Muslim population of England passes the three million mark for the first time as the numbers of Christians continues to decline, figures reveal
The Muslim population of England has passed the three million mark for the first time, according to estimates prepared by Whitehall.
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The decrease in the proportion of English citizens who identify as Christians has continued, but slowed down, in the past decade as opposed to the 2000s. Muslims have become the fastest-growing faith group in England, while the number of those reporting no religious affiliation has increased too.
A British government study has found that the size of England’s Muslim community has grown while the number of Christians has fallen.
A snapshot of religious allegiances by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released in December, used data from household surveys, conducted between 2014 and 2016, and the most recent UK census, carried out in 2011.
It found that Christianity remains the most popular religion in England. However, the share of respondents who described themselves as Christians dropped from 59.6 percent in 2011 to 56.6 percent, while ‘Muslims’ made up 5.6 percent of the population compared with 4.7 percent eight years ago.
If this number is taken at face value (the findings are not precise), England’s Muslim population now exceeds 3 million for the first time ever – making it the second-largest and the fastest-growing religious group in the country.
The increase may again be a result of people searching for new beliefs after becoming disillusioned with Christianity.
The new figures suggest that in 2016 – five years after the 2011 national census – there were 3,138,000 Muslims in England and Wales, up by more than 400,000 from 2.7 million over the five years. This was an increase of roughly 16 per cent.
In England alone, the ONS estimates said, there were 3,092,000 Muslims in 2016.
As a share of the population of England, the assessment indicated that the Muslim faith group made up 5.6 per cent in 2016 against 4.7 per cent in 2011.
The research report said: ‘There is a decline for the Christian group, though it remains the largest group in England.
‘The lower proportion of the population in the Christian group is counteracted by higher proportions of all the other groups, with the largest increases seen for the Muslim, none or not stated, and other faith groups.’
It added that statisticians cannot yet pinpoint the reasons for the growth in the Muslim population and the decline of Christianity.
‘With a breakdown by any other characteristics, for example by age or sex, we cannot draw any conclusions about what causes these differences,’ the report said.
The speed of increase in the Muslim population estimated by the new research appears to match that detected by national censuses. In 2001, the census said Muslims made up 3.0 per cent of the numbers in England and Wales.