Saturday, September 08, 2007

Who's where – according to the 2001 Census

By Keith Porteous Wood

source: NSS Newsline August 31st 2007

Following the letter in last week's Newsline about local Census figures, readers may be interested in the areas where the highest incidence was recorded respectively of Christians, the non-religious, and Muslims – the three highest categories.

The highest incidence of declared Christians was St. Helens (comprising 87% of population). Next in the ranking were Wigan, Copeland, Eilean Siar (Western Isles/Outer Hebrides), Knowsley, Ribble Valley, Easington, Allerdale, South Ribble and Wear Valley (with 85%). Despite these declarations, only about a tenth of those ticking the Christian box in the Census are in church on an average Sunday.

Non-believers comprised around a quarter of the population. The highest area for non-believers was Norwich (comprising 37% of the population). Next in the ranking were Aberdeen, Cambridge, Brighton and Hove, Blaenau Gwent, Nottingham, Rhondda/Taf, Islington, Bristol, Caerphilly/Caerffili, Fife, City of London, Oxford and Lambeth (33%). These figures are based on the sum of two categories: respondents answering "none" and those declining to answer the question at all. It is generally accepted that the vast majority of the latter category also have no religion.

The national average figures for Muslims are less than three per cent. Much higher proportions however live in certain conurbations, while in other, especially rural, areas there are practically no Muslims at all. The area with the highest proportion of Muslims was Tower Hamlets (comprising 36% of the population). Next in the ranking were Newham, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Waltham Forest, Luton, Birmingham, Hackney, Pendle and Slough (with 13%).

The NSS objected to the way the Census collected the Christian figures, leading as it did to a grossly exaggerated number, which has been ruthlessly exploited by the churches to justify more privilege for themselves. We also made constructive suggestions as to an alternative, which we are confident the Government will ignore, anxious as it always is to play up religion to the maximum.

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