Prayer and Other News

Today’s post features eight religious statistical news stories, leading on an analysis by BRIN of the answers to one of the questions in the latest round of the European Social Survey, whose results have just been released.

Prayer

Data from Round 6 (2012) of the European Social Survey (ESS) have recently been released for most of the 30 participating countries and can be accessed at http://nesstar.ess.nsd.uib.no. UK fieldwork was undertaken by Ipsos MORI through face-to-face interviews with 2,286 adults aged 15 and over between 1 September 2012 and 7 February 2013. The standard short battery of ESS religion questions was included in the schedule: self-assessed religiosity, current and former religious affiliation, churchgoing, private prayer, and experience of religious discrimination. Trend statistics (weighted) for the claimed frequency of private prayer (i.e. apart from during religious services) in the UK appear below (figures in percentages):

 

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

Every day

19.1

18.6

18.1

17.9

17.5

17.6

More than once a week

6.9

9.2

7.5

6.4

5.3

6.9

Once a week

5.2

5.0

5.3

5.2

5.0

7.0

At least once a month

6.1

6.0

5.8

6.0

5.7

5.3

Only on special holy days

2.1

2.5

1.4

1.9

2.2

1.9

Less often

16.9

16.7

15.7

14.8

15.9

14.5

Never

43.8

42.1

46.3

47.7

48.4

46.8

As ever with sample surveys, there are some fluctuations in results between surveys. Nevertheless, comparing 2012 with 2002, it will be seen that the proportion of UK citizens claiming to pray once a week or more has stayed the same (31.2% in 2002, 31.5% in 2012), although the number never praying has risen by three percentage points over the decade and is well in excess of the European average in 2012 (37.9%). In 2012 the UK ranked ninth of 24 countries in terms of percentage of the population never praying, as shown in the following table.

Czech Republic

70.5

Germany

36.9

Denmark

58.2

Russian Federation

36.4

Estonia

57.3

Iceland

33.2

Netherlands

55.3

Switzerland

32.9

Sweden

55.3

Finland

32.6

Belgium

53.9

Portugal

23.9

Norway

52.0

Bulgaria

23.9

Slovenia

47.3

Slovakia

22.7

United Kingdom

46.8

Kosovo

15.4

Hungary

41.3

Ireland

14.2

Spain

40.0

Poland

10.8

Israel

38.6

Cyprus

4.8

Faith tourism in Wales

A Wales Faith Tourism Action Plan was launched at St Asaph’s Cathedral by the Welsh Government on 25 October 2013 as part of its long-term strategy to boost tourism. The plan’s 2020 vision is ‘to exploit the full potential of Wales’ places of worship for the visitor economy and to exploit the visitor economy for the purpose of sustaining Wales’ places of worship’. It aims to build upon the existing contribution which places of worship make to Welsh tourism. In 2011 (the last year for which data are available) St David’s Cathedral was the seventh most popular free visitor attraction in Wales. According to Visit Wales, the top five places of worship in that year in terms of visitor numbers were:

St David’s Cathedral

262,000

Norwegian Church, Cardiff

149,000

Brecon Cathedral

120,000

Tintern Abbey

70,000

Llandaff Cathedral

40,000

During 2012 visitors from the UK spent an estimated £12 million while visiting cathedrals, churches, and other religious sites in Wales. More details about the initiative can be found at:

http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/tourism/2013/8125137/?lang=en

Barristers on the veil

The majority of barristers (57%) favours a ban on defendants wearing the full face-veil or niqab during the whole of a criminal trial, and a further 34% support a ban when the defendant is giving evidence. This is according to a single question online poll of members of the Bar Council conducted during October 2013 on behalf of The Times, and summarized by Frances Gibb, the newspaper’s legal editor, in an article in The Times for 2 November 2013 (available online to subscribers). Over 400 barristers responded via Survey Monkey. The poll has been triggered by the public debate about the case of a Muslim defendant who had insisted on wearing the niqab in court but who had been told by the judge she must remove it when giving evidence.

Bonfire Night

The chairman of the Edinburgh Secular Society recently called for a purely secular alternative to Bonfire Night on 5 November, to rid it of its anti-Catholic overtones, arguing that the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes or even the Pope was an offensive way to connect to the failed plot by Catholic conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. In response, a spokesperson for the Free Church of Scotland branded the secularists as ‘the puritanical killjoys of the 21st century’.

In practice, the tradition has long since moved on, and the effigies burned on bonfires are no longer just of individuals associated with the Gunpowder Plot but can be of any living public figures or celebrities who are disliked. This year a Kent bonfire society gained widespread publicity for choosing Katie Hopkins, former contestant in The Apprentice, as its annual ‘guy’, to be burned in effigy.

According to a YouGov poll, conducted online on 3-4 November 2013 among a sample of 1,747 Britons, the public is evenly divided (43% each way) on whether it is acceptable or unacceptable to burn well-known people in effigy on bonfires on or around 5 November. Men (55%) are far more likely to find it acceptable than women (31%). Somewhat fewer adults (28%) deemed it acceptable to burn an effigy of Hopkins. As for Bonfire Night itself, 24% anticipated they would be celebrating it this year, while, in a separate YouGov poll on 30-31 October, 45% said they preferred Guy Fawkes Night to Halloween, with only 13% preferring Halloween. The Bonfire Night tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/sz92wiohpx/YG-Archive-131104-Bonfire-Night.pdf

Christmas carols

BRIN has tried to spare you Christmas stories for as long as possible this year, but we cannot hold out indefinitely! Especially since there are only six full weeks to go before the festivities. Our seasonal coverage opens with news from OnePoll, published on 4 November 2013, that its latest online survey of adults aged 18 and over has confirmed Silent Night as the nation’s favourite Christmas carol, taking 59% of the vote. The carols in second to fifth positions were: O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Away in a Manger. A majority (62%) of the sample said they would open their door to Christmas carollers. OnePoll also found that 23% of people who celebrate Christmas go and see a nativity play, and that 55% admit to having performed themselves in Christmas ‘shows’, three-quarters of which were nativity plays. The press release is at:

http://www.onepoll.com/fairytale-of-new-york-is-top-favourite-christmas-song/

Adoption

To mark the start of National Adoption Week, on 4 November 2013 First4Adoption launched a campaign to increase the number of adopters in England, working in partnership with Home for Good, a Christian agency which aims to make adoption and fostering a significant part of church life. The campaign is targeting faith communities, among others, on the basis of survey data gathered by Kindred and Work Research on behalf of the Department for Education. The research, which was quietly published earlier in the year, is being newly promoted to help underpin the campaign. It comprised both qualitative and quantitative interviews, the latter conducted online among a sample of 4,948 English adults aged 18-65 between 30 November and 5 December 2012. Quotas were set for age, gender, and region to ensure that a national cross-section was achieved. The survey revealed that among the demographic groups most predisposed to adopt or foster children were: a) the 31% of people who claim actively to practice their religion, whatever it is; and b) the 5% who profess to be Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, or Sikhs. In fact, 55% of those who said they were certain or very likely to adopt a child described themselves as actively practising their religion. This was seen by the researchers as part of a wider association between predisposition to adopt and ‘an altruistic streak’. The survey has been partially reported at:

http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/families/adoption/a00223862/adopter-recruitment

Catholics polled on family life

In preparation for the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, to be held at the Vatican on 5-19 October 2014, the Roman Catholic Church is consulting the global faithful about family life. It has drawn up a 40-question survey instrument covering the following ten areas:

  • Diffusion of the teachings on the family in scripture and the Church’s magisterium
  • Place of marriage according to natural law
  • Pastoral care of the family in evangelization
  • Pastoral care in difficult marital situations
  • Same-sex unions
  • Education of children in ‘irregular’ marriages
  • Openness of married couples to life issues (including contraception)
  • Relationship between the family and the person
  • Other challenges and proposals
  • Further comments

It is hard to be charitable about the design of the questionnaire, whose content lacks any kind of social scientific rigour. The questions are all of the open variety, calling for free text responses, and with no pre-set reply codes. They are mostly expressed in complicated language, with an excess of ecclesiastical jargon, and are sometimes ‘leading’. The short demographics section is very deficient and does not even ask for the respondent’s gender. On these various counts, as well as because all respondents will be entirely self-selecting, it is unlikely that any useful (or at least representative) statistics will emerge from the survey.

Presumably, however, it was not the Vatican’s intention to engage in grass-roots-led and evidence-based development of doctrine and policy. As Archbishop Bruno Forte, Secretary of the Extraordinary Synod, has clearly explained: ‘The Synod does not have to decide on the basis of the majority of public opinion’.

All the national bishops’ conferences have been asked to disseminate the survey. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has chosen to do so by making the questionnaire available online, with an option to complete it via Survey Monkey (with no obvious safeguards against misuse). Apparently, there is also to be a printed version in The Universe, a Catholic weekly. The closing date for responses is 30 November 2013.

According to James Bone, Vatican correspondent of The Times writing in that newspaper on 6 November 2013 (‘Vatican Survey Gives Catholics Chance to Question Their Faith’), the Vatican has been somewhat put out by the exercise in ‘direct democracy’ on the part of the English and Welsh bishops.

For more information, go to:

http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/Home/Featured/Synod-of-Bishops-on-the-Family-2014

Christian Research’s new website

Christian Research has recently launched a new website at:

http://www.christian-research.org/

The public domain pages on the site seem mainly concerned to promote Christian Research’s consultancy services, including the potential of its online panel of some 12,000 churchgoers and church leaders (Resonate). At this stage at least, the public pages do not contain much actual research data, and certainly no substantive details of published Resonate polls, although copies of a few past publications by Christian Research are advertised for sale.

The Religious Trends section of the website can only be accessed by those paying an annual membership fee to Christian Research. The section replaces the printed edition of Religious Trends, the seventh and last edition of which was published as far back as 2008. The online version of Religious Trends remains remarkably thin and not particularly current. Indeed, in terms of content, it seems to have moved on very little from the launch version which we covered on BRIN in our post of 6 January 2011. There are sub-sections on: introduction; the world and its religions; UK church overview; Anglicans UK; other UK Churches; the Bible; and other research reports.

As it currently stands, Christian Research’s Religious Trends online compares unfavourably with Dr Peter Brierley’s research outputs, in FutureFirst and UK Church Statistics, the second edition of which will be out next year. As the former director of Christian Research, Brierley was responsible for all the print editions of Religious Trends and much else besides.

 

 


British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

This entry was posted in Historical studies, News from religious organisations, Religion in public debate, Religion in the Press, Survey news and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.