Coronation Service and Other News

 

Coronation service

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has just become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, so it has been a considerable time (1953) since there has been a coronation in Britain. But already thoughts are beginning to turn to what shape the coronation service for the next monarch should take and, specifically, whether it should retain an exclusively Christian character, given the extent of religious pluralism and secularization in the country. The latest report from the Theos think tank, Who Wants a Christian Coronation? by Nick Spencer and Nicholas Dixon, throws considerable light on this matter and contains, in chapter 2 (pp. 20-30), a summary of the findings of an exclusive ComRes poll for Theos, undertaken online on 10-12 June 2015 among 2,159 adult Britons, including a booster sample of religious minorities. The report can be read at:   

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Reports/Next%20Coronation%20version%208.pdf

The full data tables from the poll, giving breaks by gender, age, social grade, employment sector, region, working status, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and attendance at religious services, can be found at:

http://comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Theos_-Coronation-Poll-_-Data-Tables.pdf 

A summary break by religious affiliation for eight statements about the coronation of the next monarch and one question about the retention of the monarchy is tabulated below. It will be seen that (a) majorities in all principal religious groups favour keeping the monarchy; and (b) notwithstanding a minority preference for a multifaith or secular ceremony (or abolishing the coronation altogether), even many non-Christians and religious nones seem comfortable with the next coronation continuing to be a Christian ceremony, with no more than approximately one-quarter of each group saying they would feel alienated by it. Theos interprets the data as a vindication of keeping the core framework of the coronation while changing some elements to reflect the religiously pluralistic nature of British society. 

% down

All Britons

Christians

Non-Christians

Nones

Having a Christian coronation would alienate non-Christians from ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

19

13

29

27

Disagree

57

67

51

43

Having a Christian coronation would alienate people of no religion from ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

18

12

26

25

Disagree

60

70

53

47

Having a Christian coronation would alienate me from ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

12

6

22

18

Disagree

70

81

57

56

Coronation of next monarch should be multi-faith ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

19

17

33

19

Disagree

56

63

37

49

Coronation of next monarch should be Christian ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

57

73

46

35

Disagree

18

9

29

29

Coronation of next monarch should be secular ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

23

20

29

26

Disagree

38

44

35

29

Coronation pointless pageantry and should be abolished

 

 

 

 

Agree

21

13

32

30

Disagree

62

74

51

47

Coronation symbolic centre of British law and should not be modified

 

 

 

 

Agree

63

75

51

47

Disagree

16

10

25

24

Should Britain remain monarchy or become republic?

 

 

 

 

Monarchy

70

79

60

58

Republic

17

11

21

26

Sunday trading

Notwithstanding Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s enthusiasm to see shopping opportunities on Sunday extended, the British public seems to remain broadly content with the current legislation on Sunday trading in England and Wales, which allows large shops to open for up to six hours. This is according to a ComRes poll for the Association of Convenience Stores (which opposes further liberalization of the law), which was eventually published in full on 10 September 2015, and for which 1,004 adults were interviewed by telephone on 13-15 February 2015. Three-quarters (76%) said that they supported the status quo, including 86% of 35-44s and of residents in Scotland (to which the Sunday Trading Act 1994 does not apply). One-fifth (21%) did not endorse the existing arrangements, of whom 60% favoured no or reduced Sunday opening of shops and only 39% (ie just 8% of the whole sample) total or greater deregulation. These findings are somewhat at variance with those of a YouGov survey reported by BRIN on 11 July 2015, which revealed greater pressure for liberalization, reflecting how question-wording can ‘influence’ the outcome of polling on contentious matters. The ComRes data tables are at:  

http://comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/ACS_Public-Sunday-Trading-Tables_16-February-2015.pdf

Funerals

The once religious monopoly over funerals continues to be eroded, according to Funeral Trends, 2015: The Ways We Say Goodbye Media Report which was published by Co-Operative Funeralcare on 8 September 2015. The ‘destination funeral’ is apparently beginning to take off, with 49% of Co-Operative funeral directors contacted in July-August 2015 returning that they had arranged at least one funeral outside a religious setting (church or crematorium chapel) during the previous year. Although 51% of 2,000 UK adults interviewed online by ICM Unlimited for the Co-Operative in July 2015 did not realize that it is possible to hold a funeral outside a religious setting, 37% liked the idea of their own loved ones being able to pay tribute to them in a place which was personal to them, a lake, river, or countryside being most popular. There is also a trend for funerals to become less sombre affairs, with the emphasis switching to a celebration of life (47% of adults wanting this approach for their own funerals), and the traditional wake often taking on more of a party atmosphere. The report is available at:  

http://www.co-operative.coop/PageFiles/989444257/Ways%20We%20Say%20Goodbye%20FINAL.pdf 

British traditions

Churchgoing is one of the British traditions in danger of dying out, according to a new survey commissioned by British Corner Shop, which was published on 11 September 2015. Some 44% of the 2,000 adults interviewed said that going to church on Sunday was old-fashioned, the victim of people’s ‘busyness’ (46%) and the effects of multiculturalism (40%). Wearing Sunday best and attending a harvest festival were perceived as other traditions on their way out. There is no press release, as yet, on British Corner Shop’s website, but reports of the study have appeared in some newspapers, including on the Mirror website at: 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/writing-letters-pen-leaving-door-6426987

This is by no means the first survey of the persistence of British traditions. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Gallup Poll undertook a series of enquiries into things which were deemed to be in or out of fashion. In three of the four studies about churchgoing between 1988 and 1991 two-thirds of adults said that it was already out of fashion, with only one-fifth thinking it still fashionable at that time. 

Organ donation

Almost half (48%) of regular churchgoers in the UK claim to have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register compared with 31% of the general population. This is according to a survey released by the fleshandblood campaign on 7 September 2015 to mark this year’s National Transplant Week. For the study over 2,000 regular churchgoers and church leaders were interviewed by Christian Research as part of its online Resonate panel. An even larger proportion of churchgoers (73%) agreed that organ donation is or could be considered a part of their Christian giving. However, organ donation is still not a subject which is heavily promoted by churches, with just 11% of the sample reporting that they had heard the topic raised from the pulpit. As is usual with Resonate polling, no details of methodology and results have yet appeared on Christian Research’s own website, a generic matter which BRIN has taken up with Christian Research, while the fleshandblood press release is very thin at: 

http://fleshandblood.org/2015/09/churches-engage-with-organ-donation-this-transplant-week/

Welsh religion data

The UK Data Service released on 1 September 2015, as SN 7780 and SN 7779 respectively, the datasets for the Welsh Referendum Study, February-March 2011 (on greater devolution for Wales) and the Welsh Election Study, April-May 2011 (on elections for the National Assembly for Wales). Both were two-wave (pre- and post-vote) panel studies conducted online by YouGov among quota samples of Welsh electors. The main focus of the questionnaires was inevitably political, but a very small amount of religion-related information was collected, which, given the relative paucity of Welsh religious data, is worth noting. The pre-vote questionnaire for the Welsh Referendum Study (n = 3,029) asked about religious affiliation while the post-vote version (n = 2,569) invited respondents to choose from a list of attributes to describe themselves, including Catholic or Protestant and religious or not religious. The pre-vote questionnaire for the Welsh Election Study (n = 2,359) enquired about favourability toward Muslims and other groups on a scale of 0-10. 

Syria drone strike

Two-thirds of the British public endorse Prime Minister David Cameron’s authorization of a drone strike in Syria which recently killed two British citizens who were fighting for Islamic State and apparently plotting terror attacks in the UK. Approval was highest among Conservative and UKIP voters, 85% and 82% respectively, but even three-fifths of Labourites and Liberal Democrats were in favour. Overall, only 11% of voters opposed Cameron’s action. The survey was conducted by YouGov among an online sample of 9,696 UK adults on 7-8 September 2015, and the results reported in a YouGov blog post at:  

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/09/08/public-approval-syria-drone-attacks/

Jewish community statistics

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews announced on 1 September 2015 that they have reached agreement for JPR to take over from the Board responsibility for the collection of Jewish community statistics, including those of births, marriages, deaths, synagogue membership, and enrolment at Jewish schools. JPR has expanded its research team to take on the additional work. In effect, this development brings under one roof the principal research by and into the Jewish community in the UK. For a press release, see: 

http://www.bod.org.uk/board-of-deputies-and-jpr-forge-new-alliance/

 


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