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UK census 2022: Christians now a minority in England and Wales for first time - Leon Neal/Getty© Leon Neal/Getty/Photo Courtesy

 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) results show that 46.2 per cent of the population (27.5 million people) described themselves as 'Christian' in 2021. This marks a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3 per cent (33.3 million people) in 2011. 

 

The census data also shows that every major religion increased over the ten-year period, except for Christianity. 

Despite this decrease, 'Christian' remained the most common response to the question about religion. 'No religion' was the second most common response, increasing to 37.2 per cent (22.2 million) from 25.2 per cent (14.1 million) across the ten-year period.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, said it was "not a great surprise" that there is a declining number of Christians in the UK, but it was important to remember that Christianity is "the largest movement on Earth". 

However, Humanists UK said the Census "should be a wake-up call which prompts fresh reconsiderations of the role of religion in society".

Other results from the census show that in 2021, 81.7 per cent (48.7 million) of usual residents in England and Wales identified their ethnic group within the 'White' category - a decrease from 86.0 per cent (48.2 million) in the 2011 Census.

The next most common ethnic group was 'Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh', accounting for 9.3 per cent (5.5 million) of the overall population. This ethnic group saw the largest increase from 2011, up from 7.5 per cent (4.2 million people).

Researchers also found that the most common main languages other than English (English or Welsh in Wales) were: Polish (1.1 per cent, 612,000), Romanian (0.8 per cent, 472,000), Panjabi (0.5 per cent, 291,000), and Urdu (0.5 per cent, 270,000). 

Responding to the religion data, the Archbishop said: "It’s not a great surprise that the census shows fewer people in this country identifying as Christian than in the past, but it still throws down a challenge to us not only to trust that God will build his kingdom on Earth, but also to play our part in making Christ known.

"We have left behind the era when many people almost automatically identified as Christian, but other surveys consistently show how the same people still seek spiritual truth and wisdom and a set of values to live by."

The Archbishop added that Christianity continues to play a major role in secular society, especially during the current cost of living crisis.

"This winter - perhaps more so than for a long time – people right across the country, some in desperate need, will be turning to their local church, not only for spiritual hope but practical help," he said. 

"We will be there for them, in many cases, providing food and warmth. And at Christmas millions of people will still come to our services." 

'UK is one of the least religious countries on Earth'

However, Andrew Copson, the chief executive of Humanists UK, said the "biggest demographic change in England and Wales of the last ten years has been the dramatic growth of the non-religious. They mean the UK is almost certainly one of the least religious countries on Earth".

He added: "No state in Europe has such a religious set-up as we do in terms of law and public policy, while at the same time having such a non-religious population. 

"Iran is the only other state in the world that has clerics voting in its legislature. And no other country in the world requires compulsory Christian worship in schools as standard.

"The law has failed to keep up with the pace of change, and as a result, the enormous non-religious population in England and Wales face everyday discrimination – from getting local school places to receiving appropriate emotional support in hospitals. 

Other results from the religion data show that between 2011 and 2021, the Muslim population increased from 4.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent (2.7 to 3.9 million), the Sikh population grew from 0.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent (423,000 to 524,000), and the number of Buddhists rose from 0.4 per cent to 0.5 per cent (249,000 to 273,000). 

Furthermore, the number of Hindus increased from 1.5 per cent to 1.7 pre cent (818,000 to 1 million), and the Jewish population rose from 265,000 to 271,000 (both at 0.5 per cent). by Gabriella Swerling, Ben Butcher, The Telegraph

 

The third round of consultations for the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo facilitated by the East Africa regional bloc have begun in Kenya's capital Nairobi with a plan to discuss reforms that will facilitate disarmament of rebel groups.

Kenya's President William Ruto and Burundi's Évariste Ndayishimiye attended the Monday opening session in person, while the presidents of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda attended virtually.

The leaders reiterated their commitment to support and ensure lasting peace in the DRC.

The facilitator of the Monday talks, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said the aim was to discuss political process and institutional reforms that will ensure an environment that is conducive for the disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration of armed groups in the DRC.

Leaders who attended a summit in Angola last week called for a cease-fire followed by a rebel withdrawal from the major towns that are currently under the M23 rebel group control.

While M23 was not formally a party to the talks in Angola, it has said it will accept the cease-fire.

But it also says it doesn't trust the Congolese government to honor the deal and end hostilities.

The East Africa regional bloc secretary general, Peter Mathuki, said some of the groups were present in the Monday talks but did not specify which ones they were.

During the talks, the facilitator planned to identify the root cause of conflict in the DRC's five provinces and discuss the restoration of state leadership in the provinces to facilitate peace.

The matter of the full deployment of the regional forces made up of soldiers from the member states will also be discussed.

A contingent of Kenyan troops has already been deployed to eastern DRC as part of the regional force and will eventually include two battalions from Uganda, two from Burundi and one from South Sudan.

Kenyatta emphasized that the region could only facilitate the peace process but in the end it is the Congolese people who will ensure peace and have the huge responsibility of maintaining peace.

The M23 rebel group rose to prominence a decade ago when its fighters seized Goma, the largest city in Congo's east, which sits along the border with Rwanda. After a peace deal, many of M23′s fighters were integrated into the national military.

Then the group re-emerged last November, saying the government had failed to live up to its decade-long promises. By June, M23 had seized the strategic town of Bunagana near the border with Uganda.

M23 has been a sticking point in deteriorating relations between the DRC and Rwanda. Many of the rebel fighters are Congolese ethnic Tutsis and Rwanda's president is of Rwandan Tutsi descent.

When formed more than a decade ago, M23 was fighting to protect the rights of Congo's ethnic Tutsis.

But many speculate that they just want control of eastern DRC because of its mineral wealth. - Africanews

 

JUBA – South Sudan’s prominent civil society activist Edmund Yakani has welcomed the pledge by the Ukrainian government to send food aid to some African countries facing acute and severe hunger after raising funds from EU states.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday said his government intends to dispatch around 60 ships to African nations in need of urgent food aid such as Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

“We plan to send at least 60 ships from Ukrainian ports to the countries most threatened by famine and drought,” said the Ukrainian president.

Zelensky said he had raised $150 million from more than 20 countries and the European Union to export food to Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

In a video message broadcast during the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron promised €6 million in additional aid for Ukrainian grain exports, which are vital for supplying many African and Asian countries.

The French president also recalled the “immense tragedy” of the famine of the 1930s.

“From yesterday to today, the Ukrainian nation shows its determination and forces our admiration. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine (…) threatens the world with a food crisis,” Macron said.

In a statement reacting to the news, Yakani who is the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) welcomed the decision of the Ukrainian government and praised the Ukrainian people for standing in solidarity with people in African despite the Russian invasion.

“CEPO appreciates the Ukrainian president on matters of the food insecurity. It is impressive that with all negative military behaviors of Russian on Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was able to take these remarkable decisions of addressing food insecurity in some African countries like our South Sudan and others,” he said.

The South Sudanese activist further decried power struggles in Africa which he said are to be blamed for the violent conflicts which have resulted in the ongoing conflicts in several African countries such as Ethiopia and South Sudan.

“The targeted African countries are all violent conflict states. The food insecurity experienced in the target countries was a result of violent conflict caused by their political elites. It is shame to leaders of these countries to continue fighting senseless wars that lead to food insecurity which is to be addressed by Ukraine which is facing serious imposed war by aggressive nation Russia,” Yakani said.

“The food assistance expected from Ukraine should act as remainder to the African countries facing the violent armed political wars like our country South Sudan. The food insecurity in African was mainly due to senseless violence,” Yakani stressed.

The prominent South Sudan activist who has previously called for end to conflicts in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia further called on the targeted African countries including his own South Sudan to stop conflicts to avoid further suffering of these countries’ citizens.

“Finally, CEPO is urging the war-hit African states to stop the armed violence like in South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia,” he added. - Sudans Post

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