Belief in God is declining even faster than church attendance, according to a new study.
Academics argued that contrary to the commonly accepted theory of "believing without belonging" - the idea that religious belief is fairly robust even though congregations are shrinking - all measures of religiousness had fallen.
In fact actual belief had decreased even more than affiliation to a particular religion and participation - attendance at services - between 1991 and 1999.
They fell by 2.9 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively to59.1 per cent and 16.8 per cent, while belief dropped by 5.3 per cent to 32.5 per cent.
The team at the University of Manchester also found that parents' religious behaviour has the biggest impact on children.
Institutional religion has a "half-life" of one generation, they discovered, meaning that two religious parents have a 50-50 chance of passing on their beliefs.
Two non-religious parents …