United Kingdom - Religions



There is complete religious freedom in the United Kingdom. All churches and religious societies may own property and conduct schools. Established churches are the Church of England (Anglican) and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). The former is uniquely related to the crown in that the sovereign must be a member and, on accession, promise to uphold the faith; it is also linked with the state through the House of Lords, where the archbishops of Canterbury and York have seats. The archbishop of Canterbury is primate of all England. In 2002, about 45% of the English population belonged to the Church of England.

The established Church of Scotland has a Presbyterian form of government: all ministers are of equal status and each of the congregations is locally governed by its minister and elected elders. In 2002, Presbyterian membership was estimated about 4% of the total population.

Other Protestant churches include the unestablished Anglican churches in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales; the Presbyterians (about 4% of the population), the Methodists (about 2% of the population); the Baptist Church; and the United Reformed Church (the product of the 1973 merger of the Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches to which not all churches acceded). A total of about 2% of the population are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, members of the Church of Christ, Christian Scientists, or Unitarians. The Roman Catholic Church in the United Kingdom has some 9 million adherents, or about 10% of the population. The Anglo-Jewish community, with an estimated 300,000 members, is the second-largest group of Jews in Western Europe. There are also sizable communities of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists.

Many immigrants have established community religious centers in the United Kingdom. Christian groups include Greek, Russian, Polish, Serb-Orthodox, Estonian and Latvian Orthodox, and the Armenian Church; Lutheran churches from various parts of Europe are also represented.

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