Christianity rate slumps

PUBLISHED: 08:43 22 December 2012

Archant

THE number of Christians in North Somerset has dropped significantly, according to the latest census figures released.

Nearly one-in-three people declared themselves to be non-religious in last year’s census, sparking fears that people are turning their back on Christianity.

But Reverend Gill Putnam, lead chaplain for Chaplaincy about Town (ChaT), played down fears that North Somerset, and the country as a whole, are shunning religious practices.

She said: “We are still predominantly a Christian nation. Those who have no religious affiliation or who don’t think of themselves affiliated to any church organisation, will have some sort of faith as we are all spiritual beings.”

The 2011 census has seen the proportion of Christians in North Somerset drop from 75 per cent to 61 per cent during the past decade – a fall of about 18,000 people.

While the percentage of Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and Hindus have remained stable, the proportion of those indicated they had no religious affiliation has almost doubled to 30 per cent.

The figures place North Somerset fractionally above the national average, but Rev Putnam said the rising number of immigrants was a factor behind the change, with about six per cent of people in the district born outside of the UK.

She said: “There will always be what is termed ‘Cultural Christians’ which are people not affiliated to any church but will still be Christians at heart.”

She said ChaT is often approached by people who turn to the church in times of need, even though they may not see themselves as Christians.

ChaT is looking to hold two or three interfaith sessions next year which Rev Putnam hopes will increase multiculturalism in the town. Earlier this month it held its first interfaith week which she said was a big success.

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