Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Religions in my country -- England

These are the results of a question on religion in the 2001 census (it covers Wales, as well as England, but it gives a reliable picture all the same).

Christian: 77.7% of the population said they were Christians.
Buddhist: 0.3%
Hindu: 1.2%
Jewish: 0.5%
Muslim: 3.2%
Sikh: 0.7%
Any other religion: 0.3%
No religion: 16.1%

We have laws to protect this diversity -- no-one can persecute anyone else for practising their religion. In the past various different groups have been persecuted in England and we are determined that this will not happen again. At present, certain groups of Muslims are seen as a security risk in this country, and every so often a few are arrested and questioned. Some people feel that

I don't know much about the minority religions, but having grown up in a Church of England tradition, I can tell you about that. The Church of England is a branch of Christianity. The ruler of England heads the church, and has the title 'Supreme Governor of the Church of England' in this capacity. The spiritual head of the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The church split off from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 -- King Henry VIII wanted to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess. The Pope (the head of the Roman Catholic Church) refused under pressure from the Spanish royal family. Henry, not willing to let disapproval of God's mouthpiece on earth stop him, made himself head of the Church in England and got his annulment. Ever since then, England's religious affairs have been separate from Rome.

The Church of England is still very obvious in day-t0-day life for many people. The church buildings dominate villages and towns, and although Sunday congregations are dwindling, many people choose to get married in church, to christen their babies and to hold funerals in church.

Churches are often very beautiful, ancient buildings, many of them dating back 1,000 years. Sometimes they are added to over time and so display several different styles of architecture. We bury our dead in and around them. This means that they record people, as well as building styles. The walls inside are often decorated with carved stone or wooden plaques commemorating people who worshipped in the church.

Although the Church of England finances its buildings, they are often looked after by the community. It is these people who will, sometimes voluntarily or for little payment, keep the graveyard neat, decorate the interior with flowers, embroider cushions for the seats, polish the wood- and brasswork, raise money if it is needed for repairs or modernisation and a thousand and one other tasks.

Further reading: Wikipedia article on Church of England.

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11:13 AM  

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