Christian and Secular Youth Organisation Membership, 1951-2006

Youth Organisation Membership, 1951-2006

I have been browsing data tables from the seven editions of Religious Trends, compiled by Peter Brierley and published over 1997 to 2008. Some are highly interesting and I thought it worth attempting to publish them in datablog rather than static page form.

The original book format of Religious Trends meant that there were space limitations and the editor had to be selective with regard to charts and accompanying text. The electronic environment allows us to be a little more expansive.

For now, I am reproducing tables 5.6.1 and 5.6.2 from Religious Trends 7 which provide trend membership data for a selection of Christian and secular youth organisations.

For those interested in datablogging tools, the tables below have been incorporated using WP-Table Reloaded.

UK Membership of Selected Christian and Secular Organisations for Young People, 1951-2011 ('000s)
Christian Organisations
Boys' Brigade [3,4]142159143140137154120103906656
Girls' Brigade [3]138 [1]119981039910392867659 [8]51
Crusaders/Urban Saints: Boys [9]18 [1]18 [2]19181510891211 [1]10
Crusaders/Urban Saints: Girls3 [1]4 [2]710108781212 [1]11
Methodist Association of Youth Clubs10111012111513112778 [1]4060 [1]41 [1]32 [1]
YMCA: Registered males [5]29 [1]333435313639 [1]434643 [8]40 [7]
YMCA: Registered females [5]0 [1]5813161926 [1]323435 [1]40 [7]
Males [6]247278272263260277211177181141122
Females [6]184170158171176180159144149126118
Percentage male5762636159615755555351
Secular Organisations
Cub Scouts [10]192245246265296309332349210160 [19]132 [20]
Scouts [11]237272242215225234213192140113 [21]99 [22]
Brownie Guides [12]184284329376410427384385422600 [1]600
Girl Guides [13]221266244316344348282225181
Sea Cadet Corps19181818211917161614 [23]13 [23]
Army Cadet Force644438394246433943 [1]43 [1]44 [16]
Air Training Corps383026333435353435 [1]35 [1]35 [16]
Combined Cadet Forces587649454344434041 [1]42 [1]41
National Association of Boys' Clubs146 [1]156158164169186172155140 [1]125 [1]1091
Nat. Federation of Young Farmers Boys' Clubs [14]24 [1]3224 [1]2424 [1]28241816 [1]13 [17]12
Nat. Federation of Young Farmers Girls' Clubs [14]18 [1]1818 [1]1618 [1]23201512 [1]11 [17]10
Youth Clubs UK: Boys [15]5894133179276430328310289700 [1]750
Youth Clubs UK: Girls [15]7886106140243341239290361
Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Participantsn/a80102 [1]122140 [1]170165200220222 [1]225 [24]
Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Bronze Awards [18]n/a91618212320353030 [1]31 [1]
Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Silver Awards [18]n/a4778109131212 [1]12 [1]
Duke of Edinburgh's Award: Gold Awards [18]n/a1333556555
Male [6]7599359299751128134712321198954808803
Females [6]5787668049771157129310651070117612701267
Percentage Male5755545049515453453939

Footnotes and source notes

[1] Estimated figure
[2] 1956 figure
[3] British Isles figure
[4] Includes those aged over 6 since 1978
[5] Aged under 25
[6] Estimated where not given by assuming pro rata to where given
[7] 2005 figure
[8] Revised in Religious Trends 7
[9] Additional data: Number of Groups
Year Number of boys’ and girls’ groups
2003 420
2004 409
2005 450
2006 455
2007 540
[10] Includes Beaver Scouts aged 6-8
[11] Includes Venture Scouts aged 15-20 from 1971. Previously Senior Scouts (15-18) and Rover Scouts (18-24)
[12] Includes Rainbow Guides aged 4-7
[13] Includes Ranger Guides aged 14-18 and Young Leaders aged 15-18
[14] National Federation of YOUng Farmers’ Clubs: England, Wales and the Channel Islands, aged 10-25 to 1976 and 10-26 from 1981
[15] Previously Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs
[16] 2005 figure
[17] 1999 figure
[18] Not included in total
[19] Of which 152,000 are male
[20] Of which 121,000 are male
[21] Of which 102,000 are male
[22] Of which 86,000 are male
[23] Of which 63% are assumed male based on 2005 percentage
[24] Of which 138,000 were new entrants

Original Source: The individual organisations

Originally published as Tables 5.6.1 and 5.6.2 in P. Brierley (ed.), UK Christian Handbook Religious Trends 7 2007/2008 (Christian Research 2008). Forwarded projections to 2011 omitted here. Published here as a derivative work with the permission of Christian Research.

British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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4 Responses to Christian and Secular Youth Organisation Membership, 1951-2006

  1. Paul McCabe says:

    Does it really make sense to classify Scouts and Guides as secular youth organisations (acknowledging the equal problem of classifying them as Christian organisations)?:
    Since they make up between 35% and 49% of the total in this time period, I think they probably should be presented separately.
    Best wishes

  2. Pingback: British Religion in Numbers: news

  3. I was reproducing the tables from Religious Trends 7 which applied the distinction. I did wonder whether the distinction was so ‘hard and fast’ as I was copying the tables. I was never a Guide or a Scout but remember there being an oath to God and the Queen – do they still have those? Apart from the actual tenets of the movement (of which I know nothing) I presume that many groups are organised in loose affiliation with churches – not as a formal part of the church programme and open to all children, but nevertheless organised by members of the congregation using church halls, advertising via church websites and on noticeboards. Others may have thoughts to offer here.

    When I upload the tables to I could simply remove the secular/religious distinction for others to apply as they wish.

    If anybody has similar historical data for other youth organisations do send it in!

  4. NixonisLord says:

    Scouts in the UK don’t have to be specifically religious to be in the Scouts; atheists and humanists are openly members. In the USA this is often a problem but it doesn’t seem to be an issue in the UK (or in the rest of the European Scout Area, except for Turkey).

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