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Special report Religion in the UK
 Guide to religions in the UK

Are you a Zoroastrian? What do Catholics, Sikhs and Hindus believe? Find out with our guide the main religions practised in the UK today. You can find guides, important dates and links simply by clicking on the religions below.


Anglicanism | Baha'i | Baptists | Buddhism | Charismatic Renewal | Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Church in Wales | Church of Scotland | Hinduism | Islam  | Jainism | Jehovah's Witnesses | Judaism | Methodism | Orthodoxy | Paganism | Pentecostalism | Quakers | Rastafarian | Roman Catholicism | Salvation Army | Scientology | Scottish Episcopal Church | Seventh-Day Adventist Church | Sikhism | United Reformed Church | Unitarianism | Zoroastrians

 Christianity and the Christian tradition
Anglicanism
The Anglican Communion is a loosely organised community of Protestant churches, whose 'mother church' is the Church of England, established by the Act of Supremacy in 1534 (during the English Reformation). Others include the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland.
Church of England
Church in Wales
Scottish Episcopal Church
Church of Ireland
Guide to British religions: Church in Wales
Guide to British religions: Scottish Episcopal Church


Baptists
Baptists hold six convictions in common: supreme authority of the Bible; baptism of believers only; a church comprised of believers only; equal status of all Christians within the church; independence of local churches; and separation of church and state.
Baptist Union of Great Britain


Charismatic Renewal
Founded by US Catholics in 1967, the Charismatic Renewal movement seeks a return to traditional teaching and values, while emphasising the spiritual rebirth of believers.
Good News online


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
Founded in 1830s America by Joseph Smith, who revealed the Book of Mormon, telling of Israelite migration to America centuries before Christ. Adherents are millennialist, believing a second coming of Jesus Christ will be followed by 1,000 years of peace under his rule.
Official site


Church of Scotland
State church of Scotland, founded in 1560 along Calvinist principles. In 1690 it developed a Presbyterian form of governance - a collective including both clergy and non-clerical elders. The church has no set prayer-book or order of service; communion is generally celebrated only occasionally.
Church of Scotland


Jehovah's Witnesses
Millennialist faith, founded by Charles Taze Russell in 1870-80. Believers reject the Trinity, saying Jesus is the son of Jehovah but not an embodiment of God. They are active evangelists.
Watchtower


Methodism
Founded in 1739 by John Wesley, who wanted to emphasise the power of the Holy Spirit in the faith and personal life of believers, and the value of a personal relationship with God.
Methodist Church of Great Britain


Orthodoxy
The Orthodox church split from Catholicism in the 'great schism' of 1054, over papal supremacy and aspects of the nature of God. The church in the UK now represents a combination of jurisdictions, primarily the ecumenical patriarchate, but also Greek, Russian, Serbian and Antiochian traditions.
Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain (Greek)
Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland


Pentecostalism
Pentecostal beliefs have their roots in Protestantism. Members are baptised into the spirit, availing them to the spiritual gifts of God which may include speaking in tongues, and the ability to prophesy and heal.
United Pentecostal Church International


Quakers (Religious Society of Friends)
Quakerism was founded by George Fox during the 17th-century English Puritan movement. Believing that there is something of God in everyone, Quakers reject barriers of race, sex or creed. Meetings of worship are characterised by silence, during which anyone may feel moved to speak, pray or read.
Religious Society of Friends in Britain


Roman Catholicism
Church dating back to the Apostles of Jesus Christ in the 1st century AD. Unlike Protestants, Roman Catholics believe in the literal transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ (also known as transubstantiation). Unlike the Orthodox, they believe in the 'supreme jurisdiction' of the Pope - one of the issues that led to the 'great schism' of Catholicism and Orthodoxy in 1054.
Catholic Church in England and Wales
Catholic Scotland
CatholicIreland.net


Salvation Army
Christian religious and charity movement founded by William Booth, a London Methodist minister, in 1865. Doctrinally similar to most Protestant evangelical denominations. Services are informal.
Salvation Army UK


Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Millennial faith, established in the US largely through the preaching of William Miller (1782-1849). Adherents share many basic Christian beliefs. Principles include the observation of the seventh day of the week rather than the first as the Sabbath.
Official UK site


Unitarianism
Form of Christianity that rejects the concept of the Trinity, believing instead in the oneness of God. Also believe in the 'essential unity of humankind and of creation', espousing a liberal, tolerant attitude to other branches of faith.
General assembly of Unitarian and free Christian churches


United Reformed Church
Formed in 1972 with the union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England.
United Reformed Church


 Other religions
Baha'i
Founded in Iran in 1844, principally by Mirza Hoseyn Ali Nuri - or Baha Ullah (Glory of God). He and his forerunner, Mirza Ali Muhammad (the Bab), are held to be manifestations of God, who in his essence is unknowable. The Baha'i seek to establish a universal faith, and are devoted to abolition of racial, class and religious prejudices.
Baha'i in Britain


Buddhism
Religion and philosophy founded by Siddhartha Guatama (Buddha), possibly in the 5th century BC. According to his Four Noble Truths, the human condition is one of suffering caused by the craving for temporary things. One of these espouses a search for enlightenment and nirvana - a deliverance from human existence.
Buddhist Society UK


Hinduism
Both a civilisation and a congregation of religions, having neither a founder, central authority, hierarchy nor organisation. Most sects accept the sacredness of the ancient Indian Veda texts of 1400 to 500 BC. Hindus believe in reincarnation, the worship of several gods, and a caste system as the basis of society.
Hindu Youth UK


Islam
The sources of Islam are the Koran, believed by Muslims to be the exact word of God, and the Hadith - the report of the sayings, deeds and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad. Tenets include the oneness of God, the equality of mankind, the innocence of man at birth, and the inseparability of religion and politics. Has two principal branches: Sunni and Shia.
Muslim Council of Britain


Jainism
Although precise origins are unknown, most believers come from the Gujarat and Rajasthan areas of India. Jains are followers of the Jinas or Tirthankaras (spiritual victors) - an ancient line of teachers said to possess infinite knowledge and to have attained perfect purity. The principal belief is ahimsa - the avoidance, where possible, of physical or mental harm to any living being.
Jainworld.com


Judaism
Jews believe they are the descendants of Abraham, who received a covenant from God around 2000 BC. This covenant was enhanced 500 years later by the Torah, five books given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jews believe that they are challenged and blessed by God, who compels them to obey his laws and act as witness for other peoples of the world.
Jewish.co.uk


Paganism
Paganism encompasses several spiritual movements, many of which predate the major religions. Based on the ancient polytheistic religions of Europe and the Middle East, the focus is a spirituality linked to the cyclical and rhythmic patterns of nature.


Rastafarian
Rastafarians worship Haile Selassie I (known as Ras [Prince] Tafari), former emperor of Ethiopia, considering him to have been the Messiah and champion of the black race. Rastas believe black people are Israelites reincarnated and have been persecuted by the white race in divine punishment for their sins. They will eventually be redeemed by exodus to Africa, their true home and heaven on earth.
Rastafarian.net


Scientology
Religious/scientific movement spawned by dianetics, a programme developed by the American L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. According to dianetics, every experience is recorded in the mind as a mental image: it espouses a set of techniques, including working with an 'auditor', to free the mind of latent painful memories or 'engrams'.
Official Scientology website


Sikhism
Indian religion combining Islamic and Hindu elements, founded in the Punjab in the late 15th century by Guru Nanak. Nanak was the first of the Ten Gurus, of whom Sikhs are disciples. There is one God, whom man should serve by leading a life of prayer and obedience: Sikhs believe that their soul then passes through various existences by transmigration, and will become one with God.
SikhNet


Zoroastrians
Religion founded between 6000 and 12000 BC in north-east Iran. Scriptures describe the will of Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom), the all-powerful and perfect creator, who grants humans Vohu Manah - a clear, rational mind with which to dispel ignorance and blind faith.
World Zoroastrian Organisation


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