Can I practise my own religion?
In the UK people are free to follow the religion of their choice.
There are places of worship dedicated to all the major world religions.
Any religion is permitted provided it does not encourage people
to break the laws of the country.
Immorality and violence?
Many international students have asked us ‘If the UK is
a Christian country, why is there so much immorality and violence?’,
so we include an answer in this section. Christianity is only the
nominal religion of the UK, and although many people would profess
to be Christian, only a very small minority would claim to be committed
followers of Jesus Christ, and to have a living, personal relationship
with God. You will therefore find a vast difference between the
practice and belief of committed Christians and the typical British
Another common question is ‘Why are there so many different
Christian Churches in the UK?’ There are many historical reasons
why this is so. However, this is not such a bad thing as each type
of church provides a different form of expression of worship. One
person is more suited to one type than another. All evangelical
churches believe in the central truths of the Bible, and in the
need for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The differences between them (often exaggerated by the media) are
very small in comparison to this. In fact, Christians often arrange
special services where they may worship together as a group where
many different churches will be represented. There may well be larger
differences between evangelical churches and more liberal ones.
While you are staying in the UK it is well worth attending different
types of church before you return.
Can I visit a church?
All churches are open to visitors, although some are now locked
during the day to prevent vandalism. The members of a church usually
come together on Sundays for meetings called ‘services’
– these are usually the best times to visit a church. Church
buildings usually have a noticeboard outside that gives the times
of the services. You do not need to be a member to visit a church,
and you will be made most welcome.However, since the service may
be strange to you, you may want to ask a friend to go along with
you who can explain what is happening.
Contacts for other faiths
There are a wide variety of groups in the UK. If you want to practise
your own religion whilst here in the UK, you could look for details
of local groups in the local telephone directory or library. ‘Religions
in the UK – A multi-faith Directory’ by Paul Weller is a helpful
book. University Chaplains also have contact with many different
faiths and would be pleased to help you.
A Warning about cults
Be aware of possible approaches by cult members, although it is
unlikely to happen. A cult is a group that generally appears very
friendly when you first meet them. However, the leaders of a cult
usually try to stop the members from thinking for themselves, and
to control their lives. They generally have very authoritarian leaders/founders.
As you are unsure of the British culture and not so familiar with
the different religions in this country it may be worth speaking
to your student union, international advisor or university chaplain
if you are in doubt about any approaches made to you. You can also
find information about cults at through the Cult
Information Centre website.
This guide is copyrighted © Friends International 2005. No
part of this work may be reproduced without
the written permission of Friends International.
Additional local information provided by Friends International in Guildford, 2007.