Religious education in the United Kingdom

Newcombe, Suzanne (2012). Religious education in the United Kingdom. In: Davis, Derek and Miroshnikova, Elena eds. The Routledge International Handbook of Religious Education. Routledge International Handbooks of Education. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 367–382.



The United Kingdom (U.K.) is traditionally Christian and most of the population continues to identify with Christianity. In the most recent census (2001), 72 percent of the population of Great Britain stated their religion as Christian. However, the religiosity of the population could be described as being a largely implicit cultural heritage rather than reflecting an active role of the Christian churches. In fact, less than 15 percent of the population attend church at least once a month and only just over 6 percent of the population were in chuch on "Census Sunday" in 2005. On matters of traditional Christian doctrine, the population of Great Britain shows a skeptical disposition, with recent surveys suggesting that only about 40 percent of the population consider Jesus as "God's Son" and less than 40 percent believe in the immaculate conception of Jesus. Secularism is influential, with more people actively identifying as "not religious" in the 2001 Census (15 percent) than the total of those who identify with non-Christian religions. This group of "non-religious" individuals includes humanists and agnostics as well as atheists, and this group does not have any single attitude towards those who are religious.

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