As a multicultural society, the UK is home to a diverse range of faiths and beliefs. In this blog post we will be looking at the five largest faiths and beliefs in the UK.
Christianity is based upon the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe to be the Son of God. 42 million people in the UK identify as Christian, making it the largest religion by far. There are numerous denominations of Christianity which are practiced in the UK, the most common being the Church of England and Roman Catholicism.
The Queen is the Head of the Church of England. The UK is home to many ancient churches and they continue to be popular tourist attractions as well as spiritual homes for many.
Islam is the second-largest religion in the UK with almost 3,000,000 adherents. Islam originated in Arabia at the start of the seventh century. Muslims believe that there is only one God, and that the Prophet Mohammed (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was his messenger.
Although many people think Islam is a relatively new religion in the UK, Muslims have been present since at least the sixteenth century, when a Muslim community began to form in London. Notable British Muslims today include the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Double Gold Olympic Medallist Mo Farah CBE and TV personality Nadiya Hussain.
Hinduism was formed around 4000 years ago and is the world’s oldest surviving religion. Followers of Hinduism believe in a universal God called Brahman who takes many forms, and that these forms are gods and goddesses in their own right. Hindus believe that every living thing has a soul, and that we are reborn and reincarnated many times and our next life depends on how we live our current life.
There are almost one million Hindus living in Britain today, most of whom are descendants of Hindu immigrants who came to the UK after World War II. Famous British Hindus include journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy and member of The Beatles, George Harrison MBE.
Sikhism developed from Hinduism in the sixteenth century. It is the youngest monotheistic religion. Nowadays, there are 430,000 Sikhs in the UK. The Sikh symbol is called the Khanda. The circle means God is omnipresent. The sword means Sikhs believe in truth and must be charitable. Sikhs worship in a Gurdwara, which is Punjabi for house of God. Famous British Sikhs include cricketer Monty Panesar and billionaire businessman Jasminder Singh, OBE.
In the UK, almost 50% of people follow no particular religion. This may be because they are atheists, i.e. they don’t believe in God, or because they believe in God, but don’t subscribe to an organised religion.
What are the biggest religious groups in your country? Comment below!
Glossary (Source: Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary)
denomination (n) – a religious group that has slightly different beliefs from other groups that share the same religion
adherent (n) – someone who follows a specific religion
prophet (n) – someone sent by God to tell people what to do, or to say what will happen in the future
notable (adj) – important and deserving attention, because of being very good or interesting
soul (n) – the spiritual part of a person that some people believe continues to exist in some form after their body has died
reincarnate (v) – if a dead person or animal is reincarnated as someone or something else, their spirit returns to life in that person or animal
descendants (pl. n) – people who related to you and who lives after you, such as your child or grandchild
monotheistic (adj) – believing that there is only one God
omnipresent (adj) – present or having an effect everywhere at the same time
charitable (adj) – giving money, food, or help free to those who are in need because they are ill, poor, or have no home