The national Census publishes data on religion and belief at local and national levels, which is considered the most reliable. The data regarding religion does not attempt to collect detailed information about the nature of their belief or the extent to which people practice their religion; it only asks which group an individual identifies themselves as belonging to.
The survey updates every 10 years with the most recent Census being 2011 and the one prior being 2001. In Bolton, between 2001 and 2011 there has been a decrease in people who identify as Christian (from 74.6 percent to 62.7 percent) and an increase in those reporting no religion (from 8.7 percent to 17.2 percent). There were increases in the other main religious group categories, with the number of Muslims increasing the most (from 7.1 percent to 11.7 percent). All shifts regarding religion follow a similar pattern to what is seen at both national and regional level.
When broken down by Ward, Rumworth, Great Lever, Halliwell and Crompton, were the most diverse areas with the highest proportion of people identifying themselves as Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. Bradshaw, Bromley Cross and Westhoughton North and Chew Moor had the highest proportion of Christians, with Breightmet and Farnworth having the highest proportion of people reporting no religion.