The recent census question on religion sparked some debate about the persistence of cultural Christianity. That phenomenon can be defined both at the level of the individual and in terms of national character – whether Britain remains a ‘Christian country’.
One-half of the British population seemingly still regards Britain as a Christian country and wants it to remain so, according to a ComRes poll undertaken for the campaign group Christian Concern and published on 8 April.
Fieldwork was conducted by telephone between 18 and 20 March 2011 among a representative sample of 1,002 adults aged 18 and over. The data tables are available at:
Asked whether it was preferable for Britain to be regarded as a Christian rather than an atheistic country, 52% agreed, 37% disagreed and 11% expressed no opinion.
Views varied considerably by age. Whereas among the 18-24s only 20% agreed and 67% disagreed, among the over-65s the figures were 72% and 19% respectively.
Social class also made a difference, the top (AB) social group recording a margin of just 8% in favour of a Christian country (49% versus 41%) while among the DEs those in agreement outnumbered dissentients by two to one (62% against 29%).
Respondents were then faced with the statement ‘It does not matter whether or not Britain remains a Christian country in terms of its legal and cultural heritage’. 48% disagreed, 43% agreed and 9% were undecided.
Demographic variations were not quite as marked as for the first statement, but there was still some age effect. Those in disagreement peaked at 55-56% among the 35-44s and over-55s, with 60% of 18-24s and 55% of 25-34s agreeing that it did not matter whether Britain remained a Christian country.
Interviewees were not asked on this occasion whether Britain could actually be described as a Christian country, but this question was put in an earlier ComRes/Christian Concern poll on 26-29 November 2010. 50% then replied in the affirmative and 47% in the negative. See our previous post at: http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/?p=804
The four remaining statements in this year’s survey dealt with public attitudes to equality legislation. These were informed by the recent High Court case involving Owen and Eunice Johns, Christian foster-carers from Derby who hold that homosexual activity is morally wrong.