Trey Paul, FISM News
Most of the people who live in England and Wales no longer consider themselves Christian according to the latest survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
A closer look at the data shows that for the first time ever, less than half (46.2%) of the population of 27.5 million people described themselves as Christian in 2021. That’s a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 2011.
Despite this decrease, “Christian” remained the most common response given by people who responded to the religious question.
The Most Rev. Stephen Cottrell, archbishop of York responded to the census data in a news release from the Church of England and noted Christianity is still “the largest movement on earth.”
Archbishop of York @CottrellStephen reflects on the publication of the 2021 census data.
Read more at https://t.co/iT1580s27D.
— The Church of England (@churchofengland) November 29, 2022
“It’s not a great surprise that the Census shows fewer people in this country identifying as Christian than in the past, but it still 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 said.
The census data also shows that there were increases in the number of people who described themselves as Muslim and Hindu. “No religion” was the second most common response given in the survey.
“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,” the archbishop said.
Christianity has long been a part of the fabric of England. Aside from her role as “defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” Queen Elizabeth II maintained her Christian faith up until her death in September of this year.
Before being crowned she said: “Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
Prayer is also what Archbishop Cottrell says is needed in England now ahead of Christmas and beyond.
This winter – perhaps more so than for a long time – people right across the country, some in desperate need, will be turning to their local church, not only for spiritual hope but practical help. We will be there for them, in many cases, providing food and warmth. And at Christmas millions of people will still come to our services.
Data suggests England isn’t the only place where there’s a declining number of Christians. FISM News reported on a recent Gallup poll that revealed American belief in the Bible’s inerrancy is in decline.
The poll showed that now, only one out of five Americans believe that the Bible is God’s literal word and nearly one-third believe the Bible contains fables written by men.
A report by Pew Research Center released in September revealed that since the 1990s, there has been a surge in Americans leaving Christianity. They now identify as atheist, agnostic, or believe “nothing in particular.”
Researchers noted that if that trend continues, similar to England, Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades.
“The Christian church exists to share the good news of Jesus Christ, serve our neighbor, and bring hope to a troubled world. That’s what we’ve done for 2,000 years — in times of war and peace, hardship and plenty, revival and decline and it’s what we must do now more than ever,” Archbishop Cottrell said.