Census reveals 80% increase in ‘non-religious’ Hackney residents

The number of people in Hackney who do not identify with any religion has almost doubled in the last ten years, new census figures reveal, with nearly 70,000 ticking the box marked ‘no religion’.

The rise of ‘non-religious’ residents since 2001 is the most dramatic change in religious affiliation in Hackney over the past decade, and is an increase of 80 per cent, from 38,607 to 69,454.

This figure represents 28.2 per cent of Hackney’s population, making it higher than the national average.

It comes as the Office of National Statistics census reveals a nation-wide jump in the number of people identifying in this way, with a quarter of the population of England and Wales choosing ‘no religion’ when completing their forms.

Speaking to the Hackney Citizen, Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “One of the clearest developments we can see from the figures for Hackney is not only that the non-religious out number all the non-Christian religions put together, but that they constitute the second largest category and the fastest growing category in Hackney.”

Mr Copson said that Hackney Council and other local bodies should form policies that reflect this change. “Census figures are used by national and local government for resource allocation, policy developments and long term planning,” he said. “All public authorities have a duty to say how they will reflect this new social reality in their policies.”

“A particularly pertinent example for Hackney is the syllabus for religious education in Hackney schools which largely ignores the values and beliefs of non-religious people and sidelines humanism in total defiance of the real contemporary demographic of the borough,” he said.

Hackney Council were contacted but declined to comment on the rise in ‘non-religious’ residents or whether they would be altering any of their policies to reflect this.

The census found that the number of Christians in Hackney fell over the decade from 46.6 to 38.6 per cent, making it still the largest single religion in the borough with 95,131 people.

The next largest group is that of people choosing ‘no religion’, followed by the number of Muslims with 14.1 per cent, up from the 2001 figure of 13.8.

The census also found that Hackney’s Jewish community has risen to 6.3 per cent of the population, the third highest in England and Wales and an increase of 44 per cent.

However, the number of Jewish people in the borough is thought to be higher. Hackney Council’s summary of the 2001 census notes: “The ‘religion’ question on the census 2001 form was voluntary.

Therefore, the figure for the Jewish in Hackney is an undercount, with the charedi (sic) Jewish community alone representing between 8 and 10 per cent of the borough’s population.”

The number of Buddhists in Hackney has risen by 32 per cent from 2321 to 3075, the census reveals, constituting 1.2 per cent of Hackney’s population. The number of Hindus fell by 4 per cent, making it 0.6 per cent of the population, while the number of Sikhs fell slightly to 0.8 per cent.

Hackney had the sixth highest number of people in England and Wales to choose the ‘religion not stated’ option, with 23,646 (9.6 per cent), although this was lower than in 2001. Over a thousand people in Hackney selected ‘other religion’.

Full Data for Religion in Hackney (Source: Office of National Statistics)

Of the 246, 270 people who participated,


38.6% (95,131) Christian
28.2% (69,454) No Religion
14.1% (34,727) Muslim
9.6% (23,646) Religion not stated
6.3% (15,477) Jewish
1.2% (3,075) Buddhist
0.8% (1,872) Sikh
0.6% (1,577) Hindu
0.5% (1,311) Other religion

For more information go the Office For National Statistics.


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