Census reveals town’s religious diversity
9:15am Saturday 15th December 2012 in News
BOLTON has 698 Jedi Knights, eight Heathens, 181 Pagans and 92 people who put their religion as Heavy Metal.
The town’s diverse faith was revealed in the 2011 census results, which also showed Bolton is more religious than the rest of England.
In Bolton, 17.2 per cent of people said they had no religion, which is 7.5 per cent fewer than the overall figure for England of 24.7 per cent.
Over the past 10 years, the number of Christians in England and Wales has gone down by four million and now stands at 59.4 per cent.
But in Bolton 62.7 per cent of people class themselves as Christian — 3.3 per cent higher than the overall figure for England.
Bolton also has a higher percentage of Hindus and Muslims.
In England, 1.5 per cent of the population class themselves as Hindu, but in Bolton that figure is 2.2 per cent.
The number of Muslims in Bolton is more than double those in England, with 11.7 per cent of the town’s population, compared to five per cent in the country.
Religion was the only voluntary question in the census.
There were 698 Jedis in Bolton, 0.3 per cent, which was the same as for the rest of England.
Other less common religions with followers in Bolton included Satanism, with one follower, Scientology, which had five, a modern-pagan religion called Wicca, which had 38 followers and Humanist, which had 49 followers.
There were also 14 Rastafarians, 28 Druids, two members of the Occult and one Animism follower.
The Bishop of Bolton, Chris Edmondson, said the strength of religion in Bolton reflected town’s community, adding: “I think first of all, it reflects the very strong Christian heritage that there is in Bolton, but also that a number of churches in all denominations are getting an increase in numbers.
Bishop Edmondson, who is chairman of Bolton Faith Leaders Forum, said: “One of the other great strengths in Bolton is the way in which the different faith communities work together. The important thing is the Muslims and Hindus are very much integrated within the Bolton family. They have got their own strong religious affiliations but there is a very strong way of working together.”
His comments were echoed by Inayat Omarji, manager at Bolton Council of Mosques.
He said: “I think people are proud to be religious in Bolton. We have a very good interfaith network and we, as the Bolton family, have great community support.
“There is a diverse Muslim community in Bolton, especially since 2001 when the Muslim population was predominantly from Pakistan and India, in 2011, there is a there has been a big increase because of more people coming from the African subcontinent.”
Steven Meekings, manager at X Records, in Bolton, said he was surprised to hear people had put Heavy Metal as their religion.
He added: “I think it is totally up to them but sometimes I think people’s allegiance to religion is a little bit hard to fathom.
“I think I know lots of people who would put rock as their religion.”