Every ten years the government conducts a census. The census is a questionnaire that must be completed by every household in order to record information about the population. Every question must be completed, except the question asking about religion, which is optional.
The census figures from 2001 and 2011 (the most recent census) show that Christianity is the majority religion in England and Wales. However, the proportion of people who said they were Christian fell by over 10 per cent between 2001 and 2011, while people identifying has having ‘no religion’ rose by 10 percent.
The census also shows that England and Wales are becoming more religiously diverse, with growing numbers of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and ‘other religions’.
England has an established church - one that is recognised by law as the official church of the nation. This church is called the Church of England. The bishops of the Church of England have a lot of influence over the laws of the UK. The Queen of England, as well as being the country’s most senior monarch, is also officially the ‘supreme governor’ of the established church and ‘Defender of the Faith’.
Some people say that many of the laws of the UK have their roots in Christianity. For example, there are laws that reflect the Ten Commandments, which forbid stealing and murder. Many Christians would argue that the laws by which people live in the UK reflect a tradition of Christian justice, fairness and loving one’s neighbour.
School holidays and public holidays in the UK are often based around Christian festivals. For instance, schools have a Christmas holiday, and Christmas Day and Boxing Day are public holidays for all UK workers. Similarly, following public holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday (immediately after Easter Sunday), most schools have a break for two weeks, which some schools refer to as the Easter holiday.
These public holidays were originally intended for religious observance, although nowadays many people think of them as simply breaks from school or work.