Religious prejudice may be diminishing, and community cohesion increasing, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Citizenship Survey, released on 13 January.
The data relate to April-September 2010, the first two quarters of the 2010-11 Citizenship Survey, which is being run by Ipsos MORI and TNS-BMRB. During the course of the twelve months, face-to-face interviews will be conducted with a representative core sample of 10,000 adults aged 16 and over in England and Wales, together with an ethnic minority boost of 5,000 and a Muslim boost of 1,200.
The proportion in England and Wales believing that there is more religious prejudice than five years ago has dropped from 52% in 2008-09 to 46% in 2009-10 to 42% in April-September 2010. Surprisingly, ethnic minority groups were more positive than whites, the former recording figures of 44%, 36% and 31% respectively, and the latter 53%, 47% and 43%.
Similarly, the proportion in England thinking that people from differing backgrounds in their local area get on well together has risen from 80% in 2003 to 85% in 2010. Those with no religion were least likely to take this view (82%) and Sikhs the most (92%). The figure for Christians was 86%, with 84% for Buddhists, 89% for Hindus and 91% for Muslims.
Notwithstanding this encouraging news, the numbers in England mixing regularly (at least once a month) with people from different ethnic or religious backgrounds has been stable since 2007-08, at about four-fifths.
Christians (78%) were least prone to mix and Sikhs (96%) the most, followed by Muslims on 95% and Hindus and Buddhists on 94%. Overall, 15% of all such mixing occurred at a place of worship, but this was significantly higher for Sikhs (48%), Muslims (46%) and Hindus (40%).
An additional caveat is that, whereas only 7% of all respondents in England considered racial or religious harassment to be a very or fairly big problem in their local area, twice this number of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs were of this opinion.
Other religion-related findings from this latest release include:
- Christians in England felt least able to influence decisions affecting their local area, 37% compared with 38% of those with no religion, 40% of Sikhs, 44% of Muslims, 45% of Hindus and 58% of Buddhists.
- Christians in England also felt least able to influence decisions affecting Britain, 20% against 23% of those with no religion, 32% of Muslims and Sikhs, 34% of Hindus and 49% of Buddhists.
- Christians in England were more likely to participate in civic engagement and formal volunteering at least once a year, at 57% (although the proportion is dropping from previous surveys). Those without religion were the next most active (55%), followed by Buddhists (50%), Sikhs (48%), Hindus (47%) and Muslims (43%).
- 88% of all adults in England said they belonged strongly to Britain. This was also the figure for Christians and those with no religion. Sikhs (94%) and Hindus and Muslims (90% each) claimed an above-average attachment to the country.
- 97% in England and Wales denounced violence in the name of religion, up by 2% over 2009-10.
The DCLG release may be consulted at: