Due to immigration in the past decades, there is an enormous diversity of religious belief in England, as well as a growing percentage that have no religious affiliation. Levels of attendance in various denominations have begun to decline. England is classed largely as a secular country even allowing for the following affiliation percentages : Christianity: 71.6%, Islam: 3.1%, Hindu: 1.1%, Sikh: 0.7%, Jewish: 0.5%, and Buddhist: 0.3%, No religion : 14.6%. The EU Eurobarometer poll of 2005 shows that only 38% of people in the UK believe in a god, while 40% believe in "some sort of spirit or life force" and 20% do not believe in either.
Christianity reached England through missionaries from Scotland and from Continental Europe; the era of St. Augustine (the first Archbishop of Canterbury) and the Celtic Christian missionaries in the north (notably St. Aidan and St. Cuthbert). The Synod of Whitby in 664 ultimately led to the English Church being fully part of Roman Catholicism. Early English Christian documents surviving from this time include the 7th century illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels and the historical accounts written by the Venerable Bede. England has many early cathedrals, most notably York Minster (1080), Durham Cathedral (1093) and Salisbury Cathedral (1220), In 1536, the Church was split from Rome over the issue of the divorce of King Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon. The split led to the emergence of a separate ecclesiastical authority, and later the influence of the Reformation, resulting in the Church of England and Anglicanism. Unlike the other three constituent countries of the UK, the Church of England is an established church (although the Church of Scotland is a 'national church' recognised in law).
The 16th century break with Rome under the reign of King Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries had major consequences for the Church (as well as for politics). The Church of England remains the largest Christian church in England; it is part of the Anglican Communion. Many of the Church of England's cathedrals and parish churches are historic buildings of significant architectural importance.
Other major Protestant denominations in England include the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church and the United Reformed Church. Smaller denominations, but not insignificant, include the Religious Society of Friends (the "Quakers") and the Salvation Army — both founded in England. There are also Afro-Caribbean Churches, especially in the London area.
The Church of England remains the official established church of England.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, immigration from many colonial countries, often from South Asia and the Middle East have resulted in a considerable growth in Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism in England. Cities and towns with large Muslim communities include Birmingham, Blackburn, Coventry, Bolton, Bradford, Leicester, London, Luton, Manchester, Oldham and Sheffield. Cities and towns with large Sikh communities include London, Slough, Staines, Hounslow, Southall, Reading, Ilford, Barking, Dagenham, Leicester, Leeds, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and others.
The Jewish community in England is mainly in the Greater London area, particularly the north west suburbs such as Golders Green; although Manchester, Leeds and Gateshead also have significant Jewish communities. England was also the founding place for many Neopagan religions, notably Wicca.
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