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UK census: Less than 50% identify as Christians; Buddhists overtake Jews

Some 271,000 Jews and 3.9 million Muslims live in England and Wales today.

British Jews in London, March 17, 2017. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
British Jews in London, March 17, 2017. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

Less than half of the population in England and Wales identifies as Christian, according to census figures released on Tuesday.

The 10-year census conducted in 2021 revealed that the Muslim population was expanding quickly, while “no religion” was the second-most popular response behind Christian, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The religion question was first included in the previous census, in 2001. It is still voluntary to respond, but according to the ONS, 94% did.

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, the second-most senior bishop of the Church of England, said it was no “great surprise” that the Christian population is in decline.

In England and Wales, 27.5 million persons, or 46.2% of the population, identified as Christian, a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 2011.

Muslims total 3.9 million people or 6.5% of the population, up from 4.9% previously, while “no religion” increased by 12 points to 37.2% or 22.2 million people.

Hindus (1 million) and Sikhs (524,000) were the next most prevalent responses, and the number of Buddhists surpassed Jews (273,000 to 271,000).

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