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What the census reveals about Medway

The force is strong in Medway - with 1,068 Jedi knights walking our streets.

A record number of people listed themselves under the faith from the Star Wars films in last year’s census.

It followed a long-running joke campaign to poke fun at the government and undermine organised religion.

Perhaps it has worked. While telekinetic masters are on the rise, the number of Christians plummeted from 72% of residents in 2001 to 57.8% last year.

The number of people listing themselves as “no religion” almost doubled, from 16.7% of residents to 29.9%.

The Dean of Rochester, the Very Rev Mark Beach, claimed the new figure was more accurate because the question was more specific than 11 years ago.

“There are people who call themselves Christian because it’s an inherited thing,” he said:

“A lot of people want to acknowledge some kind of spiritual dimension to life but don’t actually go to church.”

But he added: “I don’t think you can divorce this from the church’s struggle with contemporary issues, by which I mean the role of women in the church and gay and lesbian people.”

However, 58% is still “more than go to a football match on Saturday”, he said, adding cathedrals like Rochester have been thriving even if churches struggle.

Elsewhere the census found the percentage of divorced people has risen from 6.9% to 9.2%.

The number of single-parent households with dependent children has also risen from 6,791 to 8,389.

And while Medway was 92.2% white British 11 years ago, last year that figure had dropped to 85.5%.

One of the biggest influxes came from Poland after the nation joined the EU in 2004. In 2001 just 123 Polish people lived in Medway - last year it was 1,731.

More on this story in the Medway Messenger on Monday.

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