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The subject for this debate was decided by the Backbench Business Committee on 5 December 2023.

On making the application, Nick Fletcher MP said:

Christmas can be a very difficult time for an awful lot of people. There can be a lot of lonely people at Christmas, and sometimes people who are lonely throughout the year can feel even more lonely around Christmas. It would be good to let the country know and let parliamentarians know that there is usually a church close by. It is a wonderful time to go, and it is a wonderful thing to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The Christian population in the UK

Figures on the population by religion are available from the 2011 and 2021 Censuses. The religion question is voluntary. A person’s religion is self-defined regardless of whether they practise their religion or not.

Christian population in England and Wales

2021 Census results showed that the proportion of the population that identified as Christian in England and Wales was 46% in 2021, down from 59% in 2011.

The North West of England had the highest proportion of people who declared themselves to be Christian (53%). The lowest proportion was to be found in London with 41%.

Christian population in English and Welsh constituencies

The Commons Library has produced a dashboard with Census figures for 2021 by constituency and neighbourhood. It also provides figures from the 2011 Census.

Christian population in Northern Ireland

Figures from the 2021 Census in Northern Ireland showed that the proportion of people identifying as Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant and other Christian) was 89.2% of which 45.7% were Roman Catholic.

The figure in 2011 was 93.5%. Since 2011, the proportion identifying as Roman Catholic has remained relatively unchanged (45.1% in 2011 v 45.7% in 2021). The proportion identifying with other Christian denominations has fallen from 48.4% in 2011 to 43.5% in 2021.

Christian population in Scotland

Figures from the 2022 Census in Scotland on religion will not be published until 2024. Figures from the 2011 Census showed that 54% of people identify as being Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic or another Christian based faith; this is down from 65% in 2001. 

Church attendance in England and Scotland

Church attendance statistics are produced by the Brierly Consultancy. Among the statistics gathered are church attendance on a Sunday by denomination in England and Scotland from 1980 to 2020, with estimated attendance for 2025 and 2030.

The figures show that between 1980 and 2020, church attendance in Scotland has declined more steeply than in England though the proportion of the population attending church in Scotland was higher. The number of people attending church has fallen by 59% in Scotland compared with 38% in England.

In 1980, 17% of the population attended church on Sunday in Scotland which fell to 7% in 2020. In England, during the same period the proportion of the population attending church fell from 10% to 5%.

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