London: A Church of England diocese is set to be axed because Muslim worshippers in the area now outnumber Anglican congregations by two to one.
The Dioceses Commission is believed to be drawing up plans to break up the cash-strapped Diocese of Bradford in Yorkshire and merge it with neighbouring Ripon and Leeds, the Daily Express reports.
Some are pressing for both to join the Diocese of York and create a “super-diocese” under the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, the Church’s second most powerful leader.
Insiders said the crisis for the Church was particularly acute in regions where population shifts had accelerated a general decline in churchgoing, hitting collections, which feed diocese coffers.
Attendance in Bradford churches fell to 8,700 in 2008 while there are an estimated 20,000 regular Muslim worshippers in the city. Bradford’s 80 mosques enjoy a healthy turnover of cash provided by worshippers, with a number raising over GBP 60,000 a year.
Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers could be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation.
The 1.5 million Muslims living in the UK make up about three percent of the population.