Religion In Britain
Census shows 72% identify as Christians
The UK population: by religion, April 2001
In 2001 the Census collected information about religious identity. The topic was new to the Census in England, Wales and Scotland although the subject had been included in previous Censuses in Northern Ireland.
Just over three-quarters of the UK population reported having a religion. More than seven out of ten people said that their religion was Christian (72 per cent). After Christianity, Islam was the most common faith with nearly 3 per cent describing their religion as Muslim (1.6 million).
The next largest religious groups were Hindus (559 thousand), followed by Sikhs (336 thousand), Jews (267 thousand), Buddhists (152 thousand), and people from Other religions (179 thousand). These groups each accounted for less than 1 per cent and together accounted for a further 3 per cent of the UK population.
People in Northern Ireland were most likely to say that they identified with a religion (86%) compared with those in England and Wales (77%) and Scotland (67%). About sixteen per cent of the UK population stated that they had no religion. This category included agnostics, atheists, heathens and those who wrote Jedi Knight.
The Census religion question was a voluntary question. Nevertheless, over 92 per cent of people chose to answer it.
Census Religion Questions: Different versions of the religious identity question were asked in England and Wales, in Scotland and in Northern Ireland, to reflect local differences in the requirement for information. However, results are comparable across the UK as a whole. The information provided will be used to supplement ethnicity data, identify areas of disadvantage and monitor policies on equality. It will also support resource allocation and the provision of services. As with all Census data, information about an individualís religion is safeguarded and protected by law.
1Table includes 234 thousand cases in Northern Ireland where data is only available as a combined category.
Source: Census, April 2001, Office for National Statistics.