Census 2021: more under-40s in Wigan identify as non-religious than their predecessors
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Humanists UK, which campaigned for people to tick "no religion" on the survey in March 2021, said the recent figures – which showed a rise in people under the age of 40 stating they are non-religious – make it clear that the nation faces a "non-religious future".
However, Christianity was still the top religion with 79,800 under-40s (51 per cent) selecting the faith.
In the previous census in 2011, 72 per cent of the age group selected Christianity and 21 per cent opted for no religion.
Wigan is in contrast to the trend seen across England and Wales, where "no religion" was the most selected option for under-40s. It's the first time Christianity did not hold the top spot for an age group.
About 13.6 million said they were not religious in 2021 while 9.8 million identified as Christian – a reversal from a decade ago when 13.9 million opted for Christianity and 9.4 million were non-religious.
Andrew Copson, Humanists UK chief executive, said the recent figures show a significant change in society: “They make plain that the UK faces a non-religious future. This is in stark contrast to how our state institutions operate today.
"No other European country has such a religious set-up as we do in terms of law and public policy, while at the same time having such a non-religious population.
“Politicians should look at today’s results and recognise they must renegotiate the place of religion or belief in today’s society.”
The ONS said: “Many factors can cause changes in the size of religious groups, including changing age structure, people relocating for work or education, and differences in the way individuals chose to self-identify (or how children’s religious affiliation was reported) between censuses.”
The new census figures also show women in Wigan were more likely to be religious. About 69 per cent of women in the area chose a religion while 61 per cent of men did.