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Personal / Religion
Follow a religion while in the UK
Religion (c) R.T.Allen


People in the UK are free to choose and follow their own religious beliefs. Christianity is the main religion amongst British people, but there are also large communities of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews, and smaller communities of Baha'is, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians.

Important dates for each of the main religions are shown on the BBC site:

If you are studying at a university, college or language school, ask if they have any societies or other facilities for people of your religion. Sometimes a prayer room is available: often you may be expected to share this with people of other faiths.

News and information about the various faiths is at the BBC's Religion and Ethics site: This site includes a message board for each major religion. For information about London's different religious communities, see:

Religions in the UK: Directory
Editor: Paul Weller
Publisher: The Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby
Date: October 2001


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All Saints church
Marlow, Buckinghamshire

Stained glass window
St David's Cathedral, Wales

The official churches in the UK are the Anglican church in England (the Church of England: and the Presbyterian church in Scotland (the Church of Scotland: These are both Protestant churches. You will generally be welcome to attend a Christian church service if you wish to, even if you are not a Christian yourself. However, you should not take part in communion (a service in which you are offered a sip of wine and a wafer by the vicar or priest, representing the blood and body of Jesus Christ) unless you are a Christian believer and you have been given a confirmation service. Fewer than 1 in 10 people in the UK attend church regularly. The average weekly church attendance for the Church of England is about 1.3 million.


Brass rubbing


As well as the official churches there are also many independent Protestant churches, including the following:
Methodist Church ( (about 330,000 adult full members)
Baptist Church ( (about 140,000 members)
United Reformed Church
( (about 90,000 members)
Salvation Army ( (about 50,000 members)
(Religious Society of Friends: (about 16,000 members)
Presbyterian Church in Ireland ( (about 300,000 in Northern Ireland)
(or Calvinistic Methodist) Church of Wales (
Pentecostalist churches.

The Roman Catholic Church is the official church in Eire (the Republic of Ireland). There are about 400,000 Catholics in Northern Ireland (about the same as the number of Protestants). There are Catholic churches throughout Britain, but there are many more Protestants than Catholics here.
Catholic church in England & Wales: (about 1 million members).
Catholic church in Scotland: (about 200,000 members).

There are various types of European churches, the largest of which is the Greek Orthodox Church (

There are some Christian groups which offer friendship to international students. For examples of Christian groups, see the websites of Friends International: , Methodist International Student Work:, or SOON (a member of the UK Evangelical Alliance):

There is a brief guide to Christianity at:

Christian Church
(a basic introduction)
Authors: Alan Brown, Alison Seaman
Publisher: A & C Black (childrens books)
Date: September 2000
Cathedrals of Britain
Author: David L. Edwards
Publisher: Pitkin Guides
Date: March 1991
New Light Popular Bible
Author: International Bible Society
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Religious
Date: June 2001
(Clear English) Bible
Publisher: Collins
Date: April 2002
(Modern English; links to website)

The New Testament (CDs)
Author: International Bible Society
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Religious
Date: December 2002
(New International Version: on CDs)

Usborne Children's Bible
Author: H. Amery
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Date: September 1999
(English level: Intermediate)

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Regent's Park Mosque, London

Regent's Park Mosque

There are about 1.5 million Muslims in the UK.

There are over 600 mosques in the UK. The most well-known is the London Central Islamic Centre and Mosque (also known as Regent's Park Mosque): It has a good information centre, and a lot of the Muslim community in London gather together here, especially on Fridays.

The "Muslim News" is an independent monthly Muslim newspaper in the UK:

The "UK Muslim Directory" is published each year:

The Muslim Council of Britain campaigns on political, economic and social matters of interest to British Muslims:

Some organisation which provide confidential support for Muslims in the UK who are experiencing problems are listed on the page: Personal/Advice

There is a brief guide to Islam at:

Muslim Mosque
(a basic introduction)
Author: Umar Hegedus
Publisher: A & C Black (childrens books)
Date: February 2000

Islamic Britain: Religion, Politics and Identity Among British Muslims
Author: Philip Lewis
Publisher: I.B. Tauris
Date: March 2002
The Infidel Within: The History of Muslims in Britain, 1800 to the Present
Author: Humayun Ansari
Publisher: C. Hurst & Co
Date: April 2004
  Muslim Britain: Communities Under Pressure
Editor: Tahir Abbas
Publisher: Zed Books
Date: March 2005

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Products connected with Sikhism:
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Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara, Southall

Inside the Southall gurdwara

There are over 400,000 Sikhs in the UK.

There are over 200 gurdwaras in the UK. The largest centre of the Punjabi community is in Southall, Middlesex. For information about the Sikh community in the UK, see:

The largest gurdwara outside India (Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara: was opened on 30th March 2003 in Havelock Road, Southall, Middlesex (west of London, just west of Ealing; map). For pictures of this and the Vaisakhi procession in Southall in April 2003, see: Ideas/Album/Vaisakhi. There are more pictures of the gurdwara at:

There is a brief guide to Sikhism at:
British Organisation of Sikh Students (BOSS):

Sikh Gurdwara
(a basic introduction)
Author: Kanwaljit Kaur Singh
Publisher: A & C Black (childrens books)
Date: October 2000

The Lives and Teachings of the Sikh Gurus
Author: Harish Dillon
Publisher: UBS Publishers Distributors
Date: January 1998

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Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Neasden, London

Shree Swaminarayan Temple
Willesden, London

There are over 500,000 Hindus in the UK.

The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and Haveli is located at: 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, London NW10 8HD (take bus 206 from near Queen's Park underground station, or walk from Neasden or Stonebridge Park; map). This large and beautifully decorated building is the first traditional Hindu mandir to have been built in Europe. As well as the temple and prayer hall, there is a museum of Hinduism (the museum has an entrance charge). Photographs of the outside of the building are permitted, but you cannot take a camera inside. Leave your bags in the baggage store in the car park before entering the building. Take off your shoes before walking on any of the carpets (the men's shoe room is on the left, and the women's room on the right). For details, see: or

For photos from the Diwali celebrations in Trafalgar Square, London, see: Ideas/Album/Diwali.

Brief guide to Hinduism:
Hindu Forum of Britain:

Hindu Mandir
(a basic introduction)
Author: Anita Ganeri
Publisher: A & C Black (childrens books)
Date: September 2000

The British Museum Hindu Visions of the Sacred
Author: Anna L. Dallapiccola
Publisher: British Museum Press
Date: November 2004

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There are nearly 300,000 Jews in the UK.

There are about 365 synagogues in the UK, which are represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews:

Information about the Jewish community in the UK is also available from:

The Jewish Museum in London allows you to find out about the history and religious life of the Jewish community in Britain and elsewhere:

There is a brief guide to Judaism at:

Jewish Synagogue
(a basic introduction)
Author: Laurie Rosenberg
Publisher: A & C Black (childrens books)
Date: February 2000

The Jews of Britain, 1656-2000
(history of Jews in Britain)
Author: Todd M. Endelman
Publisher: University of California Press
Date: February 2002
An Englishman in Auschwitz
(a personal experience of the Holocaust)
Author: Leon Greenman
Publisher: Vallentine Mitchell
Date: June 2001

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Buddha, Battersea Park

Peace pagoda, Battersea Park

There are about 50,000 active Buddhists in the UK.

Useful links in the UK can be found on the website of the Network of Buddhist Organisations:
The Buddhist Society UK publish a Buddhist Directory (see below):

The BBC provide a brief guide to Buddhism at:

Buddhist Vihara
(a basic introduction)
Author: Anita Ganeri
Publisher: A & C Black (childrens books)
Date: October 2000
  Buddhist Directory
Editor: R B Parsons
Publisher: Buddhist Publication Society
Date: November 2003

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Good Friday traditions: Ideas/Album/Good-Friday
Easter Sunday traditions: Ideas/Album/Easter-Sunday
Christmas traditions: Ideas/Album/Christmas

Diwali celebrations: Ideas/Album/Diwali
Vaiskhi celebrations: Ideas/Album/Vaisakhi
Eid celebrations: Ideas/Album/Eid

Home page: Home

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