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Religion in Britain
ÃÂÃÂÃÂ¿ÃÂ¾ÃÂ»ÃÂ½ÃÂ¸ÃÂ»: Ksenia Petrushkina
The Church of England 4-10
The Other Christian Churches 10-13
Other Religions 13-18
Barely 16 per cent of the adult population of Britain belongs to one of the Christian churches, and this proportion continues to decline. Yet the regional variation is revealing. In England only 12 per cent of the adult population are members of a church. The further one travels from London, however, the greater the attendance: in Wales 22 per cent, in Scotland 36 per cent and in Northern Ireland no fewer than 75 per cent.
Today there is complete freedom of practice, regardless of religion or sect. However, until the mid-nineteenth century, those who did not belong to the Church of England, the official 'established' or state church, were barred from some public offices.
The established church still plays a powerful role in national life, in spite of the relatively few people who are active members of it.
The Church of England
There are two established or state churches in Britain: the Church of England, or Anglican Church as it is also called, and the Church of Scotland, or 'Kirk'. In 1533 the English king, Henry VIII, broke away from Rome and declared himself head of the Church in England. His reason was political: the Pope's refusal to allow him to divorce his wife, who had failed to produce a son. Apart from this administrative break, the Church at first remained more Catholic than Protestant. However, during the next two centuries when religion was a vital political issue in Europe, the Church of England became more Protestant in belief as well as organization.