2021 Census for England & Wales: religious affiliation

The Office for National Statistics has released some of the main data from the religious affiliation question in the 2021 Census for England & Wales. It should be remembered that the religion question is voluntary, though 94.0% (56.0 million) of usual residents answered the question in 2021, an increase from 92.9% (52.1 million) in 2011.

The principal findings are as follows:

  • For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half the population (46.2%, 27.5 million people) described themselves as “Christian”, a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3% (33.3 million) in 2011.
  • Despite that decrease, “Christian” remained the most common response to the religion question.
  • “No religion” was the second most common response, increasing by 12.0 percentage points to 37.2% (22.2 million) from 25.2% (14.1 million) in 2011.
  • There were increases in the number of people who described themselves as “Muslim” (3.9 million, 6.5% in 2021, up from 2.7 million, 4.9% in 2011) and “Hindu” (1.0 million, 1.7% in 2021, up from 818,000, 1.5% in 2011).
  • Wales had a greater decrease in people reporting their religion as “Christian” (a 14.0 percentage point decrease, from 57.6% in 2011 to 43.6% in 2021) and an increase in “No religion” (a 14.5 percentage point increase, from 32.1% in 2011 to 46.5% in 2021) compared with England and Wales overall.
  • London remains the most religiously diverse region of England in 2021, with over a quarter (25.3%) of all usual residents reporting a religion other than “Christian”.
  • The North East and the South West are the least religiously diverse regions, with 4.2% and 3.2%, respectively, selecting a religion other than “Christian”.

The headline figures for those who stated a religious affiliation are:

  • Christians – 27.5 million.
  • Muslims – 3.9 million.
  • Hindus – 1 million.
  • Sikhs – 524,000.
  • Other religions – 348,000.
  • Buddhists – 273,000.
  • Jews – 271,000.

See also Russell Sandberg’s latest post: The 2021 Census Data: A Wake Up Call for Policy Makers and Academics.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "2021 Census for England & Wales: religious affiliation" in Law & Religion UK, 29 November 2022, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/11/29/2021-census-for-england-wales-religious-affiliation/

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