by Eric Kaufmann
Wednesday, 30
November 2022
Chart
16:00

Ethnic minorities are keeping Britain Christian

Without minority growth, the church would be in a dire condition
by Eric Kaufmann
Source: ONS census 2021

Britain is fast becoming a country dominated by people who don’t affiliate with Christianity, the latest census figures reveal. Fewer than half (46%) of residents of England and Wales ticked the ‘Christian’ box in 2021, compared to 59% in 2011 and 72% in 2001. The raw number of Christians fell from 33.3 million to 27.5 million, a loss of nearly 6 million souls. 

While the media has lumped Christian decline in with White British ethnic decline, the two are largely separate. In fact, ethnic minorities constitute a de-secularising force that is counteracting religious, including Christian, decline. Without minority growth, the church would be in an even more dire condition.


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Indeed, most parishioners in London, where Christianity is holding up best, are not White Brits. Consider the fact that in Brent — one of the two most ethnically diverse London boroughs, where White Britons form just 15% of the population — the number of Christians increased from 129,080 in 2011 to 131,914 in 2021. In Newham, the most diverse, Christianity also rose marginally, from 123,119 in 2011 to 123,746 in 2021. This rise is because of, not in spite of, ethnic change.

Let’s zoom out and look at this nationally. There are around 780,000 fewer White Britons in England and Wales than in 2011, a drop from 80.5% to 74.4% of the total population. This means the Christian share has dropped more than twice as fast as the White British share. This is similar to 2001-11, when the Christian proportion dropped 13 points while the White British fell 7 points, so the trend has been evident for at least two decades.

Meanwhile, the number of Muslims increased from 2.7 to 3.9 million, a rise from 4.9% to 6.5% of the population. Similar growth occurred among some other non-Christian groups. Global demography, as I have written elsewhere, reverses secularisation. Thus Britain’s immigration gateway cities, which are most exposed to global demographic winds, are the least secular.

The proportion of Christians is still higher among White Britons than among ethnic minorities, so there is some link between the majority’s ethnic and religious decline. However, statistical analysis, as shown in the graph below, confirms that the relationship between the fall in Christian affiliation and White British ethnicity in a borough is a relatively flat one, whereas the connection between White British decline and slower secularisation is very strong.

As this map of nonreligion reveals, London and other diverse cities, along with the North West, form light islands of faith in a blue sea of secularism, reflecting the fact that virtually all of the world’s population growth takes place in the highly religious global South, not the secular developed world.

Social change may be rapidly driving Britain towards non-religion, but ethnic change is gradually making the country more religious.

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Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 months ago

The chapel outside my flat in central London is filled every Sunday with African families singing hymns and listening to some good old brimstone sermons. It’s rather heartening.

Graeme McNeil
Graeme McNeil
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Do you attend these services?

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 months ago
Reply to  Graeme McNeil

Deleted

Last edited 2 months ago by Jonathan Nash
R Wright
R Wright
2 months ago

The Church abdicated its responsibility for the souls of the British people in March 2020 when it cheerleaded the erosion of civil liberties, and subsequently closed all churches.

Geoffrey Hicking
Geoffrey Hicking
2 months ago

Those conservatives that care about defending our country and its history, please find a non-woke church (there are plenty left!), and keep the attendance up.

Please please please.

I do my best to keep my local church going, but it is hard. If every conservative went once a month, then we would not have problems.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

The various traditional Christian churches are in dire condition in England. This is because the leaders of those churches have given up evangelising in England, although they have plenty of paid posts that are supposed to promote evangelism. Instead they concentrate on collecting funds to pay their functionaries and distribute funds to more successful overseas branches. As their rhetoric becomes more secular their religious following declines. Christian immigration does help Christianity but less the old organisations and more new churches that actually believe in evangelism. Methodism, for example, concentrates it’s efforts on closing churches that are seen merely as an expense.

Iris C
Iris C
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I listen to Prayer for Today at 5.45 (if I am awake) and the Christian contributors (unlike those from other religions) make no effort to direct our thoughts and strengthen our belief in God..

Michael W
Michael W
1 month ago

Very true, just as Irish immigrants brought the Catholic Church back to England, African, Filipino, and Indian immigrants will keep it going. I observed that at least half of the congreation weren’t British at the mass I went to in central Newcastle.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

I love visiting small old churches and looking round their graveyards at the headstones – it certainly reinforces one’s sense of mortality and the temporary nature of material gain.
Even those who were buried there just a hundred years ago could never have envisaged the changes that have occurred here in our society over such a short period.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ian Stewart
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

As the map of nonreligion at the top of this article reveals, London and other diverse cities, along with the North West, form light islands of faith in a blue sea of secularism, reflecting the fact that virtually all of the world’s population growth takes place in the highly religious global South, not the secular developed world.
I’ve read this paragraph several times, but still can’t fathom the link between the map and the assertion that “all of the world’s population growth takes place in the global South, not the secular developed world”
Am i missing something?
In general though, the link between practising Christians and immigration is interesting. More than 50% of the pupils at the Catholic school i attended are now from ethnic minority backgrounds, and whilst it’s a very long time since i attended a church service, anecdotally this is also the only way that the local Catholic church can remain viable.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

People born in the global south who have migrated to the UK are more likely to (a) live in large cities including London and (b) to be religious.

Last edited 2 months ago by Stephen Walshe
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Thanks. I thought that’s what the author might be getting at, just not very well expressed.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago

The map linked is incredible. You can zoom in pretty much all the way to single houses (and certainly individual roads). Fascinating to see.

Eric Watson
Eric Watson
1 month ago

Religion is strongest in the developing world. A bit like the tobacco industry.

D Walsh
D Walsh
2 months ago

Does mr Kaufmann really care about the number of Christians in the UK, or does he have a different agenda
Like the Scorpion and the Frog, its in his nature

Last edited 2 months ago by D Walsh
Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
1 month ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Would you like to share what this agenda might be?

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
1 month ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Just to be clear I think I know what his agenda is: Mr Kaufman takes an interest in these things because he is:   “Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London, and author of Whiteshift: Immigration, Populism and the Future of White Majorities. He is a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange.” ie It’s his full time job to take an interest, study the topic and as a “Professor” (the clue is in the job title) to disseminate his findings.