The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics recently released data from its 2021 census that revealed for the first time since this information was first compiled in 1801, Christianity is now in the minority in Britain and Wales, the Christian Post reports.
The UK has a population of 67 million and according to its most recent census only 27.5 million or just over 46% identify as Christian. This is down from 33.3 million (59.3%) who declared themselves as Christians in 2011.
While the number of people checking off Christianity has declined, the number of people who checked off ‘no religion’ has risen. In 2011, 14.1 million people (25%) said they had ‘no religion,’ and by 2021, this had climbed to 22.2 million (37%).
At the same time, the number of people claiming to be Muslims and Hindus has increased since 2011. Just over 3.9 million claimed to be Muslim in 2022, up from 2.7 million in 2011 and the number of people claiming to be Hindus is now sitting at 1 million up nearly 200,000 from 2011.
There are many factors at play here, but much of the Christian decline is due to people who once acknowledged a Christian heritage no longer doing so.
In an interview for The Telegraph, Rev. Stephen Cottrell, the ArchBishop of York, stated said:
“We have left behind the era when many people almost automatically identified as Christian, but other surveys consistently show how the same people still seek spiritual truth and wisdom and a set of values to live by.“
It is an age-old problem that has haunted Christianity since the day Constantine legalized Christianity in Rome in 313 AD and later Emperor Theodosius I made it Rome’s official religion in 380 AD.
Rome was Christianized but never converted.
People called themselves Christian, but they hadn’t repented of their sins and become born again. In fact, many continued practicing their pagan rituals.
Similarly, countries such as the UK and the US were Christianized, outwardly Christian, but not inwardly.
So when it came to counting Christians, these past census numbers were always artificially high. They never reflected true Christianity, and recently we are seeing a pairing away of those who were Christian in name only.
In an interview with the Premier Christian News, Church consultant, Peter Brierley said the recent drop reported in the census was a bit surprising. Most weren’t expecting it to drop below 50%.
But when it comes to actual church attendance, he noted that the decline is primarily showing up in liberal mainstream churches such as the Church of England, United Reformed Church, Methodist and even the Roman Catholic Church, which have largely abandoned Biblical Christianity.
The Bible-believing churches are continuing to grow.
“Christianity is not universally declining,” Brierley told Premier Christian News. “There are many growing churches, and many new churches; not sufficient to offset the decline but simply to say not everything is going in the same direction.”