Welcome to Dorset Humanists

Dorset Humanists is a welcoming group for humanists, atheists and agnostics who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. We meet in Bournemouth for informative and enjoyable presentations, debates and discussions on a wide range of subjects including ethics, science, religion, philosophy, politics, our environment and much more. We also organise regular social events.

2011 Census Results: Dramatic Rise in Dorset’s Non-religious

Census01 According to results from the 2011 Census released today there was a big fall in those self-identifying as ‘Christian’ across England and Wales, and the proportion of people who reported they have no religion has now reached a quarter of the population.

Figures for our region are split by local authority and are as follows:
Bournemouth: 71% ‘Christian’ in 2001 dropped to 57% ‘Christian’ in 2011, and 18% ‘No Religion’ in 2001 rose to 30% No Religion’ in 2011.
Poole: 74% ‘Christian’ in 2001 dropped to 60% ‘Christian’ in 2011, and 16% ‘No Religion’ in 2001 rose to 30% No Religion’ in 2011.
Dorset (includes Christchurch, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland): 78% ‘Christian’ in 2001 dropped to 65% ‘Christian’ in 2011, and 14% ‘No Religion’ in 2001 rose to 25% No Religion’ in 2011.
Detailed ONS 2011 Census religion statistics can be downloaded from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/rft-table-qs210ew.xls

It’s worth noting once again that the optional religion question in the 2011 Census was framed to identify religious affiliation which doesn’t necessarily indicate belief or practice. For comparison, the results of the 29th British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), published in September 2012, found 45.7 per cent of respondents claimed not to belong to a religion.

The British Humanist Association’s CEO Andrew Copson had this to say about the results:
‘This is a really significant cultural shift. In spite of a biased question that positively encourages religious responses, to see such an increase in the non-religious and such a decrease in those reporting themselves as Christian is astounding. Of course these figures still exaggerate the number of Christians overall – the number of believing, practicing Christians is much lower than this and the number of those leading their lives with no reference to religion much higher.
 ‘Religious practice, identity, belonging and belief are all in decline in this country, and non-religious identities are on the rise. It is time that public policy caught up with this mass turning away from religious identities and stopped privileging religious bodies with ever increasing numbers of state-funded religious schools and other faith-based initiatives. They are decreasingly relevant to British life and identity and governments should catch up and accept that fact.’ (Read more here).

The ONS has a useful summary page on the religion results, including an animated video, here:
The 2011 Census results are summarised below (Other religions and ‘not stated’ not shown).
Area name
Local Authority
No religion
No religion

2001 2011 2001 2011
ENGLAND AND WALES 71.75 59.3 14.81 25.1
ENGLAND 71.74 59.4 14.59 24.7
SOUTH WEST 73.99 60.4 16.75 29.3
Bournemouth UA 70.91 57.1 17.94 30.5
Poole UA 74.34 60.4 16.23 29.7
Dorset 77.88 65.3 13.74 25.2
Christchurch 79.06 67.1 13.18 23.6
East Dorset 79.90 66.8 12.61 24.2
North Dorset 77.75 66.5 13.61 23.8
Purbeck 78.36 65.0 13.81 25.9
West Dorset 77.55 65.3 13.61 25.0
Weymouth & Portland74.6761.015.8929.3

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