Religion in Great Britain
British religion used to be closely connected with kings, queens and politics. England was a Roman Catholic country until 1534. In 1525 King Henry VIII decided to divorce his queen, Catherine of Aragon, because he fell in love with Anne Boleyn. But when Henry asked the Pope for permission to divorce Catherine, he refused. Henry was so angry with the Pope that he ended all contact between England and Rome. He divorced Catherine of Aragon without the Pope’s permission and married Anne Boleyn. In 1534 Parliament named Henry head of the Church of England.
This was the beginning of the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church did not start as a Protestant Church and Henry certainly did not regard himself as a Protestant. However the Protestant movement in Europe was growing very strong at that time. When Henry quarreled with Rome and ordered the Bible to be translated into English, the way was open for Protestantism to spread in England. Over the next years many people changed to this new religion. In 1553 Mary, Henry’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon, became Queen of England. The country re-entered the Roman Church, because she was a Roman Catholic. Protestants were glad when Mary died, because while she was Queen, many Protestants were burned for their beliefs. After Marry, Elizabeth became head of the Anglican Church and Roman Catholicism was never again the official religion in England. The Church of England is still the established church in England nowadays. But in spite of the great variety of forms of worship, only a minority of people regularly go to church in Britain today. Most people see Sunday more as a day for relaxing with the family or for doing jobs around the house and the garden.