A rather improbable 53% of Britons claim they will be observing Christmas as a religious festival in some way this year, 2% more than actually affiliate as Christians, according to an opinion poll published today (23 December 2011).
Fieldwork was undertaken online by ComRes on behalf of Christian Research between 9 and 11 December 2011. The sample comprised 2,009 British adults aged 18 and over. The data tables are available at:
Abbie Heath has also blogged about the survey on the Christian Research website at:
Respondents were given a list of nine forms of Christmas religious observance and asked which of them they intended to do this Christmas. In descending order, the answers were:
- Watch or listen to a broadcast Christmas service – 27%
- Send a religious-themed Christmas card – 22%
- Attend a carol service – 19%
- Attend a nativity play – 16%
- Pray – 15%
- Attend a church service on Christmas Eve – 14%
- Attend a church service on Christmas Day – 7%
- Go carol-singing – 6%
- Read the Bible – 6%
Predictably, Christians expected to be far more observant than non-Christians. Women were also planning to be more religiously active than men, the elderly more than the young (although the peak for frequenting nativity plays was 25% among the 35-44s), and – less consistently – the top social group (ABs) than the bottom one (DEs).
The 47% of the population who thought they would do none of these things were especially located among non-Christians (72%), 18-24s (62%), private-sector workers (54%), skilled manual employees (54%), and men (53%).
For 24% of adults (31% of Christians) the consumerist and commercial emphasis surrounding Christmas had supposedly made them more likely to think about ‘faith-based moral values’. But most (69%) said that they had been unaffected in this way.
It was a similar story when six other experiences of 2011 were raised. Only about one-quarter claimed they had prompted their mind to turn to ‘faith-based moral values’, rising to one-third for Christians and the over-65s.
The experiences concerned were: the summer riots; global financial instability; potential job insecurity; the Arab uprisings; personal circumstances; and the Occupy London protest (which triggered moral thoughts for just 19%).
Reviewing the past year more generally, Christians did not differ hugely from non-Christians in their assessments. There was most negativity about the state of world affairs (60% among Christians) and of British society (56% with Christians).
Looking ahead to 2012, Christians scored more highly than non-Christians on each of six measures of anticipated social activism. Nevertheless, only 34% of Christians said they would look out for the welfare of their neighbours and 30% donate regularly to charity.
The largest numbers of Christians were found among the over-55s (69%), the ABs (58%), public-sector workers (57%), and women (53%). The biggest concentration of non-Christians was in the 18-24 cohort (69%).
This will probably be the last news post on BRIN before Christmas, but we will be back soon afterwards. Whatever your faith, or none, the BRIN team extends our warmest seasonal greetings to all users of our site.