chapter  7
34 Pages

Religion and heritage

WithEdmund Cusick

A peculiarly British phenomenon is the presence of established churches such as the Church of England. These churches have an official constitutional status within the legal and political framework of Britain, and the Christian religion is to some degree woven into every level of British life: government, education, architecture, the arts, broadcasting, and many other areas. In Northern Ireland, religion has the extra political significance of marking the line between Catholic and Protestant paramilitary factions. At a personal level, Christianity may have been encountered in the form of prayers or hymns that were taught at school, or personal acquaintance with a local vicar or a chaplain at a hospital. Most British people feel in some way reassured by the background presence of this religion, even if they do not wish to become actively involved with it. Only in 2001 was a voluntary question on religious affiliation included for the first time on the census form.