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England becoming less Christian, whilst Muslim population is on the increase

31st Dec 2021
England becoming less Christian, whilst Muslim population is on the increase

(Photo credit: Øyvind Holmstad/WikiCommons)

Hamed Chapman

An estimated 51.0 per cent of the population reported their religion as Christian, making it still by far the most prevalent religious group in England and Wales in 2019, according to the latest survey published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

However, the Muslim population continue to increase, growing to 5.7 per cent or in terms of numbers up to an estimated 3,369,400.

The figures show the numbers identifying as Christian have actually fallen by 8.3 percentage points since the official 2011 Census when 59.3 per cent identified as Christian. It contrasts with a rise of just over 6.1 per cent from 32.3 per cent to 38.4 per cent in those expressing no religion over the same period.

The trend has been that younger people have been more likely than older age groups to report having no religion in 2019, with over half (53.4 per cent ) of those aged 20 to 29 years reporting having no religion.

After Christians, Muslims continue to be the most popular faith community, growing to 5.7 per cent or in terms of numbers up to an estimated 3,369,400. Next are Hindus on 1.7 per cent or just under one million followed by Sikhs at 0.69 per cent (411,800) and 0.55 per cent Jews (329,600).

London remains the most ethnically and religiously diverse region where the largest ethnic groups were White British (43.4 per cent), Other White (14.6 per cent ) and Black African (7.9 per cent ); people with a religion other than Christian accounted for over 25 per cent of London’s population compared with an estimated 10.6 per cent of the overall population.

Christians in the British capital make up 45 per cent (4 million) of the population (Muslims 14 per cent (nearly 1.3 million), Hindus 5 per cent (454,700), Jews 2 per cent (186,700) and Sikhs 1.41 per cent (126,800). Of No religion were recorded at 29 per cent (2.6 million).

Regarding ethnicity, some 84.8 per cent of the population identified themselves as White in 2019, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points since the 2011 Census. But ONS said it was not possible to quantify how much of the change reflected true change and how much is because of differences in data collection.

Among other groups, Asian/British Asian increased from around 7.5 per cent to 8 per cent, Black African and Caribbean also rose by around 0.2 per cent to 3.5 per cent , others almost doubled to 1.9 percent while mixed and multiple ethnicities from 2.2 percent to 1.8 per cent but seem influenced by different data collection.

A breakdown of nationality ethnicity were identified as 2.8 per cent as Indian, 2.26 per cent Pakistani, 1.04 per cent Bangladeshi, 0.59 Chinese and 1.29 per cent as other Asian, while among Blacks 2.28 per cent were broadly identified as African, 1.02 per cent the Caribbean and 0.22 per cent as Other. Some 0.43 per cent were categorised as Arab.

The figures are from what ONS describes as part of a series of ‘experimental statistics’ that are in the testing phase and not yet fully developed. They are still subject to modification and become official after further assessment.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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