NEW research has revealed that almost three quarters of Scots say they are not religious, up from just over half surveyed in 2011.

The Humanist Society Scotland commissioned polling firm Survation to ask 1,016 Scottish Adults between September 8 and 12 if they were religious, with 24 per cent saying they are and 72 per cent saying they are not.

Research carried out in 2011 by Progressive/YouGov revealed 35 per cent of 2,007 adults polled said they were religious, while 56 per cent said were not.

Chief Executive of The Humanist Society Gordon MacRae said Scotland’s democracy must now “stop blurring the lines of church and state”. He has questioned the way in which census data and other studies of religion are being carried out, because they give higher figures of religiosity.

Census data and the Social Attitudes Survey participants are asked if they “belong to any particular religion”. In the Scottish Social Attitudes survey in 2016, more than 40 per cent of people said they did “belong” to a religious group.

MacRae said: “These new findings raise concerns about the official statistics on the adherence to religion in Scotland. We know that many people identify with a particular religious community, usually due to family ties, but are not themselves practising that religion.

“These latest finding would suggest there could be as much as a 15 per cent difference between official statistics and the reality of religions place in the Scottish public daily lives. This raises major questions about key policy decisions made by government regarding special rights given to religious bodies under law…Scotland's democracy needs to get to a place where we stop blurring the lines of church and state.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “That 72 per cent of Scots describe themselves as not “religious” should not be read as implying, they have “no religion”. From a Catholic perspective, many people continue to have their children baptised and send them to Catholic schools.”

Rev Norman Smith, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Mission and Discipleship council, said: “The Church of Scotland is well aware that formal church membership has declined, yet as our own research detailed in Steve Aisthorpe’s book The Invisible Church shows, the role of spirituality in people’s lives remains important. As a church we are not driven by numbers, although we are committed to sharing our faith through our words and our deeds.”

Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “The processes of secularisation are systemic in modern societies and are rooted in factors such as population mobility, an individualism which leads to a reluctance to commit and ever-widening ranges of choice. Whilst historic institutional churches may be in decline, particularly when seen against the direct measurement of church attendance, the challenge for faith communities in Scotland and elsewhere is to find ways in which churches can learn to survive and thrive in this kind of social context.”

The Sunday Herald revealed in April that the number of regular churchgoers in Scotland has more than halved in three decades.

The Scottish Church Census, which saw almost 4,000 Christian congregations surveyed, found a record low of just 390,000 people now go to Sunday services, down from 854,000 in 1984, when the first census was carried out.

Subsequent surveys in 1994 and 2002 also recorded a steep decline in churchgoing. Statistics show that only seven per cent of people in Scotland now attend Christian worship.

Projections based on the data gathered by statisticians who carried out the survey for Scottish churches show that the numbers attending services will likely fall by a further 100,000 in the next eight years. It is predicted that only one in twenty people in Scotland will go to church by 2025.

The Muslim Council of Scotland and The Baptist Union of Scotland did not respond to a request for comment.