Brighton and Hove is still England’s most godless city

Posted On 30 Nov 2022 at 9:17 am

Brighton and Hove is still officially England’s most godless place, with more than one in two people now saying they have no religion.

According to newly released data from the 2021 census, 55 percent of people in the city now have “no religion”, rising from 42 percent 10 years ago in 2011.

This means that for the first time, they now outnumber the percentage of people describing their religion as Christian, which has fallen from 42.9 percent in 2011 to just 30.9 percent in 2021.

In total, 152,257 citizens say they have no religion compared to 85,629 people who say they are Christian.

The second largest religion is Islam, which has seen the number of followers steadily rise in the city over the last 20 year.

One of the smallest is Pagan, with more than 600 people claiming to be followers. A similar number, 517, simply claimed to be spiritual.

Kat Reynolds, chair of Brighton Humanists, said: “To describe yourself as non-religious can of course mean many different things and humanism cannot and does not claim to represent the beliefs and views of all people in this category.

“However this is evidence for what humanists have been campaigning for for a number of years – for a secular society, neutral in its approach to religion and belief and so able to fairly represent our population.”

She said it raised questions such as whether it’s appropriate for state schools to still be able to select pupils based on faith, and the appropriateness of prayers at council meetings.

She added: “The census data indicates that the majority of people in the UK now look to sources outside of religion to understand the world and choose how to live in it.”

Rik Child, trustee of Brighton and Hove Faith in Action said: “Once again Brighton and Hove has been shown to be the least religious place in England but probably one of the most honest in this regard.

“There is no doubt that organised religious activity is in heavy decline nationwide and this is felt most keenly in the established Christian churches.

“According to the 2021 census, 27.5 million people identify as Christian but this will be news to Christian ministers who are not seeing these people at church or in any way involved in organised Christianity.

“Meanwhile, surveys of volunteering in the community consistently show that those people who are involved in organised faiths of all varieties are far more likely to be involved in voluntary work reaching out to the most vulnerable and isolated members of our community or supporting health and emergency services during times of national need such as the covid pandemic.”

Although Brighton is the most irreligious in England, three other areas beat Brighton and Hove for lack of religion in England and Wales – Caerphilly (56.7 percent), Blaenau Gwent (56.4 percent), and Rhondda Cynon Taf (56.2 percent).

Islam has remained the second largest religion in the city, with 8500 or 3% saying they are Muslim – up more than a third from 2011, and three times the 2001 population.

Buddhism and Judaism are now tied for third place – each with 2455 respondents, or 0.8%.

Hindus number 2100 people, or 0.8% of population and Sikhs 378, or 0.1% of population. Of the 2,860 who specified “other”, 612 said they were Pagan, 517 spiritual and 435 agnostic.

However, these numbers can only ever be interpreted as estimates, as 19,760 people in Brighton and Hove, 7.1%, decided not to state their religion in the census.

  1. Charles U Farley Reply

    The world would be a much safer, happier and overall better place if everyone was irreligious.

  2. Jason Reply

    Not merely Godless, but brainless as well in too many cases, believing every lie that comes from a government that wouldn’t know truth if it fell on them from a great height.

  3. Susie Reply

    Oh my god!

    • Chris Reply

      Any particular god, there are lots to choose from?

      • Susie Reply

        Not really, but shall make one up?

        • Chris Reply

          The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Pastafarianism) is quite an interesting little number

  4. Soph Reply

    You’re a brave soul to mention anything religious in Brighton & Hove, if you’re talking about Christianity (whether C of E or Catholicism). Buddhism is regarded as a useful practice, especially for mental wellbeing. My Jewish friends are proud of their faith. Islam is growing. So basically it’s probably the Anglican religion that is declining the most. People who move here are not looking for ‘God’ that is sure – they want freedom, tolerance, and a safe environment where they can live happily (does it always happen – I don’t know). But I would say it is useful to have a church to go to when things are really tough. The most beautiful thing a person ever did for me was pray. It felt a bit strange at the time, but then I realised that he had a strong belief, and it was the kindest thing he could have done for me. To have someone focus solely on you when you really need it, is a powerful thing – it was very comforting. I don’t attend church services, but I sometimes wander into a church looking for peace and a safe place away from the noise and chaos of modern life. If would be sad if we lost those places, but I suppose I am not exactly supporting them myself (bar the odd donation on my way out). There are many ways to help a person, but sometimes we need just that extra something to help us through – call it spiritual, if you like. Some people are very practical in life, and some people need the spiritual dimension – we are all different. I hope there will always be room in Brighton & Hove for the differences.

    • Stewart Lee Reply

      If you say you’re a Christian these days, you’ll be arrested and thrown in jail.

      • Soph Reply

        Your comment made me chuckle, but then I realised it is probably true in some countries.

  5. Patcham Guy Reply

    The fact is there is Sin and Salvation, there is Heaven and there is Hell. We are all going to one or the other. Get a Bible and read it. I look forward to going to jail. Long live free speech.

    • Charles U Farley Reply

      Do we have to read all of the Bible? Including the bits that advocate slavery and give instruction on who, when and how?

    • Steve Smith Reply

      I did read the Bible once. Absolutely convinced me of the absence of any deity.

  6. Rostrum Reply


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