LONDON — According to the most recent census, less than half of people in England and Wales consider themselves Christian – the first time the country’s official religion is followed by a minority of the population.
Britain has become less religious — and less white — in the decade since the most recent census, figures from the 2021 census released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday.
About 46.2% of the population of England and Wales identified themselves as Catholic on the day of the 2021 census, down from 59.3% a decade earlier. The Muslim population increased from 4.9% to 6.5% of the population, while 1.7% identified as Hindu, up from 1.5%.
More than 1 in 3 people — 37% — say they have no religion, up from 25% in 2011.
Other regions of the United Kingdom, Scotland and Northern Ireland, report their census results separately.
Secularism campaigners say the change will trigger a rethink of how entrenched religion is in British society. The UK has state-funded Church of England schools, Anglican bishops sit in the upper house of Parliament, and the monarch is the “defender of the faith” and supreme governor of the church.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the charity Humanists UK, said the “strong rise of non-religious people” had made the UK “almost certainly one of the least religious countries”. best on Earth”.
“One of the most striking things about these results is how disparate the population comes from the state itself,” he said. “There is no other country in Europe with a religious system like ours in terms of law and public policy, and such a non-religious population.”
York Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, one of the Church’s most senior clerics, said the data “wasn’t a big surprise”, but a challenge for Christians to work hard. more to promote their faith.
“We have left behind an age when many people were automatically identified as Christians,” he said, “but other surveys show that people are still searching for the truth and wisdom that belongs to them.” spirituality as well as a set of values to live by.
Nearly 82% of people in England and Wales identified as white in the census, down from 86% in 2011. Around 9% said they were Asian, 4% black and 3 % had a “mixed or multiethnic” ethnic origin, while 2% identified with another ethnic group.