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The census showed that for the first time the proportion of Christians in England and Wales was less than half

29 November 2022
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2 min.
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The census showed that for the first time the proportion of Christians in England and Wales was less than half

Christianity in England

Christians in England and Wales, home to 89% of the United Kingdom's total population, make up less than half of all residents 27.6 million (or 46.2%) for the first time since statistics were compiled. The results of the 2021 census, partly published on Tuesday, show this.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of people who identify themselves as Christians has fallen by 13.1 percentage points (5.7 million people) in 10 years.

Nevertheless, they remain the largest religious group in England and Wales.

The second largest group are residents who do not identify themselves with any religion: their number has increased by 12% points to 22.2 million (37.2% of the total) since 2011. The number of Muslims in England and Wales has increased by 1.2 million to 3.9 million (a 6.5% share) over the period, and Hindus by almost 200,000 to 1 million (1.7% of the total population).

The archbishop of York said the drop in the number of people identifying as Christians was "not a big surprise" but admitted it was "challenging".

The Rev Stephen Cottrell said: "We have left behind an era when many people almost automatically identified as Christians, but other surveys consistently show how the same people are still seeking spiritual truth and wisdom and a set of values to live by."

In turn, an analysis of ethnic groups by the ONS showed that 48.7 million people in England and Wales, or 81.7% of the total population, identify themselves as white. By comparison, in 2011 the proportion was 86% white. Among this population, the vast majority identify themselves as 'English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British'.

The most common main language, apart from English and Welsh, was identified as Polish, spoken as a mother tongue by 612,000 people (1.1% of the total). Then come Romanian (472 thousand people, or 0.8%), Punjabi (291 thousand people, or 0.5%) and Urdu (270 thousand people, or 0.5%). At the same time, ten years ago, Romanian was spoken as the main language by only 68,000 people in England and Wales.

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