Update: Church of England press release here (really slips the leash in the last paragraph) and a round up of links on Echurch Blog.
A big batch of stats has just been released from the 2011 census. Of particular interest to people like me is the 'religion' question, which shows that 59% of England and Wales now identifies themselves as 'Christian' (down from 72% in 2011) with a corresponding rise in 'no religion' from 15 to 25%.
In the detail, there are all sorts of local oddities:
- You are more likely to meet a Satanist in Bolsover than anywhere else
- Oxford is the agnostic capital of Britain
- Knowsley has the highest percentage of Christians
- Norwich has the highest percentage of 'no religion: heavy metal' and rivals Brighton for being the most atheist area.
There are 2 data tables, religion by local authority, which has summary figures, and this more detailed set which breaks down the details - e.g. we discover that there are 4 Bahai in South Somerset.
No doubt everyone will draw the conclusions they want to draw - the Daily Mail will focus on 2.1m net migration, and over 7m Britons born in other countries; eco campaigners will note with dismay that we now have over 27m vehicles (up from 23.9m); but I wonder who will look at the near doubling of people in rented accommodation and the decline in home ownership (mostly on Labour's watch, as more and more of us were priced out of the market). It doesn't really suit any political party to draw attention to this. There's a few more of the headlines here.
As for me, I merely rejoice at the effectiveness of the other churches in South Somerset. About 200-250 of the professed Christians in the area come to our 2 churches (that's at least once per month), so with 100,000 Christians to go round, everywhere else must be packed.