A fresh analysis of the 2011 census has shown that Christian faith in the UK is declining rapidly amongst the British-born population, whilst belief in Islam has dramatically increased. A report published by the Office for National Statistics revealed that the percentage of people following a Christian faith dropped from 71.7 per cent in 2001 to 59.3 per cent in 2011. More than one in 10 under 25s in the UK now describes themselves as Muslim. Figures for Christianity were boosted however by the 1.2 million foreign-born Christians residing in the UK, such as Polish Catholics and evangelicals from countries such as Nigeria. Meanwhile, the percentage of the people who have no religion rose from 14.8 per cent to a quarter of the population. Even the kind of belonging measured by baptism has diminished, so that there are now about half as many every year as there were in 1980. The median age of Christians in this country is 45; the median age of Muslims is 25. The ONS does not distinguish among different Christian denominations any more than the census did. But it’s finding that the number of British-born Christians fell by 15% in the 10 years between 2001 and 2011 while the number of foreign-born ones increased by 1.2 million is also really bad for the Church of England. Hardly any of the immigrants were Anglicans, or became Anglican. In south London this is obvious from the profusion of Pentecostal churches, mostly nowadays West African. Catholic immigrants have tended to remain Catholics, of course, which has disguised the fall in native-born numbers much better than happened in the Church of England. At the same time the number of Muslims in England and Wales surged by 75 per cent – boosted by almost 600,000 more foreign born followers of the Islamic faith. While almost half of British Muslims are under the age of 25, almost a quarter of Christians are over 65.
17 December 2012
Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is an umbrella organization that represents 500 mosques across the UK, has strongly criticized the new government initiative to pass a law which would allow gay marriages to take place in religious establishments. According to the law however it is illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to conduct same-sex weddings.
The MCB statement found the law “utterly discriminatory” as it does not provide a similar exemption for Muslims. Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the MCB said:
‘We find it incredible that while introducing the bill in the House, culture secretary Maria Miller could keep a straight face when offering exemption for the established Church while in the same breath claiming, “fairness to be at the heart of her proposals”… It is not just the ‘Church of England and Church in Wales’ who “explicitly” stated strong opposition’ as Mrs. Miller says, the Muslim Council of Britain along with most other faith groups also made equally strong representation… no one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law. It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions.’
Ministers expect the legislation to take up to 12 months to get through Parliament.
Conservative Party MPs, including ministers, will get a free vote amid private fears that at least 40 per cent of Tory MPs oppose the plans. Labour has also granted its backbenchers a free vote, in a surprise move.
photo by Andrew Hodges
A row has erupted within the Church of England over calls for British Muslims to be converted to Christianity. The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, who is Britain’s only bishop of Asian origin, has accused the Church of failing in its duty to “welcome people of other faiths” ahead of a motion at July’s General Synod in York urging a strategy for evangelising Muslims. According to The Telegraph, Bishop Ali’s comments have been roundly criticised by senior Church of England figures. The Right Reverend Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme and the newly appointed Bishop of Urban Life and Faith, said: “Both the Bishop of Rochester’s reported comments and the synod private members’ motion show no sensitivity to the need for good inter-faith relations. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are learning to respect one another’s paths to God and to live in harmony. This demand for the evangelisation of people of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities.” A Church of England spokesman added: “We have a mission-focused Christian presence in every community, including those where there are a large number of Muslims. That engagement is based on the provisions of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Pakistan-born Ali told the Mail on Sunday that, while Church leaders had rightly shown sensitivity to British Muslims, “I think it may have gone too far.” He added: “Our nation is rooted in the Christian faith and that is the basis of welcoming people of other faiths. You cannot have an honest conversation on the basis of fudge.”
A senior Church of England bishop says Islamic extremists in Britain are trying to create areas that exclude non-Muslims. The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali contends the goal is to establish “no-go” zones in England in which people of different faiths face physical attack, The Sunday Telegraph reported. The Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali, who serves as the bishop of Rochester, warned that Britain is becoming a divided nation due to government immigration policy and the “novel philosophy of multiculturalism.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no immediate comment. Muslim leaders scoffed at what they called an overreaction and asked for specific locations of the reputed Muslim strongholds.
One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops is warning that people will die unless Muslim leaders in Britain speak out in defence of the right to change faith. Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, whose father converted from Islam to Christianity in Pakistan, says he is looking to Muslim leaders in Britain to ‘uphold basic civil liberties, including the right for people to believe what they wish to believe and to even change their beliefs if they wish to do so’.
A Muslim support teacher suspended for wearing a veil in class says it was never a problem for her pupils. Headfield Church of England Junior School, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said pupils found it hard to understand her during English language lessons. But Aishah Azmi, 24, said: “They never complained.” She added she was willing to take the veil off in class, but not in front of any male colleagues.
AMIT ROY Foreigners who want to apply for British nationality will have to pass a Britishness test from tomorrow, the home office announced today. Out of 24 multiple choice questions, candidates will have to get three-quarters right before being eligible to apply for British nationality. The idea, which has gained momentum after the London bombings of June 7, is to create a society in which people feel proud to belong to Britain. Tony McNulty, Tony Blair’s immigration minister, said today: Becoming a British citizen is a milestone event in an individual’s life. He explained: The measures we are introducing today will help new citizens to gain a greater appreciation of the civic and political dimension of British citizenship and, in particular to understanding the rights and responsibilities that come with the acquisition of British citizenship. While urging people to become more British, the government has pursued policies which is having the opposite effect. It is allowing the setting up of faith schools, mainly Muslim, within the state system. Their supporters have argued that if Christians and Jews can have their own schools, Muslims, too, should be allowed the same right. While this argument has intellectual force, it does encourage children to grow up without developing natural friendships with pupils from other faiths. There are a couple of Hindu schools and a Sikh one is in the pipeline. But Hindus and Sikhs seem less enthusiastic about sending their children to faith schools. On the other hand, a whole generation of Indian immigrants, mainly women, has lived in Britain for more than 30 years without bothering to learn English. The same is true of Pakistanis, notably Mirpuris, in Bradford and other cities in Yorkshire and the West Midlands. As for the Britishness test, foreigners will have to pay _34 to sit the 45-minute exam, which can be taken at any one of 90 centres through the country. Those who fail can take the computer-based exam again and again. The Life in the UK test, based on a handbook, is intended to examine a candidate’s knowledge of everyday life in the country in such areas as British regional accents, the Church of England, the courts and the telephone system. Sample Questions Revealed Today Are Of The Type: _ Where are the Geordie, Cockney, and Scouse dialects spoken? What are MPs? What is the Church of England and who is its head? _ What is the Queen’s official role and what ceremonial duties does she have? Do many children live in single parent families or step-families? _ Which of these courts uses a jury system? Magistrates’ Court? Crown Court? Youth Court? County Court. _ Is the statement below true or false? Your employer can dismiss you for joining a trade union. _ Which two telephone numbers can be used to dial the emergency services? 112? 123? 555? 999? _ Which of these statements is correct? A television licence is required for each television in a home. A single television licence covers all televisions in a home. (Answers to the last four questions are: 1. Crown Court 2. False 3. 112 and 999 4. A single television licence covers all televisions in a home) Last year more than 110,000 people were awarded British citizenship, according to the home office.