Yesterday, the Guardian went in search of ‘the world’s most godless city‘. The opening paragraphs of the article acknowledge that this isn’t an easy task – the socio-political climate in many parts of the world making it either more likely for people to claim belief in God or less likely.
In territories controlled or influenced by Islamic State, for example, the risks to declared non-believers are drastic and obvious. On the other side of the coin, the state atheism promulgated by the leaders of the Soviet Union meant that believers were stigmatised at best, persecuted at worst.
Yet, the link to the 2011 Census of England and Wales, gives an interesting view of the UK and belief in God.
I picked on Southampton because it’s a part of the country I know well. Some poking around at the filters shows that in the heart of the city 40% or more of the population will claim to have no religion, with the exception of the area between Bevois Valley and St Mary’s where nearly 100% of the population claim to follow one religion or another.
Click through the tabs and you find this area is largely split between followers of Islam or Sikhism. Switch again to look at where the majority of Christians are located and you’ll see them throughout the suburbs but largely missing from the city centre [see the census data here].
Knowing these areas the results of the research is not really surprising, but I think it emphasises the point that you no longer need to travel thousands of miles to get involved in cross-cultural mission. The opportunities are here in our towns and cities.