The Bishop of Exeter , Rt Revd Michael Langrish said today that ‘the growth in the number of people who say they have no religion presents a challenge to all people of faith and needs to be examined properly.’
The statement comes the day after the 2011 census figures for the South West revealed that there was a 12% decrease in the proportion of people who stated their religious affiliation as 'Christian', as with most regions of England and Wales between 2001 and 2011.
In Exeter 40,862, 34.7% of the population, said they had no religion.
Rt Revd Michael Langrish said:
"As a Church we need to look closely at the reasons for the rise in people saying they have no religion, particularly in Devon, a county which by and large has held to fairly traditional values.
Our own experience here in the Church of England in Devon is of modest growth in our churches.
As Christians, we believe we have a good news story to tell the world, of which it is in great need, but clearly there are many people who are not hearing this story or seeing its relevance to their lives and these statistics challenge us to find better ways of connecting with people."
The census also revealed some interesting statistics about ‘other religions’ in Exeter, showing that the city has the second highest concentration of Satanists in the UK, 547 Jedi Knights and 26 people identified their religion as ‘Heavy Metal’.