The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an island Western European state whose political system is a constitutional monarchy. Great Britain consists of several countries with certain cultural and linguistic differences — England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Today, the UK is a mixture of indigenous cultures and numerous immigrants — Pakistanis, Africans, Indians. The capital and largest city is London, which is the world's financial, economic and cultural center with a population of over 8 million people. Great Britain is a country with a rich history and culture. Every year the question of religion becomes more and more relevant. Britain, like other European countries, is very loyal to the religion of the population, so every Englishman has the right to independent choice. With over 170 different religions, Britain's religious composition is diverse, complex and multicultural. The United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens and residents through three different instruments. One of these laws is the European Convention on human rights, which guarantees the right to free religious choice. Although freedom of religion was well established and was being exercised, the government gave it certain religious preferences. For example, in the case of a monarchy, only Protestants can become king or Queen (although they can now freely marry Catholics without losing the right to inherit the throne). In addition, the Anglican Church is the state Church of the country and the monarch has vowed to protect the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.
It is obvious that the historical domination of Christianity in England led to the complete institutionalization of Christianity. Christianity is the" established religion " of great Britain. Although much of this has been reversed - public office is no longer limited to members of Catholic or Protestant denominations, some oddities still remain. For example,"the Anglican Church is legally obliged to display a complete, accessible Bible in all its places of worship." There are no such requirements of the law on the placement of a mosque or synagogue. Such an outdated law is now considered wrong: the state has no right to interfere in this way. In most cases, the legal interweaving of Church and state is due to the fact that the former have a disproportionate or improper influence on the latter. Bishops still sit in the House of lords (the second house of the UK government) - "the UK is the only country left in the democratic world that allows clerics to sit in its legislature on the right." Although there is a long-running "emasculating" movement in the UK, the public does not know enough about religion to be awakened to either oppose or support it. The government, as a rule, does not devote much time to the active dismantling of such a device, because, although it is a democratic embarrassment, the public itself does not often notice.
No doubt, Christianity has been the most influential religion in the UK, and it remains the declared faith of the majority of the population. Despite this fact more than 80% of people do not regurarly go to religious services. This definitely does not mean that this vast majority does not believe in God or rejects the existence of any kind of supernatural being, heaven and hell or life after death. According to surveys the majority of the people in the UK certainly has some kind spiritual belief. Two churches have a specialstatus with regard to the State. In England, following the rejection by Henry VIII of the supremacy of the Pope in 1534, the Anglican Church of England has been legally recognised as the official, or established, Church. The Monarch is the ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church of England and must always be a member of the Church, and promise to uphold it. A similar situation applied in Scotland until the early 20th century regarding the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. (Since then the Church has continued to be recognised as the national Church. The Monarch holds no constitutional role in the government of the Church of Scotland but is represented at the General Assembly in the office of the Lord High Commissioner.) There are no ‘established’ churches in Wales or Northern Ireland. In Wales, the Anglican Church is known as the Church in Wales.
So, Anglican Christianity is practiced in regional jurisdictions, such as the Church of England, Church of Scotland, Church of Ireland, and Church of Wales. In 1534, it split away from the Catholic church, prompting what is now known as the English Reformation era. Historically, this has been the predominant Christian denomination in the UK. Today, 17% of the population identify as Anglican. In practice, Anglicanism is mixed, with some Anglicans who emphasise the Catholic tradition and others the Reformed tradition.
Catholicism has a long history in the United Kingdom. For nearly 200 years, however, from the 1500’s until the 1700’s, the Catholic church would not recognize the English monarchy. During this time, Catholics suffered discrimination, and were prohibited from voting, joining Parliament, and owning land. Today, 8% of the British population identifies as Catholic. The majority of these followers are in Northern Ireland where around 40% of the people are Catholic, and it is the dominant religion around the inland areas of Northern Ireland. In Scotland, approximately 15.9% of the population identifies as Catholic. This number drops significantly in England and Wales where it is only 7.4%.
The percentage of the population identifying as Muslim in the United Kingdom is 5%. The majority of these followers live in England and Wales, where they make up 3% of the population. They make up only .8% of the population in Scotland and in Northern Ireland fewer than 2,000 people practice Islam. Although these numbers are small, they grew 10 times faster than the population between 2001 and 2009.
As we know, irreligion is the lack of a religious belief, and includes such subcategories as atheism and agnosticism. Nearly half (49%) of the population of the UK identifies as irreligious. This number is one of the highest in Europe, although it follows a regional pattern toward secularization. Many researchers believe the UK has entered a period of post-Christianity in which the previously dominant Christian religion has given way to different values and cultures. Of the four countries that make up the UK, England is the least religious, followed by Scotland, Wales, and then Northern Ireland.
What about other Faith Communities, in addition to Christianity, the United Kingdom is also home of many other world religions.
Most of the Sikh community in the UK are of Punjabi from East Africa and other former British colonies to which members of their family had migrated, but the majority have come to the UK directly from the Punjab. There are between 400,000 and 500,000 members, making it the largest Sikh community outside the Indian subcontinent.
The Hindu community in the UK originates largely from India, although others have come from countries of Africa to which earlier generations had previously migrated (Kenya, Tanzania, etc.). The number of members is close to 1 million.
Jews first settled in England at the time of the Norman Conquest. They were expelled by Edward I in 1290, but readmitted during the Cromwellian Republic (1642–51). Sephardic Jews, who originally came from Spain and Portugal, have been present in the UK since the mid-17th century. The majority of the 300,000 Jews in the UK today, while British born, are Ashkenazi Jews, of Central and East European origin, who fled persecution in the Russian Empire between 1881 and 1914, and Nazi persecution in Germany and other European countries from 1933 onwards.
The Buddhist community in the UK has around 50,000 followers, both of British or Western origin, and of South Asian and Asian background.
Other religious groups in the UK were originally founded in the United States in the 19th century. These include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church, with about 180,000 members in Britain), the Jehovah’sWitnesses (146,000 members), the Christadelphians, the Christian Scientists. The Spiritualists have about 35,000 members. These religious groups claim to be Christians, even sound Christian, but do not acknowledge the Holy Bible (instead have their own, modified version), as well as teaching that only those belonging to their churches will go to heaven (Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists etc. will not).
There are now a number of new, non-Christian religious movements in the UK, established since the Second World War and often of foreign origin. Examples include the Church of Scientology, the transcendental meditation movement, the unification Church, and various new age groups.
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