The decline of religion: What is it doing to our society?

A YouGov poll for the Sun earlier this week discovered a significant decline in religious belief among young people. Forty-one per cent of Brits aged 18-24 believed religion was a "cause of evil", while just 14% thought it was a force for good. Just 12% said they were influenced by religious figures.

Poll: Young people turn decisively against religion

The findings seemed to corroborate a trend away from religion in British society – not just in terms of church attendance but also in terms of faith, social influence and identity. But what does it mean for the social fabric of life in Britain? Will we become more selfish, or more tolerant? Is the decline of religion eradicating a shared space for local communities, or unshackling us from the forces of tradition?

Here, two leading thinkers on religion offer their assessment of the survey.

Nick Spencer is research director of Theos, the religion and society think tank.

Comment: The decline of religion will make us a less welcoming society

Andrew Copson is chief executive of the British Humanist Association and first vice president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Comment: Religion is in decline – so why are people so well behaved?