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 person.
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 on the internet or in the library. 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.