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Religious geography

Broad patterns

The major distinction to be made in the UK is between Great Britain (now comparatively secular) and Northern Ireland (where religious commitment remains high). There are also important (...)

The major distinction to be made in the UK is between Great Britain (now comparatively secular) and Northern Ireland (where religious commitment remains high). There are also important differences between the constituent countries of Great Britain, as noted above: the predominant branch of Christianity is Anglican in England, Presbyterian in Scotland, and Nonconformist in Wales. Within each of these territories, however, the differences are modest.

The Catholic church is particularly strong in areas that received the largest number of Irish immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, e.g. around Liverpool and Glasgow. Some parts of the country (for example the southwest of England) have traditionally been areas of Methodist concentration, though that denomination is fading rapidly. The free presbyterian churches (that separated from the Church of Scotland) are especially important in the highlands and islands of Scotland.

Most immigrants from the former colonies live in the major urban areas such as Greater London, the West Midlands (around Birmingham), Greater Manchester, and West Yorkshire (around Leeds). The non-Christian religious groups are therefore concentrated almost entirely in cities, as are black-majority churches. In general, however, there is less religious participation in cities than in suburbs and rural areas.

Involvement in the Church of England in particular is noticeably higher (as measured by baptisms or church attendance relative to population) in rural than in urban areas. Middle class suburbs also show relatively high levels of participation, particularly for festivals such as Christmas. In Scotland, both religious identification and church attendance are lower in the east than in the west.

The major distinction to be made in the UK is between Great Britain (now comparatively secular) and Northern Ireland (where religious commitment remains high). There are also important differences between the constituent countries of Great Britain, as noted above: the predominant branch of Christianity is Anglican in England, Presbyterian in Scotland, and Nonconformist in Wales. Within each of these territories, however, the differences are modest.

The Catholic church is particularly strong in areas that received the largest number of Irish immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, e.g. around Liverpool and Glasgow. Some parts of the country (for example the southwest of England) have traditionally been areas of Methodist concentration, though that denomination is fading rapidly. The free presbyterian churches (that separated from the Church of Scotland) are especially important in the highlands and islands of Scotland.

Most immigrants from the former colonies live in the major urban areas such as Greater London, the West Midlands (around Birmingham), Greater Manchester, and West Yorkshire (around Leeds). The non-Christian religious groups are therefore concentrated almost entirely in cities, as are black-majority churches. In general, however, there is less religious participation in cities than in suburbs and rural areas.

Involvement in the Church of England in particular is noticeably higher (as measured by baptisms or church attendance relative to population) in rural than in urban areas. Middle class suburbs also show relatively high levels of participation, particularly for festivals such as Christmas. In Scotland, both religious identification and church attendance are lower in the east than in the west.

D 11 September 2012    ADavid Voas

Muslims

The Muslim population of Britain is concentrated in the major urban areas, particularly in London (38% of the total), Leicester, and the northwest (Greater Manchester and Blackburn). Within these (...)

The Muslim population of Britain is concentrated in the major urban areas, particularly in London (38% of the total), Leicester, and the northwest (Greater Manchester and Blackburn). Within these cities the Muslim population is typically concentrated in particular areas. In London, where Muslims contribute 8% of the population, they are found particularly in the north and east. The east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham have very large Muslim minorities (36% and 24% respectively).

In Scotland, Muslims are found mainly near Glasgow in East Renfrewshire (especially in the ward of Pollokshields East, where they are 40% of the population).

D 11 September 2012    ADavid Voas

Hindus

The majority (52%) of Hindus in Britain live in London. In the northwest London boroughs of Brent and Harrow they contribute about a fifth of the population. Significant concentrations of Hindus (...)

The majority (52%) of Hindus in Britain live in London. In the northwest London boroughs of Brent and Harrow they contribute about a fifth of the population. Significant concentrations of Hindus are also found in parts of the East and West Midlands, particularly in Leicester.

D 11 September 2012    ADavid Voas

Sikhs

The Sikh population is mainly located in and around London and the West Midlands. In the London area Sikhs are found particularly in the western boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow and in the nearby (...)

The Sikh population is mainly located in and around London and the West Midlands. In the London area Sikhs are found particularly in the western boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow and in the nearby town of Slough, though there is also a substantial population to the southeast in Gravesham, Kent. Close to a third of Sikhs in Britain live in the West Midlands, particularly Wolverhampton and Sandwell.

For further information: "British Sikh Report 2018".

D 11 September 2012    ADavid Voas

Jews

Approximately two thirds of British Jews live in or near London, with concentrations in various sections of the northwest and northeast metropolitan area. About 15% of the population in the (...)

Approximately two thirds of British Jews live in or near London, with concentrations in various sections of the northwest and northeast metropolitan area. About 15% of the population in the London Borough of Barnet is Jewish. There are also substantial Jewish communities in Greater Manchester (especially Bury), Leeds, and near Glasgow (East Renfrewshire).

See also David Graham, 2011 Census: Thinning and Thickening, December 2013
This report on the 2011 UK Census is the first to incorporate data from the censuses in Scotland and Northern Ireland into the analysis. It explores geographical change in the UK Jewish community, and demonstrates how the UK Jewish population is becoming increasingly concentrated in a small number of core geographical areas.

D 11 September 2012    ADavid Voas

Northern Ireland

People who identify themselves as being of Protestant heritage comprise 56% of the population in Northern Ireland. Those with a Catholic background make up 41%; the gap has been narrowing in (...)

People who identify themselves as being of Protestant heritage comprise 56% of the population in Northern Ireland. Those with a Catholic background make up 41%; the gap has been narrowing in recent years.

In Belfast, the capital, the two groups are of approximately equal size. Most districts in the province have a clear Protestant or Catholic majority, however. Protestants (and especially Presbyterians) are especially strong in the areas around Belfast and in the east. Catholics are particularly numerous in the west and south of Northern Ireland, where they contribute about two-thirds of the population.

D 11 September 2012    ADavid Voas

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