Census reveals Jedi and Buddhist figuresBy Amy Taylor
December 13, 2012
RELIGIOUS perspectives are changing dramatically across the country, and the trend is clear in Hampshire and Surrey.
Census data published on December 11 showed that as the number of Christians fell in many boroughs, the number of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims grew.
There were also appearances from more unusual religions, with 485 people in Rushmoor and 363 in Hart boroughs declaring themselves to be Jedi Knights.
It was Rushmoor, covering Aldershot and Farnborough, which saw the biggest change nationally, taking the top ranking in the number of Buddhists living there.
Buddhism is the third largest religion in Rushmoor, with 57% – 54,206 people – still professing Christianity as their faith, and 3.4% identifying themselves as Hindu.
Despite the increase, Buddhists still only make up 3.3% (3,092) of the population of Rushmoor, a borough where 7% of people say they have no religion at all.
Numerous minority religions were also seen, with 10 Scientologists claiming to live in Hart and Rushmoor, 15 Rastafarians, and one Satanist in Rushmoor.
Pagans, Wiccans and Occultists also live among us, as well as nine Druids in Rushmoor and another nine in Hart.
Damar Ghale MBE, a Buddhist who helped organise the visit of the Dalai Lama to Aldershot in June, said the religious mix in Rushmoor was a benefit.
He added that since the change in Nepal’s government from a monarchy to democracy, more people have turned to Buddhism.
“I would say 45% to 50% of Nepalese will be Buddhist,” he said. “It’s not like it used to be, it’s not the case any more that 90% of us are Hindu.
“It may well be the Nepalese that are driving these figures but it’s not necessarily a Nepalese thing,” he said. “The Buddhist philosophy is one of having a sense of unity and harmony – we do not see any colour, creed or nationality.”
The census also revealed that Rushmoor has the fewest people aged 90 and over in the whole of Hampshire, with 561 while Hart has the second fewest at 633.
Rushmoor has the highest number of people with no qualifications in the News & Mail patch – 18.6% – while Hart has 13.5%. Rushmoor also ranks 18th in the country for people with solely level one qualifications.
Of Hart’s 48,000 residents in work, 22.2% – 10,655 – are in professional occupations with a further 16.3% – 8,096 – employed in technical occupations.
Senior or managerial roles account for a further 15.3% – 7,371 – followed by administrative or secretarial work, skilled trades and the care and leisure industry.
The final 16.8% is divided between sales and customer services, manual and elementary occupations.
Just 0.2% of Hampshire residents are in a registered same-sex civil partnership (0.2% in Rushmoor and 0.1% in Hart) while more than half are married. In Hart, 58% of people are in marriages, while 49.5% of Rushmoor people say the same.
Male single parents are still in the minority, with 188 in Rushmoor compared to 2,146 female. Hart has 261 men bringing up children single-handedly.
For more on this story, see this week's News & Mail, out on Thursday, December 13.