Bradford - Religion

Religion

See also: Bradford Cathedral and Al Mahdi Mosque

Two carved stones, probably parts of a Saxon preaching cross, were found on the site of Bradford Cathedral. They indicate that Christians may have worshipped here since Paulinus of York came to the north of England in AD 627 on a mission to convert Northumbria. He preached in Dewsbury and it was from there that Bradford was first evangelised. The vicars of Bradford later paid dues to that parish. The most prominent Christian church in Bradford is Bradford Cathedral, originally the Parish Church of St Peter. The parish was in existence by 1283, and there was a stone church on the rock shelf above Bradford Beck by 1327. The Diocese of Bradford was created from part of the Diocese of Ripon in 1919, and the church became a cathedral at that time. Many of the Roman Catholic churches that are found within the city are a legacy of the large Irish population that migrated to Bradford in the 19th century.

With a significant Pakistani population, Islam has become prominent particularly in inner city areas such as Manningham and Bradford Moor, where the majority population is Muslim. There are a substantial number of mosques, some converted from churches or other buildings but several purpose-built. The largest are the Hanfia Masjid in Manningham and the Al Mahdi Mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

The city has a sizeable Indian community and the Lakshmi Narayan mandir which opened in April 2008 is the largest Hindu temple in northern England. There is a Hindu temple and community centre on Thornton Lane and smaller house-based mandirs, as shown in the List of Hindu Temples in England.

The Sikh community has six gurudwaras in the city. The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi is celebrated on 14 April. Sikhs travel to each of the gurudwaras in the city in a procession called a nagar kirtan.

The Jewish community was strong in the middle to late 19th century and built Bradford Reform Synagogue in Manningham. This, "The oldest reform synagogue outside London", was established by German Jews who had moved to Bradford for the wool trade. According to historian Shatman Kadish, "The city of Bradford was unique in that it boasted a reform synagogue before it acquired an orthodox one". In 1881 Russian Jews made their home in Bradford, having fled their homeland, and founded an orthodox synagogue. In 2005 the Jewish population was 356.

The district has a tradition of nonconformity which is reflected in the number of chapels erected by Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodists. The city was a centre of the House Church movement in the 1980s, and the Christian charity Christians Against Poverty was founded in the city. Other house churches in the city include El Shaddai International Christian Centre and the World Outreach Church. Bradford is also home to the Abundant Life Church, a large nonconforming Church, that has around 3,000 members.

In the 2001 census the percentage of the population identifying as Christian was 60.14% whilst 16.08% identified as Muslim, 1.02% Sikh and 0.95% Hindu. 13.3% identified as having no religion and 8.1% did not state a religious affiliation. The percentage of Jews, Buddhists and those following other religions amounted to fewer than 0.5% of the city's population.

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