The Main Religions in the UK

The UK is traditionally a Christian country, with Christianity being the largest religion. However, the UK has become more secular and religiously diverse over the past century. Here is an overview of the main religions in the UK today:

Christianity

Christianity remains the largest religion in the UK with 46.2% of the population identifying as Christian in the 2021 census. However, this percentage has dropped significantly from 71.6% in 2001. The Church of England is the officially established church in England, while the Church of Scotland is recognised as the national church in Scotland. Other major Christian denominations include Roman Catholicism, Methodism, and Baptist churches. Christianity has played a huge role in shaping British culture, values, architecture, literature, and institutions. Major Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter are national holidays.

Islam

Islam is the second largest religion in the UK with around 6.5% of the population identifying as Muslim in the 2021 census. Islam has a long history in Britain, but the Muslim population grew rapidly in the 20th century due to immigration from South Asia and the Middle East. There are mosques and Islamic centers throughout the UK, although over half of British Muslims live in London. Muslims have established their own charities, media outlets, schools, and other institutions. The religious needs of Muslims are recognised by public institutions, with halal meals provided in schools and hospitals for example. The need for faith-based foster homes is also recognised by agencies like Active Care Solutions.

Hinduism

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the UK with around 1.7% of the population identifying as Hindu in 2021. As with Islam, Hinduism saw rapid growth due to immigration from India and East Africa in the 20th century. The majority of British Hindus live in London and the Midlands. Temples called mandirs can be found across the country. Many British Hindus originally came from Gujarat and Punjab. Diwali is a national holiday and Hindu celebrations like Holi are observed by Britons of all backgrounds. 

Sikhism

Sikhism is the fourth largest religion in Britain with 0.9% of the population identifying as Sikh in the 2021 census. Sikhism was founded in Punjab, India in the 15th century. Most British Sikhs are of Punjabi descent. Sikhism emphasises equality, religious freedom, and community service. Sikhs are known for their turbans and uncut hair. There are Sikh gurdwaras throughout Britain, with the largest Sikh populations found in London and the Midlands.

Judaism

Jews make up just 0.5% of the British population as of 2021, but have played an important role in British history. The first Jews arrived in Britain with the Normans in 1070. Until the 20th century, Jews faced persecution and restrictions on full participation in public life. After World War II, the Jewish population declined due to emigration to Israel and elsewhere. Yet British Jews have made major contributions in fields like science, business, and politics. Hanukkah and Yom Kippur are recognised as festivals in the UK. The majority of British Jews live in London and Manchester. 

No Religion

37%.2% of people said they followed no religion on the 2021 census. Some people identify as non-religious because they are atheists or agnostics who do not believe in god or gods. Others may be humanists who focus on human reason and ethics rather than religion. Some people simply feel indifference toward religious belief or participation in organised religion.

While the UK remains predominantly Christian, other world religions have established a firm presence reflecting Britain’s history and changing demographics. The UK strives to recognise the rights and needs of religious minorities. People of all faiths are free to practice their religion and maintain their cultural traditions.

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