A historic Church of England diocese where Muslim worshippers outnumber Anglican churchgoers by two to one is set to be scrapped. According to sources, the Dioceses Commission is drawing up proposals to axe the cash-strapped Diocese of Bradford in Yorkshire and merge it with neighbouring Ripon and Leeds. Some are pressing for both dioceses to be subsumed into the adjoining Diocese of York, to create a ‘superdiocese’ under Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

One insider said, "Some areas with a high concentration of Muslim migrants have experienced 'white flight' and the Church is struggling to maintain a foothold."

Statisticians have predicted that there will be more Muslims in Britain’s mosques on Fridays than Anglicans in church on Sundays within a decade. The latest figures suggest this milestone has already been passed in the Diocese of Bradford. According to official attendance figures, ‘usual’ Sunday churchgoing across the diocese’s 147 parishes fell from 13,500 in 2000 to 8,700 in 2008. Though there are no official statistics for Muslim worshippers, Government surveys have established that at least a quarter of Muslims are weekly mosque-goers. Religious statistician Peter Brierley said that as the Muslim population in Bradford was about 80,000, on a conservative estimate 20,000 are regular worshippers, more than double the number of their Anglican counterparts.

COMMENT: My American friends like to emphasise the multi-cultural nature of their country. But, the cultural differences in the US are now mainly regional and wealth based with a healthy sprinkling of ethnic diversity. When it comes to religious culture, the US is almost completely dominated by the various Christian and Jewish faith traditions. Even the secular, in the US, is based on the ethics of Judeo-Christianity or amorality. Without the guilt of former empire, and with the Christianisation of black Americans years ago, I believe that this will remain the case for a long time to come. There will be movement towards a more secular society but there is no way that a religion other than Christianity will ever gain enough adherents in the States to influence the national culture.

This is not so in England. Here we are living through a change of our cultural identity that has been brought about through the immigration of people of an alien religious culture (alien even, to an extent, from the normal culture of Islam) over a very short period of time (less than fifty years). Already, as we can see in the article above, this new culture has replaced the Christian culture (I use Christian in its widest sense) in some cities. Our experience is more similar to that in Palestine (both Muslim and Jewish)  than it is to the "We'll take your poor" experience of the US. And that is very worrying when you look at how the situation has descended into bloodshed and mutual hatred in the Middle East.



  1. The Diocese of Bradford has 147 parishes and an average Sunday attendance of 8,700? (Yes, the decline in attendance is a real problem that needs to be addressed.) By American standards that’s a pretty good sized diocese (it’s bigger than the Diocese of Iowa), and although we certainly have our problems with finance and attendance too, we aren’t moaning and whining. So the Diocese of Bradford has a lot of Muslims. So what? Big deal. Over here we have to put up with fundamentalist “evangelicals.” I’d rather have Muslims.

    Do you people really have any idea how to run a church? I’m not seeing much evidence. We’re not perfect either, but on the whole we don’t routinely screw our clergy. The Church of England needs to get over itself.

  2. A columnist in Sunday’s Portland Press Herald (it was in a print version and I can’t find it on line) said that Mainer’s prefer evolutionary change to adaptive change. I think that may also be true for the CoE. It is easier to tweek things than to figure out what is needed to feed people’s desire for spiritual nourishment and to change the church to meet those needs. “We’ve always done it that way” is widespread.

  3. WSJM, I believe I’m correct in saying that many C of E dioceses have over 400 parishes, so Bradford is on the small size by their standards.

    Also, I’m not sure what the situation is for you guys in TEC, but I suspect our Canadian dioceses are certainly leaner operations than their English counterparts, especially when it comes to bishops’ expenses.

    Still, we did lose a diocese over here a few years ago. It went bankrupt because of residential schools lawsuits.

  4. And the Bishop of Quebec has predicted that his own diocese may very well wither away to nothing due to Anglophone migration to other provinces.

  5. Yes, on behalf of my country I apologise for the Quebec situation. We chased a few down to Louisiana but, I have to admit it, we did not do the job properly.

  6. Over on TA, I just hypothesized if eliminating the Diocese of Bradford might produce another “Assize Sermon”? (Might you be the one to deliver it, MP?)

    Stiff upper lip, man. Your Muslims will become Good English Chavs soon enough…

  7. I feel for ya.

    The “Goodbye, Angle-Land” was a stab in the gut to me. Yeah, it’s that tribalist heathen bone acting up again.