Children’s Easter knowledge
The Bible Society announced on 17 April 2014 that it had launched a five-day Bible Bedtime Challenge app as an Easter poll showed that children can confuse the Bible with fairy tales and fables. It commissioned YouGov to undertake an online survey of 1,082 British children aged 8 to 15 between 28 and 31 March 2014. Asked which symbol of Easter was most important to them, the majority (55%) of children opted for chocolate eggs, 20% for the Christian cross, and 9% for the Easter bunny. Although 76% associated Easter Sunday with the Resurrection of Christ, 11% thought it had some other connection with Jesus, 13% giving another wrong answer or none at all. Somewhat fewer (65%) knew the significance of Good Friday, 16% linking it with the Resurrection rather than the Crucifixion, and 19% otherwise replying incorrectly or not at all. While 80% were able to name Judas as the person who had betrayed Jesus, only a plurality (45%) knew that he had identified Christ by giving Him a kiss. Probed about specific incidents which might have featured in the biblical account of Easter, the children generally struggled less than might perhaps have been anticipated, albeit 6% were convinced that they included the tale of a couple who killed a sacred goose which laid a golden egg every day, and 13% the story about a hare who raced a tortoise to teach people to be patient (with a further 20% and 15% respectively unable to say). Full data tables (with breaks by gender, age, region, social grade, and parental employment and marital status) can be found at:
Families’ Easter observance
The religious side of Easter did not feature prominently in the plans of 2,500 UK parents of dependent children interviewed online by OnePoll on behalf of the budget hotel chain Travelodge in April 2014. Only one in ten expected to go to church over Easter, and a similar proportion intended to eat fish on Good Friday, the day (in the Catholic tradition) of abstinence from meat. Moreover, 48% of parents reckoned that their children were ignorant of the true meaning of Easter, the most frequent associations being with the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs. For the overwhelming majority of families, Easter was going to be observed as a secular holiday only, with a projected expenditure of £2billion by parents on a combination of short breaks and an average of four day trips during the two-week Easter school holidays. Among the 35% of households intent on a staycation, the seaside was the destination for 37%, a city for 26%, and the countryside for 14%. A visit to family members (36%) topped the list of day trips, followed by museums (24%), working farms (18%), art galleries (10%), and theme parks (9%). The foregoing skeletal details have mostly been gleaned from a couple of stories on the Daily Mirror website, Travelodge’s press releases not yet being in the public domain, still less detailed data tables.
Meanwhile, a separate poll commissioned by Sainsbury’s, and published on 15 April 2014, discovered that many of the 1,000 parents interviewed would need to spend much of the Easter weekend break on chores, with 68% mentioning sorting out the garden and 60% getting on top of jobs around the house. While 77% of parents recognized Easter as an important family occasion, 87% admitted to struggling to find things to do that would appeal to the whole family. Notwithstanding, 58% expected to organize activities to keep their children and their friends entertained, and 55% opted for potentially expensive days out at UK attractions. However, when 1,000 children aged 5-12 were asked to describe their perfect Easter, the plurality (33%) prioritized being at home with their parents over going away on holiday (21%), and hanging out with their friends (15%). The best three Easter treats singled out by children were a family picnic outdoors, an Easter egg hunt at home, and seeing baby Easter animals. The Sainsbury’s press release is at:
Also on the subject of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, on 9-10 April 2014 ComRes (on behalf of Autogas) asked 1,569 adult Britons with a car in the household how far they expected to drive over the four days. Just over one-quarter (27%) did not drive or did not expect to drive during the weekend, but 63% anticipated being on the road, with 41% planning to drive up to 50 miles, 10% from 51 to 100 miles, and 12% more than 100 miles. Data tables are available at:
Religion’s role in Britain
A plurality of Britons (35%) thinks religion generally plays a positive role in our society, but 29% see it as a negative force, and 24% do not consider that it plays any part at all in British life (the remaining 12% being undecided). Britain’s positive score is well below the global mean (59%) but similar to that of Western Europe (36%), whose average is brought down by the fact that in six countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden) the negatives outvoted the positives. Among the G7 nations Britain occupies fifth place in terms of positivity toward the role of religion, the two extremes being USA (62%) and France (20%). The most positive country of all in the world is Indonesia and Africa the most positive region.
Findings derive from the WIN/Gallup International End of Year Survey for 2013 for which 66,806 adults were interviewed in 65 countries, including 1,000 in Britain online by ORB International on 6-9 December 2013. A press release about this particular question was issued just before Easter and forms the basis of reports in The Times (‘Britons Hostile to Religion’) and Daily Telegraph (‘Britons Sceptical about Positive Role of Religion’), both for 17 April 2014. This press release is not yet on the WIN/Gallup International website. Undeterred, BRIN has located it substantially reproduced by the Sam Diego Jewish World at:
Faith school exemptions
The British public is unsympathetic to appeals from some religious conservatives (including Orthodox Jews) to exempt state-funded faith schools from teaching national curriculum topics which they find contrary to their core beliefs and traditions, notably sex education and evolution. This is according to a new YouGov poll fir the Jewish Chronicle for which 2,144 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online. The poll was commissioned in the wake of the recent ruling by Ofqual, the examinations regulatory body, that schools may no longer block out external examination questions they deem unsuitable for pupils.
Asked whether faith schools should be able to refrain from delivering any form of sex education in lessons, 82% of Britons said no and only 9% yes. A smaller but still substantial majority of 67% also rejected the idea that faith schools should be able to teach creationism as a legitimate scientific theory on a par with evolution, with just 18% agreeing that they should. Opposition on both counts was apparently fairly uniform by demographics. Detailed data tables are not yet available, but an article about the survey was featured on pp. 1 and 4 of the 18 April 2014 edition of the Jewish Chronicle and is also available online at:
Busyness is making a disciplined spiritual life more difficult for evangelical Christians, with 50% failing to engage with the Bible on a daily basis and 37% failing to pray daily, even though 60% report to praying ‘on the move’ and 33% resort to Bible apps on their mobile device. Moreover, 63% admit to getting easily distracted when they are spending time with God. The biblical character that most (43%) identify with is busy Martha. Younger evangelicals (born after 1980) are particularly challenged in these regards but older ones (born before 1960) still manage more disciplined and structured prayer lives and longer periods spent in private prayer and Bible study. The majority of all evangelicals (54%) also agree that most other Christians today are not very disciplined in their spiritual lives and walk with God. Only 40% feel their church does very well at discipling new Christians, and just 26% regard themselves as successfully equipped for witnessing and sharing their faith with others.
These findings are from Time for Discipleship? – the latest report in the Evangelical Alliance’s 21st Century Evangelicals series, which was published on 13 April 2014. Data derive from 1,529 self-defined evangelicals in membership of the Evangelical Alliance’s self-selecting research panel who completed an online survey in November 2013. This is an opportunity sample which may not be representative of evangelicals as a whole, not least given that it includes an unstated proportion of church leaders. The report is at: