You are hereThe smaller numbers in the 2011 census.

The smaller numbers in the 2011 census.

By Kim - Posted on 26 January 2013

The census results, of course, are deeply interesting to Bedfordshire Humanists… Well no, that’s a lie. We are deeply interested in one question, the one about religious affiliation. This is the census figure that the government has used in the past to justify their faith based polices, the ones that we oppose on the grounds of social integration, fairness, equality, democracy and not to mention plain old common sense. And we’ll leave for now the issue of whether the results actually measure what they claim to measure.

Here I’m focusing on those faith categories with the lower numbers of adherents.

The census form, besides having tick boxes for the major faiths, also had a space to write in anything not covered by the tick boxes. In the census results, all of these ‘write-ins’ are given their own column.

They make fascinating reading.

Did you know, for example, that there are only two Pantheists living in Bedford? Do you think they know each other or are they very lonely? Maybe they are married to each other. And what are the chances of that if they are, was it a chance meeting or conversion? Wasn’t Einstein a Pantheist? I’m amazed that they haven’t sought to join Bedfordshire Humanists. I’m sure we’re all in awe and wonder at the magnificence of the universe, so we have a lot in common with them.

Then there are four Deists. We once had a Deist come to our group meetings regularly. He was quite interesting. He didn’t pray, and didn’t have views any different to ours. The only difference was that he thought that the Big Bang required a Creator to kick it off.

There are nine people in Bedford who Believe in God. Apparently not any particular god, just a god. Talk about being noncommittal. Maybe we should define a new category of Religious Agnostic, defined as “I know there is something there, but I’m sitting on the fence rather than chose a particular manifestation”.

By contrast, there is one person who is of The Church of all Religion. Presumably this relates to the belief that it is all true, all of it, so no need to choose one. Could the one Theist be of the same ilk?

Then there are forty who are of Mixed Religion. Choose a bit of this, a bit of that. It’s whatever you fancy. A pity there won’t be any one-stop-shop to serve them.

Then we have the New Age religions, although some of them will regard themselves as Old Age. There is quite a diversity here, suggesting a rapidly branching family tree of faith. There are 12 Druids and 13 Heathens. We have one Mystic and two New Age and one Occult. There are 171 Pagans. There are three Reconstructionalists, who, as far as I’ve been able to determine, seek to be more Pagan than the Pagans.

There are 33 Wiccans and 4 who practice Witchcraft. There is one Thelemite. I bet the Thelemite has a lot of explaining to do.

We have one Own Belief System. This could mean anything from an alternative Pagan to somebody wanting to be the next L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology). Luckily we have no Scientologists.

We do have two Satanists though. I’m not clear if they are real Satanists (i.e. they worship Satan), or modern Satanists (i.e. they are atheists who want to make a point).

We have 33 Spiritual. Could these people be Pantheists in disguise? But we have 74 Spiritualists. Did you know there is a spiritualist church in Bedford? I keep meaning to pop in to see what they do, but I never get around to it. Still, at least my spirit is willing.

There are 66 of Other Religion. I don’t think that this is actually a religion, although it is possible that it covers the religions not covered by anyone else, that is to say people who feel sorry got the gods who have been left out. The worship of Thor and the Greek gods would be in this category. I’m joking of course.

Then we come to the non-religious (hooray). There are a whole range of us; we’re as bad as the New Agers! Most of us seemed to tick the No Religion box, as we asked them to. Bedfordshire Humanists devoted a lot of time and shoe-leather trying to get the good people of Bedfordshire to tick the No Religion box rather than be write-ins. As over 36,000 did this, it is likely that many of these people simply ticked ‘No Religion’ without actually hearing our message. They will mostly be the ‘indifferentists’, defined by Terry Sanderson of the NSS as people who live their lives without any thought of religion at all. They are utterly indifferent to it. But still, the result is all good for us.

However, there were of course those who did write something in. These people are probably ones who were not tuned in enough to hear our message. However, being the independent thinkers we are, it is possible that some did hear the message but chose to ignore it.

So, we have 90 Agnostics, 73 Atheists and 3 Free Thinkers. There are 12 people who are confused enough to think that Heavy Metal is a non-religion. Luckily they were counted on our side of the fence as they could so easily have been put on the other side.

There are 49 Humanists! Draw your own conclusions there I think. I don’t want to upset anyone reading this. You didn’t, did you?

There are still Jedi Knights around. No less than 512 of them live in Bedford. An interesting number, 512, because it is two raised to the ninth power. There must be something significant there surely? Anyway, it was all a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and it is all so passé. The new black is ‘No Religion’ guys.

Oh, and there is one Realist. No good telling them to ‘get real’ then.

So, a grand total of 37,229 people, of no religion.

Another 10,352 people didn’t think the religion question was worth answering. I think we can claim those too, as if they had a religion, if it was significant to them, they’d have said so.

So there you are, the smaller numbers. Fascinating reading, as I said. And still 40,000 people to aim for as members of Bedfordshire Humanists.



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