United Kingdom

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The UK

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country off the northwest coast of mainland Europe. It is a political union made up of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also has several overseas territories. A constitutional monarchy, the United Kingdom has close relationships with fifteen other Commonwealth Realms that share the same monarch — Queen Elizabeth II — as head of state. It's history is closely tied with the Reformation and formation of the Church of England and Anglican Communion, and aboud half the population belong to this church. A further 10% are Roman Catholic. Other denominations have much smaller numbers. There is full freedom of religion and like many western countries there is a growing trend to atheism and also because of migration there is a significant Muslim and Hindu population.






History of Christianity in Britain

Celtic Christianity

As the far most province of the Roman Empire, Christianity entered Britain in the first few centuries AD, with the first recorded martyr in Britain being Saint Alban (during the reign of Diocletian). The process of Christianization intensified following the legalization of the religion under Constantine in the 4th century, and its promotion by subsequent Christian emperors.

In 407, the Empire withdrew its legions from the province to defend Italy from Visigothic attack. Thus, Roman governmental influence ended on the isle, and, with the following decline of Roman imperial political influence, Britain and the surrounding isles developed distinctively from the rest of the West. The Irish Sea acted as a centre from which a new culture developed among the Celtic peoples, and Christianity acted centrally in this process. What emerged, religiously, was a form of Insular Christianity, with certain distinct traditions and practices. The religion spread to Ireland at this time, though the island had never been part of the Roman empire, establishing a unique organization around monasteries, rather than episcopal dioceses. Important figures in the process were Ninian, Palladius, and Patrick (the "Apostle to the Irish").

Meanwhile, this development was paralleled by the advent of the Anglo-Saxon (English) migration / invasion into western Britain from Frisia and other Germanic areas, resulting in cultural hostility in Britain between the British (Celts) and the (then pagan) English.

Anglo-Saxon Christianity

The Anglo-Saxons invaders were pagans. Christianity came to them from 2 sources. The Celtic Church, which was pushed into Wales, Cornwall an Ireland, brought Christianity from the North and the Roman Church brought Christianity from the south, with Augustine bringin Christianity to Aethelbert, King of Kent, in 597.

There was some friction between the Celtic and Roman Churches. The issues were resolved in 663 at the Synod of Whitby, and Christianity in Britain came under Roman authority.

Christians from Britain then turned their attention to taking Christianity to Western and Northern Europe.


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