THE majority of Scots have a positive view of the Christian faith and believe it brings benefits to communities, according to new research published today.

The year-long research project into views on Christianity in Scotland found that 55 per cent of the population have a favourable view of the religion, and that more than half believe the faith has made a difference to their lives.

Commissioned by Transforming Scotland, a partnership between church leaders in Scotland and philanthropic Christian group the Maclellan Foundation, it said younger age groups were more receptive to issues around faith than in many other parts of the West, including the USA.

The findings come just days after official figures showed almost half of adults in Scotland do not identify with any religion.

In the Scottish Household Survey (SHS), 47.3 per cent responded "none" when asked about their faith, up from 40 per cent in 2009.

The 2014 results showed 27.8 per cent identified themselves as Church of Scotland and 14.4 per cent Roman Catholic.

Alan MacWilliam, member of the Transforming Scotland steering group, said: “The research has shown that a significant number of the Scottish public think the church is a good thing for a community, because it strengthens and cares for those within it, and acts as a positive influence for young people.

"The fact that people still see the church as a positive contribution to society is hugely encouraging.”

The research also focused on the work of church leaders and the reasons for church growth across Scotland.

It found that three-quarters of church leaders are optimistic about their work in Scotland.

Last week, in reaction to the drop in numbers of people identifying with a faith, the Scottish Secular Society said there was "a real disconnect with religion, people now struggle to associate religion with anything other than conflict, sectarianism, child abuse, homophobia, misogyny, violence and privilege".

It added: "Religion is now perceived as the catalyst for the horrors we see on our televisions every day."

The latest study found that a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds would call Scotland a Christian nation, while 45 per cent attended church regularly as a child.

Nearly a third within the same age bracket would read the Bible for guidance on death and illness.

In the south of Scotland, more than two thirds, or 67 per cent, had a favourable impression of Christianity as a religious faith, while in the west of the country more than a third said Christianity was relevant to their lives.

In the Lothians more than half, or 54 per cent, had a favourable impression of Christianity as a religious faith, while 62 per cent said they believed Christianity had good values and principles.

In Glasgow, 54 per cent had a favourable impression of Christianity as a religious faith, 49 per cent said it was a faith they respect, while more than a third would attend church to find out how to deal with everyday problems.