The number of islanders regularly going to church in the Western Isles has declined
over the past 30 years.
Some 12,000 worshippers attend services compared to about 21,000 in 1984, according
to a new survey.
The drop of 9,000 may be partly attributed to the general reduction in the islands’
population along with the deaths of elderly church-goers.
But 44% of people in Western Isles still attend services - a figure vastly higher
than any other area.
In the mid-80s some 17% of Scots went to church. Now only 7.2% attend.
Within a generation across Scotland, numbers have halved - from 854,000 to to just
However, the last nationwide census - in 2011 - showed 2.9 million Scots belonged
to the Christian faith.
Decline in Western Isles church attendance
16 April 2017
% of population
2016 Scottish Church Census
Lead researcher, Dr Peter Brierley, who conducted the Scottish Church Census across
Christian denomination congregations said the main reason for decline is the death
of people who go to church.
He said: “Part of the problem is the proportion of people in the church who are elderly
is much greater than in the population of Scotland as a whole. So, you have a great
number of churchgoers dying.”
If trends continue, another 2000 people will empty island pews by 2025.