The following three news items have reached BRIN’s in-tray during the past few days:
London church census
A census of attendance of Greater London’s churches took place on 14 October 2012 (chosen as an ‘average’ Sunday). Commissioned by the London City Mission, it was organized by Dr Peter Brierley (of Brierley Consultancy), who, as Executive Director of Christian Research and in previous capacities, was responsible for the four English church censuses undertaken between 1979 and 2005. Following circulation of initial publicity in June, he contacted the leaders of London’s estimated 4,900 churches (well up on the 4,100 which existed in 2005) in September, inviting them to complete a two-page questionnaire about their place of worship and to return it by prepaid post or email. They were encouraged to distribute self-completion slips to each member of their congregation on census day to gather the data requested about the age, gender, ethnicity, frequency of churchgoing, length of churchgoing, and distance travelled to church. In addition to attendance statistics, a wide range of other information was sought in the questionnaire, such as about church buildings, plants, mid-week services, and employees. Reminders have recently been sent to non-respondents, including those who (through Royal Mail’s oversight) failed to receive their original mailing, so it is too early to say anything about the overall response rate. A report on the census is expected to appear in April 2013. Meanwhile, thanks are due to Dr Brierley for briefing BRIN about the census. The questionnaire and accompanying instructions for completion can still be viewed online at:
State school admissions
Almost three-quarters (73%) of adults agree (two-thirds of them strongly) that state-funded schools, including state-funded faith schools, should not be allowed to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds in their admissions policy. Responses vary little by demographic sub-groups, apart from in Scotland where the relatively high figure of 80% perhaps reflects ongoing sensitivities about the presence and practice of Roman Catholic schools in the Scottish state sector. The proportion in disagreement with the proposition is 18%, with 9% undecided. The findings are especially topical in the light of today’s dismissal by the High Court of a judicial review of Richmond-upon-Thames council’s decision to approve two new state-funded Catholic schools with selection based on religion, wholly in one case and substantially in the other. The unsuccessful legal challenge had been mounted by the British Humanist Association and Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign.
Source: Online survey by ComRes of 2,008 Britons aged 18 and over on 2-4 November 2012, undertaken on behalf of the Accord Coalition. The Coalition campaigns against religious discrimination and indoctrination in schools, and it particularly seeks closure of the loophole in equality legislation which enables faith schools to operate an admissions policy which discriminates against children for religious reasons. Full results of the poll were published on 12 November 2012 and are available at:
‘Religious causes’ (including churches, mosques, and synagogues) attracted the largest charitable donations by individuals in Britain in 2011/12, with a median amount given of £20 per month, up by £5 from 2010/11 and twice the median for all charitable purposes. Religious organizations received 17% of all money donated to charities in 2011/12 (a 3% increase since 2004/05), greater even than medical research (15%), hospitals (15%), children or young people (11%), and overseas (10%). Although the proportion of donors giving to religious causes was less (14%), and eclipsed by medical research (33%), hospitals (30%), children (23%) and even animals (16%), it had risen since 2009/10 (12%) and 2010/11 (13%), resuming its level of 2007/08 and 2008/09.
Source: Face-to-face interviews with 3,319 Britons aged 16 and over via the Office for National Statistics omnibus in June and October 2011 and February 2012. Despite references to the UK, Northern Ireland was not surveyed. Summarized in Joy Dobbs, Véronique Jochum, Karl Wilding, Malcolm Smith, and Richard Harrison, UK Giving, 2012: An Overview of Charitable Giving in the UK, 2011/12, published on 13 November 2012 by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Charities Aid Foundation, and available at: