Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Less than half in England consider themselves as Christians: Official Report

According to the Office for National Statistics in United Kingdom, just 46.2% of respondents in England said they were Christian – a decline of 13.1 percentage points over the previous decade. However, those numbers weren’t lost to other faiths – Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism saw only modest increases – but rather to a growing lack of faith entirely.

The census data showed that the number of people in England and Wales who said they had no religion has increased substantially since 2011, when 25% of respondents said so. This time around, a whopping 37%, or more than ⅓, said they had no religion.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the charity Humanists UK, mused in a news release that the results show the UK had become “almost certainly one of the least religious countries on Earth.”

“One of the most striking things about these results is how at odds the population is from the state itself,” he added. “No state in Europe has such a religious set-up as we do in terms of law and public policy, while at the same time having such a non-religious population.”

However, the society, which promotes secularism, still said the religion-based question was “biased” and used a wording “which has long been shown to inflate the number of people who do not believe in, practice, or consider themselves to belong to a religion choosing a religious box.”

While the requirement of Christian oaths to hold office has been abolished, much of the Church of England remains deeply connected to the British state, with 26 seats in the House of Lords going to bishops, the Church’s Synod being able to propose legislation, and the prime minister holding the power to appoint new bishops. Religious education remains compulsory in British schools, although parents may petition the school to opt their child out, and British media are required to carry a certain amount of religious content.

Scotland and Northern Ireland, two devolved territories of the UK, reported their data separately, including another remarkable religious reversal as Catholics now outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland. The area was deliberately settled by England with Protestant settlers centuries ago in a bid to maintain control over all of Ireland.

Christianity has held sway in England for more than 1,400 years, when the growing power of the Catholic Church began to suppress rival pagan faiths. However, it was later supplanted by the Church of England, a Protestant sect that emerged in the 16th century CE and suppressed Catholicism. Only in the 19th century did Catholics and Jews regain their political rights, and only in the 20th century did large numbers of Muslims and Hindus begin to migrate to Britain from the empire’s colonies.

The Tuesday-released census data also reflected part of that continued shift, with 82% of people in England in Wales identifying as white, a decrease from 86% in 2011. Roughly 9% of respondents said they were Asian, and 4% said they were Black.

The UK’s present prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is the country’s first head of government to be of Asian origin.

Read More