Skip to content

Video Summary: Religion in England and Wales

Released: 11 December 2012

Also in this release

Transcript – Religion in England and Wales

This is a short video looking at religion in England and Wales

Using these people, we will start by looking at the breakdown of religious affiliation, how we connect or identify with a religion, irrespective of actual practice or belief.  A voluntary question asking “What is your religion?” was included in the 2011 Census. Seven per cent of the population chose not to answer.

14.1 million people said that they had no religion, accounting for a quarter of the population. Christians made up the largest religious group, covering 33 million people or 59 per cent of the population. Muslims made up the next largest religious group, with approximately 2.7 million people or 5 per cent of the population. All other religions made up approximately 4 per cent of the population.

Focusing on these other religions, 817 thousand people identified themselves as Hindu, 423 thousand people identified themselves as Sikh, 263 thousand people identified themselves as Jewish and 248 thousand people identified themselves as Buddhist.  240 thousand people identified with religions which did not fall into any of the main religious categories.  These included Pagan and Spiritualist.

Now we will compare differences between 2001 and 2011.  Using this chart, we can see that there was:

  • an increase in the population reporting no religion – approximately 25 per cent in 2011 compared with approximately 15 per cent in 2001.

  • a decrease in the population reporting to be Christian - approximately 59 per cent in 2011 compared with approximately 72 per cent in 2001.

  • an increase in all other main religions between 2001 and 2011

There are many factors driving changes in religious affiliation including natural growth (for example minority religious groups have a younger demographic), migration, changes in willingness to report and awareness of the question.

Now we will look at religious affiliation across the regions of England and Wales. Wales had the highest proportion of people reporting no religion at nearly a third of the population. /The lowest proportion reporting no religion was in the North West with less than a fifth of the population.

The North East and North West had the highest proportions of people who identified themselves as Christian, with two-thirds of the population. The lowest proportion was in London where under half of the population were Christian.

London was the most diverse region in terms of religious affiliation.  London had the highest proportion of people identifying themselves as Muslims at 12 per cent. London also had the highest proportion of other religions. The proportion of people who chose not to state their religion was fairly similar across the regions.

Now we will look at the number of people who identified themselves as Christian across local authorities.  Christians form the majority religion across most areas in England and Wales.

The area with the highest proportion of the population reporting to be Christian was in Knowsley at 81 per cent, followed by Copeland at 79 per cent. These other areas were in the top five.

The area with the lowest proportion of the population reporting to be Christian was Tower Hamlets. Leicester, Camden, Redbridge, and Harrow all had proportions under 38 per cent.

Finally, we will look at the number of people who reported no religion across local authorities.

The two areas with the highest proportion of people reporting no religion was in Norwich at 42 per cent, followed by Brighton and Hove. These other areas were in the top five.

Four of the top five local authorities with the lowest proportion of people reporting no religion were in London, with Newham and Harrow at 10 per cent, and Brent and Redbridge at 11 percent. Slough also had a low proportion of people reporting no religion at 12 per cent.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. This video summary accompanies the Religion in England and Wales short story.
  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.