Census 2021 data has revealed that only 46.2% of people in England and Wales identify as Christian, down from 59.3% in 2011.
People who said they had no religion rose 12% to 37.2% in the previous 10 years. It marks the highest number of non-religious believers ever, ushering in an age of ‘super-diversity.’
Those identifying as Muslim rose from 4.9% in 2011 to 6.5% in the last decade.
48.9% of Census 2021 respondents in Plymouth said they had no religion, a rise of 16%.
The population was asked to describe what their religion was, rather than spell out their specific beliefs or practices, in the voluntary question included in the census since 2001.
The Census is carried out every 10 years by the Office for National Statistics. The data gathered from the Census helps the government and local authorities to plan and fund local services, such as education, doctors’ surgeries, and roads.
London remains the most religiously diverse region of England in 2021, with 25.3% of all usual residents reporting a religion other than “Christian.”
The North East and South West are the least religiously diverse regions, with 4.2% and 3.2%, respectively, selecting a religion other than “Christian”.
The archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said the census result “throws down a challenge to us not only to trust that God will build his kingdom on Earth but also to play our part in making Christ known”.
He added: “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.”
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: “These results confirm that the biggest demographic change in England and Wales of the last ten years has been the dramatic growth of the non-religious. They mean the UK is almost certainly one of the least religious countries on Earth.
“One of the most striking things about these Census results is how at odds the population is from the state itself. No state in Europe has such a religious set-up as we do in terms of law and public policy, while at the same time having such a non-religious population. Iran is the only other state in the world that has clerics voting in its legislature. And no other country in the world requires compulsory Christian worship in schools as standard.”