11 December 2012
Census 2011 - England remains a faithful
The Church of England today welcomed the publication of the latest
Census figures which confirmed that Christianity remains the
largest religion in England in 2011, with 31.5 million people (59.4
per cent of the population) self-identifying as Christians.
"These results confirm that we remain a faithful nation," said the
Rev Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Archbishop's
Council. "England remains a country where the majority of the
nation actively identifies the role that faith plays in their life.
Clearly we welcome the fact that Christianity remains the most
populous faith in England - with six in ten people identifying
themselves as Christian. When all faiths are taken together, people
of faith account for two-thirds of the nation - two in every three
people identify themselves as having a faith.
"Obviously the fall in those choosing to identify themselves as
Christians is a challenge. We need to look closely at the fuller
figures published next year and to reflect on what these tell us.
One of the reasons may well be fewer people identifying as
"Cultural Christians" i.e. those who have no active involvement
with churches and who may previously have identified as Christian
for cultural or historical reasons. They indicate a changing
pattern of religious life in which traditional or inherited
identities are less taken for granted than they used to be."
"The work of the Church of England is not limited to those who
declare Christian affiliation. As a Church we continue to serve
people of all faiths and none, in parishes, schools, community
projects and through the 23.2 million hours voluntary work that
churchgoers contribute outside their local church to the local
community," said Arun Arora.
"In a speech earlier this year, Her Majesty the Queen spoke of the
Church of England's 'duty to protect the free practice of all
faiths in this country'. The figures released today show that the
Church's duty concerns the overwhelming majority of people in
"The death of Christian England has been greatly exaggerated.
Despite a decade of nay saying and campaigning by atheist
commentators and groups, six out of ten people in England
self-identify as Christians, a figure which rises to more than
two-thirds when including people identifying with faith as a
"During the past decade alone the CofE has baptised an average of
2,500 people a week - with a 40% increase in adult baptisms -
conducted more than 1000 weddings a week, celebrated the ordination
of more than 5,000 new priests and maintained more than 16,000
parish church buildings. While 253 churches closed over the past
decade, 1,000 new congregations were started through the Fresh
"Today's figures pose questions - not least for most of the London
based national media - about whether their perceptions and
reporting of faith accurately reflect the reality of a faithful
nation, especially when considering the figures in the North East
and North West of the country.
"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."