‘The cynical consumerist West has exchanged God for Argos’: Census data shows Aylesbury Vale is losing touch with Christianity – but some churches are still thriving

St Mary's Church in Aylesbury and (below) the Vale of Aylesbury Vineyard in session
St Mary's Church in Aylesbury and (below) the Vale of Aylesbury Vineyard in session

The number of people following the Christian faith in Aylesbury Vale has fallen sharply in the past decade, new figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal.

In the 2011 Census, 14,854 fewer people said they were Christian compared to in 2001, despite a district population rise of nearly 10,000. It also revealed there are 17,634 more people of ‘no religion’ in the area compared to ten years ago.

Nationally, four million fewer people said they follow Christianity. But while many traditional churches are struggling, some more modern set-ups are in good health.

Mark Knight, assistant pastor at the Vale of Aylesbury Vineyard, said his church has seen ‘phenomenal’ growth in recent years. He believes the decline could be in part down to young people having more freedom to choose their own spiritual path, but does not see it as a problem.

He said: “The younger generation don’t necessarily automatically assign themselves to their parents’ faith. They think of a number of things they could do.

“I would sooner have a small band of people to whom Christianity really means something and changes their life than a bigger throng who call it their religion but don’t think anything of it.

“The cynical consumerist West has exchanged God for Argos. In other parts of the world the Christian faith is absolutely booming.”

But as Christianity struggles, other religions are thriving in the Vale.

The number of both Buddhists and Hindus has nearly doubled, while the amount of Muslims has increased from 4,426 in 2001 to 6,783.

Some people assign themselves less common religions, with the figures revealing there are 645 Jedi Knights, 20 Rastafarians, 20 Druids, four followers of Heavy Metal and one Satanist living in the Vale.

Other figures show there are now 5,812 more people living in the Vale born outside the UK and 3.5% fewer people in full-time employment.