Why is the Christian population of England and Wales declining?

England and Wales are now minority Christian countries for the first time since census data collection began, with less than half the population describing themselves as Christian, and a large increase in the proportion of people saying they have no religion.

Changes are significant in a country with an established church. The influence and privilege granted to the Church of England is something that some argue is out of kilter with the declining proportion of the population identifying as Christian.

For example, in England, 4,632 state schools are run by the EC. Anglican bishops sit and vote in the House of Lords (the only other country that reserves seats for clerics in its legislature is Iran). A significant portion of public broadcasting is devoted to Christian programs. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will preside over the coronation of King Charles III next year.

According to the most recent census figures, taken in 2021 and published this year, 46.2% of the English and Welsh population say they are Christians, a decline of 13.1 percentage points since the last census in 2011. Nevertheless, Christians remained the most common answer to the religion question.

“No religion” was the second most common response, increasing 12 percentage points since 2011 to 37.2%.

London was the most religious city, mainly because of its diversity, while the least religious places were in Wales – Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taif. In England, the least religious places were Brighton and Hove, Norwich and Bristol. All six locations were majority “no religion”.

Professor Linda Woodhead of King’s College, London, said that some of the decline in Christian identity was due to age. “The Christian population is a significantly older population, and therefore the mortality rate affects it. People are just dying,” she told a briefing Religion Media Center.

He added: “But it is also about not giving religion to your children.” In ChristianityThe faith, he said, was not passed down through generations, whereas “this is happening more effectively in Islam and Hinduism”.

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This was echoed by Abby Day, Professor of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London. “Baby Boomers lost their religion in the 1960s and raised their Millennial children to be non-religious. This is the reason why the number of ‘Christians’ on the census has decreased because older people are dying and young people choose the category of ‘non-religion’.

Some argue that the proportion of people ticking “no religion” would have been higher with a different question. An optional section in the census asked, “What is your religion?”, a question that may lead people to choose a religion rather than a religion.

In 2020, a year before the census, the British Social Attitudes Survey asked: “Do you consider yourself to belong to a particular religion? If so, which?” It found that 53% of British adults said they had no religion, while 37% identified as Christian.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, said the census results “confirm that the biggest demographic change in England and Wales over the past 10 years has been the dramatic increase of non-religious”. One of the least religious countries.

“One of the most striking things about these census results is how the population ranges from state to state. No state in Europe has such a religious framework as we do in terms of law and public policy, while at the same time having so much There is also a non-religious population.”

The National Secular Society, which has long campaigned for the separation of religion from the state, said the census data reflected a population that had drifted away from Christianity.

“These figures show that the Anglican establishment, the c of e clerics in the legislature, state-funded faith schools, daily prayer and worship in parliament and schools are all inappropriate, hopelessly out of date and fail to reflect the country in which We really live,” said Stephen Evans, its chief executive.

“The current position, in which the C of E is deeply embedded in the UK constitution, is unfair and undemocratic – and is looking increasingly absurd and untenable.”

Bishop Philip North of Burnley described the decline in Christian numbers as tragic. “At the same time, I don’t want to diminish for a second the energy of the Church in local communities, where clergy are still working in parishes, still serving 35,000 social projects, [with a] Huge community impact.

“I think there is still a need to celebrate. The Church still has much to contribute to national life.”

Read full story at the guardian.com

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