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UK Census: Islam is Fastest Growing Religion

New census data released for England and Wales reflected a dramatic decline in the number of people describing themselves as Christian while a striking increase in the number of Muslims has made it the country's fastest growing religion.

CNSNews.com is reporting that the number of persons identifying themselves as Christian in the UK dropped from 72 percent in 2001 to just 59 percent today. At the same time, the number of self-identified Muslims rose from 3.0 to 4.8 percent over the past decade, reflecting an increase of 2.7 million adherents.

Christianity is still the largest denomination in England and Wales with 33.24 million adherents. Islam is in second place, followed by Hinduism (817,000), Sikhism (423,000), Buddhism (248,000) and Judaism (263,000).

The decline in the numbers of Christians in the past decade may be due to the fact that "cultural" Christians - those who don't really practice the faith - have simply stopped identifying themselves as Christians.

“One of the reasons [for the decline] may well be fewer people identifying as ‘Cultural Christians’ i.e. those who have no active involvement with churches and who may previously have identified as Christian for cultural or historical reasons,” said the Rev. Arun Arora, a spokesman for the Anglican/Episcopalian Church of England.

The number of people declaring themselves to have no religion (known as "nones" in the U.S.) has jumped from 7.7 million a decade ago to 14.4 million today. This amounts to one-quarter of the population of England and Wales as having no faith.

These findings delighted British secularist groups who are now predicting that Christianity could be in the minority within five years.

Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society said the census figures “should serve as a warning to the churches that their increasingly conservative attitudes are not playing well with the public at large.”

Arora predicted this response, saying that atheist groups would minimize the fact that a majority of the residents of England and Wales still identify themselves as Christian.

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