Census data shows England and Wales are no longer predominantly Christian


England and Wales are no longer predominantly Christian and are slightly less white than a decade ago, according to recently released 2021 census data.

The two British nations have fallen from 59% self-declared Christians in 2011 to 46% in 2021, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced on Tuesday.

The number of respondents saying they have no religion has been the biggest gainer, rising from 25% a decade ago to 37% now.

The number of Muslims has also increased, from 5% in 2011 to 6.5% in 2021.

The percentage of respondents identifying as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh or other has remained roughly stable over the decade, according to ONS data.

England is legally a Christian country with an established church, the Church of England, with the monarch as the titular head.

The 2021 census religion question was optional. The ONS said 94% of respondents answered it, up from 93% a decade ago.

The percentage of people identifying as white decreased slightly from 86% in 2011 to 82% in 2021.

People identifying as Asian – a term the British generally use to refer to South Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – were the second largest group, rising from 7.5% in 2011 to 9.3% in 2021.

The number of people identifying as black has risen from 1.8% a decade ago to 2.5% today, while the percentage choosing ‘Other’ has risen from 0.6% to 1.6% over the decade.

Nine in 10 (90%) respondents in 2021 identified with one of the UK’s national identities – English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, British or Cornish – down slightly from 92% in 2011.

Polish was the most common non-British response, at 1%, followed by Romanian at 0.8%. Indian was selected by 0.6% of respondents, while Irish and Italian were each chosen by 0.5%. The census recorded similar trends in the number of people who reported speaking Polish, Romanian, Punjabi and Urdu.

The census only covers England and Wales, two of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom. Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own census.

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