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Religion in the UK

The UK has a Christian majority with 59% of people identifying themselves as Christians in the 2011 Census. There are also smaller proportions of Muslims (4.8%), Hindus (1.5%), Sikhs (0.8%), and Jewish or Buddhist individuals (both less than 0.5%). Religious buildings for various religions can be found throughout the UK, including mosques, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras, and Buddhist temples. However, it is important to note that everyone has the legal right to choose their religion or not practice any religion at all. In the 2011 census, 25% of people stated that they had no religion.

Christian churches

In England, there is a connection between the Church and the state. The official Church of the state is the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church. It is a Protestant Church that originated during the Reformation in the 1530s.
The head of the Church of England is the monarch, and the spiritual leader is the Archbishop of Canterbury. The monarch has the right to choose the Archbishop and other senior church officials, although the Prime Minister and a church-appointed committee usually make the selection. Some Church of England bishops have seats in the House of Lords.
In Scotland, the national Church is the Church of Scotland, which follows a Presbyterian structure. It is governed by ministers and elders, and the chairperson of the General Assembly is the Moderator, who serves for one year and represents the Church.
There is no established Church in Wales or Northern Ireland.
Other Protestant Christian groups in the UK include Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Quakers. There are also other denominations of Christianity, with the Roman Catholic Church being the largest among them.

Patron saints’ days

In England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, there is a patron saint associated with each nation. These saints have their special days:

  • 1 March: St David’s Day, Wales
  • 17 March: St Patrick’s Day, Northern Ireland
  • 23 April: St George’s Day, England
  • 30 November: St Andrew’s Day, Scotland
Scotland and Northern Ireland are the only countries that have their patron saint's day as an official holiday (although not all businesses and offices may close in Scotland). Celebrations and events take place throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the rest of the country, especially in areas with a significant Scottish, Northern Irish, and Irish heritage.
Although the patron saints' days are no longer public holidays in England and Wales, they are still celebrated. Parades and small festivals are held all over the two countries.

Make Sure You Understand

  • The different religions practiced in the UK
  • The Church of England, known as the Anglican Church, being the established Church in England
  • Other branches of the Christian Church practicing their faith in the UK independently from the state
  • The practice of other religions in the UK
  • The significance of patron saints in the UK