Just a fortnight after its last batch of questions on religion, the Sunday Times has taken advantage of its Easter Day publication to include another module in its weekly online omnibus poll conducted by YouGov. On this occasion, 1,918 Britons aged 18 and over were interviewed on 27 and 28 March 2013. Headline findings are shown below, with full data tables available at:
Dipesh Gadher has an article about the poll (‘Out-of-Touch Church Gets Public Warning’) in the print edition of today’s newspaper (p. 20 of the main section). This mentions that a similar poll was conducted for the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, among an Irish sample, but BRIN has yet to see this.
Importance of religion
31% say that religion is important in their own lives, and this is especially true of the over-60s (42%), Londoners (41%), and Christians (68%, with 82% for Catholics alone). The majority (66%) admits that religion is not important, the middle-aged (40-59 years) being particularly likely to say so (71%).
Generational change in religiosity
39% of respondents assess that they are less religious than their parents are or were, the number being highest among Liberal Democrat voters (46%), and among the over-60s and Scots (44% in each case). 10% feel they are more religious than their parents, including 15% of the 18-24s and Londoners, and 19% of Christians. Apart from the 10% who did not give an explicit answer, the remainder see themselves as equally religious (15%) or equally irreligious (27%) as their parents.
38% say they believe there is a God, disproportionately women (44%, against 32% of men), over-60s (48%, compared with 29% of 18-24s), and Christians (77%, including 86% of Catholics). A further 21% do not believe in a God but do believe there is some sort of spiritual higher power, while 30% do not believe in either, and 11% are uncertain what to think.
30% accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (36% of women, 39% of over-60s, and 66% of Christians or 81% for Catholics alone). 39% think that He was probably not the Son of God but was nevertheless a real historical religious leader, leaving 13% who doubt His existence (23% of 18-24s, 18% of men, and even 2% of Christians) and 18% who hold other views or none at all.
Under one-third (31%) believe that Christ came back to life after His crucifixion, ranging by age from 19% of 18-24s to 42% of over-60s, with 68% for all Christians and 84% for Catholics. A plurality (47%) does not appear to believe in the Resurrection, becoming a majority among 18-24s (58%), men (56%) and Conservative voters (54%), with 22% undecided. A minority of Christians disbelieve – 16%, being 20% for Anglicans and 11% for Catholics. Believers in the Resurrection are much reduced from polls in the 1990s and 2000s, when the proportion averaged one-half.
Apart from the rites of passage, 7% claim to attend a place of worship on a weekly basis (but 10% in London and among the over-60s and 18% for Christians) and a further 6% at least monthly. 29% say they go less frequently and 55% never, the latter figure being highest in Scotland (61%) and the Midlands and Wales(60%) and lowest for Christians (19%, particularly Catholics on 13%).
A religious country?
Only 29% consider that Britain can still be deemed a religious country, of whom one-quarter (7% overall but 13% of 18-24s and 11% of Scots) regard this as a bad thing. 16% assess that Britain is no longer a religious country and welcome the fact, including 22% of the 25-39 age cohort. 26% say that Britain is no longer religious but regret it, rising to 43% of prospective UKIP voters, 42% of Christians, and 39% of over-60s. 28% give other answers or none at all.
Trust in clergy
54% have a great deal or fair amount of trust in priests, vicars, and other clergy to tell the truth, rising to 73% among Christians, with 40% having little or no trust in them. Clergy are the sixth equal most trusted profession on a list of eighteen occupations, the range being from 83% for family doctors to 13% for estate agents.
Church of England
31% contend that the Church of England is doing a good job in providing moral leadership, over-60s (38%) and Christians (55%) being especially inclined to think so (54% for Anglicans). A majority (54%, including 65% of Liberal Democrats, who are committed to disestablishment, and 37% of Anglicans) rates it as doing a bad job, with 16% unsure.
Still more, 69%, feel that the Church of England is out of touch, with particular highs for UKIP voters (75%) and Scots (76%). Even 53% of Christians take this line. Just 21% of all adults view the Church as being in touch, and no more than 28% of over-60s and 41% of Anglicans. 10% express no opinion on the subject.
A plurality (49%) say the Church of England is wrong to oppose same-sex marriage, including 66% of 18-24s, 63% of Liberal Democrats, 60% of Scots, and even 37% of Anglicans. 37% support the Church’s position, with 57% for the over-60s and 52% of Anglicans. 13% are undecided.
78% feel that the Church of England should allow women bishops, including 89% of Liberal Democrats, 85% of Anglicans, 83% of Conservatives, 82% of women and Scots. Opponents of women bishops number 9% overall but 19% of Catholics, 15% of UKIP supporters, and 13% of Londoners. 13% do not know what to think.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Only 28% correctly identify Rowan Williams as the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, the best score – apart from Anglicans (and they only on 38%) – being recorded by Conservatives (35%). Ignorance is especially marked in Scotland (82%). Fewer (19%) can identify Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, leaving 81% unable to do so, including 71% of his own flock.
36% are optimistic that the new Pope, Francis I, will do a good job, with Catholics (71%), Christians generally (50%), Liberal Democrats (46%), Scots (44%), Londoners (43%), and over-60s (41%) most hopeful. Unsurprisingly, 53% are unable to express a view at such an early stage in his pontificate, albeit 11% have already seen, read or heard enough to predict that he will do a bad job (including 20% of 18-24s).