Religion in Northern Ireland
In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church has seen a growth in adherents while the other Christian groups have seen a decrease in adherents.
There are also small Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jewish communities. Belfast has a mosque, a synagogue, a gurdwara and two Hindu temples. There is another gurdwara in Derry. Jews in Northern Ireland are small in number, about 500, down from 1,310 in 1967.
The 2001 and 2011 Census figures for Religion (not Religion or Religion Brought Up In) are set out below.
|Presbyterian Church in Ireland||348,742||20.7||345,101||19.1|
|Church of Ireland||257,788||15.3||248,821||13.7|
|Methodist Church in Ireland||59,173||3.5||54,253||3.0|
|(Total non-Roman Catholic Christian)||767,924||45.6||752,555||41.6|
|Religion not stated||122,252||6.8|
|(No religion and Religion not stated)||233,853||13.9||305,416||16.9|
Christianity is the main religion in Northern Ireland. The 2011 UK census showed 40.8% Roman Catholic, 19.1% Presbyterian Church, with the Church of Ireland having 13.7% and the Methodist Church 3.0%. Members of other Christian churches comprised 5.8%, 16.9% stated they have no religion or did not state a religion, and members of non-Christian religions were 0.8%.14
The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is the largest single church, though there is a greater number of Protestants and Anglicans overall. The Church is organised into four provinces though these are not coterminous with the modern political division of Ireland. The seat of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Primacy of Ireland, is St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, closely linked to the Church of Scotland in terms of theology and history, is the second-largest church and largest Protestant denomination. It is followed by the Church of Ireland (Anglican), which was the state church of Ireland until it was disestablished by the Irish Church Act 1869. In 2002, the much smaller Methodist Church in Ireland signed a covenant for greater co-operation and potential ultimate unity with the Church of Ireland.5
Smaller, but growing, Protestant denominations such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland amongst Presbyterians and the Open Brethren are located in many places. The Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland and the Assemblies of God Ireland are also organised on an all-Ireland basis, though in the case of the AOG this was the result of a recent reorganisation.6
With membership more than doubling in the last 16 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ireland has about 5,334 members in Northern Ireland. This is a higher number than the Republic of Ireland and twenty-one other European states, who have a larger population than Northern Ireland.
While there were a small number of Muslims already living in what became Northern Ireland in 1921, the bulk of Muslims in Northern Ireland today come from families who immigrated during the late 20th century. At the time of the 2001 Census there were 1,943 living in Northern Ireland,7 though the Belfast Islamic Centre claims that as of January 2009, this number had increased to over 4,000.8 The Muslims in Northern Ireland come from over 40 countries of origin, from Western Europe all the way through to the Far East.9 This situation is reflected in comparably complex institutional arrangements.10
The earliest recorded Jew living in Northern Ireland was a tailor by the name of Manuel Lightfoot in 1652. The first Jewish congregation in Northern Ireland, Belfast Hebrew Congregation, was founded in 1870. As of 2006, there are about 300 Jews living in Northern Ireland.11
The Bahá'í Faith in Northern Ireland begins after a century of contact between Irishmen and the Bahá'í Faith beyond the island and on the island.121314 The members of the religion elected its first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in 1949 in Belfast.15 The Bahá'ís held an international conference in Dublin in 1982 which was described as “…one of the very few occasions when a world event for a faith community has been held in Ireland".16 By 1993 there were a dozen assemblies in Northern Ireland.17 By 2005 Bahá'í sources claim some 300 Bahá'ís across Northern Ireland.18
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from approximately 1968 to the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Violence nonetheless continued beyond this period and still manifests on a small-scale basis.20
The principal issues at stake in the Troubles were the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the relationship between the mainly-Protestant Unionist and mainly-Catholic Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland. The Troubles had both political and military (or paramilitary) dimensions. Its participants included politicians and political activists on both sides, republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the British Army and the security forces of the Republic of Ireland.
- "Census 2011: Religion: KS211NI (administrative geographies)". nisra.gov.uk. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Tearfund Survey". BBC.
- "Census 2001: Religion (administrative geographies)". nisra.gov.uk. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Census 2011: Key Statistics for Northern Ireland". nisra.gov.uk. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Church of Ireland/Methodist Church Covenant".
- Launch of the Assemblies of God Ireland eyeoneurope.org, accessed 31 December 2009
- Northern Ireland Census 2001 Key Statistics
- Belfast Islamic Centre
- Belfast Islamic Centre
- Scharbrodt, Oliver, "Islam in Ireland: organising a migrant religion". 318 – 336 in Olivia Cosgrove et al. (eds), Ireland's new religious movements. Cambridge Scholars, 2011; ISBN 978-1-4438-2588-7
- "Ireland: Virtual Jewish History tour". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- "Baha'is mark killing of founder". belfasttelegraph.co.uk. 12 July 2005. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
- Palin, Iain S. "The First Irish Bahá'ís". U.K. Bahá'í Heritage Site. Archived from the original on 16 September 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2010.dead link
- Armstrong-Ingram, R. Jackson (July 1998). "Early Irish Baha'is: Issues of Religious, Cultural, and National Identity". Research Notes in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies 02 (04). Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "History and Inspiration". CommuNIqué-Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland (Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland) (106). 1 June 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Book Review; The Faiths of Ireland by Stephen Skuce". CommuNIqué – Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland (Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland) (123). 1 December 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Momen, Moojan. "Baha'i History of the United Kingdom". Articles for the Baha'i Encyclopedia. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Religious Education Core Syllabus". Statements on Matters of Public Interest / Concern. Bahá'í Council for Northern Ireland. 25 November 2003. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2010.dead link
- Programme 1 – Indian Community bbc.c.uk, accessed 10 January 2009
- "Draft List of Deaths Related to the Conflict. 2002–". Retrieved 31 July 2008.
- Homepage of the Irish Bishops' Conference (Roman Catholic)
- CatholicIreland.net, Content-rich portal of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland
- Presbyterian Church in Ireland
- Church of Ireland
- Methodist Church in Ireland
- Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland
- Assemblies of God Ireland
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