Good Lord! Christians no longer rule as winds of change hit UK

Fewer than half the people in England and Wales consider themselves Christian, according to the most recent census – the first time a minority of the population has followed the country’s official religion.

Nov 30, 2022, updated Nov 30, 2022
Westminster Abbey, the centre of the Anglican Church. (file image)

Westminster Abbey, the centre of the Anglican Church. (file image)

Britain has become less religious – and less white – in the decade since the last census, figures from the 2021 census released Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics revealed.

Some 46.2 per cent of the population of England and Wales described themselves as Christian on the day of the 2021 census, down from 59.3 per cent a decade earlier.

The Muslim population grew from 4.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent of the total, while 1.7 per cent identified as Hindu, up from 1.5 per cent.

More than one in three people – 37 per cent – said they had no religion, up from 25 per cent in 2011.

The other parts of the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland, report their census results separately.

Secularism campaigners said the shift should trigger a rethink of the way religion is entrenched in British society.

The UK has state-funded Church of England schools, Anglican bishops sit in parliament’s upper chamber, and the monarch is “defender of the faith” and supreme governor of the church.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the charity Humanists UK, said “the dramatic growth of the non-religious” had made the UK “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 said.

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, one of the most senior clerics in the Church of England, said the data was “not a great surprise”, but was a challenge to Christians to work harder to promote their faith.

Almost 82 per cent of people in England and Wales identified as white in the census, down from 86 per cent in 2011.

Nine per cent said they were Asian, four per cent black and three per cent from “mixed or multiple” ethnic backgrounds, while two per cent identified with another ethnic group.

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