Christians becoming minority in Britain
LONDON: Christians could be a minority in England and Wales by 2018, according to analysis of the latest census results which have revealed a fall of more than 4 million in the number of people who describe themselves as adhering to the faith.
The decline in Christianity came amid a wider fall in the number of people professing belief in any religion, although that trend was partially offset by an increase of 1.6 million in the number of Muslims.
Secularists said the trend away from Christianity was a warning to church authorities that their conservative attitudes were not playing well with the public.
The Office of National Statistics revealed the decline as the Church of England's house of bishops met to discuss the crisis over the synod's decision last month to reject the ordination of female bishops. It also came as the government responded to religious opposition to same-sex marriage by announcing proposed legislation explicitly stating that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples, and that canon law, which bans same-sex weddings, will continue to apply.
Christianity remains the largest religion in England and Wales, with 33.2 million people, or 59 per cent of the population, saying they follow the faith. But 14.1 million people, around a quarter of the population and an increase of 6.4 million over the decade, said they had no faith at all.
A spokeswoman for the Church of England said the figures ''confirm we remain a faithful nation'' but admitted ''the fall in those choosing to identify themselves as Christians is a challenge''.
A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said the decrease was consistent with recent social attitude and social value surveys.
''While this is a challenge, the fact that six out of 10 people in England and Wales self-identify as Christians is not discouraging,'' he said.
People who identified themselves as Muslims in 2011 numbered 2.7 million, up from 1.55 million in 2001.
Guardian News & Media