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Other religious and non-religious groups

Jews in the United Kingdom

History and settlement
Jews first came to England following the Norman Conquest in 1066. In 1290 they were expelled from the country; it was only under Cromwell in 1655 that Jews were formally (...)

History and settlement

Jews first came to England following the Norman Conquest in 1066. In 1290 they were expelled from the country; it was only under Cromwell in 1655 that Jews were formally readmitted.
Starting around 1881 there was substantial immigration of Ashkenazi Jews (those originating in central and eastern Europe), taking the number of Jews in England from less than 50,000 to about a quarter of a million by the start of the First World War. Immigration was resumed in the 1930s and continued until the early 1950s as a result of Nazi persecution and the Second World War.

Synagogues and representative organizations

More than half of Anglo-Jews describe themselves as religious in one form or another. Twenty per cent describe themselves in non-specific terms as ‘Just Jewish’, while less than a quarter claim to be secular or non-religious.
The United Synagogue, a mainstream Orthodox grouping, has 64 synagogues in Greater London and associated synagogues in the provinces. Some 60% of Jews affiliated with a synagogue belong to an Orthodox synagogue, with most of the remainder associated with Progressive (Liberal and Reform) groups. The current Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Professor Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, is formally the religious head of the United Synagogue. He also is the spiritual head of British Jewry, even though on religious matters both Progressives and the ultra-Orthodox often take different views. Alongside the Chief Rabbinate is the Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi) that acts as the religious court for mainstream Jewry.

The list of places of worship in England and Wales maintained by the Registrar General as approved locations for marriage ceremonies includes 349 synagogues (in 1999).
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, founded in 1760, is the main national representative organisation. It consists of about 300 delegates (or Deputies) elected from synagogues, social and welfare organizations, local community bodies and other such groups. The Board describes its purpose as being ‘to protect, support and defend the interests, religious rights and customs of Jews in the United Kingdom and to promote the development of the Jewish community in Britain’.

There are other national organisations with more specific missions, including the League of Jewish Women and the Anglo-Jewish Association. In places where the Jewish population is substantial there are local Representative Councils that include both religious and community organisations.

See also David Graham, L. D. Staetsky and Jonathan Boyd, Jews in the United Kingdom in 2013: Preliminary findings from the National Jewish Community Survey, January 2014.

D 6 May 2013    ADavid Voas

Further information

Further information on the social integration of religious minorities in the United Kingdom can be found under the Religious minorities heading.

Further information on the social integration of religious minorities in the United Kingdom can be found under the Religious minorities heading.

D 23 May 2013   

Christian denominations

Catholics in England are no more than 9 percent of the population, but the Catholic attendance at mass on a typical Sunday is – at around one million – slightly higher than the number of Anglicans (...)

Catholics in England are no more than 9 percent of the population, but the Catholic attendance at mass on a typical Sunday is – at around one million – slightly higher than the number of Anglicans in church at the same time. Although some English Catholics are descended from ‘recusants’ – families who maintained their allegiance to Rome after the Church of England split from its control – the majority descend from Irish immigrants who came to find work in Britain during the 19th and 20th centuries. Other Christian denominations in England include the Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed, Orthodox, and Pentecostal churches, and also groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventists, Quakers, and Unitarians. In recent years there has been substantial growth in independent ‘house churches’ and community churches.

Scotland has a substantial Catholic minority, at 14 percent (10 percent in 2010). No other denomination or religion apart from the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church (mentioned above) accounts for more than 1 percent of the total.

Wales has traditionally been Nonconformist (with chapels generally of a Calvinist hue).

In Northern Ireland a Protestant (mainly presbyterian) majority and a Catholic minority have tended to be identified with opposing sides in the political conflict over the future of the province.

updated by Ingrid Storm

D 8 February 2017    ADavid Voas

Muslims in Britain

Different waves of migration
Muslim migration to Britain began from the mid-19th century. The increased trade between Britain and its colonies brought a contingent force of labourers to work on (...)

Different waves of migration

Muslim migration to Britain began from the mid-19th century. The increased trade between Britain and its colonies brought a contingent force of labourers to work on the ships and in the ports. Between 1890-1903, nearly 40,000 seaman arrived on British shores; gradually some of them began to settle for longer periods. After World War I, there was a mass migration to Britain of Pakistanis (including Bangladeshis). The rapid increase in demand for unskilled labour in British industries also occasioned large scale migration.
The second wave of migration came from East African countries. A large number of Asians had British passports and so decided to come to Britain. By the early 1960s many Muslim countries were sending their students for higher education in Britain (Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries). Gradually, a number of students decided to stay and came to play a leading role within the community. Finally, in recent years, there has been a substantial inflow of Muslim refugees from the other parts of the world, including the Middle East, Near East and Eastern Europe (e.g. Kosovo).

A diverse community

There are Muslims from all corners of the world in Britain, including Africa. The Muslim community in Britain is extremely diverse, culturally, socially, or linguistically. Nevertheless, the different groups co-operated in establishing mosques and schools, co-operation based more on denominational lines than geographical or linguistic grounds.

The website Muslims in Britain provides interesting information on Muslims, mosques, and Islam in Britain.
See also: Muslim Council of Britain, ‘Our Shared British Future Muslims and Integration in the UK’, 2018.

D 1 May 2017    AAtaullah Siddiqui

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