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The proportion of people in England and Wales self-identifying as Christian has fallen due to immigration.

Census data does not suggest immigration is the primary cause of this change.


The results of the England and Wales 2021 census were made available on November 29. Shortly after this data was released, Nigel Farage posted a video on Twitter, commenting on the findings regarding the prevalence of Christianity in England and Wales. 

On what the census revealed about the religious makeup of England and Wales, Farage stated, “More significantly, the country as a whole, it shows that only 46 percent now identify as Christian. So there is a massive change in the identity of this country that is taking place through immigration. You may think it’s a good thing, you may think it’s a bad thing…” 

In fact

The results of the 2021 census indicate 27.5 million people in England and Wales identify as Christian. This accounts for 46.2 percent of the overall population. Nigel Farage is correct that this number has reduced over time. In the 2011 census, 33.3 million people identified as Christian, which accounted for around 59.3 percent of the population at the time. While this drop is significant, it is misleading to attribute it to immigration. 

The first thing to consider is that the large decrease in the number of Christians is not due to other religious groups growing in size. The number of Christians has fallen by 5.5 million in ten years, while other religions have seen comparatively modest rises. Over the same period, the number of self-identifying Muslims in the United Kingdom increased by 1.2 million. The second largest increase was among self-identified Hindus, with an increase of 182,000. 

What can more adequately explain this demographic shift is a sharp increase in the number of people who identify as having “no religion.” This category, which encompasses atheists, agnostics, and those who otherwise do not self-identify as religious, grew by 14.8 percent over ten years. In the 2021 census data, 22.2 million people self-identified as “no religion,” accounting for ​​37.2 percent of all respondents. 

While it may have been a minor factor, immigration cannot be framed as the primary reason the majority of people in the U.K. no longer identify as Christian. The census results suggest a large increase in people identifying as having no religion is the primary reason for this change. 

The verdict

The census data does not suggest immigration is the primary reason behind the declining number of Christians in the United Kingdom. This claim has therefore been marked as misleading. 

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