2011 Anglican Statistics and Other News

As usual, there has been a lot of media interest today in the latest (2011) Statistics for Mission of the Church of England. They are always seen as something of a barometer of the spiritual state of England, and so it is appropriate that we give them a fair amount of space here, alongside five shorter items of religious statistical news.

Church of England statistics for mission, 2011

The Church of England has today released its Statistics for Mission, 2011, comprising 18 pages of tables with breaks to diocesan level and some national time series. This report (prepared by Archbishops’ Council, Research and Statistics), together with a brief press statement largely quoting the Bishop of Norwich on the more encouraging aspects of the data, can be found at:

http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2013/05/church-annual-statistics-for-2011.aspx

The short-term picture, comparing 2011 with 2010, is a mixed but largely downbeat one, which has been the story for several years past. On the credit side, the best news was the 14.5% increase in Christmas Day attendance, albeit this must be attributed in large part to the very poor weather at Christmas 2010, which negatively impacted congregations, and to the fact that Christmas Day fell on a Sunday in 2011, which probably gave them a boost. Christmas Day communicants were up by 13.3%, for the same reasons. Usual Sunday attendance grew by 0.8%, but the report ascribes this to a new estimation process for filling in gaps on the parochial schedules. Baptisms and thanksgivings were up by 4.6% in total, including by 2.6% for infant baptisms, 7.5% for baptisms of children aged 1-12, and 44.5% for thanksgivings of children.

On the debit side, there were falls in average weekly attendance (-0.3%), average Sunday attendance (-1.2%), Easter Day attendance (-1.6%), Easter Day communicants (-0.7%), electoral roll (-0.1%), confirmations (-0.5%), marriages and blessings (-3.1%), and funerals (-2.7%, although deaths in England and Wales also fell, by 1.8%, during the year). The decreases in two of the three rites of passage must be particularly disappointing for the Church, for this is an area where it has been investing resource of late and has traditionally held sway, especially over the ‘nominals’, about whom we have heard much in recent weeks. Anglican infant baptisms now account for just 12.1% of live births and Anglican funerals for 35.7% of deaths.

These are naturally national trends, which conceal some diocesan variation. For example, the average all age weekly attendance figure ranged from an increase between 2010 and 2011 of 11.0% for Southwell and Nottingham to a decrease of 10.6% in Canterbury. Will the new Archbishop make a difference in the latter see? Well, he comes from Durham, which recorded a decline of 8.0%, so it is too soon to tell.

Taking a ten-year view (2001-11), which gives a better feel for real trends, the position is summarized in the table below, which will make for rather bleak reading for the Church, even bleaker if we factor in that the mid-year population of England grew by 7.9% over the decade (invariably making the relative decline greater than suggested by the absolute numbers).

 

2001

2011

% change

Average all age weekly attendance

1,205,000

1,091,500

-9.4

Average adult weekly attendance

976,000

874,600

-10.4

Average children/young people weekly attendance

229,000

216,900

-5.3

Average all age Sunday attendance

1,041,000

898,300

-13.7

Average adult Sunday attendance

868,000

763,300

-12.1

Average children/young people Sunday attendance

173,000

134,900

-22.0

Usual all age Sunday attendance

938,000

807,500

-13.9

Usual adult Sunday attendance

781,000

690,700

-11.6

Usual children/young people Sunday attendance

157,000

116,800

-25.6

All age Easter Day attendance

1,593,100

1,365,000

-14.3

Easter Day communicants

1,134,900

979,700

-13.7

All age Christmas Day/Eve attendance

2,608,000

2,618,000

+0.4

Christmas Day/Eve communicants

1,227,900

1,008,500

-17.9

Electoral roll

1,372,000

1,206,000

-12.1

Baptisms and thanksgivings

160,200

146,330

-8.7

Confirmations

33,367

22,242

-33.3

Marriages and blessings

63,600

55,540

-12.7

Funerals

228,000

162,530

-28.7

Google ties with religion

In the latest variant of a trust in organizations survey, Google and religious institutions shared fifth equal place, 17% of Britons aged 16 and over who were interviewed reckoning that each had their best interests at heart. The 2,000 respondents were invited to rank their top three institutions from a list of sixteen. Most trusted – despite its recent high-profile failings – was the National Health Service (37%), followed by police (26%), charities (21%), and – notwithstanding the horsemeat scandal – supermarkets (19%). Least regarded as having the public’s best interests at heart were politicians (3%), the media (6%), banks (7%), and lawyers (8%) also scoring badly. These findings were released by communications agency OMD UK on 30 April 2013 as an initial output from its ongoing ‘Future of Britain’ project, in collaboration with MMR Research. The trust in organizations table is reproduced on the Sky News website at:

http://news.sky.com/story/1084991/britons-trust-google-as-much-as-religion

Religious opposition to same-sex marriage

Religious opposition to same-sex marriage in Britain is reviewed by Steven Kettell in a new article entitled ‘I Do, Thou Shalt Not’ published on 2 May 2013 in the ‘early view’ online version of Political Quarterly. Developments in Scotland are covered as well as in England and Wales. Religious arguments against same-sex marriage are analysed, the author noting how relatively little they deploy theology but rather invoke secular justifications. Some use is made of opinion poll evidence, although – inevitably for an academic journal – this is not absolutely up-to-date. Unsurprisingly, Kettell concludes that religious opposition to same-sex marriage has failed, with broader implications for religion’s public role. This is a subscription title; for access options, go to:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-923X.2013.12009.x/abstract  

Equality and Muslims

Almost three-quarters of adults (73%, rising to 81% of over-60s) think it a very or fairly big problem in Britain that Muslim girls suffer discrimination at the hands of their own families by being told when to leave school and/or whom to marry, and 26% rate it as one of the most urgent problems facing the country (35% among the 18-24s and 34% among Conservatives and the highest income earners). By contrast, only 3% consider that unfair treatment of Muslim workers by their employers is an urgent problem (bottom of a list of ten equality challenges), with 73% contending that it is either not a problem at all or a fairly small problem (and 27% that it is a very or fairly big problem). These two questions were included in a survey of equality issues undertaken by YouGov for the YouGov@Cambridge think tank, with 1,925 Britons aged 18 and over being interviewed online on 25 and 26 February 2013. The detailed tables were released on 1 May and can be found at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/9a679g3m9i/YG-Archive-Cam-equality%20results-260213.pdf

National Jewish Community Survey

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) launched the National Jewish Community Survey on 1 May, with the intention of collecting data which will complement the 2011 civilian census for ‘Jewish people living in Britain, irrespective of the nature of their Jewish identity and level of involvement in the community.’ In addition to probing Jewish identity, questions are being asked about the demographic profile and charitable behaviour of Jews. The survey, which is being funded by a consortium of Jewish community organizations and foundations, is being conducted online during May and June 2013 in association with Ipsos MORI. According to an interview given to the current issue (3 May 2013, p. 2) of the Jewish Chronicle, JPR is confident that its online methodology will not lead to under-representation of strictly Orthodox Jews ‘as Charedim have greater access to the internet than many people think’. Respondents to the survey will be recruited by invitation only, initially on a random basis, and will thus not be self-selecting. Further information about the survey is available in the FAQs posted at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/downloads/census-faqs.pdf

BRIN on BRIN

The latest BRIN site traffic statistics, kindly collated by Siobhan McAndrew, demonstrate that usage of BRIN has continued to build since the official launch of the website just over three years ago. Since that time there have been 186,000 visits to the site by 152,000 unique visitors who have viewed 422,000 pages. Judging by their IP addresses, 70% of visitors are from the United Kingdom and 11% from the United States, although 187 different countries are represented in all. The majority of visitors (65%) arrive at the BRIN website via Google, but 13% key the BRIN URL directly, and a similar proportion come as referrals from other sites (of which guardian.co.uk heads the list). The most frequently accessed blog post to date was from 21 September 2010 on ‘How Many Muslims?’ which accounts for just over 3% of all BRIN page views.

 


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