Census England & Wales: Less than half the population Christian

Posted: Tue, 29th Nov 2022

Census England & Wales: Less than half the population Christian

The National Secular Society has called for separation of Church and state after census data revealed that less than half the population are Christian for the first time.

According to data from the 2021 Census released today, 46% of people in England and Wales described themselves as "Christian".

This is a 13 percentage point decrease from 59% in 2011.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people who said they have no religion surged to 37%. In 2011, this figure was 25%.

Members of minority religions including Islam and Hinduism have seen a steady increase.

Wales had a greater decrease in people reporting their religion as "Christian" (from 58% in 2011 to 44% in 2021) and increase in "No religion" (from 32% in 2011 to 47% in 2021) compared with England and Wales overall. This makes the nonreligious the largest religion or belief group in Wales.

In Northern Ireland, those without a stated religion are the second largest group, according to its Census results published in September.

Scotland's 2022 Census data has not yet been published. 2018 survey data found 59% of Scots are non-religious.

NSS: Established church "absurd and unsustainable"

The NSS, which campaigns for separation of religion and state, said the figures demonstrate a need for "fundamental reforms" to the relationship between religion and state.

The UK has a state religion, the Church of England, which is granted unique privileges including 26 places in the House of Lords reserved for its bishops. The head of state, the British monarch, is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England and takes an oath to promote the Church.

One third of state schools in Britain are faith schools, and all state schools must by law hold daily acts of Christian collective worship.

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "It's official – we are no longer a Christian country.

"The Census figures paint a picture of a population that has dramatically moved away from Christianity – and from religion as a whole.

"The current status quo, in which the Church of England is deeply embedded in the UK constitution, is unfair and undemocratic – and looking increasingly absurd and unsustainable.

"We need fundamental reforms to become a true secular democracy – one that reflects the reality of our irreligious and diverse people and is fit for the 21st century."

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Tags: Disestablishment