Respect for Clergy and Other News

Herewith some news stories about British religious statistics which have come to hand during the past fortnight; they are arranged in order of release date.

Evangelicals and Money

Evangelical Christians are not immune from the economic downturn, with 15% feeling their absolute income has dropped considerably and a further 24% slightly during the last three years. Taking inflation into account, one-fifth contends their income has fallen a lot behind the cost of living and one-half a little below. One-fifth also has a household income of under £20,000 (against 54% with between £20,000 and £50,000, and 25% with more than £50,000). 7% have no savings at all and 18% have less than £1,000 in savings. 43% try to find a bargain whenever possible, and 28% use charity shops frequently because they are cheaper. In the past, 56% have turned to family and friends to borrow money, 25% have received financial help from their church or another Christian, and 11% have been refused credit or a loan after a credit check. 42% currently have some form of debt, although only 3% are concerned about it. 12% sometimes find themselves asking God for more money. At the same time, 63% of evangelicals believe in tithing (and more so among the over-55s), with 14% being the estimated proportion of their income (after tax) which is given away to the church and to Christian and charitable causes.

Source: Online questionnaires completed, in May 2012, by 1,237 members of the Evangelical Alliance’s self-selecting research panel of UK evangelical Christians, a response rate of 43%. A 20-page report, Does Money Matter?, was published by the Alliance on 10 September 2012 in its 21st Century Evangelicals series. It is available at:

http://eauk.org/church/resources/snapshot/upload/does-money-matter-lower.pdf

Respect for Clergy

Ministers and priests enjoy a lower standing in Britain than in Canada or the United States. Whereas 76% of Americans and 66% of Canadians have a great deal or a fair amount of respect for the clergy, the same is true of only 54% of Brits (marginally down on two previous polls, 57% in August 2009 and 56% in July 2010). Of 25 professions evaluated, ministers and priests ranked joint sixteenth (with actors and artists) in Britain, well behind nurses (93%), doctors (90%), scientists (88%), and engineers and veterinarians (both on 86%). Still, at least the men and women of the cloth outperformed journalists (20%), bankers and politicians (each on 15%), and car salesmen (14%), whose reputations really are in tatters.

Source: Online interview with 2,010 adult Britons on Angus Reid Public Opinion’s Springboard UK panel on 30 and 31 August 2012. Press release, with topline findings only for all three countries, published on 2 October 2012 and available at:

http://www.angus-reid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2012.10.02_Professions.pdf

Current Issues in the Church of England

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Anglican churchgoers rate the performance of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury more highly than practising Christians as a whole. Three-fifths think that he has been a good leader of the Church of England (against 44% of all churchgoers); 48% of Anglicans say Williams has been clear in telling people what he believes and why (versus 37% of all churchgoers, with 41% disagreeing); and 49% against 38% respectively regard him as having helped the Church of England to remain relevant in modern Britain. Anglicans are also more likely than all churchgoers to support women bishops in the Church of England (74% compared with 57%, with 66% of Catholics opposed), 38% of Anglicans being poised to take a less favourable view of the Church if it fails to move in this direction.

Source: Online interview with 510 UK adult churchgoers via the ComRes Cpanel between 14 and 28 September 2012. Full data tables, published on 5 October, available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ComRes_Women_Bishops_Oct2012.pdf

Identical questions were put by ComRes to a general population sample of 2,594 adults aged 18 and over in England between 24 August and 9 September 2012. The results have already been summarized by BRIN at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/september-snippets/ and

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/rating-rowan-williams-and-other-new-sources/

Pastoral Research Centre

The Pastoral Research Centre (PRC), an independent trust for applied socio-religious research, and focused primarily on the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, launched a website on 9 October 2012. Current content includes a potted history of both the PRC and its predecessor organization, the Newman Demographic Survey (which was established in 1953). There is also a brief description of the PRC’s Newman Collection (comprising archival and library material), much of which will eventually go to Durham University. Details of PRC publications (mostly with a statistical bent) will be added in due course. The site is at:

http://www.prct.org.uk/

Joking Apart

Although churchgoing Christians in the UK are mostly supportive of freedom of expression at the level of principle, significant numbers apparently hold ambivalent or contradictory positions in practice. On the one hand, 74% agree that freedom of expression should not be curbed even if it offends those with deeply-held religious convictions; 76% praise tolerance in the face of aggressive anti-religious attacks; and 69% accept that ‘strong anti-Christian opinion provided opportunities to exchange ideas’. On the other, 61% believe that UK Christians are too tolerant of anti-Christian expression; 40% are unhappy with the portrayal of the Christian faith in the media or popular culture; and the reinstatement of the offence of common law blasphemy or blasphemous libel is opposed by just two-fifths. In the wake of the international controversy surrounding the Innocence of Muslims film, 84% are willing to defend believers of another faith from anti-religious sentiment even though they personally disagree with the basis of that faith; 34% think that the film should not have been allowed to enter the public domain.

Source: Online survey of 2,100 churchgoing Christians via Christian Research’s panel, Resonate. Fieldwork apparently took place in September 2012, following the furore over Innocence of Muslims. The foregoing topline data have been abstracted from reports in the Daily Telegraph, 10 October 2012 and on the Christian Today website. The full data have yet to be released by Christian Research.

Heritage at Risk

A higher proportion of England’s religious heritage assets appear to be at risk than is the case with any other type. Some 17.4% of places of worship appearing on the national listed buildings register and which have been surveyed to date (the work is incomplete) have been designated as at risk by English Heritage. This compares with 16.6% of scheduled monuments, 14.0% of registered battlefields, 8.7% of protected wreck sites, 6.6% of conservation areas, 6.1% of registered parks and gardens, and 3.0% of all grade I and grade II* listed buildings.

Source: Summary report of the Heritage at Risk, 2012 survey, published by English Heritage on 12 October 2012, and available at:

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/har-2012-national-summary/HAR-2012-national-summary.pdf/

 


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