The force is strong in WokinghamBy Julie Spencer
December 19, 2012
Fewer people in Wokingham consider themselves Christian than a decade ago – but more than 600 Star Wars fans claim to be Jedi disciples.
Data from Census 2011 reveals that the number of Christians in Wokingham borough has fallen to 59.5 per cent from 72.8 per cent a decade ago.
The report also flags the borough as having the highest proportion of mortgaged properties in England and Wales at 44 per cent and the second highest in the country for two-car households.
And Wokingham ranked ninth lowest in England and Wales for those aged 16 or over with no recognised qualifications at 13 per cent.
More than a quarter of people living in the borough claim to have no religion, according to data from Census 2011, compared with 16.6 per cent in the last census in 2001.
The only other religion in the borough to have declined over the decade is Judaism – down from 0.4 to 0.3 per cent.
However, all other mainstream religions have grown in the town, as well as some alternative beliefs.
A total of 609 people in Wokingham borough claimed they were followers of the light-sabre wielding Jedi Knights from the Star Wars movies, 94 people said they were paganists while 77 described themselves as spiritualists.
The Humanist movement had 50 followers and the borough has 12 people who claim their religion is ‘heavy metal’.
But the dark arts are not that well represented, with only one person claiming to believe in witchcraft and two professing to be Satanists.
The percentage of Muslims living in the borough has increased since 2001 from 1.3 per cent to 2.8 per cent and Sikhs now account for 1.3 per cent of residents, up from one per cent.
Followers of the Buddhist faith account for 0.4 per cent of the population, up from 0.3 per cent and the percentage of Hindus has grown from 0.8 per cent to 2.1 per cent.
The Reverend Canon David Hodgson, rector at All Saints Church, in Wiltshire Road, said: “The number of the congregation at All Saints hasn’t declined very much over that period.
“It is a bit static but we do see some new people coming to church and we work hard to make sure new people are welcomed.
“We have seen over the last 10 years the number of children attending the church has stayed positive.”
He continued: “Fewer people are choosing church weddings and we understand if people don’t feel they have a religion they make that choice themselves, but we always welcome them if they choose to.
“I think the data also reflects the impact of that and the number of funerals, which have also gone down, I guess because if there are people who say they don’t have a religion maybe they are not choosing to have a church funeral.”
Earlier this year Wokingham was voted as the best place to raise a family.
And Rev Hodgson explained the Family Friendly Hotspot report, published by Family Investments stated churches and what they offer families and children were a factor in the town’s ranking.