rather than "atheist" because that label comes with lots of baggage, and is likely merely to prompt arguments about exactly what atheism means.