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Assessing the Religiosity of Ethnic Minority Groups Living in England

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Assess the Religiosity of Ethnic Minority Groups Living in England Today

As part of being a post modern society, England today is characterised not only by a great diversity of ethnicities, but also diversity in religions and in religious participation. So it follows that in order to get a complete view of religious participation in England, it should be examined in all religions and ethnicity, and not just rely on church figures relating to Christianity, the traditional religion of white Britons. Although it is important to note that Christianity is also popular in black culture, there are also Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs to consider, each with ethnicities which show rates of participation favouring them. For instance, we can see that in areas like Leicester, which have a large immigrant population from Bangladesh, there is a disproportionately high number of Sikhs and Hindus to other areas in the UK.

It is also clear that religions foster different levels of commitment among their members. For instance, according to the policy studies institute (1997), white Anglicans show the lowest levels of participation with only 9% likely to attend weekly worship. While 57% African Caribbean Protestants are likely to do the same. White Anglicans are also the least likely to rate religion as very important in their lives, with only 11% of them doing so; while 81% of African Caribbean Protestants see it as an important aspect of their life. These clear discrepancies indicate that secularisation, or a weakening of religion may be occurring as Bruce says, but only in certain groups, possibly based on ethnicity.

Bruce says that immigrants may continue to practise their religion in new countries because religious worship provides support and cultural identity in new or hostile environments. An example of this in a different context would be soldiers who pray for their safety when serving in foreign countries. Bird concurs, adding that religion can be a key way that ethnic minorities can preserve their culture and language. For instance, Muslims are encouraged to read the Koran in the original language of Arabic. They may also be encouraged to maintain traditions like the women wearing veils, or the men growing beards.

Bird says that religion can also be a method of withstanding racism. This can be observed in the African-Caribbean populations in England an America; not accepted by traditional white Christian churches, they turned to churches lead by black clergy, and used their own churches as a response to the reaction to the rejection they experienced. Their own churches would go on to offer them support in day to day life, and ultimately be a driving force behind the civil rights movement, which was supported and led in part by black preachers like Martin Luther King. Ken Pryce adds to this, by claiming that black culture is attracted to Pentecostalism, because it is a 'highly adaptive religion of the oppressed'. However we can evaluate this because its popularity has increased in recent years while other Christian denominations have lost members, even though oppression and racism towards black communities has been widely seen to have decreased in severity and frequency since the civil rights movement.

Will Herberg contests the notion that it is used to preserve and maintain the original culture of immigrants.



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