Culture Question:

Why do most British people believe in Jesus?

(posted:Sep 2009)

There is an assumption in your question that most British people do believe in Jesus. First we should check your assumption. The most recent census data for the Great Britain is for 2001. According to this data 71.8% of people in Great Britain are Christians (UK National Statistics). Part of the Christian religion is a belief in Jesus.

So it would seem, on the surface, that most (more than half) of British people do believe in Jesus. But the census data may not give us the whole story. There have been a number of surveys over the last 5 years asking Britons whether they believe in God. In five different polls between 2003 and 2008 the number of Britons who said they believed in God ranged from 22% to 60% (Crabtree), all below the number who claimed to be Christian. This would indicate that some people who don’t believe in God still listed themselves as Christians. This may be from habit, or because they identify, culturally, as Christians, or just that they do not give a lot of thought to religion.

There are still many people in Great Britain who do believe in God, and also in Jesus, and you may still be curious as to why they believe as they do.

First, remember that each person will have their own reasons for their beliefs. Some reasons that I have heard and read about (these are NOT my own beliefs) for people to believe in God/Jesus include:

  • This is what they were raised to believe
  • It comforts them
  • Their parents/husband/wife/family believes, therefore they believe
  • It gives them guidance in life
  • They don’t want to go to hell
  • They got tired of thinking about it and decided to accept what they had been told
  • It feels right
  • They don’t want to feel alone
  • They just believe, but can’t explain why

Belief in God has been on the decline in Great Britain for the last 50 years at least. And so has attendance at church. A survey (of 7000 UK adults, ages 16+, interviewed between 8th February to 5th March 2006) by a Christian charity called Tearfund, claims that “One in four of the UK adult population say they go to church at least once a year. [...but] 59% never or practically never go to church.” (via Crabtree). So whatever the actual level of belief in God is in the UK, it is clear that the vast majority of Britons are not involved in a religious community.


  1. Crabtree, Vexen, “Religion in the United Kingdom”, (, 14-Sep-2009

  2. UK National Statistics. Publication Hub, Religious Affiliation (, 14-Sep-2009

Return to Culture Questions page

   -  top of page -

Religions in the United Kingdom, 2001
Source: Office for National Statistics


Further Reading:

Religion in the United Kingdom