FEWER people identify as Christian and more people are non-religious in Dudley than a decade ago, new census figures show.

Office for National Statistics data from the 2021 census shows 49 per cent of people in Dudley selected Christianity as their religion, down significantly from 65 per cent in the last survey a decade before.

About 36 per cent selected no religion last year, a leap from 22 per cent in 2011.

Of those, 106 people said they were agnostic, while 49 selected Atheism.

The area follows trends across England and Wales where 46 per cent of the population described themselves as Christian in the recent census, down from 59 per cent a decade earlier. It is the first time the proportion has dropped below half.

And the percentage of people saying they had no religion jumped from around a quarter (25 per cent) in 2011 to over a third (37 per cent) last year.

The Bishop of Dudley, Martin Gorick said of the figures: “It is no surprise that the census shows that fewer people in Dudley are identifying as Christian, though still more than in most of the country!

“It definitely challenges those of us who believe in the importance of God’s transformational love to continue to share that with all in our local community.

“Churches are there to serve everyone in their parish, regardless of their religion or even if they have none at all.

“Many in our communities will attend weddings, funerals, baptisms and Christmas carol services in our churches or benefit from the support provided through food banks, toddler groups and lunch clubs run in our buildings.

“We rejoice in the multi-cultural make up of Dudley borough and our churches will continue to serve God and all people through sharing the light and love of Jesus.”

Nationally, there were increases in the proportion of people describing themselves as Muslim - 6.5 per cent compared with 4.9 per cent in the previous census. More people also identified as Hindu, increasing from 1.5 per cent in 2011 to 1.7 per cent in 2021.

The figures show more people in Dudley identify as Muslim, with 19,978 selecting the religion last year, up from 12,902 in 2011.

Additionally, 2,193 residents said they were Hindu in the survey, up from 1,908 10 years ago.

There were 798 Buddhists and 83 residents who selected Judaism.

Of other options, 448 said they were pagans and 24 said they practice Heathenism.

The National Secular Society said the figures show aspects of society such as the Anglican establishment and daily prayers and worship in parliament and schools, are “all inappropriate, hopelessly outdated and fail to reflect the country we actually live in” and called for reform.

Stephen Evans, the society's chief executive, said: “It’s official – we are no longer a Christian country.”