Jedi rising but changes not the 'death of Christianity'
THE figures are startling – within just a decade the number of people in the whole of Notts who would declare themselves as Christians has gone down from 713,651 to 617,210.
The figures are equivalent to a 13.8 per cent drop between 2001 and 2011.
At the same time, the number of Muslims across the county has more than doubled from 15,869 to 33,882.
And 30.9 per cent of people in Notts now say they have no religion, compared to 18.3 in 2011.
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However the Archdeacon of Nottingham, the Venerable Reverend Peter Hill, says that these findings should not be equated to "the death of Christianity".
Instead, he says it is a sign of people committing themselves more consciously to the faith, rather than just carrying on a family tradition.
The Archdeacon told the Post: "In the latter part of the last century, it was more common that people would just carry on with what they have been brought up with, whereas nowadays people are more decisive about where they belong.
"I think this is a good thing, because it's a clarity of commitment rather than a more vague belief."
The Archdeacon, who is responsible for more than 100 parishes for the Church of England, said the decline was down to a change in culture.
"I think people are being more focused about what they believe or where they belong."
The Archdeacon, who said he became a Christian when he was 20 after being "an adamant atheist", added: "More than six in ten people still have some sort of Christian adherence, which is good, compared to the National Secular Society, which only has 5,000 members in the whole country."
In Notts a total of 3,374 people described themselves as Jedi Knights, 113 said their religion was Heavy Metal, 41 said they had their own belief system, and 176 described themselves as Rastafarians, including Keith Brandy, 50, of Bestwood.
Mr Brandy said: "At the moment, society is very wishy-washy in their beliefs and we let the children decide religion for themselves.
"People used to fear God but we don't fear him any more – we have other priorities now."
Another significant shift has occurred in the city's ethnic composition.
In the city of Nottingham, 199,990 of the population – or 65.4 per cent described themselves as White British, compared to 216,401 – or 81.1 per cent – back in 2001.
Lee Waters, UKIP Gedling chairman, said the figures showed immigration had "spiralled out of control".
He said: "It's not the people coming in, but the numbers that are a problem.
"The open door policy we have to immigration has caused issues locally wit the need of housing having gone up dramatically."
The census also shows that the number of people with a mixed ethnic background has.
In 2001, the city had 5,297 people with a white and black African background. This number has doubled to 12,166 – the biggest increase in the mixed background group.
Meanwhile the number of people in the Other White section – which can include people with an Eastern European background – has more than doubled from 6,680 to 15,563 over the past decade.
Dr Judith Rowbotham, a socio-legal historian at Nottingham Trent University's school of arts and humanities, described this development as "very positive".
Dr Rowbotham told the Post: "We are seeing a real breakdown in many of the traditional race barriers. And this is something that applies to all levels of society.
"You now get a man and a woman from different ethnic backgrounds falling in love, starting a relationship, producing children.
"Back in the 1950s and 60s, being the product of such a mixed relationship was regarded as positively shameful."
The trend, Dr Rowbotham added, was not an indication that society was moving away from prejudice.
"This shows that we are becoming more conscious that being British is a more complex affair than it used to be.
"We have a history of people who settle and stay here for a few generations.
"Nottingham has grown from a town into a city in the 19th century.
"This makes it easier for a population that stays to become assimilated and be seen as British."
Rather than discriminating against people for their skin colour, ethnic background or race, Dr Rowbotham said, this would now predominantly be based on the way people talk and whether they "sound Nottingham".
Other findings of the 2011 census include:
The total population of the city and county is now 1,091,482 – up 7.4 per cent from 1,015,498 people in 2001.
There are now 11,957 single-parent households in the city, compared to 11,483 in 2001.
The average age of the city's 305,680 people was 34.8 years old, with its median age – the age which divides the population into two numerically equal groups – being 30. This median age is ten years lower than the East Midlands average, and 12 years less than in Notts – where the average age is 41.1.
There has been a rise in the number of lone male parents in part-time employment. This has gone from 60 to 175 in the city, an equivalent to a 191 per cent rise.