The five main religions in the UK

An introduction to understanding the five main celebrated religions in the UK.

The five main religions in the UK


Christianity remains the world’s biggest religion.

There are many different Christian denominations e.g. Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, but one thing they have in common is that they are all branches of the Christian religion.

Christians are people who believe that Jesus Christ, who lived in the ‘Holy Land’ (modern day Israel/Palestine) over 2,000 years ago, is the Son of God. Christians follow his teachings and those of the Christian churches that grew after his death.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that:

  • God sent his Son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins (i.e. its disobedience to God).
  • Jesus was fully human, and experienced this world in the same way as other human beings of his time.
  • Jesus was tortured and gave his life on the Cross (the Crucifixion).
  • Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his Crucifixion (the Resurrection).
  • Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
  • There is only one God, but that this one God consists of three "persons": God the Father, God the Son, and The Holy Spirit.

Christians worship in Churches and their spiritual leaders are called ministers or priests.

Holy Days / Festivals

The Church year is divided up by various festivals and seasons. The main two are:

  • Christmas - Christmas is a Christian holy day that marks the birth of Jesus. It is celebrated on the 25th December every year.
  • Easter - Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe came back from the dead after being crucified. It takes place every Spring at the end of March/April.

For more information on Christianity visit the Christianity section of the Young Scot website.


Islam is the second most popular faith in the world with over a billion followers, known as Muslims. 

According to the 2001 Census there are 42,557 Muslims living in Scotland, making it the third most popular religion in this country. Muslims make up 0.8% of Scotland's population.

Islam is an Arabic word which means 'Submission to God'.

Islam is a world religion that originated in the Middle East in the seventh century.

Muslims believe that the last and final prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was born in Makkah (Mecca) in 570 CE. They believe that he received the Holy revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years. 

This revelation was recorded in Islam's Holy Book, known as the Qur'an, which is regarded as the literal word of God.

The core Muslim beliefs are:

  • Belief in Allah as the one and only God.
  • Belief in the holy books.
  • Recognise the Prophets - such as Noah, Ibrahim (Abraham), Jacob, Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Isa (Jesus) and Mohammed (peace be upon him), the final prophet.
  • Belief in the Day of Judgement, when the life of every human being will be assessed to decide whether or not they go to heaven or hell.
  • To follow the five pillars of Islam; Shahadah (a declaration of faith), Salat (main prayers which are said five times a day), Zakat (giving money to charity, usually two and a half % of a Muslims’ wealth), Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which must be attended at least once in a Muslims’

For more information on Islam, visit the Islam section of the Young Scot website. 


Hinduism is the world's third most popular religion with around 900 million followers. About 80% of the population of India regard themselves as Hindus.

However, Hinduism is only the fourth most popular religion in Britain with around 400,000 followers.


Hinduism is over 3000 years old, although elements of the faith are considered to have been revealed 25,000 years ago.

Hinduism has no founder and is best understood as a group of closely connected religious traditions rather than a single religion. Although not a unified religion, its' core practices have remained surprisingly consistent across the land for thousands of years.

Practitioners prefer to call Hinduism 'Sanatana Dharma' or eternal faith.
Hindus believe in one universal spirit or God, called Brahman, and worship that one God under many manifestations or images. 


Hindus believe that existence is a karmic cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, governed by one's conscious action.

For more information on Hinduism visit the Hinduism section of the Young Scot website. 


Judaism is one of the oldest religions and there are around 12 million followers of Judaism across the world. It is believed to have its origins over 3,500 years ago in the Middle East.

Judaism in Scotland

The 2001 census showed that there are around 6,400 Jewish people in Scotland, that's approximately 0.13% of the population.

The collection of Jewish Holy books is the Tanakh. The Torah is the five books of Moses, which are read in the synagogue each week.


The Torah states that the Jewish people are descended directly from Abraham.

God rescued the Jewish people from the Egyptians. God appointed Moses as leader and parted the water of the Red Sea. 

Jews believe that Jewish people travelled for forty days through the desert to Mount Sinai. There God gave them the Torah, which was dictated to Moses.

The Jewish people accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Torah includes 613 commandments, and some of the most well-known are The Ten Commandments.

For more information on Judaism, visit the Judaism section of the Young Scot website.


Sikhism is one of the major world religions. It emerged in 16th and 17th century in India. The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide. Most of the Sikh’s live in India.

Sikhism in Scotland

According to the 2001 Census the population of Scotland is about 5 million and Sikh’s represent 0.13% (about 66,000) of the whole Scottish population.

The Sikh faith is a distinct religion revealed through the teachings of the 10 Gurus, the first of whom was Guru Nanak Dev ji. He was born in 1469 CE in the Punjab, India. 

In 1708 the tenth and last human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji, vested spiritual authority in the Holy Sikh Scriptures (Guru Granth Sahib ji) and temporal authority in the community of baptised Sikhs (Khalsa Panth).


The principle beliefs are faith and justice. Sikhs strictly believe that there is One God, who is Nirgun (transcendent) and Sargun (immanent).

The object of a Sikh's life is to develop God consciousness and ultimately to receive God's grace. Life presents the opportunity to do so through truthful living and selfless service in the context of a family life.


Sikhs aim to get up early, bathe and then start the day by meditating on God. The Sikh code of conduct lays down a strict discipline for the start of the day: 

Although the Sikh God is beyond description, Sikhs feel able to pray to God as a person and a friend who watches over them and cares for them.

For more information on Sikhism visit the Sikhism section of the Young Scot website.