UK Census 2011 religious statistics released today #census2011

OK, the big day has finally arrived.

The UK Census data on religion has just been released and I’m following initial reactions on Twitter.

The statistical bulletin can be found here.

I’m going to pop off and have a good look and I will be updating here with links and analysis. In the meantime, the predominate Tweet in reaction to the data is:

Number of people identifying as Christian down from 72% to 59% number with ‘no religion’ up from 15% to 25%

Unsurprisingly, the British Humanists are first out of the blocks to comment and you can feel the glee..

Following is a video from the ONS on the religious data (Hat-tip Connexion)

Theos have issued a release entitled: Britain is neither Christian nor secular, but religiously plural

Opinionated Vicar blogs on the ‘Religion Question’.

More glee, this time from the National Secular Society.

Damian Thompson over on the Telegraph: Christianity is fading away in Britain as Islam surges and agnosticism spreads.

Francis Sedgemore comments: Irreligion emerges from the shadows.

Tom Chivers (Telegraph) with an interesting comment:

It’s tempting, as an atheist and rationalist, to crow about these figures: to shout something about the slow death of magical thinking, or the rise of reason. But it’s probably worth someone in the non-God camp to point out that it’s not a universally good thing, that as with almost everything it’s a complex picture.

Indeed.

Church of England respond and you have to love the concluding paragraph:

Doubtless, campaigning atheist organisations will attempt to minimise the significance of the majority figures for faith and Christianity. In fact, these figures draw attention to the free ride that had been given to these bodies whose total membership would barely fill half of Old Trafford. For instance there are an estimated 28,000 members of British Humanist Association – the same membership as Union of Catholic Mothers, whilst the National Secular Society has an estimated 5,000 – the same as the British Sausage Appreciation Society.

Law and Religion UK with an intriguing comment from Frank Cranmer:

As in the 2001 Census I declared myself as “other” on the grounds that it was the description that best fitted me as a Quaker of the Unitarian/Universalist tendency. I guess not everyone is as literal-minded as I am: but it does raise the question about definitions and what the labels actually mean.

I don’t see how someone like me, who firmly rejects the doctrine of the Trinity as a solution still seeking a problem, can describe himself or herself as a “Christian”: equally, I’m sure that a lot of those who did so would be barely able to distinguish Shrove Tuesday from Sheffield Wednesday.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the decline of the Church in Britain.

Ian Birrell – Evening standardWe have nothing to fear from our Muslim citizens.

News Thump (Satirical): Countdown underway till first religious leader blames country’s ills on fall in Christianity

Cristina Odone (Telegraph): 2011 census shock revelation: Christianity is still the majority religion, and Britain is still a God-fearing country

Catholic Church in England and Wales rather brief response.

Guardian looks at ‘other religions’: Census 2011: how many Jedi Knights are there in England & Wales?

Nelson Jones – NewStatesman: No longer the default religion: is being a Christian now a political statement?

British Religion in Numbers (BRIN): Religious Census 2011 – England and Wales

BRINReligious Census 2011 – Initial Responses

BRIN: Religious Census 2011 – What happened to the Christians?

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12 Responses to “UK Census 2011 religious statistics released today #census2011”

  1. Gordon Says:

    Thanks Stuart. I wonder of this reflects a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian? i.e. the 2001 statistics were probably wrong. The 2011 figures sound more realistic.

    It will be interesting to see how fundamentalist groups react to this. They have often used the 71% figure as evidence that they speak for the majority of the population. Will they admit now that the 71% figure was falwed or will they come out and claim that Christianity is in decline because of the teaching of evolution and gay marriage?

  2. ms Catholic state Says:

    Now we know the reason for Britain’s decline. There’s no 2 ways about it….blame secularists for it.

  3. Paul M Says:

    Please, please let Ms. Catholic be joking!

  4. David Keen Says:

    That’ll be the National Secular Society who are so embarrassed about their membership totals that they’ve never published it? The biggest religious trend in the UK is non-practicing, no matter what you believe.

  5. Paul M Says:

    David, the NSS is a bit of weird one. That said, as a godless heathen myself, I find any “no religion” organisation a tad odd; how do the conversations about belief go? “I don’t believe” (said by all there, and then they go home?). I imagine such groups spend (waste) their time sitting around mocking other religions. Which is hardly productive, or admirable.

  6. David Keen Says:

    Paul – that’s true, atheism doesn’t lend itself to congregational expression in the same way as religion, or indeed any form of communal loyalty. With the exception of Ulstermen, it’s quite hard to get people to regularly gather to say what they don’t believe in.

  7. Goy Says:

    In hoc signo vinces†

    Atheism and communal loyalty, when there is a political catalyst Atheism can be as powerful as any organised religion.

  8. Gordon Says:

    Factor in the number of Christians who have died in the ten years between censuses and then add in the number of incoming Christians from eastern europe. There is still a net deficit which shows that the affinity of people to the church has declined.

  9. Goy Says:

    @Gordon,

    The Churches may have put christianity into disrepute but christianity in the U.K. is far from being a spent force. More generally that spiritual void vacated by organised religion has to be filled at some point.

    “The Vikings are coming!”.

  10. Gordon Says:

    I didn’t say Christianity was declining. People’s willingness to identify with it is.

  11. Census 2011: Atheists vs Christians and what the numbers don’t tell us | God and Politics in the UK Says:

    [...] to go into too many more details on this as it has already been covered extensively in the media.  Stuart over at eChurch has done an outstanding job collating most of the top stories on the religious statistics from the [...]

  12. U.S. 77% identify as Christian compared with 59% in U.K. | Unsettled Christianity Says:

    [...] just lifting the text. But before I do that, you might be interested in comparing this with the recently released UK Census which [...]

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