West Suffolk reflects the national decline in Christianity, but still has a higher percentage of Christians than the national figure revealed by the 2011 Census this week.
Nationally the number saying they were Christian dropped by 13 per cent between 2001 and 2011 to 59 per cent. While Mid Suffolk also dropped 13 per cent it is still 63.8 per cent Christian. St Edmundsbury dropped 12 per cent to 62.3 per cent and Breckland it was down 11.8 per cent to 63.8.
In Forest Heath it dropped only 10.7 per cent to 64 per cent.
The decline is not due to more joining the biggest group after Christian, those with ‘no religion’. Nationally that figure dropped from 7.71 to 7.17 per cent while in Suffolk it was down from 8.34 to 7.44 per cent and in Norfolk from 8.17 to 7.56.
Christianity’s resilience in Forest Heath may be partly due to the influence of USAF personnel because the number of residents born abroad there is 23 per cent, of which 18.9 per cent have arrived since 2001. Nationally it is 13 per cent with 6.6 per cent having arrived since 2001.
Other districts are below the national rate. St Edmundsbury has 8.5 per cent of its population born abroad of which 4.6 per cent have arrived since 2001. Mid Suffolk is lowest with 4.7 per cent from abroad of which 1.7 per cent have been here less than 10 years. Breckland has 8.6 per cent born abroad with 5.6 per cent arriving since 2001.
Marriage seems more popular than in 2001. Then, 43.5 per cent of England’s population was married but now it is 46.6 per cent plus 0.23 per cent in same-sex civil partnerships. In Suffolk the married population is up 4.5 per cent to 51.4, plus 0.19 per cent in civil partnerships. In Norfolk marriage is up 4.7 per cent to 49.9 plus 0.22 per cent in civil partnerships.