Counting Religion in Britain, March 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 18, March 2017 features 25 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 18 March 2017

OPINION POLLS

Belief at work

‘British employers struggle to manage expressions of religion and belief in the workplace’, according to the first major piece of thought leadership from the newly-established ComRes Faith Research Centre – ‘Belief at Work: Faith in the Workplace Study, 2017’ by Katie Harrison and Oscar Watkins. It is based upon online interviews in February 2017 with 251 HR managers, managers, and senior HR decision-makers at British companies with more than 50 employees and with 984 paid British workers at lower than director equivalent level, as well as upon more informal evidence-gathering. The research tested levels of awareness and access to provision relating to seven of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 (including religion or belief). Bullying, harassment, or discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of religion or belief had been observed by 3% of the workers, with the identical number having experienced it themselves or been the recipient of an inappropriate comment about their religion or belief. Religious clothing or iconography was regularly (monthly or more) worn at work by 6% but just 3% often talked about their faith with work colleagues. About one worker in five thought their employer made provision for prayer during working hours or for planning working hours around holy days or religious festivals. The report and two sets of data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/polls/belief-at-work-faith-in-the-workplace-study-2017/

Religious symbols in the workplace

Determining a Belgian case involving a receptionist wearing a headscarf to work, the European Court of Justice recently ruled that employers are entitled to ban their employees from ‘visible wearing of any political, philosophical, or religious sign’ in the workplace. A plurality (42%) of the 5,036 Britons questioned by YouGov by means of its mobile app on 14 March 2017 agreed that employers should indeed have the right to be allowed to ban visible religious symbols such as headscarves, reaching a majority among the over-40s and UKIP voters (66% in the latter case). Just over one-third (36%) thought employers should not be allowed to act in this way, including 50% of 18-24s, while 22% were undecided. Results (by standard demographics) are at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/199d5070-089c-11e7-80fa-d2249ae0b02d

The subject was further explored in another YouGov mobile app poll published on 15 March. This revealed that 16% of adults had worn religious symbols at work, evenly split between those who judged they should be allowed and those who understood why they should not. Asked whether the ban on wearing religious symbols should also apply to children in nurseries and schools, 58% agreed that it should, with 33% opposed and 9% unsure. Topline figures only in this instance are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/03/15/eu-courts-workplace-headscarf-ban-ruling-tolerance/

Religion as conversation topic

A surprisingly large minority (34%) of Britons claim to have had a conversation about religion in the last few weeks, according to a YouGov Daily app-based poll published on 27 March 2017. However, religion was the least talked about of the ten topics on the list, apart from celebrities (18%). The principal subjects of conversation were politics and the weather (82% each). Topline figures are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/03/27/topics-interest-displays-patriotism/

Islamic terrorism

One-quarter of Britons interviewed by YouGov via mobile app assessed Islamic terrorism as the biggest current threat to the UK. This was the same proportion as were anxious about Brexit negotiations going wrong but less than the 34% who feared the consequences of going through with Brexit. Immigration (19%), a second referendum on Scottish independence (16%), the rise of nationalism across Europe and the West (15%), and Russian meddling in Western politics (12%) were also matters of concern. Topline results only were published on 16 March 2017 at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/03/16/nic-u-turn-and-what-biggest-threat-uk-moment/

Ken Livingstone

On 30 March 2017 the Jewish News published the headline findings of a ComRes poll it had commissioned among an online sample of 2,034 British adults on 24-26 March. The release was timed to coincide with the commencement of a disciplinary hearing against Ken Livingstone, Labour politician and ex-Mayor of London, being conducted by the Labour Party’s National Constitutional Committee. Livingstone’s current difficulties arise from his defence of a Labour MP who had shared a social media post widely perceived as anti-Semitic and from his own subsequent comments which were construed as linking Hitler and Zionism. One-fifth (22%) of respondents thought those comments were anti-Semitic while 28% judged the Labour Party to have a ‘particular problem’ with anti-Semitism, to the extent that 34% said they would think twice before voting for Labour. Just under one-third (29%) favoured Livingstone’s expulsion from the Labour Party. Although fewer (23%) of Labour voters did so, 37% accepted that the party needed to work harder to repair its relationships with the Jewish community. At the time of writing, the full data tables from this poll have not been posted to the ComRes website but the report in the Jewish News is freely available at:

http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/ken-livingstone/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Visitor attractions

Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral in London were the most visited ecclesiastical buildings in Britain during 2016, according to the latest survey of members of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. They recorded, respectively, 1,819,945 and 1,519,018 visits, ranking them fourteenth and nineteenth in the list of 241 attractions. Outside London, Canterbury Cathedral was the most visited ecclesiastical building, in thirty-eighth position with 903,319 visits. The most visited institutions of any type were the British Museum (6,420,395) and the National Gallery (6,262,839). For the full list, and comparative annual statistics back to 2004, go to:

http://www.alva.org.uk/details.cfm?p=607

Christian conferences

Women accounted for 36% of the speakers at 22 national Christian conferences in the UK in 2016, the same proportion as in 2015, according to a report from Project 3:28. Only two (The Pursuit and Ichthus Revive) had gender-balanced platforms, with the Keswick Convention having the lowest number of female speakers (13%, seven points less than in 2015). The report, which includes data for all years since 2013 (when the gender audit began), is available at:

https://media.wix.com/ugd/7c3a0c_9b87b27b3dc64c8190acbd4271d6feb8.pdf

Jewish school places

In the Institute for Jewish Policy Research’s latest report, Daniel Staetsky and Jonathan Boyd highlight the widening gap between applications and admissions to the six mainstream Jewish secondary schools in the capital and project future demand for places, based on three alternative scenarios: Will My Child Get a Place? An Assessment of Supply and Demand of Jewish Secondary School Places in London and Surrounding Areas. The report is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/Will_my_child_get_a_place._March_2017.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Marriages in England and Wales, 2014

The proportion of marriages between opposite-sex couples in England and Wales solemnized in religious ceremonies has fallen again, to 27.5% in 2014 compared with 28.5% in 2013. The figure was lower in England (27.3%) than Wales (31.9%). Hardly any (just 23) same-sex couples married in religious ceremonies in 2014, a mere 0.5% of all same-sex weddings. For further information, including access to a configurable dataset, go to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/marriages-in-england-and-wales-2014

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Religious nones

The January 2016 edition of Counting Religion in Britain noted Linda Woodhead’s lecture to the British Academy on ‘Why No Religion is the New Religion’, which drew upon the results of YouGov polls she had commissioned revealing that most ‘nones’ are not straightforwardly secular. The text has now been published in print in British Academy Lectures, 2015-16, edited by Janet Carsten and Simon Frith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-19-726604-5, £40, paperback) and online in Journal of the British Academy, Vol. 4, 2016, pp. 245-61. An eprint of the article, which has been retitled ‘The Rise of “No Religion” in Britain: The Emergence of a New Cultural Majority’, is available at:

http://www.britac.ac.uk/sites/default/files/11%20Woodhead%201825.pdf

Losing religion

At a quick glance, Callum Brown’s Becoming Atheist: Humanism and the Secular West (London: Bloomsbury, 2017, x + 231 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4742-2452-9, £21.99, paperback) might easily be dismissed by BRIN users, being neither exclusively about Britain nor particularly statistical, based as it is on qualitative interviews with 85 people of the 1960s generation born in 18 countries. However, it needs to be read as the third and final volume of a trilogy which has taken us on a journey through secularization, starting with a cultural analysis of The Death of Christian Britain in 2001 followed by a quantitative and international account of Religion and the Demographic Revolution in 2012. Becoming Atheist draws on these predecessor volumes and other sources for a certain amount of statistical context as well as providing fascinating insights, by means of the oral testimonies, into the loss of faith in relation to childhood, gender, and ethnicity. The book’s webpage is at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/becoming-atheist-9781474224529/

Losing Anglican activists

Another new book which, in certain respects at least, is complementary to Brown’s is Abby Day’s The Religious Lives of Older Laywomen: The Last Active Anglican Generation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, xi + 257 pp., ISBN: 978-0-19-873958-6, £50, hardback). It is an ethnographic study of Anglican laywomen from what Day calls Generation A (born in the 1920s and early 1930s), based on interviews and participant observation in the UK and North America (generally written up in the first person), contextualized within discussions of religious gender and generation differences and sociological theory. There are some fascinating insights into the practical and intellectual contributions made to the Church by Generation A, including as ‘pew power’ (contrasting with leading from the front), but perhaps Day has a tendency to exaggerate its uniqueness since there are no directly comparable studies of previous generations, long since dead. Almost by definition, the sub-title’s prediction that this will be ‘the last active Anglican generation’ (indeed, we are told, potentially the final one in mainstream Christianity) was going to be hard to evidence, and Day’s attempts to do so, throughout and in the rather bullish conclusion (where it is anticipated that churches will be increasingly populated by gay men – the new old ladies), are not fully persuasive. Statistically-based actuarial projections, founded in church or sample survey data, might have been equally advantageous. The book’s webpage is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-religious-lives-of-older-laywomen-9780198739586?q=religious%20lives%20of%20older%20laywomen&lang=en&cc=gb

Rowan Williams and Sharia law

The row over his speech supposedly acknowledging the inevitability of an accommodation with Sharia law in Britain must have been one of the low points during Rowan Williams’s time as Archbishop of Canterbury. In a methodologically and historically fascinating essay, Peter Webster has used the JISC UK Web Domain Dataset (an extraction from the Internet Archive) to study online reactions to the speech: ‘Religious Discourse in the Archived Web: Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Sharia Law Controversy of 2008’, in The Web as History: Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present, edited by Niels Brügger and Ralph Schroeder (London: UCL Press, 2017, ISBN: 978-1-911307-56-3), pp. 190-203. Webster’s methodology was to analyse the pattern of unique hosts linking to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s official website, the number being 49% higher in 2008 (when the speech was delivered on 7 February) than in 2007 and 42% higher than the mean for 2005-07. Of the hosts linking to the site in 2008, 44% were doing so for the first time, the most significant component of which were blogs. The Web as History is published on an open access basis at:

http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1542998/1/The-Web-as-History.pdf

United Reformed Church

In a revision of his doctoral thesis, Martin Camroux offers an ecumenically-framed account of the formation (in 1972) and subsequent ‘catastrophic implosion’ of the United Reformed Church, of which he is an ordained minister: Ecumenism in Retreat: How the United Reformed Church Failed to Break the Mould (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2016, xi + 238 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4982-3400-9, $30, paperback). He has utilized a wide range of printed primary and secondary sources, including membership and other statistical indicators, and also conducted an impressive number of oral history interviews. The book’s webpage is at:

http://wipfandstock.com/ecumenism-in-retreat.html

Prayer

As an additional – and less familiar – key performance indicator of secularization, Clive Field offers a meta-analysis of over-time quantitative data about private prayer in modern Britain, mostly derived from national cross-sectional sample surveys among adults. Despite the fragmentary nature of the evidence, and its methodological challenges, with consequent variability in results, the direction of travel is clear. Self-reported regular (weekly or more) private prayer has declined from one-half to one-quarter of the population over the past half-century, while the proportion never praying has risen from one-fifth to one-half. There have been parallel falls in belief in prayer and its efficacy. Gender, age, and ethnicity are the main secular attributes impacting prayer behaviour, relatively higher levels of which also correlate with above-average religiosity, belief in God, and churchgoing and with being Roman Catholic or non-Christian. Prayer statistics thus corroborate other indicators which suggest that secularization in Britain has been a progressive, rather than sudden, process. ‘Britain on its Knees: Prayer and the Public since the Second World War’ is published in Social Compass, Vol. 64, No. 1, March 2017, pp. 92-112, and access options are outlined at:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0037768616685014

Death and religion

Jonathan Jong, Robert Ross, Tristan Philip, Si-Hua Chang, Naomi Simons, and Jamin Halberstadt have examined ‘The Religious Correlates of Death Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’ for the 2017 online edition of Religion, Brain, and Behaviour. Their sample of 125 international English-language research articles revealed little consensus about the relationship between death anxiety and religiosity with, in general, weak negative correlations between the two. Their paper is freely available at:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/53578960e4b0cc61351ba675/t/58caaf73d1758e9193b019b0/1489678207142/Jong+et+al+2017+-+Metaanalysis.pdf

Covering similar ground, but in more depth, and reaching similar conclusions is Jonathan Jong and Jamin Halberstadt, Death Anxiety and Religious Belief: An Existential Psychology of Religion (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, xiv + 233 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4725-7-162-5, £85, hardback). The book’s webpage is at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/death-anxiety-and-religious-belief-9781472571625/

Faith schools

Understanding School Segregation in England, 2011 to 2016, prepared by The Challenge, SchoolDash, and the iCoCo Foundation, applies an innovative methodology to the analysis of the latest Department for Education statistics. It finds that, in terms of the ethnicity and socio-economic background of their students, faith schools continue to be more segregated than non-faith schools in the same area, at both primary and secondary levels. Segregation is most pronounced in Roman Catholic and non-Christian faith schools. The report is available at:

http://the-challenge.org/uploads/documents/TCN-Understanding-School-Segregation-in-England-2011-to-2016.pdf

Religious education

The Empirical Science of Religious Education, edited by Mandy Robbins and Leslie Francis (London: Routledge, 2016, xxxii + 290 pp., ISBN: 978-1-138-92985-2, £95, hardback) reprints 20 articles originally published in the British Journal of Religious Education between 1996 and 2010 (when Robert Jackson was editor) alongside a new introduction by Robbins and Francis (pp. xviii-xxxii) which briefly traces the history of the discipline in Britain since the 1960s and the contribution of the journal to it, as well as explaining the principles informing the selection of the chapters. A majority of them relate to Britain, including several of quantitative interest, notably the overview by Robbins and Francis (pp. 260-72) of the Teenage Religion and Values Survey in England and Wales, undertaken among 34,000 adolescents in the 1990s. The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.routledge.com/The-Empirical-Science-of-Religious-Education/Robbins-Francis/p/book/9781138929852

Sixth-form values

Longitudinal research among 150 students pursuing a course in Religious Studies (RS) at A Level is reported in Leslie Francis, Andrew Village, and Stephen Parker, ‘Exploring the Trajectory of Personal, Moral, and Spiritual Values of 16- to 18-Year-Old Students Taking Religious Studies at A Level in the UK’, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2017, pp. 18-31. Although some values were unchanged over the two-year period, attitudes towards sex and relationships had become more liberal, while students had become less convinced that knowledge of more than one religious tradition enhanced their own spirituality, less certain about life after death, and less open to mystical orientation. There were also significant reductions in their frequency of attendance at worship and in their affirmation of having undergone a religious experience. The authors acknowledge the methodological limitations of the research and are cautious about asserting causality between these changes and pursuing a course in RS. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1232567

Religiosity and educational attainment

‘Students in Countries with Higher Levels of Religiosity Perform Lower in Science and Mathematics’, according to an article in press by Gijsbert Stoet and David Geary published online in the journal Intelligence. The authors compared educational performance scores for adolescents in mathematics and science (from the Programme for International Student Assessment and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) with self-assessed religiosity scores for adults from the World Values Survey and European Social Survey. Data are reported for 76 countries (including the United Kingdom, ranked thirteenth in terms of non-religiosity) for three time periods: 2000-04, 2005-09, and 2010-15. Possible causes of the negative correlation between religiosity and educational attainment are discussed, although gender does not appear to be a significant factor. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289617300247

Leeds Beckett University, where Stoet works, has issued a press release about the findings at:

http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/news/0317-research-reveals-students-in-more-religious-countries-perform-worse-in-science-and-mathematics/

Islamist terrorism

Hannah Stuart’s Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK (1998-2015) (London: Henry Jackson Society, 2017, xxv + 1013 pp., ISBN: 978-1-909035-27-0, £83) is a comprehensive quantitative and descriptive survey of 269 individual Islamist-related offences across 135 distinct terrorism cases. One-third of the offences occurred in 2005-07 and a further 38% in 2011-14. The overwhelming majority (93%) of offences were committed by men while the mean age of offenders was 27 years with a range between 14 and 52. Offences were mostly perpetrated by UK nationals (72%) including 47% born in the UK; 16% were converts to Islam. An extended preview edition of the report, incorporating a full executive summary (pp. viii-xiv) and the statistical section (pp. 918-1010), but omitting the profiles (pp. 1-916), is freely available at:

http://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Islamist-Terrorism-preview-1.pdf

Historical demography

The historical demography of religion in Britain is a relatively under-researched area, and it is unusual to have a new monograph in this field: Albion Urdank, Birth, Death, and Religious Faith in an English Dissenting Community: A Microhistory of Nailsworth and Hinterland, 1695-1837 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016, xvi + 133 pp., ISBN: 978-1-4985-2352-3, £49-95, hardback). The book is described as ‘an outgrowth’ of the author’s previous volume Religion and Society in a Cotswold Vale (1990), which examined the same Gloucestershire community. The new work offers a comparative study of the life events and experiences, notably fertility and mortality, of Anglicans and Particular Baptists based on a family reconstitution exercise, and by means of both qualitative and quantitative (notably path analysis) techniques. The author’s special interest is the extent to which ‘religious values informed procreative activity’. The principal conclusion appears to be that the likelihood of another birth increased following a religious conversion experience. Church historians will not find the book an easy read, and two-fifths of the short main text comprises endnotes and other ancillary matter. The book’s webpage is at:

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498523523/Birth-Death-and-Religious-Faith-in-an-English-Dissenting-Community-A-Microhistory-of-Nailsworth-and-Hinterland-1695%E2%80%931837

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 8139: Smith Commission Survey – Devolution Preferences in Scotland, England, and Wales, 2014

The Smith Commission was established, following the ‘no’ vote in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence from the UK, to make proposals for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. Against this background, the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh secured funding from the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate attitudes to devolution and broader political issues among samples of electors in Scotland, England, and Wales. Fieldwork was conducted online by ICM between 4 and 18 November 2014, and interviews were achieved with 1,500 adults in Scotland and 1,000 each in England and Wales. The questionnaires were, to a certain extent, customized for each home nation, but all respondents were asked to give their religious affiliation (using a ‘belonging’ form of question) and to state how often they attended ‘religious ceremonies’, useful background variables for analysing the answers for the political topics. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8139&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8141: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, 2014-2015

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey was established in 1993 and is now commissioned by the Scottish Government. For the 2014-15 study, face-to-face interviews were conducted by TNS BMRB Scotland with 11,472 adults aged 16 and over living in private households in Scotland. A question on religious affiliation was included as part of a module on identity, and this can be used to analyse responses to the other modules on experiences of crime and the criminal justice system, attitudes to the police, harassment, drug use, and partner abuse. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8141&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8160: Annual Population Survey, January-December 2016

The Annual Population Survey is compiled from variables present in the Labour Force Survey. It is undertaken by the Office for National Statistics Social Survey Division through a combination of face-to-face and telephone interviews. The 2016 sample comprised a cross-section of 289,176 persons resident in the UK and living in private households or young people living away from the parental home during term-time. This is a sufficiently large total to yield analyses which are robust at unitary or local authority level. Respondents in Britain were asked ‘what is your religion?’ A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8160&type=Data%20catalogue

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017

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Counting Religion in Britain, February 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 17, February 2017 features 31 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 17 February 2017

OPINION POLLS

Places of worship

The overwhelming majority (87%) of Britons, including 86% of non-Christians and 79% of religious nones, perceive that the UK’s 42,000 churches, chapels, and meeting houses bring important benefits to the country, according to a survey by ComRes on behalf of the National Churches Trust, for which 2,048 adults were interviewed online on 15-18 December 2016. The greatest benefits were seen as their value as places of worship (52%), examples of beautiful architecture (51%), and as an aspect of local identity (42%). A similarly high proportion agreed that churches, chapels, and meeting houses are important as part of the UK’s heritage and history (83%) and as spaces for community activities (80%), with 74% endorsing their future use as community centres. Somewhat fewer (57% on both issues) supported Government financial aid to protect them for future generations or said it would have a negative impact on the community if their local place of worship was to close. Asked whether they had visited a church, chapel, or meeting house during the past year, 57% replied in the affirmative and 43% in the negative, the latter figure peaking in Wales (54%) and among religious nones (61%). Breaking down the purpose of the visit, 37% of the whole sample claimed to have attended a religious service, 16% a non-religious activity, and 24% to have come as a tourist. One-quarter also reported they had made a donation to a church, chapel, or meeting house within the previous twelve months, over-65s (37%), Christians (41%), and visitors to churches (44%) being most likely to have done so. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/National-Churches-Trust_Churches-Poll_Data-Tables.pdf

St Valentine’s Day

St Valentine’s Day, celebrated annually on 14 February, originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast honouring two early saints Valentinus. However, the customary association of the day with courtship seems to be connected with either the pagan festival of Lupercalia or the natural season, rather than with the saints Valentinus. In contemporary times, its religious associations have been all but lost and St Valentine’s Day has become more of a cultural and retail event. One-quarter of 2,051 UK adults interviewed online by YouGov on 10-13 February 2017 said that they hated or disliked St Valentine’s Day, more than the 19% who liked or loved it (peaking at 23% for women and 24% for under-35s), with 53% neutral. Two-fifths felt pressured to do something romantic on St Valentine’s Day, one-half disagreed that it was a beautiful tradition, while 87% judged it too commercial. Asked about their own intentions for the day, 18-24s were the group most likely to be planning something romantic with their partner (42%), double the national average (20%), and also already to have a definite date for the day (16%). Results tables are accessible via the link in the blog post at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/14/most-brits-have-told-three-or-fewer-people-i-love-/

For headline findings from another online poll, by Opinium Research for PwC in January 2017, and focusing on Valentine’s Day spending patterns, see:

http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2017/02/over-half-of-uk-adults-dont-expect-to-spend-on-valentines-day-but-is-less-amore.html

Lent

YouGov marked Ash Wednesday by asking 6,742 of its panellists on 28 February 2017 whether they were planning to give up, or cut down on, anything during Lent. The overwhelming majority (69%) said they would not be making any Lenten sacrifices, rising to 75% of over-60s and 77% of UKIP voters. Almost one Briton in eight (13%) had not made up their minds, leaving 18% intending to observe Lent in some way, including 21% of women, 23% of Londoners, and 25% of 18-24s. Given a list of eight potential forfeits, the most popular was forsaking or cutting back on certain items of food or drink, selected by 8% of the whole sample. If previous years are anything to go by, the number of Lenten observers will be rather less than aspirations. Poll results can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/21834fe0-fd9f-11e6-b7de-4e47a0d22bac

National identity

Religion is not a major determinant of national identity in Britain according to the latest release of results from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Asked about the importance of being Christian in order to be truly British, 18% of all adults replied that this was a very important attribute. This was far fewer than made the comparable claim about the dominant religion and national identity in Greece (54%), Poland (34%), the United States (32%), Italy (30%), and Hungary (29%), albeit it was more than in Canada (15%), Australia (13%), Germany (11%), France (10%), Spain (9%), The Netherlands (8%), and Sweden (7%). In Britain the proportion fell to just 7% among the under-35s but rose to 26% for the over-50s. A further 19% of all Britons assessed being Christian as somewhat important for being truly British while 24% rated it as not very important and 38% as not at all important. The total for very or somewhat important was thus 37%, which compared with 98% saying the same about being able to speak English in order to be truly British, 87% about sharing British customs and traditions, and 56% about being born in Britain. Pew’s report and topline data can be found at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/02/01/what-it-takes-to-truly-be-one-of-us/?

Muslim integration

The majority (54%) of Britons think that most Muslims living in the country want to be distinct from the wider society, according to the latest release of data from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. This is a similar number to 2011 (52%) albeit lower than in 2006 (64%) and 2005 (61%) when the question was about Muslims coming to, as opposed to already living in, Britain. It is also comparable with the 2016 statistics for Sweden (50%), France (52%), and The Netherlands (53%), five other European nations recording higher figures: Germany (61%), Italy (61%), Spain (68%), Hungary (76%), and Greece (78%). Of the 12 countries surveyed on this particular topic, only in three did those believing that most Muslims want to be distinct fail to reach a majority, and then not by that much: United States (43%), Poland (45%), and Australia (46%). Just under one-third (31%) of Britons in 2016 acknowledged that most Muslims did want to adopt British customs and way of life, a steady improvement over time since 2005 (19%). The remaining 15% of Britons expressed no clear view on the matter. Topline data are available through the link in the blog post at:

Diversity welcomed in Australia, U.S. despite uncertainty over Muslim integration

‘Muslim’ travel ban (1)

Notwithstanding its almost immediate suspension, following intervention by the US judiciary, President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration of 27 January 2017 continues to divide public opinion, both in his own country and abroad. The order banned for three months travel to the USA by citizens of seven Muslim majority nations, the admission of refugees from Syria, and the admission of any refugees for four months.

In Britain, according to an online YouGov poll of 1,705 adults for The Times on 30-31 January 2017, half the population thought Trump’s immigration policy to be a ‘bad idea’. Especially critical were Liberal Democrats (83%), ‘remainers’ in the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum (78%), Labourites (73%), and 18-24s (69%). Just under one-third (29%) deemed the policy a ‘good idea’, rising to 50% of ‘leavers’ in the EU referendum and 73% of UKIP voters. One-fifth of interviewees did not know what to think.

Not dissimilar results were obtained in another, separately reported, YouGov survey among a much larger sample of 6,926 Britons, also conducted on 30-31 January 2017. This enquired how respondents would feel if Prime Minister Theresa May adopted for the UK a similar policy of barring Syrian refugees, together with temporary bans on other refugees and immigrants from some Muslim countries. One-third (32%) said they would be appalled, 17% disappointed, 13% pleased, and 15% delighted, with 24% neutral or undecided.

Detailed tables for both investigations, whose fieldwork preceded the suspension of the executive order, can be found on the YouGov website at:    

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/01/almost-half-brits-think-trump-state-visit-should-g/

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/qpe8e6s0j9/TimesResults_170131_Trump_W.pdf

‘Muslim’ travel ban (2)

On 7 February 2017, Chatham House released the headline findings of a multinational poll carried out on its behalf by Kantar Public between 12 December 2016 and 11 January 2017, before President Trump’s inauguration and executive order. The fieldwork period coincided with several instances of Islamist terrorism, notably the attack on a Berlin Christmas market on 20 December which claimed the lives of twelve people. Online surveys were conducted with approximately 1,000 adults aged 18 and over in ten European nations.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed with the statement that ‘all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. Majorities in eight of the ten nations investigated agreed with the proposition, the two exceptions being the UK and Spain. In the UK, 47% agreed that migration from mainly Muslim countries should be halted, eight points less than the European average, while 23% disagreed and 30% were neutral. Agreement was highest in Poland (71%), Austria (65%), Hungary (64%), Belgium (64%), and France (61%). Across the continent, endorsement of migration controls peaked among the over-60s whereas under-30s and degree holders were less supportive. Chatham House’s press release about the poll can be found at:

https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/what-do-europeans-think-about-muslim-immigration

‘Muslim’ travel ban (3)

A ComRes poll for The Independent and Sunday Mirror, undertaken online among 2,021 Britons on 8-10 February 2017, asked whether the UK should follow the US lead and introduce its own ‘travel ban’ on immigrants from Muslim majority countries. Overall agreement with the proposition had by then reduced to 29%, with relatively little variation by demographics, except for a peak of 75% endorsement from UKIP voters. The majority (55%) disagreed with a UK ban, Liberal Democrats (86%) and 18-24s (74%) being especially opposed. One in six (16%) was undecided about the desirability of a UK ban. Comparable results were obtained from an earlier question about whether President Trump had been right to try and halt temporarily immigration to the US from Muslim majority countries, 33% judging he had been, 52% that he had not, and 14% unsure. Detailed data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Independent-Sunday-Mirror-VI-poll_11.02.2017_69847231.pdf

Muslims and President Trump’s state visit

The debate about President Trump’s attempted Muslim travel ban has become increasingly linked, in the minds of the British public, with his state visit to the UK during 2017, following the invitation extended to him by Prime Minister Theresa May. This has prompted Ipsos MORI, in its latest political monitor (undertaken by telephone interview among 1,044 adults on 10-14 February 2017), to ask whether ‘The Donald’ should do various things in the course of his visit. One of the possible activities suggested by the pollster was for him to visit a London mosque or Muslim community group. A plurality of respondents (47%) thought he should not do that but 44% believed he should, including small majorities of men, persons aged 35-54, the top (AB) social group, Liberal Democrats, and Greater Londoners. The remaining 10% were undecided. Full data tables can be accessed via the link in the news post at:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3841/Europe-still-seen-as-most-important-relationship-for-Britain.aspx

Islam and British values

A plurality (46%) of the public continues to think there is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society, according to the latest YouGov@Cambridge tracker, for which 2,052 adults were interviewed online on 12-13 February 2017. Over-65s (63%), those who had voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum (68%), and UKIP supporters (78%) were the groups most likely to hold this opinion. Just one-quarter said that Islam was generally compatible with British values, remain voters in the EU referendum being most optimistic (41%). The residual 29% failed to choose between the two options. Data tables can be found at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/9u1mmsq0we/YGC%20Tracker%20GB%20Feb%2017.pdf

This is the sixteenth occasion over the past two years YouGov@Cambridge has asked this question. All the data can be accessed via the links at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/02/19/tracker-islam-and-british-values/

General opinions of Islam and Muslims

‘Britons continue to hold quite mixed and sometimes contradictory views on Muslims and Islam’, according to an analysis by Nick Lowles of an online poll by YouGov for Hope Not Hate, for which 1,679 adults were interviewed on 16-19 December 2016. On the one hand, 50% of the public think Islam poses a serious threat to Western civilization, rising to 60% of Conservative and 75% of UKIP voters; only 22% of the nation disagree. Moreover, 67% believe that Muslim communities need to respond more strongly to the threat of Islamic extremism. On the other hand, 69% think it wrong to blame an entire religion for the actions of a few extremists, 52% concede that discrimination is a serious problem facing Muslims in Britain, and 40% criticize the media for being too negative towards Muslims. These questions formed part of a broader investigation into ‘the state of the nation’, in which attitudes to immigration and post-Brexit issues loomed large. However, space was also found for a question about trust in groups, revealing that 61% of Britons distrust religious leaders (against just 29% who trust them). Full data tables have yet to be released but the article by Lowles can be found on pp. 12-15 of the January-February 2017 edition of Hope Not Hate at:

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/nick/archive/2/2017

Islamic State

A majority (61%) of the British public is either very worried (14%) or fairly worried (47%) that Islamic State (IS) may attempt a terrorist attack in Britain. This is a lower proportion than in France (76%) and Germany (74%), both of which were on the receiving end of deadly IS outrages in 2016. But it is lower than in Scandinavian countries, anxiety about an IS attack standing at 53% in Sweden, 51% in Denmark, 45% in Norway, and 44% in Finland. The results come from the latest six-nation Eurotrack study, undertaken online by YouGov between 19 and 24 January 2017, with 1,569 interviewees in Britain. The topline findings are available via the link in the blog post at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/08/most-brits-think-eu-needs-uk-least-much-uk-needs-e/

Fake news

Fake news has received much media coverage recently, prompting Channel 4 to commission YouGov to run an online poll on the subject among 1,684 Britons on 29-30 January 2017. Respondents were given a list of six stories that had genuinely appeared in the media during recent times and asked whether they had previously seen or heard the particular story and if it was true or false.

One of the stories concerned an enforced name change for the Essex villages of High Easter and Good Easter, following complaints that they were offensive. This story emanated from the so-called Southend News Network which had reported in March 2016 that Essex County Council had resolved to require the villages to change their names from the beginning of 2017, in order to avoid falling foul of European Union guidance that the inclusion of a specifically religious term in a place name might offend people of other faiths or none. Despite being widely believed on the internet, this story was entirely fabricated, and Southend News Network is actually an avowedly spoof website.

Although just 2% of the YouGov sample had previously seen this particular story, as many as 22% thought that it was definitely or probably true, rising to 34% of under-25s and 31% of Snapchat users. A slight majority (51%) correctly recognized the story as fake news and 26% could not make up their minds whether it was true or not. Full data tables are available at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/g9yhnt6pqu/Channel4Results_170130_FakeNews_W.pdf

Generation Z

Insights into the values and attitudes of young people aged 15-21 have been gained from a global citizenship survey undertaken by Populus on behalf of the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organization committed to improving standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. Online interviews were conducted with randomly drawn samples of young adults in 20 nations between 19 September and 26 October 2016, including 1,031 in the UK. The other countries were: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States.

Several questions probed the importance and influence of faith, revealing that, relative to the global mean, religion is accorded lower significance by young people in the UK. Just 4% in the UK agreed with a battery of four statements about the personal saliency of faith and only 3% concurred that a greater role for religion in society would make the greatest difference in uniting people. No more than one-quarter regarded their faith as contributing to their overall happiness. A majority (58%) endorsed the right to non-violent free speech even if it was offensive to a religion. Full data tables are not yet available, but a variety of research outputs can be downloaded from the sponsor’s website at:

https://www.varkeyfoundation.org/generation-z-global-citizenship-survey

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

The Church and LGB mental health

The Church’s typically negative stance to same-sex relationships has had a ‘hugely distressing impact’ on large numbers of lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) people, according to the latest report from the Oasis Foundation: Steve Chalke, Ian Sansbury, and Gareth Streeter, In the Name of Love: The Church, Exclusion, and LGB Mental Health Issues. This negativity is viewed by the authors as a significant contributory factor to the greater prevalence of poor mental health among LGB individuals than for heterosexuals. In support of their claim, brief reference is made to British Social Attitudes Survey and YouGov data concerning views about same-sex relationships among religious populations. It is also noted that: 74% of signatories on the website of the Coalition for Marriage, which opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage (SSM), are identifiable Christians; 54% of the MPs who voted against SSM self-identified as Christian; and 91% of negative comments in a sample of national media articles about SSM were made by Christians. The 16-page report can be found at:

https://oasis.foundation/sites/foundation.dd/files/In%20the%20Name%20of%20Love%20-%20FINAL_1.pdf

Women and the Church

The Church of England still has ‘a significant way to travel before women have any degree of equality’, with a continuing ‘high disparity between the opportunity and prospects of male and female clergy’. This is according to WATCH (Women and the Church), which has just published A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2016. Data are presented on the gender balance at various levels of ordained and lay ministry for 2015 and immediately preceding years. WATCH highlights the fact that, although the number of men and women being ordained is now roughly equal, a significantly higher and increasing proportion of men are ordained to stipendiary posts, with around half ordained females receiving no financial support from the Church for their ministry. Only 27% of women clergy are currently vicars or in more senior roles. The report is available through the link in the press release at:

http://womenandthechurch.org/news/watch-launches-report-developments-womens-ministry-2016/

Living ministry research

On 31 January 2017, the Church of England launched its ‘Living Ministry’ research project, exploring the factors which help clergy flourish in their ministry with a particular focus on wellbeing and outcomes (effectiveness). It will be a longitudinal panel study, tracking (by means of an online survey every two years over an initial ten-year period) the progress of four cohorts, those ordained as deacons in 2006, 2011, and 2015 and ordinands who started training in 2016. These cohorts comprise 1,600 individuals. The foundation survey runs until 7 March 2017. Qualitative research will also be undertaken. Further information is available at:

http://www.ministrydevelopment.org.uk/living-ministry-research

‘Living Ministry’ builds upon the ‘Experiences of Ministry’ project which surveyed a representative sample of Church of England clergy in 2011, 2013, and 2015. It was undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Management, King’s College London and is due to wind up in 2017. Further information is available at:

http://www.ministrydevelopment.org.uk/experiences-of-ministry-project

Anti-Semitic incidents

There was a ‘record’ number (1,309) of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2016, 36% more than in 2015, according to the latest annual report of the Community Security Trust (CST). The incidents were spread relatively uniformly throughout 2016 with more than 100 each month between May and December. The CST is currently recording, on average, more than double the number of monthly incidents it did four years ago. Over three-quarters of the incidents took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester, areas with the country’s two largest Jewish communities. Abusive behaviour (mostly verbal) accounted for 77% of incidents, but there were also 107 violent assaults, 100 cases of threat, and 81 instances of damage and desecration to Jewish property. No single trigger event explained the rise in incidents, as had happened in 2009 and 2014; rather, the CST cited ‘the cumulative effect of a series of relatively lengthy events and factors’, including ‘high profile allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party’ and ‘a perceived climate of increased racism and xenophobia . . . following the EU referendum’. In addition to the 1,309 logged incidents, the CST received 791 notifications of potential incidents which, upon investigation, did not evidence anti-Semitic motivation, targeting, or content. On the basis of survey data, the CST believes there is a likely significant under-reporting of anti-Semitic incidents to both itself and the police. The 36-page Antisemitic Incidents Report, 2016 is available at:

https://cst.org.uk/public/data/file/c/4/Incidents%20Report%202016%20Web.pdf

In his ‘The View from the Data’ column in the Jewish Chronicle for 17 February 2017 (p. 37), Jonathan Boyd of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research cautioned against labelling the 2016 anti-Semitic incidents statistics as ‘the worst year on record’ (as the newspaper’s own headline had claimed). He identified several ‘interfering factors’ which inhibited use of the CST’s reporting back to 1983 as a true time series. For instance, the CST figures now include incidents reported to both the police and CST, whereas prior to 2011 they incorporated notifications to the CST alone. The column is at:

https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/was-2016-really-the-worst-year-1.432877

Jewish learning disabilities

The latest report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), commissioned by Langdon, estimates that 7.4% of the UK Jewish population have some kind of learning disability, affecting 9.6% of Jewish males and 5.1% of females. The extent of learning disability varies greatly, from severe at one end of the spectrum (7% of cases) to light at the other (54%). Detailed figures for each region are contained in an appendix, differentiating by gender, age, and, where applicable, between mainstream and strictly orthodox Jews. The estimates are derived from multiple sources, both British and international, including JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey and the 2011 Scottish census of population (the corresponding census in England and Wales did not collect data about learning disabilities). Daniel Staetsky’s 27-page Learning Disabilities: Understanding Their Prevalence in the British Jewish Community is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2017.Learning_disabilities.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Census of population

Roger Hutchinson offers a vivid and readable census-based self-portrait of the British Isles in his The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through its Census since 1801 (London: Little, Brown, 2017, 352pp., ISBN 9781408707012, £20, hardback). It traces the often contested development of the official decennial population census from 1801 to 2011 while simultaneously providing a wealth of human illustrative detail. There are some references – necessarily insubstantial in such a generalist work – to the religious dimension of the census. This was only realized in Britain itself (Ireland and the British Empire and Commonwealth followed a different path) through enumerations of religious accommodation and worship in 1851 and of religious profession in 2001 and 2011 (albeit religion questions were also proposed and hotly debated for several other years). The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781408707012

1851 religious census

Of mainly local interest is John Crummett’s Mothering Sunday, 30th March 1851: A Window into Church-Going in Northern Derbyshire (New Mills Local History Society, Occasional Publications, 95, New Mills: the Society, 2016, [4] + ii + 35pp., £2). The author explains the ecclesiastical background to the government religious census and reproduces the results for the Hayfield and Glossop sub-districts. He also highlights the criticisms of the census made by two local Anglican clergymen, John Rigg and Samuel Wasse, and provides biographical information about them in one of the appendices. The pamphlet can be ordered from the publisher at:

http://www.newmillshistory.org.uk/publications.html

Youth social action

Research has sometimes found a positive correlation between social capital and religious faith. However, the latest National Youth Social Action Survey, 2016, written up by Julia Pye and Olivia Michelmore, reports that participation in meaningful social action during the preceding year is now actually higher among youngsters aged 10-20 without religion than for those with faith. The difference was not huge, 44% versus 41%, but was statistically significant compared with 2014, when the reverse applied. Places of worship were relatively unimportant locations for the involvement of youngsters in social action. The study was undertaken by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the Office for Civil Society (part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and Step Up to Serve, by means of 2,082 face-to-face interviews throughout the UK on 2-16 September 2016. The report is available at:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Publications/sri-youth-social-action-in-uk-2016.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Secularization in the ‘long’ 1960s

In the ongoing debate about secularization, historians and sociologists are increasingly turning their attention to changes in the religious landscape during the ‘long’ 1960s, in Britain and elsewhere in the West. A heavily statistical spotlight on this period is now shone in Clive Field’s Secularization in the Long 1960s: Numerating Religion in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, xvii + 269pp., including 61 tables, ISBN: 978-0-19-879947-4, £65, hardback). In most cases, to permit sufficient contextualization, data are presented for the years 1955-80, with particular attention to the methodological and other challenges posed by each source type.

Following an introductory chapter, which reviews the historiography, introduces the sources, and defines the chronological and other parameters, evidence is provided for all major facets of religious belonging, behaving, and believing, as well as for institutional church measures. The work particularly engages with, and largely refutes, Callum Brown’s influential assertion that Britain experienced ‘revolutionary’ secularization in the 1960s, which was highly gendered in nature, and with 1963 the major tipping-point. Instead, a more nuanced picture emerges with some religious indicators in crisis, others continuing on an existing downward trajectory, and yet others remaining stable. Building on previous research by the author and other scholars, and rejecting recent proponents of counter-secularization, the long 1960s are ultimately located within a longstanding gradualist, and still ongoing, process of secularization in Britain. The book’s webpage is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/secularization-in-the-long-1960s-9780198799474?cc=gb&lang=en&

Church of England and the people

One of the more controversial religious books of 2016, and (indeed) of recent years, was That Was the Church that Was, by journalist Andrew Brown and sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead, a lively and mainly damning account of developments in the Church of England between 1986 and 2016. The authors argued that, during these decades, the Church became progressively more inward-looking, more obsessed with ‘managerial voodoo’, evolving from a societal into a congregational church, disappearing from the centre of public life, and becoming alienated from (and unaccountable to) its host community. In presenting this thesis, Brown and Woodhead made relatively little use of numerical data. Their claims that the Church of England has ‘lost’ the English people since 1986 have now been examined through religious statistics in Clive Field, ‘Has the Church of England Lost the English People? Some Quantitative Tests’, Theology, Vol. 120, No. 2, March-April 2017, pp. 83-92. Both attachment and attitudinal indicators are reviewed, the former showing the decline of the Church has been long-term, the latter that division between Church and nation is not always clear-cut. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0040571X16676668

Homosexuality and the Church of England

‘Half of Anglicans believe there is nothing wrong with same-sex relationships’, NatCen Social Research proclaimed on the very day (15 February 2017) that the Church of England General Synod was due to debate a report reaffirming the traditional Christian view of marriage as between a man and a woman. The NatCen press release and associated data tables were based upon secondary analysis of various waves of British Social Attitudes Surveys. In 2014, 47% of professing Anglicans said they agreed with same-sex marriage with just 26% disagreeing. In 2015, 50% of Anglicans described same-sex relationships in general as not wrong at all (three times the number who had said so in 1983), while 27% regarded them as always or mostly wrong; these figures were not that much different than for the electorate as a whole (59% and 22%, respectively). Many of these Anglicans would have been very nominal in their allegiance, and attitudes would doubtless have been less liberal among churchgoers. Affiliates of non-Christian faiths were found to be least supportive of same-sex relationships and religious nones the most. The press release is at:

http://natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2017/february/half-of-anglicans-believe-there-is-nothing-wrong-with-same-sex-relationships/

Meanwhile, one of YouGov’s app-based polls reported on 17 February 2017 that, among recent news stories, 39% of Britons had been interested to hear there were to be ‘no gay marriages in CofE churches’. However, the topic did not generate quite so much interest as North Korea (62%), Donald Trump (55%), and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow (44%). The poll is posted at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/17/political-debate-uk-popular-news-topics/

Young nones

In a 17-page article in the online first edition of Journal of Youth Studies, Nicola Madge and Peter Hemming report on ‘Young British Religious “Nones”: Findings from the Youth on Religion Study’.  This project principally involved online interviews in 2010 with 10,376 13- to 18-year-olds attending secondary schools in three multi-faith locations (Hillingdon and Newham in London and Bradford in Yorkshire), of whom one-fifth self-described as non-religious. As with other investigations into ‘nones’, their lack of homogeneity was the most striking feature of the research. A wide range of religious identities was in evidence, with different levels of religiosity and considerable fluidity in belief and behaviour, over time and according to setting. In particular, being non-religious did not necessarily imply that religion played no part in these young lives. Science and then family were recorded as the two greatest influences in the formation of their religious views. The article is available on an open access basis at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13676261.2016.1273518?needAccess=true

The authors have also contributed a summary of the research in a recent post on the Religion and the Public Sphere blog at:

Non-religious young people in Britain possess a range of different identities

Financing early Methodism

Ecclesiastical finance is a significantly neglected area of research, albeit a vital one since it is clearly essential to understand the means by which churches and other religious bodies sustained themselves in economic terms. Especially welcome, therefore, is Clive Murray Norris, The Financing of John Wesley’s Methodism, c. 1740-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, 336pp., ISBN 978-0-19-879641-1, £65, hardback). In ten chapters, resting upon an extensive range of archival and other primary sources (described on pp. 9-11), Morris demonstrates the often innovative ways in which the nascent Methodist movement financed itself at every level, from the local society to the connexion, and in every sphere of operation, including the preaching ministry, the acquisition of chapels, its publishing enterprise, its educational and welfare work, and its overseas missionary endeavours. There are also some references to comparative developments in the Church of England, Calvinistic Methodism, and Dissent. The book’s webpage is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-financing-of-john-wesleys-methodism-c1740-1800-9780198796411?q=Clive%20Murray%20Norris&lang=en&cc=gb

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7787: Twenty-First Century Evangelicals, 2010-2016

This is not a new dataset as such but the fourth edition of a dataset originally deposited with UKDS in November 2015, adding data for the most recent surveys among this self-selecting panel of professed UK evangelicals. The latest study (the 24th in the series) was conducted by the Evangelical Alliance in September 2016 on the subject of religions, belief, and unbelief; it elicited 1,562 responses. A catalogue description for this resource, with links to a raft of documentation, is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7786&type=Data%20catalogue

The Twenty-First Century Evangelicals project was the responsibility of Greg Smith between 2011 and 2016. He has recently retired from his post of research manager at the Evangelical Alliance and has indicated that ‘it is unlikely that any further materials will now be added’ to the dataset.

SN 8119: Wellcome Science Education Tracker, 2016

The Science Education Tracker (SET), building upon previous Wellcome Monitor Surveys, is designed to provide evidence on a range of key indicators for science engagement, education, and career aspirations among young people aged 14-18 in England. The 2016 sample comprised 4,081 students in school years 10-13 attending state-funded schools. Fieldwork was conducted, through online self-completion, by Kantar Public between 29 June and 31 August, on behalf of the Wellcome Trust and supported by the Royal Society, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Education. The questionnaire included three background variables on religion: religious affiliation (with no denominational differentiation within Christianity); attendance at religious services other than for rites of passage; and opinions about the origin and development of life on earth (creationism versus evolution). A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8119&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8140: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2015-2016

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey) is a face-to-face victimization survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of a range of crimes during the 12 months prior to interview as well as about their attitudes to different crime-related issues. The series began in 1982. The 2015-16 survey was conducted by TNS BMRB for the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Office for National Statistics and achieved 35,248 interviews with adults. In addition to investigating the incidence of religiously-motivated hate crime, respondents were asked to give their religious affiliation, which can obviously function as a background variable for analysing replies to any other part of the questionnaire. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8140&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8144: Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2015

Scottish Surveys Core Questions combines into a single dataset the answers to identical questions asked of an aggregate 21,183 respondents in the annual Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (2014-15), the Scottish Health Survey (2015), and the Scottish Household Survey (2015), all undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government. Religious affiliation is one of the 19 core questions. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8144&type=Data%20catalogue

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, January 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 16, January 2017 features 22 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 16 January 2017

OPINION POLLS

Faith Research Centre

The major polling news of the month was the official launch by ComRes, in London on 24 January 2017, of its Faith Research Centre, directed by Katie Harrison and claimed to be ‘the UK’s first dedicated commercial capability with specific expertise in researching religion and belief’.  The Centre’s vision is ‘to help improve the quality of knowledge . . . by providing robust and impartial evidence of current religious identity, belief, practice, and behaviour’. It aims to do so by offering thought leadership programmes and research and consultancy services on faith issues, domestically and across Europe. Two major projects have already been announced: a series of National Faith Surveys, on a five-year rotational basis, in the UK and four other European countries; and Faith in the Workplace, a set of tools and services to help employers. The Centre’s webpage is at:

Faith

As a trailer for the launch of the Centre, ComRes conducted an online survey into the religious attitudes of 2,048 adult Britons on 4-5 January 2017, the data tables for which can be found at:

General Public Research – Religion of Britain January 2017

Respondents were initially asked to assess whether Britain was still a Christian country, a concept which has been to the fore in debates about ‘British values’ during recent years. A slight majority (55%) replied in the affirmative, a big reduction on the 80% found in 1968 and 71% in 1989 but broadly in line with other post-Millennium polling. The proportion judging Britain a Christian country varied widely with age, ranging from 31% of 18-24s to 74% of over-65s. It was also high among professing Christians (72%). Just over one-quarter (28%) considered Britain to be a country without any specific religious identity, and this was especially true of 18-24s (41%), religious nones (37%), and non-Christians (36%). The remaining 17% of the whole sample gave another answer or did not know what to think.

Interviewees were then presented with six pairs of statements and asked to select the one from each pair which best represented their own position. Four of the statements concerned understanding of religion(s), with pluralities saying that a good understanding of religion(s) was important for politicians and policy makers in the UK (47%); for tackling global terrorism (44%); and for understanding the world itself (47%). A further question asked about self-understanding of religion(s) in the UK, rated as good by 43% and not so by 41%. However, similar numbers were scathing in their own assessment of religion(s), which 45% regarded as generally a cause of wars and violence and 44% as doing more harm than good. Somewhat remarkably, nones were no more critical than the rest of society, the assenting figure being 45% for each statement.

Angels

One-third (32%) of Britons claim to believe in angels, and the same number feel they have a guardian angel watching over them, according to a poll commissioned by the Bible Society and conducted online by ICM Unlimited with 2,037 respondents on 17-18 August 2016. This was a similar proportion to 2010 (31% then believing in angels and 29% in guardian angels). In the 2016 survey, women (39%) were more likely to believe in angels than men (26%) and also to have seen or heard an angel (11% and 8%, respectively). Belief in angels otherwise peaked among over-75s and residents of the South-East (both 39%) and the lowest (DE) social group (41%). Data tables are unpublished but a few results were reported in a Bible Society press release of 13 December 2016 at:

https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/latest/news/a-third-of-all-brits-believe-in-guardian-angels/

Islamist terrorism

Islamist terrorism is the major external preoccupation of Britons for 2017, 62% of them telling YouGov in an app-based poll on 2 January that the threat posed by it was most on their mind as an expectation for the year. This was closely followed by the negative effects of the presidency of Donald Trump (59%). Economic disruption as a consequence of Brexit was in third place, at 48%. Just 21% were confident that 2017 would see significant progress in defeating Islamic State. Topline results only can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/01/02/positive-and-negative-expectations-2017-new-year-r/

Banning the burka

International debate about the wearing in public of certain forms of ‘Islamic’ female dress has been raging for a decade or more now and legal bans have already been imposed in certain countries, albeit not (yet) in Britain. Here the appearance of burkinis on holiday beaches was a matter of contention last summer but attention has now reverted back to the wearing of burkas and niqabs. According to an online YouGov poll of 1,609 Britons on 15-16 December 2016, 50% of the adult population would like to see a law passed against the use of full body and face coverings, backing for such a measure being especially strong among over-65s (72%), UKIP supporters (74%), and those who voted for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum (70%). The national figure in favour of a ban is lower than in Germany (69%, seven points more than five months ago) but higher than in the United States (25%), a majority (60%) in the latter country agreeing that people should be allowed to wear what they want, a position taken by just 38% of Britons (but by half of 18-24s, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters and 57% of ‘remainers’ in the EU referendum). The full data table is accessible via the link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/01/17/brits-and-germans-want-see-burqa-banned-whilst-ame/

‘Muslim’ travel ban

President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days has caused a storm of protest, both in his own country and around the world, including in the UK. Sky Data seems to have been the first organization to test British public opinion on the matter, on behalf of Sky News, among a sample of 1,091 Sky customers contacted via SMS on 30 January 2017. This was obviously a niche – and potentially unrepresentative – audience, even though results were weighted to the profile of the population as a whole. Asked whether they would support a similar ‘Muslim’ travel ban in the UK, 34% of respondents said that they would, rising to 40% of over-55s and 44% of residents in the Midlands and Wales. A plurality, 49%, was opposed to a Trump-style policy being adopted in the UK, with hostility greatest among the under-35s (71%) and Londoners (76%), while 18% expressed no clear view. There was also a plurality, again of 49%, in favour of cancelling the proposed state visit to the UK by President Trump later in the year, with 38% wanting it to go ahead and 12% undecided. The data tables can be found at:

http://interactive.news.sky.com/SMSXLIII_TRAVELBAN_300117_FP.pdf

Corruption of religious leaders

UK findings from Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, 2015/16 have recently been released, based upon telephone interviews by Efficience3 with 1,004 adults between 15 December 2015 and 28 January 2016. One of the questions concerned the perceived corruption of national leaders and institutions, including religious leaders. Among UK respondents, 6% assessed all religious leaders corrupt, 8% most of them, 52% some of them, and 27% none of them, with 8% unable to say. The proportion (14%) claiming that most or all religious leaders were corrupt was lower than in many other European and central Asian countries, the regional average being 17% and the range from 2% in Estonia to 39% in Moldova. Within the UK, five groups were seen as being more corrupt than religious leaders, most or all of local government representatives (19%), business executives (21%), government officials (25%), members of the Prime Minister’s office (27%), and MPs (28%). However, religious leaders were seen as more corrupt than judges and magistrates (9%), police (11%), and tax officials (12%). Topline data are available by clicking on the download link at the bottom of the press release at:

https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/governments_are_doing_a_poor_job_at_fighting_corruption_across_europe

Predictions

Britons are a sceptical lot when it comes to believing the predictions of so-called ‘experts’, according to a YouGov poll of 1,943 adults on 7 January 2017. Weather forecasters (29%) and astronomers (27%) are deemed the most credible, some way ahead of economists (19%). Astrologers have one of the poorest ratings, their predictions trusted by no more than 6% of the population overall, albeit they hold special appeal to 18-24-year-olds (12%) and UKIP voters (10%). Pollsters scored just 1%. Results disaggregated by standard demographics are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/6019c410-d4d6-11e6-b6a9-c26f3e0c0822

Psychic powers

Prompted by recent CIA revelations about scientific tests which apparently ‘proved’ that the Israeli psychic Uri Geller really did have special powers, YouGov asked the 4,645 respondents to an app-based poll on 20 January 2017 whether they believed that some people possess psychic powers. Just over one-quarter (27%) did so, women (36%), Scottish Nationalists (36%), and UKIP voters (40%) being especially convinced. A slim majority (51%) disavowed the existence of psychic powers, men (62%) and 18-24s (66%) being most sceptical. The remaining 22% were undecided. Data have been posted at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/105875e0-def7-11e6-9747-82ef68f86b7f/question/c12b5630-def7-11e6-ba0f-2678bf7c8139/social

Triskaidekaphobia

The occurrence of Friday the 13th in the month occasioned at least a couple of polls about triskaidekaphobia and superstition more generally, neither sufficiently reported to enable their credentials to be established, although there was some print and online media coverage (from which this brief account has been compiled). One survey was conducted by the property website Zoopla among 2,839 homeowners, ascertaining that 43% acknowledged being superstitious and 46% having a lucky number (seven being the most popular); 30% also said they would be less likely to buy a property with thirteen in the address and 23% that they would be unwilling to exchange, complete, or even move into a home on Friday the 13th. The other study was undertaken by the hotel chain Travelodge, 74% of its 2,500 respondents reporting they had suffered bad luck on a previous Friday the 13th and 68% they would be making some kind of gesture on the day in order to bring them good luck; 50% expressed belief in the power of lucky numbers and 40% owned up to being superstitious. An associated survey of Travelodge’s 532 UK hotel managers revealed that room 13 was the one customers wished to avoid most, with room 101 and room 666 the second and third least requested; room 7 is the room most in demand.

Holocaust and genocide

More than a quarter (27%) of survivors of the Holocaust and later genocides who live in the UK have experienced discrimination or abuse in this country linked to their religion or ethnicity, according to a survey released by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), marking Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January 2017). This is despite the fact that 72% of survivors said they felt very or fairly welcome when they arrived in the UK. The majority (52%) waited more than twenty years after their arrival before they began to talk about their experiences. Relatives of these survivors are even more likely (38%) to report being victims of faith- or race-based hatred in the UK. The poll was conducted online by YouGov among 208 survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and 173 of their family members. HMDT’s press release can be found at:

http://hmd.org.uk/news/holocaust-and-genocide-survivors-experience-abuse-uk

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Faith-based charities

New Philanthropy Capital published the final report from its programme of research into faith-based charities on 29 November 2016: Rachel Wharton and Lucy de Las Casas, What a Difference a Faith Makes: Insights on Faith-Based Charities. It draws together the key findings from interim publications and blogs, including an analysis of the statistical importance of faith-based organizations to the charity sector in England and Wales, previously featured by British Religion in Numbers. One-fourth of charities registered with the Charity Commission were found to be faith-based of which two-thirds are Christian. An in-depth survey of 134 faith-based charities was also undertaken. The 33-page report further discusses the main themes which have emerged from the research and makes sundry recommendations. It is available at:

What a difference a faith makes

Evangelical opinions

The Evangelical Alliance (EA) has recently released headline findings from two surveys conducted among its online research panel of evangelical Christians. It should be noted that these were self-selecting (opportunity) samples and may not be representative of the evangelical constituency, still less of churchgoers as a whole.

The first survey was completed by 811 evangelicals between 28 November and 5 December 2016 and was press-released by the EA on 16 December. It concerned attitudes to Christmas, the key messages being that the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, 89% and 99% respectively, intended (a) to volunteer or give money to charitable causes at Christmas and (b) to sing carols or attend a Christmas service. Further information is available at:

http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/media/press-releases/jesus-and-giving-at-the-heart-of-christmas.cfm

The second survey was answered by 1,562 evangelicals and published on 23 December 2016 in the January/February 2017 edition of Idea magazine; dates of fieldwork were not given. The subject matter was belief and unbelief with particular reference to: sharing the gospel with people of other faiths; religious freedom in the UK; secularism; and religious illiteracy in the public square. On the last-named topic, 94% of evangelicals criticized the media and 88% politicians for their lack of understanding of religion. The article is available at:

http://www.eauk.org/idea/belief-and-unbelief.cfm

Faith journeys

What Helps Disciples Grow? is the final report by Simon Foster on a 2014-15 research project for the Saint Peter’s Saltley Trust, a Christian educational charity covering the West Midlands. It is based upon responses to a paper questionnaire completed during services by 1,191 churchgoers in the region drawn from 30 places of worship of different denominations. To what extent this constituted a representative sample is unclear. Respondents were asked how they viewed their own calling, growth, and spirituality and what had helped or hindered their Christian journey over the years. Analysis of the data in partnership with Leslie Francis and David Lankshear suggested that there were four distinct paths of discipleship: group activity, individual experience, public engagement, and church worship. The report, tables (with breaks by gender and age), and questionnaire can be downloaded from:

What Helps Christian Disciples Grow?

Christians against Poverty

Debt-counselling charity Christians against Poverty (CAP) has highlighted the lasting impact of its work, based on the experiences of 214 of its clients surveyed at least twelve months after becoming debt free with CAP’s help, in The Freedom Report: The Importance of Debt Advice in Building Financial Capability and Resilience to Stay Free of Problem Debt. The vast majority of clients (93%) remained free of unmanageable debt, 85% felt in control of their finances, 74% no longer used credit, 62% had passed on to others skills learned through CAP, and 46% even had savings. The 34-page report is available at:

https://capuk.org/downloads/policy_and_government/the_freedom_report.pdf

Surveying Sikhs

Jagbir Jhutti-Johal considers methodological issues raised in surveying the Sikh community, with reference to the UK Sikh Survey (2016), in her Religion and the Public Sphere blog at:

Research on the Sikh community in the UK is essential to better inform policy, but surveys must be improved

Aliyah statistics

In its latest report, written by Daniel Staetsky, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research asked Are Jews Leaving Europe? It focused on migration to Israel from six countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK – which collectively account for 70% of Europe’s Jewish population. Since the Millennium, migration to Israel from the UK, Germany, and Sweden was found to be at a ‘business as usual’ volume whereas in the other three nations, notably in France and Italy, there has been a steep rise in very recent years, to reach historically unprecedented levels. Staetsky deployed statistical modelling in an attempt to identify potential factors which might be driving this pattern, with particular reference to France and the UK, albeit an explicit link to the extent of anti-Semitism could not be proved. Data sources are fully explained in an appendix (pp. 23-6). The report is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2017.Are_Jews_leaving_Europe.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

British Social Attitudes Surveys

In his latest research note for British Religion in Numbers, Ben Clements presents trend data from British Social Attitudes Surveys to 2015 in respect of current religious affiliation, religion of upbringing, and attendance at religious services. See:

Religion and the British Social Attitudes 2015 Survey

Materiality and religion

Material culture has emerged in recent years as a significant theme in the study of religion, and a specialist journal (Material Religion) has been published since 2005. The three phases of materiality – production, classification, and circulation/use – are further illustrated in Materiality and the Study of Religion: The Stuff of the Sacred, edited by Tim Hutchings and Joanne McKenzie (London: Routledge, 2017, x + 245pp,, ISBN 978-1-4724-7783-5, £95.00, hardback). Its thirteen chapters, with introduction and afterword, offer fresh empirical research and theoretical insights, disproportionately drawn from Britain. Reflecting the nature of the subject, these contributions are of a mainly qualitative bent, the exception being Elisabeth Arweck, ‘Religion Materialised in the Everyday: Young People’s Attitudes towards Material Expressions of Religion’ (pp. 185-202). This draws upon data from the 2011-12 ‘Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity’ project, demonstrating a considerable awareness by young people of the cultural factors at work shaping the everyday deployment, circulation, and reception of religious symbols, clothing, and dietary observances. The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.routledge.com/Materiality-and-the-Study-of-Religion-The-Stuff-of-the-Sacred/Hutchings-McKenzie/p/book/9781472477835

Psychology and religion

Vol. 29, No. 2, 2016 of Journal of Empirical Theology is a theme issue on psychology and religion, guest-edited by Emyr Williams and Mandy Robbins. Two of the six articles are of particular British religious statistical interest, although their findings are not entirely conclusive. The more substantial, in terms of its evidence base, is Andrew Village, ‘Biblical Conservatism and Psychological Type’ (pp. 137-59), a correlation explored through responses given by 3,243 self-selecting readers of the Church Times in 2013, 1,269 of them clergy and 1,974 laity. Meanwhile, in ‘The Relationship between Paranormal Belief and the HEXACO Domains of Personality’ (pp. 212-38), Emyr Williams and Ben Roberts illustrate the effects of introducing honesty/humility as an additional (sixth) measure of personality when appraising belief in the paranormal among a preponderantly female sample of 137 undergraduate students in Wales. Access options to these articles are outlined at:

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/15709256/29/2

Church of England liturgies

The words used in Anglican worship have become more accessible over time but there is still scope for making them more so, argues Geoff Bayliss (Rector of Cowley, Oxford), who has appraised the readability of Church of England liturgies by testing them statistically against three standard readability formulae, covering ministry of the word, ministry of the Eucharist, and occasional offices. His summative evaluation is that currently 43% of adults living in England would find 50% of the Church’s liturgical texts difficult to read. Only 34% of these texts fall into the National Literacy Strategy’s Entry Level or Level 1 groupings while 64% are categorized as Level 2, characterized by longer sentences, unfamiliar vocabulary, and a high occurrence of polysyllabic words. Nor is it the case that linguistic complexity is the function of older liturgies such as the Book of Common Prayer; modern versions also exhibit readability problems. Although Bayliss concedes that use of a small core of challenging words may be hard to avoid, he feels many others could be couched in forms which would enhance their readability. The full results of the research are presented in his doctoral thesis, ‘Assessing the Accessibility of the Liturgical Texts of the Church of England: Using Readability Formulae’ (University of Wales DMin, 2016, 314pp.), which can be downloaded from:

http://www.plainenglishliturgy.org.uk/

An introduction to his findings can be found in his article ‘Speaking More in the Language of the People’ in the Church Times, 23/30 December 2016, p. 16, which is available at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/23-december/comment/opinion/speaking-more-of-the-language-of-the-people

EURISLAM Project

Rather belatedly, we should note the publication of a special theme issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (Vol. 42, No. 2, 2016, pp. 177-340) devoted to the EURISLAM Project, funded between 2009 and 2012 by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme. EURISLAM was undertaken by a consortium of six European universities, coordinated by the University of Amsterdam, and with the University of Bristol as the British member. The research took place in Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands, utilizing a combination of media content analysis, telephone interviews, and interviews with representatives of Muslim organizations. In each of the six countries, telephone interviews were conducted with onomastically recruited samples of Muslims of Moroccan, Turkish, former Yugoslavian, and Pakistani descent (798 of them in Britain) and also with a cross-section of the national majority population (387 persons in Britain). The questionnaire explored cultural interactions between Muslim immigrants and receiving societies. The theme issue, The Socio-Cultural Integration of Muslims in Western Europe: Comparative Perspectives, contains nine articles, and is available on a subscriber or pay-per view basis at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjms20/42/2?nav=tocList

There is also much more information about EURISLAM, including further bibliographic references, many results, and a link to the dataset, on the project website at:

http://www.eurislam.eu/

Yearbook of International Religious Demography

The latest global attempt to number religious adherents is Yearbook of International Religious Demography, 2016, edited by Brian Grim, Todd Johnson, Vegard Skrbekk, and Gina Zurlo (Leiden: Brill, 2016, xxiv + 231pp., ISBN 978-9-0043-2173-1, €85, paperback). It draws upon a wide range of sources (described in part 3, pp. 167-78), many of them archived in Brill’s World Religion Database, albeit the 2011 census is the principal source of UK data. Country-by-country totals for each major faith group are tabulated in an appendix (pp. 197-225), with extensive statistical analyses in part 1 (pp. 1-93). From this we learn that, in absolute terms, the UK has the third largest population of Sikhs in the world, the fourth of Jains, the fifth of Zoroastrians, the sixth of Jews and agnostics, and the ninth of non-religionists. Part 2 of the volume comprises seven case studies and methodological essays, none specifically relating to the UK. The book’s webpage is at:

http://www.brill.com/products/reference-work/yearbook-international-religious-demography-2016

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017

 

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Religion and the British Social Attitudes 2015 Survey

The British Social Attitudes (BSA) 2015 survey dataset was released recently and this post provides a brief analysis of long-running data on religion available from the BSA surveys. It focuses on religious affiliation, religion of upbringing and religious attendance.

Firstly, Figure 1 reports the time-series data on affiliation for the period 1983-2015. Noteworthy features include the long-term decline in the proportion identifying as Church of England (40% in 1983, 19% in 2015), increased identification with non-Christian faiths over recent decades (3% in 1983, 8% in 2015), broad stability in levels of Catholic identification (10% in 1983, 9% in 2015), and the steady upwards climb of the proportion with no affiliation (32% in 1983, 49% in 2015). The proportion of other Christians has increased over time, from 15% in 1983 to 17% in 2015. However, the composition of this group has shifted. The proportion identifying as non-denominational Christians has risen over time, with a decreasing share professing a denominational affiliation – in particular, with the Nonconformist churches.

 

Figure 1: Religious affiliation in Britain, 1983-2015

affiliation-1983-2015

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.

 

Secondly, Figure 2 shows the levels of religious attendance over time. For clarity of presentation, attendance has been divided up into three categories: attends once a month or more often (or frequent attendance); attends less often (infrequent attendance); does not attend. In contrast to the shifting patterns of affiliation across recent decades, attendance shows a picture of somewhat less marked change. The proportion reporting that they never attend religious services (beyond going for the traditional rites of passage) has risen from 56% in 1983 to 65% in 2015. There has been some decline levels of frequent and infrequent attending: attending once a month or more fell from 21% in 1983 to 18% in 2015 (with weekly-attending falling from 13% to 10%); the respective figures for those attending less often are 23% and 17%.

 

Figure 2: Religious Attendance in Britain, 1983-2015

attendance-2

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.

 

Third, Table 1 provides a summary of the three long-running indicators of religion carried in the annual BSA surveys – affiliation, religion of upbringing and attendance. The data on religion of upbringing show that the proportion saying they were raised within the Church of England has fallen from over half (55%) in 1991 (when the question was first asked) to around three-in-ten in 2015. The proportion saying they were raised within a Catholic household is the same in each survey. The proportion raised in some other Christian context has increased (from 22% to 28%). The internal composition of this category has shifted markedly over time. In 1983, the 22% was comprised of 19% who had a particular denominational affiliation and 3% who did not. In 2015, the 28% was made up of 10% with a denomination and 18% with no denominational affiliation. The proportion whose religion of upbringing was a non-Christian faith was 3% in 1983 and 9% in 2015. There has been a marked increase in the proportion saying they were not raised within any religion: from 6% in 1983 to 20% in 2015.

 

Table 1: Summary of religious indicators, 1983 and 2015

Affiliation 1983 (%) 2015 (%)
Church of England 40 17
Roman Catholic 10 9
Other Christian 17 17
Other religion 2 8
No religious affiliation 31 49
Religion of upbringing 1991 (%) 2015 (%)
Church of England 55 29
Roman Catholic 14 14
Other Christian 22 28
Other religion 3 9
No religion 6 20
Attendance 1983 (%) (2015)
Once a month or more often 21 18
Less often than once a month 22 17
Never attends 56 65

Source: Author’s analysis of the BSA 1983 and 2015 surveys.

Percentages have been rounded and may not sum to 100.

 

Fourthly, and looking at the religious data in the BSA 2015 survey more detail, Table 2 shows the levels of non-affiliation, not having been raised within a religion and non-attendance at religious services for sex and age group.

 

Table 2: Indicators of secularity by demographic group

No religious affiliation (%) No religious upbringing(%) Does not attend religious services (%)
Sex Men 55 21 69
  Women 43 19 62
Age group 18-24 63 37 68
  25-34 58 31 66
  35-44 54 24 65
  45-54 51 18 65
  55-64 45 12 68
  65-74 34 7 61
  75+ 24 5 59

Source: Author’s analysis of the BSA 2015 survey.

 

Having no affiliation is somewhat more common amongst men than women, as is not attending religious services. Across the age groups, there is considerable variation in two of the three indicators of secularity. Younger age groups are much more likely to report that they did not have a religious upbringing and do not have currently have a religious affiliation.  There is much less variation across age groups in terms of the proportion not attending church or some other place of worship. Whereas amongst 18-24 year olds, 63% have no affiliation (compared to 24% of over 75s) and 37% were not raised within a religious faith (compared to just 5% of over 75%s), a majority in both groups said that they do not attend religious services (aged 18-24: 68%; aged 75 and over: 59%).

 

 

 

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, November 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 14, November 2016 features 29 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: no-14-november-2016

OPINION POLLS

Freedom of speech

The case involving Ashers Bakery in Belfast, found guilty of discrimination for declining on religious grounds to bake a cake promoting same-sex marriage, rumbles on and now seems destined for the UK Supreme Court. The ongoing row has prompted the Coalition for Marriage to commission ComRes to rerun a poll which it originally undertook for the Christian Institute in March 2015. On this second occasion 2,000 Britons were interviewed online on 4-6 November 2016 and asked whether business people should be taken to court for refusing to supply goods or services in eight sets of circumstances. On the scenario identical to the Ashers case, 65% of respondents said that the refusal of a Christian bakery to produce a cake supporting same-sex marriage should not be grounds for taking to court, only 16% disagreeing (and no more than 23% of religious nones). Even lower endorsement of court action was registered for the other seven scenarios which included the refusal of: a Muslim printer to print cartoons of the Prophet; an atheist web designer to create a website promoting creationism; a Muslim film company to make a pornographic film; a Christian bakery to make a cake celebrating Satanism; and a Roman Catholic printing company to print advertisements calling for the legalization of abortion. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Coalition-for-Marriage_-Freedom-of-Speech-Polling_-November-2016.pdf

Faith schools

Government has proposed allowing new and existing faith schools to select up to 100% of their places according to religious criteria, thereby ending the 50% cap which has operated for the last nine years. However, a Populus poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition and British Humanist Association, for which 2,054 adults were interviewed online on 14-16 October 2016, has found that 72% of Britons agree that state-funded schools should not be allowed, in their admissions policies, to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds. Just 15% of the public disagree with the ComRes statement, with 13% undecided. This strong majority against the application of religious criteria in school admissions varies little across demographic sub-groups, including among religious groups. Full data tables are at:

http://accordcoalition.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/OmFaith-Schools_Q2.pdf

Theresa May’s faith

More than one-quarter (27%) of British adults say they have been alarmed by Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent admission that her faith in God gives her confidence she is doing the right thing, according to one of YouGov’s app-based polls on 30 November 2016. One in five (18%) were reassured by her comment while 49% claimed it had no effect on how they felt about May’s actions. Asked, in a supplementary question, whether they lived their own life according to some kind of defined philosophy or system of beliefs, 29% replied in the affirmative but a clear majority (64%) stated they took life as it comes in terms of making a series of practical choices. Topline results only are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/30/government-regulation-company-management-theresa-m/

Protestant ethic and future of religion

Reminded that economic data show the world’s most prosperous nations are mostly Protestant, 25% of respondents to one of YouGov’s app-based surveys on 3 November 2016 thought there was a direct tie between the economic prosperity of these countries and their Protestantism. However, the majority, 58%, detected no obvious links between the two factors, while 18% were unsure or gave other answers. Asked additionally which faith would be dominant in the world 500 years from now, 24% suggested Islam against 14% for Christianity. But 33% felt that no single faith would be dominant and 17% anticipated that religion would have all but disappeared. Topline results are at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/03/religions-protestantism-and-economic-prosperity-fo/

US presidential election

Donald Trump may have won the US presidential election, but he commands limited appeal among British voters, according to an online YouGov poll on 3-4 October 2016. Of the 1,690 adults interviewed, only 11% overall preferred the Republican Trump to his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton (65%), the remaining 23% being undecided. Among the principal religious groups (cell sizes for the others were too small to be viable), Clinton’s share rose to 70% with religious nones, Anglicans and Catholics being marginally more likely than average to favour Trump, albeit he attracted the support of just 13% and 16%, respectively. The question was asked as part of a more general survey of attitudes to globalization (including immigration and multiculturalism), and the full British data tables, with breaks by religion, can be found via the Great Britain link at:  

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/17/international-survey/

Anti-Semitism in relation to Israel

Next year (2017) marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, whereby the British government committed to using its best endeavours to establish in Palestine a national home for Jewish people, but without detriment to the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in the area. Interviewed online by Populus on 14-16 October 2016, on behalf of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), a plurality (43%) of 2,054 Britons still agrees that, in principle, this was the right position for the government to have taken at that time, but 18% disagree and 39% are neutral or undecided. Much water has flowed under the bridge during the intervening century, not least the establishment of the state of Israel, whose actions in the Middle East have divided British public opinion, especially since the 1980s. A majority (57%) is clear that criticism of Israel does not in itself constitute anti-Semitism, 11% saying the contrary, although a plurality (48%) admits that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is anti-Semitic, 20% dissenting. Islamic State (ISIS) is equally viewed as a threat to the security of Israel (by 81% of Britons) and to that of the UK (93%). Full data tables are at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/polls/

A summary of the findings of the poll, including comparisons with last year’s survey, can be found in BICOM’s press release at:

New BICOM poll finds even stronger opposition to boycotts of Israel

Islam and British values

YouGov@Cambridge, the partnership between pollster YouGov and the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, has added two further data points to its tracker on the compatibility between Islam and British values. Since the start of 2015, cross-sections of Britons have been asked whether they believe Islam is generally compatible with the values of British society or they perceive there is a fundamental clash between the two. Topline results are tabulated below, from which it will be seen that half the population judges there is a fundamental clash between Islam and British values, with a peak of 59% in June and October 2015, with no more than one-fifth to one-quarter deeming the two compatible. In the latest survey (on 9-10 October 2016 among 1,694 adults), demographic sub-groups most inclined to perceive a clash were UKIP supporters (81%), people who voted for the UK to leave the European Union in this year’s referendum (72%), and over-65s (64%). Both topline and disaggregated data can be accessed by following the ‘Tracker: Islam and British Values’ and ‘Latest Documents’ links at:

https://yougov.co.uk/cambridge/

% across

Compatible

Clash Neither

Don’t know

2015
January

23

52 12

13

February

23

52 12

13

March

22

55 10

13

May

19

58 9

14

June

20

59 9

12

July

20

56 10

13

August

20

53 12

15

September

20

58 9

13

October

19

59 10

12

December

25

50 13

13

2016
January

25

51 11

13

February

20

56 12

12

March

22

51 10

17

July

25

49 14

13

October

23

52 12

13

Halloween (1)

US-style Halloween celebrations are on the verge of displacing the UK’s traditional Bonfire (Guy Fawkes) Night activities as the principal autumnal festival, according to BMG Research’s online poll of 1,546 UK adults on 19-24 October 2016. The proportion of respondents indicating that they would be celebrating Halloween (31 October) or Bonfire Night (5 November) in some way was tied at 49% each, with both commemorations especially appealing to under-25s (82% of whom said they were planning to observe Halloween and 75% Bonfire Night). Both days have religious origins (Halloween as All Hallows’ Eve, in remembrance of the souls of the dead, and Bonfire Night marking a failed plot by Roman Catholic conspirators in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament) but have now become thoroughly secularized. Full data tables are at:

http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CONFIDENTIAL-BMG-POLL-OCTOBER-data-tables-311016-1.pdf

Halloween (2)

Intentions (definite or probable) to celebrate Halloween were returned at a much lower 21% in another online poll conducted at the same time, by YouGov among 1,631 Britons on 23-24 October 2016, albeit this was still the highest figure of the seven European countries surveyed. The apparent discrepancy with the BMG Research study is perhaps explained by the fact that the latter offered a list of particular Halloween activities (including watching horror films) from which to choose, whereas YouGov used a more binary-style question about celebrating Halloween. YouGov’s topline figures for all seven nations are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/9n40aplkni/Eurotrack_October_USElection_Website.pdf

Halloween (3)

The results of a second, app-based (and potentially not fully representative) poll were posted by YouGov on 1 November 2016. Interviewees were not asked whether they planned to celebrate Halloween themselves but whether they approved of seven specific Halloween activities. Just 17% approved of none of them, with approval being highest for making pumpkin lanterns (72%), apple bobbing (66%), and Christian observance of All Hallows’ Eve (51%). Responding to a separate question, 53% said that the tradition of souling (the Christian origin of trick-or-treating) should be preserved, 26% disagreeing, and 20% uncertain or giving other answers. Topline figures only are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/01/should-nigel-farage-be-made-lord-halloween/

Cryogenics

Cryogenics have been in the news recently, with the revelation that the body of a 14-year-old girl who had died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen in the hope that she can be ‘woken up’ and cured at some point in the future. In a YouGov poll of 4,389 Britons on 18 November 2016, 22% of adults thought there might be some chance, however small, the girl could indeed be brought back to life, UKIP voters and the under-40s being particularly confident. Nevertheless, a majority (57%) judged this impossible, rising to 65% of Conservatives and over-60s, with a further 21% undecided. Three-quarters of the public indicated they did not wish to be cryogenically frozen after death themselves, just 7% expressing the wish to be so, the biggest proportion (13%) being among those aged 25-39. Full results will be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/da79f270-ad76-11e6-8bd0-005056901c24/question/16a319c0-ad77-11e6-8bd0-005056901c24/social

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Passing on faith

Secularization, especially in a Christian context, is often attributed to diminished religious socialization of children. Traditionally, there were three principal agencies for achieving this: Church, school, and home. Church provision (notably through Sunday schools) has largely collapsed. The school is no longer a major player since the curriculum emphasis has shifted dramatically from Christian instruction to multi-faith religious and moral education. The importance of the home has also diminished because many parents have become secularized and more child-centred approaches have persuaded them of the importance of children being left to make up their own minds in matters of religious belief.

Some confirmation of weakened parental commitment to the transmission of faith to their children is now provided in a survey by ComRes for Theos, for which 1,013 British parents with children aged 18 and under were interviewed online on 24-29 August 2016. Only 38% of the sample claimed to be definite believers in God and 17% to attend a religious service once a month or more, with 40% professing no religion at all. Asked whether it is an important part of being a parent actively to pass on beliefs in God or a higher power to children, just 30% agreed while 60% judged it was for children to come to their own opinion independently of their parents. Three-fifths were indifferent whether their children held the same beliefs about God as they did and no more than two-fifths had even had a conversation with their children on the subject. One-third suggested that technology and social media would have more of an impact on their children’s beliefs than their own input. Not unexpectedly, believers in God, regular attenders at religious services, and non-Christians exhibited higher than average levels of commitment to passing on their faith.

The survey is summarized in the foreword (by Nick Spencer) to a new Theos report by Olwyn Mark exploring generic issues of Passing on Faith at:

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Reports/Passing%20on%20faith%20combined%20(1).pdf

Full data tables are available from ComRes at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Theos_Passing-on-Faith_Data-Tables.pdf

University students

The Student Christian Movement (SCM) has voiced concerns about the spiritual support available for higher education students, following receipt of a 26-page report which it commissioned from David Lankshear of St Mary’s Centre on Students in Higher Education and Christian Churches. This was based on statistical analysis of the responses received from 118 churches (disproportionately United Reformed) to an online survey about their contact with higher education students which was run by SCM during the first half of 2016. The majority of churches (54%) had no higher education students in their congregations and 81% had nobody whose role it was to work with students. Many local church leaders felt that going to university had a negative (29%) or mixed (52%) impact on faith, a message picked up in a major news story about the survey in the Methodist Recorder (11 November 2016, pp. 1-2). The report, which its author views as little more than a pilot study, can be viewed at:

http://www.movement.org.uk/sites/default/files/A%20report%20for%20the%20Student%20Christian%20Movement.pdf

Church of England statistics for mission

The Church of England’s Statistics for Mission, 2015 is an impressive 51-page digest of and commentary on data derived from the latest set of parochial returns, with a full description of methodology and a copy of the schedule. The report exhibits continuing decline of the Church across a broad range of performance indicators, subsuming attendance, membership, and rites of passage, the rate of decrease since 2005 varying between 9% (average adult weekly attendance) and 39% (funerals conducted at crematoria and cemeteries). Membership and attendance levels have fallen over a long period, and from a relatively low baseline, but the diminishing take-up of rites of passage has been a more recent phenomenon, with funerals only significantly impacted since the 1980s. Of course, the net picture masks areas of growth in individual dioceses and parishes, giving hope to some within the Church. Commenting on the statistics, William Nye, the Church’s Secretary General, bullishly said: ‘The Church of England is setting out on a journey of Renewal and Reform, aiming to reverse our numerical decline in attendance so that we become a growing church in every region and for every generation.’ On present evidence, there are few grounds for thinking this will ever be achieved. Statistics for Mission, 2015 is available at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3331683/2015statisticsformission.pdf

Conservative evangelical Anglican churches

Despite the gloomy outlook for the Church of England as a whole, average weekly attendance at more than 300 churches linked to the conservative evangelical Reform movement is said to have been growing at the rate of 3% to 4% during the past five years. Congregations at these churches are also typically larger and younger than the norm: their average attendance is 99 compared to 40 in the Church of England generally, with 18% of worshippers over 70 years of age against 30% in the wider Church. The story is reported by Christian Today at:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/conservative.anglican.churches.buck.trend.of.decline/101241.htm

Fresh Expressions

The Church of England would doubtless find it difficult to acknowledge publicly that churchmanship might impact levels of attendance, but it continues to salute Fresh Expressions of Church (fxC) as an engine of growth. Four new reports on fxC have recently been published by the Church Army’s Research Unit, two of them of a quantitative nature. The more substantial (234 pages) of the pair is by George Lings, The Day of Small Things: An Analysis of Fresh Expressions of Church in 21 Dioceses of the Church of England. This is based on interviews with the leaders (equally likely to be male or female) of 1,109 fxCs started between 1992 and 2014, three-quarters of them in the past ten years. These fxCs are attended by 50,600 worshippers, equivalent to 10% of the average weekly attendance of the dioceses concerned (albeit the average congregation – 50 – is smaller than for a typical parish church). Their religious origins are examined in a second (81-page) report by Claire Dalpra and John Vivian, Who’s There? The Church Backgrounds of Attenders in Anglican Fresh Expressions of Church. This examined a hand-picked sample of 66 fxCs and a control group of 24 parish churches, utilizing a sixfold classification of previous churchgoing by the 1,997 attenders at fxCs and 953 at parish churches. The research revealed that 38% of the former were not existing churchgoers when they began attending fxC (albeit this is a lower proportion than estimated by fxC leaders), and that fxCs had a more even age and gender distribution than parish churches. The reports can be downloaded from:

http://www.churcharmy.org/Groups/244966/Church_Army/Church_Army/Our_work/Research/Fresh_expressions_of/Fresh_expressions_of.aspx

Major Parish Churches

Sustaining Major Parish Churches: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities has been prepared by Purcell on behalf of a partnership comprising Historic England (which funded the research), the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Church of England’s Church Buildings Council, the Greater Churches Network, and Doncaster Minster. It collates and analyses a range of statistical and other data relating to the condition, resourcing, and use of the Church of England’s self-designated ‘Major Parish Churches’, based upon a dataset of 300 such churches, an online survey of a sub-set of them, and a series of case studies. The three-part report can be downloaded from:

https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/sustaining-major-parish-churches/

Jewish schools

A new study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, charts dramatic growth since the 1950s, by respectively 400% and 500%, in the number of Jewish schools and Jewish pupils in the UK. This expansion occurred despite a decline in the Jewish population for much of the period, rather being driven by increased uptake of Jewish schooling among Jews. Whereas only one in five Jewish children attended Jewish schools in the 1970s, today the proportion is 63% (and 100% in strictly Orthodox Jewish families), with 30,900 Jewish children enrolled at 139 Jewish schools in the 2014/15 academic year. The majority (57%) of the pupils attends the 97 strictly Orthodox schools (55 primary, 42 secondary), the remainder the 42 mainstream Jewish schools (33 primary, 9 secondary). These, and many other, fascinating facts and figures are in the 45-page report by Daniel Staetsky and Jonathan Boyd on The Rise and Rise of Jewish Schools in the United Kingdom: Numbers, Trends, and Policy Issues, which can be downloaded from:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/The_rise_and_rise_of_Jewish_schools_in_the_United_Kingdom.pdf

Judaism in the workplace

According to sundry reports in the Jewish and secular press, a survey of 190 Jews conducted in October 2016 as part of the Chief Rabbi’s ShabbatUK initiative found that 41% of respondents considered their faith had been an issue in the workplace during the course of their career. Moreover, 32% felt uncomfortable about asking their employer to leave work early on Fridays in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath, 27% were reluctant to discuss their faith openly in the workplace (although 72% had done so), and 17% avoided wearing a Jewish religious symbol or item of clothing when at work.

UK Sikh Survey

The UK Sikh Survey, 2016 (authored by Dabinderjit Singh, Randeep Singh, and Jas Singh) has been developed by the Sikh Network, which is responsible for co-ordinating dialogue with the Government with regard to the goals set out in the Sikh Manifesto, 2015-2020. Described as ‘the largest and most comprehensive ever survey of UK Sikhs’, its 4,559 respondents were recruited between May and August 2016 through a combination of self-selection and targeting of hard-to-reach groups. Although the sample is said to exhibit a good regional, gender, and age mix, the methodology adopted may mean it is not fully representative of the Sikh community in terms of either demographics or activism. Notwithstanding, the findings in this overview report (more detailed analyses are promised) provide a fascinating insight into the experiences and attitudes of UK Sikhs, to set alongside the annual British Sikh Report (which commenced in 2013 and is already inviting responses to its own 2017 questionnaire). In particular, The UK Sikh Survey, 2016 demonstrated strong support for the Government to do more to help achieve Sikh political agendas. Almost unanimously, Sikhs would welcome a separate Sikh ethnic tick box in the 2021 census; a statutory code of practice for the 5Ks (Sikh articles of faith) and the Sikh turban, in order to prevent discrimination against Sikhs in the workplace and in public; and an independent public enquiry into the UK Government’s actions in relation to the ‘Sikh Genocide’ in India in 1984. The UK Sikh Survey, 2016 is available at:

http://www.thesikhnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/UK-Sikh-Survey-2016-Findings-FINAL.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Religious affiliation in Scotland

Two new sources of religious affiliation statistics for Scotland have become available, from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Surveys Core Questions (SSCQ), 2015 (a unified dataset formed from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, the Scottish Health Survey, and the Scottish Household Survey) and from Glasgow City Council’s Glasgow Household Survey, 2016. Topline results are shown below, together with the Glasgow figures from SSCQ.

An Excel worksheet disaggregating the SSCQ national data by various spatial units and demographic characteristics can be found in Table 4.3 via the link at:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/Surveys/SSCQ/SSCQ2015

For Glasgow in 2016, only headline results are currently available, on p. 73 of the Ipsos MORI report on the Glasgow Household Survey at:

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=35362&p=0

% down

Scotland 2015

Glasgow 2015

Glasgow 2016

No religion

46.6

42.6

40

Church of Scotland

27.5

17.1

18

Roman Catholic

14.5

22.5

24

Other Christian

7.3

6.7

4

Muslim

1.7

6.4

6

Other non-Christian

1.6

2.9

5

N =

20,183

1,734

1,023

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Ageing and religion

Ahead of its annual ‘Future of Ageing’ conference, the International Longevity Centre (ILC)–UK unveiled some new analysis from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) dataset for 2004-14. In its press release, ILC–UK advised ‘outreach programmes by religious groups looking to grow their congregations might best be focused on over 60s who have recently started hitting the gym or campaigning with their local political party (of any affiliation)’. This followed the discovery from ELSA that over-60s who join a gym are 4% more likely also to join a religious group, and that those who join a political party are 8% more likely also to join a religious group. It was also found that belonging to a religious group had a small but positive impact on the sense of worth and happiness of older people. Panel members were more likely to join a religious group as they grew older, albeit, in a nod to secularization, fewer belonged to a religious group compared with previous cohorts of the same age (for example, since 2002 6% fewer in their early 60s and 7% less in their late 60s). The press release, which includes an embedded slide show, is available at:

http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/news/news_posts/press_release_new_analysis_shows_those_60_who_join_a_gym_more_likely_to_joi

A Level students

The upward trend in students taking the Advanced Level examination in Religious Studies (RS) is now well established, but relatively little is known about their profile since the reform of A Levels in 2000. Two articles in the current issue (Vol. 37, No. 3, 2016) of Journal of Beliefs and Values shed light on the matter. They both derive from questionnaires completed by students towards the beginning and end of the first year of their study of A Level RS at the same schools.

Leslie Francis, Jeff Astley, and Stephen Parker answer the research questions ‘Who Studies Religion at Advanced Level: Why and to What Effect?’ (pp. 334-46). They use the questionnaires completed by 462 students towards the end of the first year and investigate their demography, motivation, experience, and attitudes. ‘Key findings demonstrated that 78% of students opted for the subject because they enjoyed their earlier experiences of religious studies in school, that 80% of students have become more tolerant of religious diversity, and that only 7% of students feel that studying religion at A level has undermined their personal religious faith while three times that number feel that it has affirmed their religious faith.’

The following article derives from both sets of questionnaires, the first completed by 652 students. Written by Andrew Village and Leslie Francis, it concerns ‘The Development of the Francis Moral Values Scales: A Study among 16- to 18-Year-Old Students Taking Religious Studies at A Level in the UK’ (pp. 347-56). Initially, considerable variation was found in the proportion of students regarding specific moral issues and behaviours as wrong. However, factor analysis applied to their responses to the Likert items permitted the isolation of constructs to form three short scales (for anti-social behaviour, sex and relationships, and substance use) which are recommended as a parsimonious way of assessing general moral values among adolescents.

Access options to these articles are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjbv20/37/3?nav=tocList

Religious discrimination and higher education

The limited evidence base for religious discrimination experienced by UK university students is summarized on pp. 23-6, 46-8, and 84-7 of Changing the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce Examining Violence against Women, Harassment and Hate Crime Affecting University Students (London: Universities UK, 2016). Despite several approaches by Universities UK, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies did not contribute to the work of the taskforce, although Tell MAMA did participate on behalf of Muslims. The report is available at:

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2016/changing-the-culture.pdf

Multiplying churches

Back in 1974-75, David Wasdell of the Urban Church Project modelled Church of England statistics of parochial population and participation to argue for multiplying lay-led congregational units as a way of stimulating church growth, in preference to increasing clergy numbers or combining parishes. His advice was ignored by, and unpalatable to, the ecclesiastical authorities, and his work for the Church was terminated. Now George Lings has applied Wasdell’s methods to the Church’s 2011 statistics and similarly (albeit wordily) replicated ‘A Case for Multiplying the Type and Number of Churches’, Rural Theology, Vol. 14, No. 2, November 2016, pp. 112-33. In the process, he provides a rationale for Fresh Expressions of Church (fxC), which are typically small and often lay-led. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14704994.2016.1234858

Christmas

Given the time of year, and the relative dearth of academic literature on the subject, it seems appropriate to mention a new book by Christopher Deacy, Christmas as Religion: Rethinking Santa, the Secular, and the Sacred (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, xiii + 223pp., ISBN 978-0-19-875456-5, £30.00, hardback). Its significance lies not so much in its quantitative strength (indeed, one struggles to find a single statistic in the entire volume) as its avowed refutation of the secularization thesis by a characterization of Christmas as ‘one of the most unexpected and fecund manifestations of religion in the world today’ (p. 201); ‘it is its very secularity that makes Christmas such a compelling, and transcendent, religious holiday’ (p. vii). The work’s methodological approach is heavily influenced by implicit religion, viewing the secular as a repository of the religious, and the evidential basis disproportionately derives from film and radio (the author’s particular field of expertise). No real attempt is made to address the issue of how, beyond interpretation and assertion, such claims can be measured empirically, including through content analysis, corpus linguistics, or sample surveys. As for the secularization thesis, Deacy ‘mostly ignores a hugely complex debate’, as David Martin has pointed out in his review in Church Times, 25 November 2016, p. xvii. The webpage for Christmas as Religion is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/christmas-as-religion-9780198754565?q=Deacy&lang=en&cc=gb

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 6614: Understanding Society (Wave 6)

The dataset for Wave 6 of Understanding Society (United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study) has just been released. Fieldwork was undertaken by TNS BMRB (in Great Britain) and Millward Brown (in Northern Ireland), and face-to-face interviews were achieved with 42,021 adults aged 16 and over between 8 January 2014 and 11 May 2016, representing a response rate of 65% of panel members. Funded by the ESRC and a consortium of government departments, Understanding Society is a highly complex dataset built from several strands, including the rump of the former British Household Panel Survey and a new Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Boost. The religious content of Wave 6 seems to have been limited to questions on religious affiliation, using a belonging form of wording (seemingly asked only of new entrants to the panel), and on membership of and participation in religious groups or organizations. A full catalogue description, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=6614&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8070: Taking Part, 2015-16

Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure, and Sport is undertaken by TNS BMRB on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport and three of its non-departmental public bodies. For the year 11 cross-section (there is also a longitudinal component), face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10,171 adults aged 16 and over in England between April 2015 and March 2016. The demographic questions included two on religion (‘what is your religion?’ and ‘Are you currently practising your religion?’) which can be used as variables to analyse answers to the topics covered in the main questionnaire. Besides participation in cultural, leisure, and sporting activities, these extended to subjective wellbeing, socialization, volunteering, charitable giving, and community cohesion. A full catalogue description, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8070&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8081: Community Life Survey, 2015-16

This is the fourth annual wave of the Community Life Survey, initiated by the Cabinet Office in 2012-13 to carry forward some of the questions in the discontinued Citizenship Survey. Fieldwork for this wave took place between 1 July 2015 and 30 April 2016, face-to-face interviews being completed by TNS BMRB with 3,027 adults aged 16 and over in England (being a response rate of 61%). Besides demographics, the interview schedule explored identity and social networks, community, civic engagement, volunteering, social action, and subjective wellbeing. More specifically, respondents were asked about their religion and whether they practised it, the proportion of their friends drawn from the same religious group, their participation in and volunteering for religious groups, and their charitable giving to religious causes. A full catalogue description of the dataset, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8081&type=Data%20catalogue

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2016

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, October 2016

 

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 13, October 2016 features 29 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: no-13-october-2016

OPINION POLLS

Desert island Bibles

The well-known figures featured on Desert Island Discs, the long-running BBC Radio programme, are asked to select eight pieces of music to take with them on a desert island but are additionally offered as accompaniments copies of the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. Asked hypothetically, in the event of being stranded on a desert island, whether they would want to be given a copy of the Bible, only 31% of respondents to a recent poll by ComRes said that they would, falling to 18% in the youngest cohort (aged 18-24) and 10% for those with no religion. Unsurprisingly, the proportion was greatest for professing Christians (49%) but otherwise never reached more than 39% in any demographic sub-group (this for the over-65s and residents of North-West England). The majority (56%) declined to accept the Bible, rising to 83% of religious nones, while 13% were unsure what they would do. The poll was commissioned by the Church and Media Network and conducted online on 7-9 October 2016 among a sample of 2,042 adult Britons. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CMN_Desert-Island-Bible-Poll_Data-Tables.pdf

In former days (the programme was first broadcast in 1942), the guests on Desert Island Discs were not automatically offered the Bible and Shakespeare but had to nominate three books to take with them on a desert island. When Gallup invited a sample of Britons to select their titles in 1954, the Bible easily topped the poll, with 36% of the vote, Shakespeare being pushed into third place (5%) after the works of Dickens (7%).

Catholic Church power

Almost half of Britons think the Catholic Church is among the most powerful institutions in the world, according to a YouGov app-based survey on 18 October 2016. Presented with a list of 11 organizations and asked to select the three they judged most powerful, 57% put the United States Central Intelligence Agency in first position, but the Catholic Church came second (on 49%), beating the United Nations into third place (40%). Islamic State (ISIS) was ranked tenth. Topline results are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/10/18/most-powerful-people-and-institutions-world-and-br/

Exorcism

Prompted by a recent report that young Catholic priests are not interested in becoming exorcists, an app-based survey by YouGov on 21 October 2016 asked Britons whether they believed people or places can be affected by evil spirits and, if so, whether an exorcist could help. One-third (34%) of all respondents said they believed in evil spirits, with 25% thinking exorcism efficacious and 9% not. The majority (58%) expressed belief in neither, while 7% gave other answers. Topline results are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/10/21/posting-childs-reaction-hearing-news-his-mother-ha/

Supernatural

One-half of Britons claim to have experienced paranormal activity in their home, according to a recent pre-Halloween survey commissioned by insurance broker Towergate. One-third say they have been frightened by the supernatural in their own home at night, and one-fifth admit to having called someone (generally a parent or partner) in the middle of the night to seek comfort or support in such circumstances. One person in six reports that they have seen a ghostly figure at home and one in eight that they have moved out of a former home because they were afraid it was haunted. Fear of the supernatural is an even greater deterrent to buying properties in certain locations, with 65% unwilling to purchase near an undertaker’s premises, 62% near a graveyard, and 60% near a sinister-looking church. Many would expect a substantial discount on the asking-price to be offered to tempt them to buy allegedly haunted accommodation, although 45% insist no reduction would be sufficient to overcome their anxieties. As yet, no details of the research (including about methodology) have appeared on Towergate’s website, and the preceding account has been compiled from coverage in the online edition of the Daily Express at:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/724495/Haunted-British-homes-paranormal-activity-research

Gay cake row

A Christian family bakery (Ashers) in Northern Ireland has recently lost its appeal against a conviction that found it guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake supporting same-sex marriage on the grounds that it would have been at odds with the family’s religious beliefs. On the eve of the appeal court’s judgment, on 24 October 2016, YouGov asked 5,490 Britons online whether it had been acceptable for the bakery to have refused the order. A plurality (46%) judged the defendants to have behaved acceptably, including 61% of Conservative and 65% of UKIP voters, and 58% of over-60s. Two-fifths deemed the bakery’s action unacceptable, with 18-24s especially condemnatory (60%). The remaining 14% of the sample were undecided. Full results can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/b97bd1a0-99c7-11e6-9434-005056901c24/question/bd5477f0-99c7-11e6-9434-005056901c24/toplines

Churches and the LGB community

Britons are somewhat divided about whether most Christian churches in the UK are welcoming to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Jayne Ozanne (a campaigner on LGB issues), for which 1,669 adults were interviewed online on 11-12 October 2016. A plurality (37%) was unsure what to say. One-third considered most churches were not welcoming to LGBs, the proportion reaching two-fifths among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, Roman Catholics, and religious nones. Three in ten electors judged the churches were welcoming to LGBs, the most optimistic sub-groups being Conservative supporters (38%), over-65s (40%), Christians as a whole (45%), and Anglicans (47%). Respondents were also asked a somewhat ambiguous lead-in question about whether the Church of England does or does not exist for everyone who wants to go to church, 47% thinking the former and 17% the latter. Full data tables are available at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ofq14j098u/JayneOZanneResults_161012_CofE_Website.pdf

Satisfaction with party leaders

BMG Research’s latest political party leader approval ratings were unusually disaggregated by religious affiliation. Summary results from the online interviews with 2,026 UK adults between 19 and 23 September 2016 are tabulated below, for all voters, professing Christians, and religious nones (too few non-Christians were included in the sample to be viable). The strongest finding to emerge is that a majority of Christians are satisfied with Theresa May’s performance as Prime Minister (54%) and dissatisfied with Jeremy Corbyn’s as Leader of the Opposition (57%). Religious nones, by contrast, exhibit a markedly below average approval rating for May and a slightly above average one for Corbyn. An age effect may partly explain these divergences, Christians having a relatively elderly and nones a younger profile. Religious differences were less pronounced in the case of Nigel Farage (whose performance very few could assess, in any case) and Nicola Sturgeon (although there was a nine-point dissatisfaction gap between Christians and nones). Data tables can be found at:

http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CONFIDENTIAL-BMG-POLL-Leadership-Approval-September-results-251016.pdf

% across

Satisfied Dissatisfied

Don’t know

Theresa May as Prime Minister
All voters

43

24

33

Christians

54

19

27

No religion

32

28

40

Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition
All voters

22

48

30

Christians

18

57

25

No religion

25

38

37

Nigel Farage as interim UKIP leader
All voters

11

17

72

Christians

14

15

72

No religion

7

18

75

Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish National Party leader
All voters

32

32

37

Christians

31

37

32

No religion

31

28

42

London attractions

A slight majority (58%) of Londoners claim to have visited St Paul’s Cathedral, placing it ninth in a list of 20 leading attractions in the capital, while 48% say they have been to Westminster Abbey (in sixteenth position). However, young Londoners (aged 18-24) are significantly less likely than the over-65s to have visited either of these two religious landmarks, 38% less in the case of the cathedral and 37% less for the abbey. The survey was conducted online by YouGov and is reported at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/10/04/natural-history-museum-tops-londoners-list-attract/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Legacies

A press briefing by Christian Legacy (a partnership of various Christian charities) in the run-up to Christian Legacy Week (17-23 October 2016) provided a miscellany of information about the state of the Christian legacy market in the UK. It revealed that Christian women are more likely to have included a charitable gift in their will than Christian men, 65% versus 35%. Christians overall are likely to spread their gifts across almost twice as many charities as non-Christians. Of all charitable legacies made in the past three years, 16% have been given to Christian charities or places of worship, with legacies accounting for 3% of the income of these charities. The briefing has yet to appear on the Christian Legacy website, but some previous ‘latest statistics’ can be found at:

http://www.christianlegacy.org.uk/about-christian-legacy/stats-and-facts

Christian Resources Exhibitions

The Christian Resources Exhibition held at Maidstone on 12-13 October 2016 seems set to be the last. Earlier this year, Bible Society – which acquired Christian Resources Exhibitions (CRE) in 2007 – announced that it was putting the enterprise up for sale. However, it has now admitted that no buyer has been found. CRE was founded by Christian businessman Gospatric Home in 1985 and incorporated as a private limited company in 1990. It has comprised an annual event (latterly known as CRE International) held in the South-East (most recently in London) in the late spring together with one or two smaller exhibitions each year at changing other venues. CRE was officially ranked as the country’s 47th largest consumer exhibition in 2007. Visitor numbers for the 1990s were published in UK Christian Handbook, Religious Trends, No. 2, 2000/01, p. 5.8, with around 10,000 attending CRE International, a figure still reached as late as 2011-12. However, there appears to have been some decline since, with 8,000 returned for the four-day event in 2015 and no figure seemingly published for 2016. CRE’s last reported annual turnover was £700,000 in 2005, since when the company has been dormant.

Baptist Assembly

The Baptist Assembly is the yearly gathering of delegates from the English and Welsh regional associations which constitute Baptists Together (Baptist Union of Great Britain).  It combines the transaction of the formal business of the Union (including its annual general meeting) with elements of a Christian conference. The future of the Assembly has been under review for some time, in the light of falling numbers and financial pressures, and different styles and formats have been trialled in recent years. To facilitate longer-term planning, an online survey was conducted after the one-day Assembly at Oxford in May 2016, and this was completed by a self-selecting sample of 1,000 Baptists, of whom 74% had attended Assembly at some point in the past and 53% were ministers. A preliminary report on the results of the survey, focusing especially on preferences for the length, timing, and financing of future Assemblies, has been published at: 

http://www.baptist.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=180013

Catholic Directory

The Universe Media Group has announced its intention to relaunch the print edition of the Catholic Directory of England and Wales in November 2017, four years after its discontinuation, since when an online only edition has been made available. According to the latest editor’s newsletter (No. 4, 2016), this 2018 edition of the Catholic Directory will be comprehensively overhauled in terms of design and content, with several new sections introduced. However, no explicit mention is made of any plans to bring back the former statistical section, which was the sole national public domain source of current data about the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Convent schools

The significant historical contribution of convent schools to the education of Catholic and other pupils in England and Wales is celebrated in Tales out of School: Recollections of Ex-Convent Girls, edited by Anthony Spencer, Pat Pinsent, and Emma Shackle (Taunton: Russell-Spencer, 2016, [4] + v + 243p., ISBN 978-1-905270-74-3, paperback, £12.00 + £1.74 p&p, available from Russell-Spencer, Stone House, Hele, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 1AJ). The core of the book consists of the reminiscences of 40 women who attended convent schools between the 1930s and 1970s, submitted in response to Spencer’s appeal in The Tablet in 2012. Summative evaluation of the material and convent schools generally is provided by the editors, each of whom has written an essay from a particular perspective. Spencer’s chapter (pp. 197-215) is sociologically-focused and statistically informed by the research of the Newman Demographic Survey (NDS), which he directed. The volume as a whole is an initiative of the Pastoral Research Centre Trust, successor body to the NDS.

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Hate crimes

Home Office Statistical Bulletin 11/16, by Hannah Corcoran and Kevin Smith, reports on Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2015/16, as recorded by the police. There were 62,518 offences in which one or more hate crime strands were deemed to be a motivating factor, of which 4,400 (7%) were categorized as religious hate crimes, 34% more than in 2014/15 (almost double the 19% average rise for all forms of hate crime), although the increase may partly reflect improved notification and documentation of incidents. A good deal of the data and analysis combines, unhelpfully from our perspective, racially and religiously motivated offences, including in Annex A which examines the trends in hate crime before and after the referendum on 23 June 2016 on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The report and associated data tables can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2015-to-2016

Religion of prisoners

A snapshot of the prison population of England and Wales as at 30 September 2016 has revealed that 48.6% of prisoners professed to be Christian, 20.5% non-Christian, and 30.8% to have no religion. The number of Christians was 2.0% down on the figure for 30 September 2015 while religious nones increased by 0.8% during the year. There was also a 2.3% rise in Muslim prisoners over the twelve months; they now account for 15.1% of all prisoners. The overwhelming majority (95.3%) of prisoners without religion is male, although there are actually proportionately fewer nones among men (30.7%) than women (32.5%). Full details can be found in table 1.5 of the spreadsheet ‘Prison Population, 30 September 2016’ at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/offender-management-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2016

Anti-Semitism

Antisemitism in the UK is the tenth report of the 2016-17 session of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. It considers alternative definitions of anti-Semitism (pp. 8-15) and reviews the evidence base for its prevalence in the UK – among the general public (pp. 16-26), on university campuses (pp. 33-7), and in political discourse and parties (pp. 38-49, with special reference to the Labour Party) – as well as the response of Government and the justice system (pp. 27-32). An annex (pp. 58-61) presents details of police-recorded anti-Semitic crimes. The statistical evidence is neatly summarized in a ‘key facts’ section (pp. 3-4), which incorporates links to the original sources. Most of these have already featured on the British Religion in Numbers website, but mention should be made of one which has not, a survey in May 2016 of 2,026 Labour Party members who joined after the 2015 General Election, carried out on behalf of the ESRC Party Members Project. The Committee concludes, inter alia, that, although the UK remains one of the least anti-Semitic countries in Europe, recent trends in incidents and attitudes show it to be moving ‘in the wrong direction’ (p. 51). Its report is available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/136/136.pdf

Results concerning anti-Semitism and the Labour Party from the ESRC Party Members Project will be found in its submission to the Labour Party’s own enquiry chaired by the now Baroness Chakrabarti at:

https://esrcpartymembersprojectorg.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/balewebbpolettisubmission4chakrabarti3rdjune2016-1.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion

Volume 27 (2016) of Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion is sub-divided into a miscellany of five articles and a special section of seven contributions on prayer guest-edited by Kevin Ladd. Each section contains one article of United Kingdom quantitative interest. The miscellany includes Leslie Francis, Patrick Laycock, and Gemma Penny, ‘Distinguishing between Spirituality and Religion: Accessing the Worldview Correlates of 13- to 15-Year-Old Students in England and Wales’ (pp. 43-67), based on 2,728 respondents to the Young People’s Values Survey, and employing discriminant function analysis to isolate the specific combinations of attitudes and values which distinguished young people who described themselves as religious but not spiritual from those who saw themselves as spiritual but not religious. Among the papers in the prayer section is Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny, ‘Prayer, Personality, and Purpose in Life: An Empirical Enquiry among Adolescents in the UK’ (pp. 192-209), drawing upon questionnaires completed by 10,792 participants in the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity project (see, also, next item), and demonstrating that prayer frequency adds additional prediction of enhanced levels of purpose in life after taking all other variables into account. The volume’s webpage can be found at:

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/books/9789004322035?showtab=chapters

Religious diversity

The 16 chapters in Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity, edited by Elisabeth Arweck (London: Routledge, 2017, xi + 303 pp., ISBN 978-1-4724-4430-1, £95.00, hardback) substantially report the findings of the AHRC/ESRC-funded project of the same name which was undertaken at the University of Warwick’s Religions and Education Research Unit in 2009-12. The research involved both qualitative and quantitative strands, each represented by six contributions in the book, the qualitative essays written by Arweck or Julia Ipgrave and the quantitative ones by Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny together with another co-author in five instances. For the quantitative strand, questionnaires were completed in 2011-12 by 11,725 13- to 15-year-old students attending state-maintained schools with and without a religious character in five geographical areas (London, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). The results for each area are analysed in a separate chapter, positioned as a response to a research question suggested by previous scholarly research and debate in that particular area. The final section of the volume is given over to three international case studies, from Canada, the United States, and Germany. The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.routledge.com/Young-Peoples-Attitudes-to-Religious-Diversity/Arweck/p/book/9781472444301

Secularization

Clive Field was recently invited to speak about ‘Measuring Secularization in Britain’ as one of the series of Sunday evening talks on ‘Religion and Conflict’ at Somerville College Chapel, Oxford. His presentation slides have been made available at:

Presentations

Non-religion

If, as is often claimed, no religion is the fastest-growing religion in the western world, then the study of non-religion can equally be observed to be the fastest-growing area in religious scholarship. One of the latest monographs in the field is Phil Zuckerman, Luke Galen, and Frank Pasquale, The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, v + 327 pp., ISBN 978-0-19-992494-1, £16.99, paperback). The volume provides a guide to the English-language social scientific literature about non-religion, as listed in its substantial bibliography (pp. 261-309). Although the focus of the book is international, the arrangement is largely thematic, so there is no systematic discussion of the situation, nor collation of the statistical evidence, for particular countries. There are some scattered references to the United Kingdom, the most substantive of which is on pp. 75-6. The title’s webpage is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-nonreligious-9780199924943?q=Zuckerman&lang=en&cc=gb

Ministry and history

The extent, nature, and practical implications of the engagement of Christian ministers with both general and religious history are explored by John Tomlinson in ‘Ministry and History: A Survey of Over 300 Religious Practitioners’, Theology and Ministry, Vol. 4, 2016, pp. 2.1-15. Data derive from a postal questionnaire completed in 2013-15 by 49% of 610 ordained clergy and ministers in five denominations working in parts of the East and West Midlands. The article is available on an open access basis at:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/theologyandministry/TheologyandMinistry4_2.pdf

Anglican identities

Abby Day has edited an interesting interdisciplinary collection of 14 chapters on global Anglicanism: Contemporary Issues in the Worldwide Anglican Communion: Powers and Pieties (Farnham: Ashgate, 2016, xviii + 270 pp., ISBN 978-1-4724-4413-4, £65.00, hardback). Although there is a fair amount of specifically Britain-related content, the volume’s approach is overwhelmingly qualitative. Indeed, it is highly revealing (and not a little unusual) that its editor has prevailed upon the authors of the only substantial quantitative research article to write up their findings in a narrative rather than numerical form. This essay is by Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny, ‘Belonging without Practising: Exploring the Religious, Social, and Personal Significance of Anglican Identities among Adolescent Males’ (pp. 55-71). The chapter profiles the worldviews (across 10 themes) of two groups of 13- to 15-year-old students from secondary schools in England and Wales, 1,800 religiously unaffiliated and 1,488 professing Anglicans (further sub-divided by frequency of churchgoing into four sub-groups). The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.routledge.com/Contemporary-Issues-in-the-Worldwide-Anglican-Communion-Powers-and-Pieties/Day/p/book/9781472444134

Methodism and social inclusion

Despite its avowed preferential option for the poor, there is no evidence that the Methodist Church in Britain is targeting its resources towards the most deprived communities, according to new research by Michael Hirst. He has analysed cross-sectional and longitudinal data for the distribution of Methodist personnel (ministers, members, and connexional lay appointees), churches, and schools against a widely accepted 38-item index of neighbourhood deprivation for both Lower Layer Super Output Areas and Middle Layer Super Output Areas in England. He found that the immediate surroundings of most Methodist churches typify areas in the middle of the deprivation spectrum while few Methodist schools serve areas of significant deprivation. Moreover, ministers and lay appointees live predominantly in the least deprived neighbourhoods and increasingly so. Hirst’s ‘Poverty, Place, and Presence: Positioning Methodism in England, 2001 to 2011’ is published in the open access journal Theology and Ministry, Vol. 4, 2016, pp. 4.1-25 at:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/theologyandministry/TheologyandMinistry4_4.pdf

British and Australian Quakers

A comparison of the beliefs and practices of British and Australian Quakers is offered by Peter Williams and Jennifer Hampton in ‘Results from the First National Survey of Quaker Belief and Practice in Australia and Comparison with the 2013 British Survey’, Quaker Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, June 2016, pp. 95-119. The 2014 Australian study replicated 42 questions from the 2013 British enquiry (whose results were reported by Hampton in Quaker Studies, Vol. 19, 2014-15, pp. 7-136). Answers to half of these questions were remarkably similar in both surveys, but Australian respondents were found to be more likely than their British peers to describe prayer and their activities in meetings for worship as meditation; to describe the Quaker business method as finding a consensus; to believe Quakers can be helped by hearing about the religious experiences of other groups; and to be involved with other social or religious organizations or issues. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/pdf/10.3828/quaker.2016.21.1.7

Catholic churchgoing

Ben Clements illuminates ‘Weekly Churchgoing amongst Roman Catholics in Britain: Long-Term Trends and Contemporary Analysis’ for the online first edition of Journal of Beliefs and Values. In the first half of the paper, four recurrent sources (British Election Studies, British Social Attitudes Surveys, European Values Studies, and European Social Surveys) are used to document a clear over-time decline in self-reported weekly church attendance by Catholic adults. In the second half, an online survey of British Catholics by YouGov in 2010 is analysed to isolate the socio-demographic correlates of regular churchgoing, weekly attenders being shown to be disproportionately older, of higher socio-economic status, and to have children in the household. Somewhat contrary to generic expectation, however, the effects of gender and ethnicity were not found to be significant. The investigation did not extend to an examination of trends in actual Mass-going by Catholics, which has been recorded by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales for more than half a century and also in the ecumenical English Church Censuses between 1979 and 2005. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1237422

Islamophobia

A cross-national study, undertaken in 15 European countries (including the United Kingdom) belonging to the Dublin System (which coordinates asylum policy in Europe), has revealed a marked anti-Muslim bias (and a corresponding pro-Christian bias) in attitudes to hypothetical asylum seekers. Data were collected by Respondi from internet panels in February-March 2016, a total of 18,030 adults being questioned online, among them 1,201 in the United Kingdom. Using a seven-point scale, where 1 denoted sending the applicant back to their country of origin and 7 granting permission to stay, each respondent was asked to rate the profiles of five pairs of asylum seekers according to nine different attributes, one of which was their religion (Christian, Muslim, or agnostic). Results are reported in an 11-page article and 121 pages of supplementary materials (mainly figures and regression tables) published in the First Release edition of Science on 22 September 2016: Kirk Bansak, Jens Hainmueller, and Dominik Hangartner, ‘How Economic, Humanitarian, and Religious Concerns Shape European Attitudes toward Asylum Seekers’. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/09/22/science.aag2147

Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Volume 7 (Leiden: Brill, 2016, xx + 620 pp., ISSN 1877-1432, €179.00, hardback) has been compiled by a team of five editors led by Oliver Scharbrodt. It comprises an introductory essay by Jonathan Laurence (pp. 1-10) and 44 country overviews, including one on the United Kingdom by Asma Mustafa (pp. 607-20). Commencing with this volume, statistical and demographic data have been relegated to an appendix for each chapter, which, in the case of the United Kingdom (pp. 616-17), is mainly drawn from the 2011 population census. The text of each country report otherwise focuses on developments affecting Islam and Muslims during 2014. The British Religion in Numbers source database records 53 relevant surveys for 2014, including those relating to the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham schools and the rise of Islamic State, but none of these is mentioned by Mustafa whose contribution runs to only half the length allotted to Belgium. The volume’s webpage is at:

http://www.brill.com/products/book/yearbook-muslims-europe-volume-7

Muslim labour market penalty

In the latest paper in his series based on UK Labour Force data for 2002-13, Nabil Khattab uses descriptive and multivariate analysis to illuminate ‘The Ethno-Religious Wage Gap within the British Salariat Class: How Severe is the Penalty?’ Although he discovered substantial differences in gross hourly pay between different ethno-religious groups, he contends that they cannot be attributed to pure ethnic or religious discrimination. Nor did he find evidence for an overarching ‘Muslim penalty’, as suggested by some other scholars, notwithstanding two Muslim groups (Muslim-Bangladeshi and Muslim-Pakistani) experienced greater disadvantage than many of the ten other ethno-religious groups included in the study. The article was published in the August 2016 issue of Sociology (Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 813-24), and the full text is freely available at:

http://soc.sagepub.com/content/50/4/813

Halal meat

Animals slaughtered for Muslim consumption must meet specific requirements laid down in the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. In particular, animals must be alive at the point of ritual cut, with many Muslims traditionally believing pre-stunning prior to slaughter to be non-reversible and contrary to Halal principles. To assess current views, Awal Fuseini, Steve Wotton, Phil Hadley, and Toby Knowles surveyed 66 Islamic scholars and a non-random and disproportionately male sample of 314 consumers of Halal meat in the UK between October 2015 and March 2016. The study was funded by the Halal Food Foundation. The majority of both scholars (95%) and consumers (53%) agreed that, if an animal is stunned and then slaughtered by a Muslim and the method of stunning does not result in death, cause physical injury, or obstruct bleed-out, then the meat could be considered Halal-compliant. ‘The Perception and Acceptability of Pre-Slaughter and Post-Slaughter Stunning for Halal Production: The Views of UK Islamic Scholars and Halal Consumers’ is published in Meat Science, Vol. 123, January 2017, pp. 143-50. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174016303151

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2016

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, September 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 12, September 2016 features 26 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: no-12-september-2016

OPINION POLLS

Religious affiliation

Lord Ashcroft’s latest large-scale political poll, conducted online among 8,011 voters between 11 and 22 August 2016, included his customary question about professed ‘membership’ of religious groups. As the following table indicates, the proportion identifying with no religion has increased steadily in similarly-sized Ashcroft surveys for the second half of each year since 2011, by almost five points over this quinquennium. There has been a corresponding reduction in self-identifying Christians, who seem destined to lose their overall majority share within a matter of years. Indeed, religious nones are already in the ascendant among under-35s and supporters of green and nationalist political parties. Full breaks by demographics are contained in table 65 at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/The-New-Blueprint-Full-data-tables-Sept-2016.pdf

% down

2011

2012 2013 2014 2015

2016

Christian

56.0

54.2 52.6 53.2 51.2

51.4

Non-Christian

6.4

7.3 7.4 6.5 6.5

6.1

None

35.8

36.3 37.7 37.9 40.1

40.5

Prefer not to say

1.8

2.2 2.3 2.3 2.1

2.0

Importance of religion

Asked in a YouGov Daily app-based survey on 14 August 2016 about the importance they attached to their religion, 47% of Britons replied that they had no religious beliefs. Of the remainder, 13% said religion was very important to them, 16% somewhat important, and 21% not very important. Topline results are published at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/14/funding-farmers-lose-memory-personal-importance-re/

Obsessions

Just 4% of Britons admitted to being obsessed about religion, according to another YouGov Daily app-based survey on 28 September 2016. Given a list of ten things to be obsessed about, 44% said they were obsessed about none of them. Money (29%), food (26%), and politics (18%) topped the list of obsessions, with religion coming in joint last position with the arts. Topline results are published at: 

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/09/28/david-cameron-and-theresa-may-claims-and-counter-c/

Human extinction

Almost half of Britons (49%) anticipate that the human race will die out at some stage, according to YouGov, which interviewed a sample of 1,581 adults online on 11-12 September 2016. The remainder did not believe it would expire or were unsure what to think. Asked to pick up to three from a list of 12 possible causes of human extinction, the top-rated choices were a nuclear bomb (38%), climate change (31%), a pandemic (27%), and a meteor or asteroid (26%). But 8% considered that a religious apocalypse could bring human life to an end, rising to 18% of UKIP voters and 12% of 18-24s. Still more, 27%, agreed that the government should be developing contingency plans against a religious apocalypse, varying by demographic sub-groups between 22% and 36%. Full data tables can be accessed via the link in the blog post at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/09/26/end-isnt-nigh/

Burkas and burkinis

Debate about Islamic women’s dress, notably the wearing of burkas and/or burkinis in public, reignited in several European countries during the summer. In Britain, according to an online poll by YouGov on 24-25 August 2016, a majority (57%) of the sample of 1,668 adults was in favour of a law banning the wearing of the burka, three points less than in 2012, with 25% opposed to a prohibition and 18% undecided. Endorsement of a ban was highest among Conservatives (66%), persons aged 50-64 (68%), over-65s (78%), people who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union (78%), and UKIP supporters (84%). Only among 18-24s and those who had voted to remain in the European Union did opponents outnumber proponents, albeit they never constituted a majority. The distribution of female opinion was broadly the same as the national average. However, when it came to the burkini, just a plurality of 46% agreed with a legal ban, with 30% against (including almost half of 18-24s and ‘remainers’) and 24% unsure. The lower level of support for prohibition of the burkini may be related to the fact that, unlike the burka (as popularly defined), it does not cover the face. Detailed results can be accessed via YouGov’s blog post on the survey at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/31/majority-public-backs-burka-ban/

Attitudes to the burkini were further explored in another YouGov poll, for which 4,052 Britons were interviewed online on 31 August 2016. The question this time was not whether the burkini should be legal in the UK but, following controversy in France, whether it is acceptable to wear one at the beach. A small majority (51%) thought it was acceptable, but 35% disagreed (including 61% of UKIP voters and 46% of over-60s), with 14% uncertain. Data are posted at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/2fc0ca50-6f66-11e6-87b8-005056900101

Circumcision

In 2013 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution about violation of the physical integrity of children which, inter alia, expressed concern about the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons. The matter was aired in one of YouGov Daily’s app-based surveys on 5 August 2016, respondents being asked whether infant male circumcision should be banned or not. Four options were given, multiple answers being permitted. In reply, two-fifths of Britons said that it should be banned with a further one-quarter wanting it discouraged. Support for circumcision on religious grounds stood at 14%, the same proportion as thinking the practice should be encouraged for health reasons. Topline results are published at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/05/circumcision/

Anti-Semitism (1)

Concerns that anti-Semitism has not been rooted out of the Labour Party will not go away. The latest revelation is that 87% of a sample of 1,864 British Jewish adults felt that the Labour Party is too tolerant of anti-Semitism among its MPs, members, and supporters. Significant numbers of Jews also said the same about the Green Party (49%), the United Kingdom Independence Party (43%), the Scottish National Party (40%), and the Liberal Democrat Party (37%). Only the Conservative Party (13%) is perceived as having a good track record at combating anti-Semitism in its midst. The survey was commissioned by the Campaign against Antisemitism, and full results will be released in October 2016 as part of the Campaign’s Antisemitism Barometer. Meanwhile, its press release can be found at:

https://antisemitism.uk/caa-launches-manifesto-for-fighting-antisemitism-as-poll-reveals-extent-of-antisemitism-crisis/

Anti-Semitism (2)

One-third of 3,660 Britons interviewed online by YouGov on 27 September 2016 agreed (either strongly or somewhat) that anti-Semitism has become so deeply entrenched in our thought and culture that it is often ignored and dismissed. The proportion thinking so was highest among the over-60s (42%) and lowest for UKIP voters (26%). Dissentients numbered 37% while 30% of respondents did not know what to think. Demographic breakdowns of results are at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/ec63a420-8497-11e6-b0e1-005056900101

Lucky charms

Avid television viewers of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games may have noticed many athletes carrying lucky charms or performing little routines to bring them luck. Respondents to one of YouGov Daily’s app-based surveys of Britons on 17 August 2016 were asked whether they thought these charms and routines actually helped athletes to do well. Only 9% said they had no effect whatsoever, as many as 86% perceiving a psychological benefit in helping the athletes’ state of mind. A further 4% agreed with this suggestion but also believed that lucky charms and routines can genuinely bring about good luck. Topline results are published at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/17/state-schools-and-oxbridge-luck-charms-gdp-and-len/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Funeral music

Even funerals are no longer immune from secularization. Not only is the proportion of them conducted by religious celebrants fast diminishing, but religion is disappearing from their content. Co-operative Funeralcare’s latest biennial survey of funeral music confirms the trend, 54% of its funeral directors stating that hymns are the funeral music genre declining fastest in popularity. In a survey of over 30,000 funerals conducted by the group, seven of the top ten pieces of funeral music in 2016 were secular, the chart being headed by Frank Sinatra’s My Wat. Although the other three were hymns, they had all slipped since the 2014 rating: The Lord is My Shepherd from second to fifth position, Abide with Me from third to ninth, and All Things Bright and Beautiful from sixth to seventh. Outside the top ten, the next most requested hymns were How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, and The Old Rugged Cross. Co-operative Funeralcare’s press release is at:

http://www.co-operativefuneralcare.co.uk/arranging-a-funeral/organising-the-day/funeral-music/Survey/2016/

Christians and the supernatural

Two-thirds of practising Christians in the UK claim to have personally experienced the supernatural, more than half of them during the past year and one-quarter in the previous week. This is according to a study conducted by Christian Research in July 2016 among 1,409 self-selecting members of its online Resonate panel, disproportionately Protestant, male, and over 55 years of age. Most of the claimed experiences involved answered prayer and healing. Two-thirds of the sample thought that paranormal or evil forces could be behind the supernatural as well as the divine, and a similar proportion agreed that an over-emphasis on ‘miracles’ gave Christianity a bad name. The survey was commissioned to coincide with the launch of a new book written by the co-pastors of Soul Survivor Watford: Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft, Everyday Supernatural: Living a Spirit-Led Life without Being Weird (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2016, 239pp., ISBN 978-0-7814-1499-9, $16.99, paperback). However, it should be noted that no results appear in the book itself. The foregoing account is largely based on the coverage by Premier Christian Radio and the Church Times at, respectively:

https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Two-thirds-of-UK-Christians-have-experienced-the-supernatural

and

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/2-september/news/uk/christians-supernatural-experiences-surveyed

Contemporary evangelicals

The Evangelical Alliance is celebrating its 170th anniversary. As part of the commemoration, it has conducted another wave in its 21st Century Evangelicals project. Almost 1,500 members of its self-selecting research panel were interviewed online. Some headline findings from the study are published in an article in the September-October 2016 issue of the Alliance’s IDEA Magazine (pp. 14-15). Overwhelmingly, evangelicals said they were committed to sharing the gospel with their personal networks and to passing on the Christian faith to the next generation. However, 62% also believed British evangelicalism would increasingly depend upon the contribution of black and minority ethnic Christians, with 71% looking to growing immigration and the arrival of asylum seekers as a further opportunity to evangelize. Asked about future priorities for the Alliance, the protection of religious liberty topped the list. The article is freely available online at:

http://www.eauk.org/idea/upload/idea_magazine_septoct2016_webversion.pdf

Church Growth in East London

In Church Growth in East London: A Grassroots View, recently published by the Centre for Theology & Community, Beth Green, Angus Ritchie, and Tim Thorlby summarize insights into church growth derived from interviews with 13 church leaders in East London between March and May 2014. Eight of the places of worship visited were Anglican, and the rest from other traditions (one Baptist, one Pentecostal, one Roman Catholic, and two non-denominational). Nine of the 13 had black majority congregations. Seven reported numerical growth during the previous five years. Church-planting and immigration were identified as the two distinctive factors which have helped growth. The 52-page report, including reflections by the Bishop of Chelmsford (Stephen Cottrell) and recommendations for future action, can be found at:

http://www.theology-centre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Church-Growth-digital.pdf

Church bell-ringing

The centuries-old tradition of church bell-ringing may be under threat because of a shortage of new recruits. This is according to a survey, by BBC local radio, of 180 delegates to the 2016 annual conference of the Central Conference of Church Bell Ringers. Three-quarters of the delegates said that it had become harder during the past ten years to attract new members of any age, and an even higher proportion claimed that it was difficult to recruit young people under 21. More than half (54%) agreed that declining church attendance had exacerbated the problem. At the same time, three-fifths of delegates thought the actual demand for bell-ringing had increased in the previous decade. The BBC’s press release about the survey is at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37257729

Church of England parochial finance

A 28-page report on the Church of England’s parish finance statistics for 2014 has revealed a £41 million or 4% surplus of income (£989 million) over expenditure (£948 million). Viewed as absolute figures, total income has increased by 30% since 2004 and income from planned giving (as opposed to the collection plate and other means) by as much as 53%, even though the number of planned givers has fallen steadily since 2007, in line with declining church attendance. In real terms, however, adjusting for inflation, overall income has dropped by 5% since 2004 and planned giving by 8% since 2009, while expenditure has remained fairly steady. Data are reported nationally for each year from 2004 to 2014 and by diocese for 2014 alone. Parish Finance Statistics, 2014 can be found at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2853794/2014financestatistics.pdf

Church of England ministry

Two new reports from the Church of England exemplify the challenges which it faces with regard to the future availability of stipendiary and other clergy. The 18-page Ministry Statistics in Focus: Stipendiary Clergy Projections, 2015-2035 has been prepared by Research and Statistics and derives from the Church Commissioners’ payroll system. It shows that, if the number of ordinands and average retirement age remain unchanged (the status quo model), then the pool of stipendiary clergy will decline steadily, from 7,400 in 2016 to 6,300 in 2035. Of the three other projection models explored, only achievement of the ambitious Renewal and Reform target of a 50% increase in ordinations by 2023, and its maintenance thereafter, would ensure stability in stipendiary clergy numbers at around 7,600 full-time equivalents. The second report, Ordained Vocations Statistics, 1949-2014, runs to 22 pages and has been compiled by the Ministry Division. It charts the annual number of recommended candidates for the various forms of Anglican ministry (not just stipendiary) and, since 1988, their demographic characteristics (gender, age, and ethnicity). There is a particular focus on the years 2010-14 and there are also brief case studies of three dioceses. Both reports can be accessed via:  

https://churchsupporthub.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Cover-note-for-stats-reports-FINAL-LINKS.pdf

Church of England cathedrals

Cathedral Statistics, 2015 have recently been released by Church of England Research and Statistics. The 18-page annual publication contains the usual range of information about numbers of worshippers, communicants, occasional offices, attenders at other activities, volunteers, visitors, names on the community roll, and musical life in the 42 English cathedrals, often with trend data back to 2005. Unsurprisingly, the largest metric was for visitors, 9,490,000 (albeit 7% down from the recent high in 2013) plus a further 1,040,000 at Westminster Abbey. The report can be found at:  

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2859050/2015_cathedral_statistics.pdf

Church in Wales statistics

The annual report on Church in Wales membership and finance for 2015 generally depicted ongoing decline. Of 12 indicators of participation in parish life, only two showed an absolute increase between 2014 and 2015: confirmations (+7%) and funerals (+1%). By contrast, there was a 6% decrease in the number of weddings and a 5% reduction in Sunday attendance by both adults and young people and in Pentecost communicants. Average Sunday congregations have now fallen below 1% of the Welsh population. The Church’s Governing Body, at its recent meeting in Lampeter, had originally been asked merely to ‘take note of’ the report but it was in no mood simply to do that and passed a resolution that it did so ‘with a heavy heart’ and with a request for an urgent investigation into the factors underlying church growth in the minority of parishes which were experiencing it. The membership and finance report is available at:

http://cinw.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Ag19-MembershipFinance_en.pdf

The Governing Body’s debate on the report received full-page coverage in the Church Times (23 September 2016, p. 13) at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/23-september/news/uk/declining-figures-noted-with-a-heavy-heart

Jewish students

The Union of Jewish Students, which represents 8,500 Jewish students in the United Kingdom and Ireland, has provided The Jewish Chronicle with the 2016 distribution of Jewish university students, summarized by the newspaper in its issue of 23 September 2016 (p. 88). Three universities (Birmingham, Leeds, and Nottingham) have more than 1,000 Jewish students. Five have more than 500: Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, and University College London. Nine have more than 100, 10 more than 50, and 29 fewer than 50.

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Scottish Household Survey, 2015

The proportion of Scots claiming to belong to no religion has increased from two-fifths to one-half within the space of just six years, according to the latest data from the Scottish Household Survey, for which a random sample of almost 10,000 adults is interviewed annually by a consortium led by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Scottish Government. The growth in religious nones has largely been at the expense of allegiance to the Church of Scotland, whose market share has declined from one-third to one-quarter since 2009. Adherents of the Roman Catholic and other Christian Churches and of non-Christian faiths have shown reasonable stability (see table, below). Non-Christians, however, are far more likely than affiliates of other religious to record that they have been subject to discrimination or harassment within the past three years, although this is not necessarily on religious grounds. Scotland’s People Annual Report: Results from the 2015 Scottish Household Survey is available, alongside associated data tables, at:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/7673/0

% down

2009

2011 2013

2015

None

40

42 46

50

Church of Scotland

34

32 28

25

Roman Catholic

15

16 15

14

Other Christian

8

8 8

8

Non-Christian

3

3 3

3

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, 2015

The Scottish Government has also published the 103-page report Scottish Social Attitudes, 2015: Attitudes to Discrimination and Positive Action. It is based on the fourth in a series of special discrimination modules of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey which the Scottish Government has sponsored since 2002, for which 1,288 Scottish residents aged 18 and over were interviewed by ScotCen Social Research between July 2015 and January 2016. They were questioned about discrimination and positive action in relation to age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, and religion. Religion-related issues are discussed throughout the report but there is also a separate chapter (pp. 53-9) on religious dress and symbols. In general, discriminatory attitudes were found to have declined since the last module in 2010, including on the part of those with a religious affiliation. Nevertheless, varying degrees of negativity continued to be exhibited towards Muslims:

  • 65% thought a bank should definitely or probably be able to insist a Muslim woman employee remove the veil while at work (69% in 2010)
  • 41% agreed that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Scotland (50% in 2010)
  • 41% did not know anybody who was a Muslim (46% in 2010)
  • 20% would be unhappy if a close relative married or formed a long-term relationship with a Muslim (23% in 2010)
  • 18% thought a bank should definitely or probably be able to insist a Muslim woman employee remove the headscarf while at work (23% in 2010)
  • 13% considered a Muslim would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher (15% in 2010)

The report can be downloaded from:

http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506463.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Secularization in Britain and America (1)

Half a century has passed since Bryan Wilson (1926-2004) published his Religion in Secular Society: A Sociological Comment as part of ‘The New Thinker’s Library’, a series from C. A. Watts, which was a small London firm associated with the rationalist movement. The sociology of religion was still in its infancy in Britain at that time, but Wilson offered a pithy assessment of the secularization pattern in England, including an opening chapter summarizing the quantitative evidence, as well as a comparative treatment of religion in America. Reprinted by Penguin in 1969, his book quickly established itself as the key international text for the modern theory or paradigm of secularization.

Now Steve Bruce, who has assumed Wilson’s mantle as the leading exponent of secularization, has edited Religion in Secular Society: Fifty Years On (Oxford University Press, 2016, xix + 258pp., ISBN 978-0-19-878837-9, £27.50, hardback). It reproduces the full text of the 1969 edition of Wilson’s work, together with an introduction and two appendices by Bruce. The introduction (pp. vii-xix) provides a short biography of Wilson and a commentary on the style and argument of Religion in Secular Society. The first appendix (pp. 231-40) summarizes and evaluates the most common or important criticisms of Wilson’s thesis, while the second (pp. 241-58) outlines the major changes in the nature and status of religion in the United Kingdom (with a goodly use of statistics) and United States during the past 50 years. Bruce concludes that: ‘By and large, the record of changes in “religion in secular society” since 1966 fits Wilson’s secularization model better than it fits the alternatives.’ The book’s webpage is at: 

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/religion-in-secular-society-9780198788379?q=Religion%20in%20secular%20society&lang=en&cc=gb

Secularization in Britain and America (2)

Most scholarship has asserted that the United States is an exception to the secularization model in Western societies, on account of its much higher levels of religiosity. But, focusing on trends rather than levels, David Voas and Mark Chaves argue in a recent article in American Journal of Sociology (Vol. 121, No. 5, March 2016, pp. 1517-56) that the United States should no longer be regarded as a counter-example to secularization. This is for two reasons: (a) American religiosity is now known to have been declining for decades and (b) this decline has been produced by the same generational patterns as characterize religious declension elsewhere in the West, with each successive cohort less religious than the preceding one. This intergenerational effect is documented by the authors through analysis of population census data for Australia (1971-2011) and New Zealand (1986-2013) and cross-sectional survey data for the United States (1972-2014), Canada (1985-2012), and Britain (1983-2013). The British findings (discussed on pp. 1530-4) derive from the British Social Attitudes Surveys, three-survey moving averages demonstrating that religious affiliation has reduced from one cohort to the next for years of birth going back to the beginning of the twentieth century, especially in the early post-war decades. Access options for ‘Is the United States a Counterexample to the Secularization Thesis?’ are outlined at:

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/684202

Theistic belief

Research in the empirical psychology of religion is increasingly characterized by the deployment of attitude scales. In 2012 Jeff Astley, Leslie Francis, and Mandy Robbins proposed the use of the seven-item Astley-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Theistic Belief as a means of operationalizing measurement of attitudes across the major theistic faith traditions. The psychometric properties of this scale have now been further examined among three sub-samples (cumulative N = 10,678) drawn from the 2011-12 Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity project, for which year 9 and 10 pupils (aged 13-15) attending state-maintained secondary schools throughout the United Kingdom completed questionnaires. The data supported the internal consistency reliability and construct validity of the instrument with all three groups and thus confirmed its suitability for application in subsequent research. The full report can be found in Leslie Francis and Christopher Alan Lewis, ‘Internal Consistency Reliability and Construct Validity of the Astley-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Theistic Faith among Religiously Unaffiliated, Christian, and Muslim Youth in the UK’, Mental Health, Religion, and Culture, Vol. 19, No. 5, 2016, pp. 484-92. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13674676.2016.1206871

Science and religion

Berry Billingsley explored the attitudes toward science and religion of 670 pupils aged 14-17 from eight English secondary schools for a paper read at the recent annual conference of the British Educational Research Association. The results showed that for many respondents science was an insufficient explanation of what it means to be a person, with 54% believing humans have souls, 52% that life has an ultimate purpose, and 45% in God. The paper was briefly reported by TES at:

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/troubled-souls-a-higher-purpose-new-study-shows-how-pupils-view

NEW DATASET AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 8012: Scottish Election Study, 2011

The Scottish Parliament Election Study, 2011 was conducted online by YouGov on behalf of the Universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, and Essex and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. A panel of 2,046 Scottish electors was interviewed both pre- and post-election, between 25 April 2011 and 24 April 2012. The questionnaire covered a range of political and related topics, the answers to which can be analysed by two religious variables: religious affiliation (using a belonging form of question) and frequency of attendance at religious services. A catalogue description for the dataset can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8012&type=Data%20catalogue

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2016

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Counting Religion in Britain, August 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 11, August 2016 features 25 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 11 August 2016

OPINION POLLS

Weddings in church

Only 11% of Britons now claim to attend religious services at least monthly (the conventional definition of ‘regularly’ these days), and 65% admit they never or practically never attend. Nevertheless, a slight majority (52%) still considers it is acceptable to have a church wedding even if you are not a regular churchgoer or not religious, against 31% who deem it unacceptable and 17% who do not know what to think. Discounting those in a civil partnership (too few for the results to be meaningful), the demographic sub-group least likely to judge a church wedding acceptable in these circumstances are people living as married (44%), with divorced persons (37%) most likely to consider it inappropriate. The questions were asked by YouGov as part of an online survey of 1,692 adults on 8-9 August 2016 on the subject of wedding customs, and full data tables are available via the link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/10/majority-wedding-traditions-are-still-popular-dont/

In practice, of course, only a minority of individuals marrying now opt for a religious ceremony. In England and Wales in 2013, the last year reported, the proportion was 28%, the lowest figure since the commencement of civil registration in the early Victorian era.

Religious conversion

The overwhelming majority of Britons (85%) would not be prepared to convert to a religion, if asked to do so by a long-term romantic partner, the proportion consistently exceeding four-fifths in all demographic sub-groups. This was a far greater number than expressed unwillingness to agree to any of a partner’s 11 other requests, only opposition to becoming a vegan (76%) and cutting off contact with a friend (71%) coming close. Just over one-tenth (11%) were unsure how they would respond to being asked by their partner to convert to a religion, while 5% said they had already done so or would be prepared to do so, peaking at 7% of adults aged 18-24 years. The survey was conducted by YouGov among an online sample of 1,652 persons on 28-29 July 2016, and the data table can be accessed via a link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/01/id-do-anything-love-i-wont-do/

Economic migrants

Religion is not a factor which Britons deem important when considering whether an economic migrant should be allowed into the UK, according to a poll by YouGov on 24-25 August 2016, for which 1,668 adults were interviewed online. In fact, it came bottom of a list of 14 characteristics, just 31% saying the religion of economic migrants was significant and 59% not. The demographic sub-groups most likely to think religion was an issue to be taken into account were people who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the referendum on 23 June (44%), over-65s (45%), and UKIP voters (60%). Overall, Britons attached greatest weight as economic immigration criteria to having a criminal record, proficiency in English, level of education, and possession of skills in an area where the UK has a skills shortage. The data tables can be accessed via a link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/26/one-five-say-uk-should-not-admit-single-migrant-tu/

Jews and DIY

Do-it-yourself (DIY) is not normally something associated with British Jews. Indeed, they have a bit of a reputation within their community for not doing it, but 47% of them (and 58% of men) claimed to have engaged in some form of DIY during the past month, in a survey commissioned by World Jewish Relief. One-third had even carried out some DIY during the past week, although they seem to be fighting a losing battle since 53% still have DIY jobs outstanding at home. Changing a light bulb and hanging pictures were the commonest tasks undertaken, but painting, changing fuses, assembling furniture, and fixing toilets also featured prominently. Two-fifths of Jews had never attempted any DIY or had not done so during the past year, lack of knowledge, time, and motivation being the main reasons. The sample of 1,002 self-identifying British Jews were members of Survation’s Jewish panel and were interviewed, mostly by telephone, on 27-29 June 2016 (although the results have only just been released). Data tables can be found at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Final-WJR-Poll-270616SPRCCH-1c0d0h2-DIY.pdf

Islamic State (1)

A majority of Britons (57%) approves of the use of military force to get rid of Islamic State (IS), according to a YouGov/Eurotrack poll on 21-22 July 2016 for which 1,673 adults were interviewed online. Men (65%), over-60s (66%), Conservatives (69%), and UKIP supporters (74%) were most in favour. A further 13% thought only non-violent means should be used to eliminate IS, while 11% opted to accept the existence of IS but to try to isolate it, the remaining 19% being don’t knows or giving other answers. A plurality (43%) considered the British government should be doing more to combat Islamic extremism, against 32% who judged it was doing as much as it reasonably could, 10 points up on the figure in December 2010. The data table can be accessed via a link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/04/terrorist-attack-britain-expected-84-people/

Islamic State (2)

Subsequent to the preceding poll, footage emerged of members of the SAS (British special forces) fighting IS in Syria. In one of its instant app-based surveys, on 10 August 2016, YouGov ascertained that 55% of the British public endorsed the deployment of the SAS in Syria without a vote in Parliament, 30% disapproving and 15% being unsure. However, this sample of Britons was split on the commitment of additional British ground troops in Syria to fight IS, 39% being in favour, 38% against, and 22% undecided. These topline findings are reported at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/10/sas-fighting-isis-british-troops-syria-hinkley-poi/

Islamic State (3)

In a further release of data from its Spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey, the Pew Research Center revealed that 71% of the 1,460 Britons interviewed supported the US-led military campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria. Nevertheless, when it came to a broader strategy to defeat terrorism around the world, 57% feared that relying too much on military force would create hatred leading to more terrorism, compared with 34% thinking overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the sub-group endorsing the use of overwhelming military force against terrorists in general was also disproportionately more likely (82%) to back the campaign against IS. Pew’s press statement is at:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/22/europeans-back-anti-isis-campaign-but-have-doubts-about-use-of-force-in-fighting-terror/ft_16-08-17_terrorismglobal_isisfight/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Faith schools

Faith schools in general, and non-Christian and Catholic schools in particular, have an unusually low proportion of poor pupils in England compared to what would be expected from their catchment areas. The comparison was made between the number of children eligible for free school meals and levels of economic child deprivation in the area, both official statistics. These data have been extensively mined in the recent past by key stakeholders in the debate about faith schools, either to defend their record of social inclusion (especially on the part of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales) or to criticize them for exacerbating inequalities. This latest research was conducted by education data analysis organization SchoolDash and published in its blog (with faith school statistics in figures 4, 8, and 11) at:

https://www.schooldash.com/blog.html#20160802

Church leaders and football

August is traditionally the ‘silly season’ for the media, when ‘real’ news is hard to find, and Christian media organization Premier is apparently no exception. According to a report in the Church of England Newspaper for 19 August 2016 (p. 3), it has surveyed 200 Christian leaders in the UK and ascertained that one in seven admit to skipping a church service in order to watch their football team play and one in five to praying for it to win. Respondents were also asked which Premier League team they supported, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United topping the list, in that order.

Anglican church growth

It is the number of clergy in a benefice, rather than the number of churches, which is associated with the likelihood of church growth or decline in the Church of England (measured in terms of attendance), according to an unpublished report by Fiona Tweedie and summarized in the Church Times for 5 August 2016 (p. 6) at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/5-august/news/uk/church-growth-is-linked-to-more-clergy

Jewish statistics

The Jewish Chronicle has become the second UK religious newspaper to launch a regular column focusing on religious statistics. Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and a previous occasional contributor to the newspaper, launched his monthly ‘View from the Data’ in the issue of 10 June 2016 with a piece on defining Jewish identity. This has been followed by articles on JPR’s report on intermarriage and Jews (8 July 2016) and Pew Research Center’s measurement of anti-Semitic attitudes in Britain since 2004 (5 August 2016). The latter, entitled ‘We May Be Better Off in the UK’, noted that ‘the vast majority of Brits actually view Jews in an overwhelmingly favourable light’, with Britain shown by Pew to be ‘one of the least antisemitic societies in the world’. This most recent column can be found at:

http://www.thejc.com/node/161537

The first religious newspaper to publish a regular column on religious statistics was the Church of England Newspaper, to which Peter Brierley has been contributing on a monthly basis for several years.

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust’s latest report on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK covers the period January-June 2016, during which 557 were logged, a rise of 11% over the equivalent six months in 2015 and the second highest total for the first half of any year since the Trust began to collect statistics. Three-fifths of incidents occurred in April-June when anti-Semitism (particularly in relation to the Labour Party) and racism and extremism more generally were to the foreground in public debate and the media. However, there was no spike immediately following the Brexit vote in the European Union referendum of 23 June, as was seen with other forms of hate crime. Four-fifths of incidents were recorded in the main Jewish centres of Greater London and Greater Manchester, although the number in the latter area actually fell. The report is available at:

https://cst.org.uk/public/data/file/4/f/Incidents_Report_-_Jan-June_2016.pdf

Scottish Jewry

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has published a 34-page report on the results of a small-scale investigation into Scottish Jewry which it conducted in 2015, with financial assistance from the Scottish Government: Fiona Frank, Ephraim Borowski, and Leah Granat, What’s Changed about Being Jewish in Scotland – 2015 Project Findings. The questionnaire (reproduced in appendix 2) was completed by a self-selecting and demographically rather skewed sample of 119 Jews in Scotland, 46 of whom had also responded to a similar survey in 2012. Additionally, 195 people attended focus groups in connection with the study. The principal impression to emerge from the survey was that living in Scotland has become a more negative experience for many Jews, in terms of a sense of insecurity and alienation born of societal anti-Semitism largely rooted in the Middle East situation (and specifically the conflict in Gaza in the summer of 2014). The report can be read at:

http://www.scojec.org/resources/files/bjis2.pdf

Jews and the Labour Party

After conducting a ballot of its members, in which 59% voted, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has nominated Owen Smith for leader of the Labour Party in the current Labour leadership election. Smith secured a resounding 92% of JLM votes against just 4% for Jeremy Corbyn, the Party’s present leader, a further 4% making no nomination. This result is perhaps unsurprising, given that Corbyn has not entirely succeeded in dissociating either the Party or himself from accusations of condoning anti-Semitism. The JLM, which has been affiliated to the Labour Party since 1920, reported the ballot on its website at:

http://www.jlm.org.uk/labourleadership

Islamophobic tweets

Demos has recently published a report on Islamophobia on Twitter, March to July 2016, written by Carl Miller, Josh Smith, and Jack Dale from the think-tank’s Centre for the Analysis of Social Media. It focuses especially on the 215,000 tweets sent in English and from around the world in July 2016, and which were identified (from automated content analysis) as being of an Islamophobic nature. In addition to analysis of the global dataset, the report contains a section on Islamophobic tweets sent from the UK during the months of May, June, and July 2016, the daily average being 468 in July compared with 380 in May and 351 in June. There was a particularly large spike in Islamophobic tweets in the UK between 11 and 17 July, coinciding with the Islamist atrocity in Nice and the attempted military coup in Turkey. The report, which also includes a reasonably full description of methodology, can be found at:

http://www.demos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Islamophobia-on-Twitter_-March-to-July-2016-.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Employment opportunities for Muslims

Employment Opportunities for Muslims in the UK, the second report for Session 2016-17 of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, is partially based on quantitative evidence, abstracted from official and other sources. It shows that Muslims still suffer the greatest economic disadvantage of any group in society. For example, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, Muslim unemployment rates for persons aged 16-64 in 2015 were more than twice the national average (13% compared to 5%), while 41% of Muslims were economically inactive against 22% of the whole population in this age range. The disadvantage was greater still for female Muslims, 58% of whom were economically inactive, with 65% of economically inactive Muslims being women, albeit there has been some improvement since 2011. More generally, the Committee highlighted a lack of detailed data and research on faith and race discrimination and disadvantage, urging the Government to take steps to address this deficiency. The report, including links to the published evidence, is available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmwomeq/89/89.pdf

Ritual slaughter of animals

The Times of 13 August 2016 reported that the new monthly survey of abattoirs to be undertaken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) would not routinely record the number of animals killed without being stunned first. This legal exemption from pre-stunning is granted to meet the ritual slaughter requirements of Jews and Muslims, to the consternation of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which has long campaigned to end it on animal welfare grounds. The BVA had been hoping that the FSA would regularly report on animals killed in this way but the FSA claimed this would impose too onerous an information-gathering burden on abattoirs. Instead, the FSA proposes to collect statistics on religious slaughter periodically but has not set a date for doing so next (the last exercise being in 2013).

In a letter to The Times published on 16 August 2016, the FSA’s chairman (Heather Hancock) sought to clarify its position. She wrote: ‘Our new system for gathering animal welfare data will capture information on a more continuous basis than the former animal welfare survey. This data will show the number of establishments in England and Wales using non-stun slaughter or a combination of stun and non-stun slaughter. This routine data will be regularly supplemented with additional information on the numbers of animals that are slaughtered by these methods.’ According to a report in the newspaper on the same day, the FSA’s clarification has been welcomed by the BVA, which believes that more animals are killed without being stunned than is strictly necessary to meet the needs of Jews and Muslims.

Religious Studies GCE A Levels

There were 27,032 entries for GCE A Level Religious Studies (RS) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the June 2016 examinations, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). This represented an increase of 4.9% on the 2015 total compared with a decrease of 1.7% for all subjects. The number of RS entries has risen steadily since the Millennium, there being only 9,532 in 2001. Seven in ten candidates for RS in 2016 were female, 15 points more than the mean for all subjects. The proportion of RS examinees securing a pass at A* to C grade was 80%, against 78% for all subjects, although there were fewer than average RS successes at A*. Additionally, there were 38,493 entries for GCE AS Level RS, 3.9% less than in 2015, AS Levels generally losing ground. Full tables for both A and AS Level, showing breaks by gender and grade within home nation, are available at:

http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels/2016/a-as-and-aea-results

Religious Studies GCSE O Levels

The results for GCSE O Level RS were released by the JCQ the week after the A Level data were published. There were 296,010 entries for the full course GCSE in RS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in June 2016, an increase of 0.1% on 2015 compared with a decrease of 0.7% in entries for all subjects. A much smaller proportion of candidates for GCSE O Level RS were female (54%) than for GCE A Level RS. The cumulative number obtaining a pass between A* and C for the full course GCSE O Level RS was 72%, five points more than the average across all subjects. The short course in GCSE O Level RS (equivalent to half a GCSE) continued its steep decline, with 17% fewer candidates in June 2016 than in June 2015, in line with the progressive disappearance of short courses generally. Full tables are available at:

http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/gcses/2016

Scottish marriages

Details of the mode of solemnization of marriages in Scotland in 2015 are contained in Vital Events Reference Tables, which has been published recently. Of the 29,691 marriages, 14% were celebrated in the Church of Scotland, 5% in the Roman Catholic Church, and 18% in other places of worship, while 52% were civil and 11% humanist weddings. Until 1968 the majority of Scottish marriages were solemnized in the Church of Scotland. Further information, including some historical trend data, can be found at:

http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/vital-events-reference-tables/2015

ACADEMIC STUDIES

British Social Attitudes Survey

The long-term decline in religious affiliation may have momentarily bottomed out, according to the latest findings from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, released by NatCen. Of the 4,328 adult Britons interviewed between 4 July and 2 November 2015, 43% professed to be Christian (17% Anglican, 9% Catholic, and 17% other Christian), 8% non-Christian, and 48% to have no religion. The totals for Christians and nones were, respectively, one point up and one point down on the 2014 figures, the historic BSA peak for no religion being 51% in 2009. However, the proportion of nones in 2015 was much higher (62%) among the under-25s and 58% for those aged 25-34. It will be recalled that BSA uses a ‘belonging’ form of question which produces significantly lower levels of religious affiliation than other formulations, for example the question asked in the official census of population. NatCen’s press release, including toplines for religious affiliation back to 1983, is available at:

http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2016/august/british-social-attitudes-religious-decline-comes-to-a-halt/

Prior to NatCen’s release, the results had been previewed in the Sunday Telegraph, which optimistically entitled the report in its print edition ‘Christian Faith on Rise despite “Age Time Bomb”’. Notwithstanding, comments which the newspaper had sought from sociologists of religion Linda Woodhead and Abby Day made it clear that the long-term trajectory was still downward. As Day explained, the current plateau is ‘the pause at the edge of the cliff’, with decline bound to resume as older and more religious generations die off. The longer, online version of the Sunday Telegraph’s article can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/07/decline-of-religion-in-britain-comes-to-a-halt–major-study-sugg/

After the NatCen release, the story was inevitably widely reported as a positive development in the Christian print and online media. It was even the lead article on the front page of the Church of England Newspaper for 12 August 2016 and the subject of a lengthy editorial in the Methodist Recorder for 19 August 2016 (p. 6). However, the reporting was generally reasonably balanced, sticking close to the NatCen script. The Church Times (12 August 2016, p. 3), for example, had the foresight to speak to Linda Woodhead, who highlighted that the three-year moving averages indicated the trend was clearly toward diminished religious affiliation. But the Roman Catholic weekly The Tablet (13 August 2016, p. 24) could not resist pointing out that the 1% increase in professing Christians was due to the 1% rise in self-identifying Catholics.

Religious prejudice and discrimination

The incidence of religious prejudice and its relationship to unlawful discrimination and hate crime are explored in chapter 6 (pp. 71-82) of Dominic Abrams, Hannah Swift, and Lynsey Mahmood, Prejudice and Unlawful Behaviour: Exploring Levers for Change (Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report 101, ISBN 978-1-84206-677-5). The report, by a team from the Centre for the Study of Group Process at the University of Kent, is based on a review of academic and grey literature published in Britain between 2005 and 2015, and covers both general religious prejudice and particular manifestations (anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and sectarianism in Scotland). It is available to download from:

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/research-report-101-prejudice-and-unlawful-behaviour.pdf

Secularization narratives

Although not especially statistical in content, a recent article by Jeremy Morris sheds light on the attraction of secularization narratives to Anglican commentators in the 1950s and 1960s: ‘Enemy Within? The Appeal of the Discipline of Sociology to Religious Professionals in Post-War Britain’, Journal of Religion in Europe, Vol. 9, Nos 2-3, 2016, pp. 177-200. It does not mention the deployment of empirical sociology by other denominations in Britain, notably in the Roman Catholic Church (through the Newman Demographic Survey) and the Methodist Church. The article, which forms part of a special issue on pastoral sociology in Western Europe from 1940 to 1970, can be accessed at:

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00902004

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 5050: English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) is conducted by NatCen Social Research on behalf of a consortium of academic bodies and government departments. Launched in 2002, ELSA investigates ageing and quality of life issues among a panel (periodically refreshed) of adults aged 50 and over living in private households in England. The latest (25th) edition of the dataset, released in August 2016, comprises waves 0-7 of the survey. For wave 7, undertaken between June 2014 and May 2015, data were collected on 9,670 individuals by means of face-to-face interview, self-completion questionnaire, and clinical and physical measurements. The self-completion questionnaire for wave 7 featured various questions about religion, covering religious affiliation, membership of church or other religious groups, activity in organized religion, attendance at religious services within the past year, importance of religious faith, importance of religion in daily life, prayer or meditation, and religion as a source of meaning and purpose in life. The catalogue description for the dataset is at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=5050&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8037: Youth Social Action Survey, 2015

The Youth Social Action Survey is sponsored by the Cabinet Office and aims to determine the proportion of young people involved in social action (to help others or the environment) in the UK. It is planned to repeat the study each year for 2014-20. Fieldwork for this second wave was conducted by Ipsos MORI on 2-19 September 2015 by means of face-to-face interviews with 2,021 10-20 year-olds. The questionnaire included one item about religious affiliation using a ‘belonging’ form of wording. Topline analysis revealed that young people professing some religion were more likely to have participated in meaningful social action during the previous twelve months than those without (45% versus 39%). The catalogue description for the dataset is at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8037&type=Data%20catalogue

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2016

Posted in church attendance, Historical studies, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religion in the Press, Religion Online, Religious prejudice, Rites of Passage, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, July 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 10, July 2016 features 14 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 10 July 2016

OPINION POLLS

Hope not Hate post-Brexit poll

On behalf of Hope not Hate, Populus conducted an extensive online survey among 4,032 adults in England between 30 June and 4 July 2016, principally to test the social impact of the vote to leave the European Union in the referendum on 23 June. Results were disaggregated by a range of demographics, including religious affiliation, albeit they are only statistically meaningful for Christians, non-Christians, and religious nones. Tables 247-352 present the data for the module on the European Union, showing how particular groups voted, and why; what they thought of the Remain and Leave campaigns; and how they perceived Brexit would impact the nation. The voting figures (summarized below) confirm what we already know from previous studies, that Christians were disproportionately leavers and non-Christians remainers.

% down

All

Christians Non-Christians

Nones

Remain

38

33 51

42

Leave

45

50 35

41

Did not vote

17

17 14

17

The poll also replicated questions exploring attitudes to religious groups which had been included in Hope not Hate’s pre-Brexit poll, undertaken on 1-8 February 2016. This is interesting, given the frequent claims that the Brexit vote has increased public hostility toward immigrants and other outsiders. In fact, even for Muslims, who have the most negative ratings of all five religions featured in the study, the number of adults suggesting they created major problems in both the UK and the world actually fell in the period between the pre- and post-Brexit fieldwork. There were also modest reductions in those with negative views toward other religions, held by only tiny minorities.

% choosing 4-5 on 5-point scale

Pre-Brexit

Post-Brexit

Groups creating problems in UK
Jews

6

6

Muslims

45

36

Christians

9

9

Hindus

6

5

Sikhs

6

5

Groups creating problems in world
Jews

16

13

Muslims

59

52

Christians

17

15

Hindus

9

7

Sikhs

8

6

All the data tables from this poll can be found, in two separate files, at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/polls/

Perceptions of Muslims (1)

Another pre-Brexit study also revealed that a significant minority of Britons (28%) continued to entertain an unfavourable opinion of Muslims in the country. This was nine points more than in 2015, albeit at a similar level as 2009 and 2014. Unfavourable attitudes to Muslims were especially likely to be held by those on the ideological right (33%) rather than left-leaners (18%) and peaked at 54% among UKIP supporters. People regarding Muslims unfavourably were twice as inclined as those viewing them in a favourable light to perceive refugees as a major threat and as heightening the risk of terrorism. Just under one-fifth of Britons (17%) agreed that most or many Muslims in the country already back Islamic State. Notwithstanding, negativity toward Muslims remained far lower in Britain than in nine other European countries surveyed, the proportion surpassing two-thirds in Greece, Poland, Italy, and Hungary.

With regard to integration, a majority of Britons (54%) still considered most Muslims in the country want to be distinct from the wider society, although this was ten points fewer than in 2006, in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings the previous summer. The proportion rose to 65% on the ideological right and 80% of UKIP voters. Overall, 31% thought Muslims wanted to adopt national customs and way of life, a steady improvement from the 19% recorded in Britain in 2005, but below the 43% currently achieved in France and Sweden. All the findings are contained in the latest release of data from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, for which 1,460 Britons aged 18 and over were interviewed by TNS BMRB by telephone between 4 April and 1 May 2016. Other questions covered attitudes to Jews and the importance of being Christian to national identity. The report is available at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/07/11/europeans-fear-wave-of-refugees-will-mean-more-terrorism-fewer-jobs/

Perceptions of Muslims (2)

In his column in The Sun on 18 July 2016, Kelvin MacKenzie questioned whether it had been appropriate for Channel 4 News to co-present its report on the recent and deadly Islamist truck attack in Nice with a Muslim journalist (Fatima Manji) wearing a hijab. His article prompted a flood of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. The pollster YouGov took up the matter on 21 July when it ran one of its instant app-based surveys. Just 29% of respondents thought MacKenzie had been right to make his remark against 64% who deemed him in the wrong. About half (48%) also argued that The Sun should not have printed the remark. Topline results are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/07/21/too-old-highest-office-kevin-mackenzie-and-comment/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Bible stories

The Bible Society has recently published The Nation’s Favourite Bible Stories (ISBN 978-0-5640-4407-8, 144pp., paperback, £7.99), reproducing 70 of them. The 70 emerged from an online survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Society among a sample of 2,051 Britons aged 18 and over on 22-23 April 2015. Respondents to this poll were asked to list, unprompted, their top three Bible stories or passages. ComRes subsequently tested the top 20 unprompted mentions with a separate online sample of 2,252 UK adults between 4 and 6 September 2015. The final top 10, in order of popularity, were:

1.     The birth of Jesus

2.     Noah’s ark

3.     The Good Samaritan

4.     The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus

5.     The Exodus

6.     David and Goliath

7.     The Ten Commandments

8.     Jesus feeding the five thousand

9.     Jesus turning water into wine

10.  The Sermon on the Mount

Jewish marriages

The latest report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) is David Graham’s Jews in Couples: Marriage, Intermarriage, Cohabitation, and Divorce in Britain, derived from the 2001 and 2011 censuses of population (including many tables specially commissioned by JPR from the Office for National Statistics) and the JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey. Three-fifths of adult Jews live as couples, more than for any other religious or ethnic group, in part due to their older than average age profile. The majority of couples (89%) is married but 11% cohabit. Among married Jews, 78% are in endogamous marriages (i.e., they are married to another Jew) but 22% are in exogamous relationships, generally wed to a Christian or religious none. Marital endogamy for Jews has declined in Britain since at least the late 1960s but the rate of decrease has tailed off recently, being only 2% between the two censuses; moreover, marital endogamy here is still much higher than for Jews in the United States. On the other hand, intermarried Jews have fewer dependent children than their in-married counterparts. Among the rapidly growing contingent of cohabitees, the proportion of exogamous partnerships reaches 68%, negatively impacting Jewish fertility. Exogamous Jews, whether married or not, exhibit far weaker levels of Jewish attachment and engagement than endogamous Jews. Exogamy also increases the chances of a Jewish marriage ending in divorce, although the divorce rate among Jews is lower than in society as a whole. Jews in Couples is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR_2016.Jews_in_couples.Marriage_intermarriage_cohabitation_and_divroce_in_Britain.July_2016.pdf

FutureFirst

The lead article in the August 2016 issue of FutureFirst, the bimonthly subscription magazine of Brierley Consultancy, is contributed by Phil Topham and considers recent statistics of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (based on a report discussed in the May 2016 edition of Counting Religion in Britain). The remaining content is written by Peter Brierley, including two articles inspired by British Social Attitudes Survey religion data, an analysis of rural churches in East Anglia, and a piece on the growing number of active retired clergy in the Church of England (who will soon exceed stipendiary clergy). Brierley Consultancy can be contacted at:

http://peter@brierleyres.com

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Religious hate crimes

The Crown Prosecution Service completed 737 prosecutions for religiously aggravated offences in England and Wales in 2015/16, a 10% increase on the previous year. The total represented 5% of all hate crime prosecutions in 2015/16. Of these religion-related prosecutions, 79% resulted in convictions (five points less than in 2013/14 and 2014/15 and four points less than the average for all hate crimes in 2015/16) and the remainder were unsuccessful, mostly because of acquittal after trial or of victim issues. Just over two-thirds of convictions involved guilty pleas. The Religiously Aggravated and Antisemitic Crime Action Plan was developed and implemented during 2015/16, and the Hate Crime Assurance Scheme was extended to cover racially and religiously aggravated cases, so it is possible that prosecutions may increase in future years. Further details are contained in Hate Crime Report, 2014/15 and 2015/16, which is available at:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/cps_hate_crime_report_2016.pdf

Sex crimes

There have been 725 reported sex crimes in places of worship in the UK during the past three years, according to data obtained from police forces by The Mail on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act. The number has risen by one-fifth during the past twelve months, partly, it is believed, as a result of the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’. Half of the cases (368) involved child abuse. Although most cases related to churches, some occurred at mosques and gurdwaras. One expert, Graham Wilmer, of The Lantern Project (which supports child sex abuse victims), suggested that, given the well-documented tendency to underreport crime, the true number of cases could be up to ten times the reported figure. See the newspaper’s coverage at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3705042/Five-new-sex-offences-week-Reports-abuse-UK-churches-mosques-Sikh-temples-risen-20-cent-past-year-half-involve-children.html

Religion of prisoners

Prison Population Statistics by Grahame Allen and Noel Dempsey (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper No. SN/SG/04334) includes tables summarizing the religious profession of prisoners in England and Wales (Table 7, annually from 2002 to 2016) and Scotland (Table 14, for 2005, 2010, and 2013 only). Of the 85,441 prisoners in England and Wales in March 2016, 49% were Christian (nine points fewer than in 2002), 15% were Muslim (seven points up on 14 years before), and 31% were religious nones (unchanged from 2002). In Scotland in June 2013 (the latest date available), 54% of the 7,883 prisoners were Christian, 3% Muslim, and 42% nones (albeit 57% for female prisoners alone). Muslims are overrepresented in the prison population in both England and Wales and Scotland. Prison Population Statistics can be downloaded from:

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN04334/SN04334.pdf

Meanwhile, the British Religion in Numbers website has recently updated its own coverage of the religion of prisoners in England and Wales, its series (now extending from 1975 to 2015) being available at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/religion-in-prison-1991-2015/

ACADEMIC STUDIES

State of the Church of England

Two of the country’s leading writers on religious affairs, journalist Andrew Brown and sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead, have teamed up to write That Was the Church, that Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (London: Bloomsbury, 2016, [8] + 255pp., ISBN 978-1-4729-2164-2, £16.99, hardback, also available in ePDF and ePub editions). It tells the story of how, since the 1980s, the Church of England has not merely declined in a numerical sense (a process which had obviously started long before) but has progressively disappeared from the centre of public life and become alienated from (and unaccountable to) its host society. While, it is suggested, the Church has largely stood still over these three decades (with the notable exception of the ordination of women, achieved under duress), becoming more inward-looking and immersed in ‘managerial voodoo’, the nation has been transformed, generally embracing social liberalism and, in some measure, spirituality as an alternative to religion (which has become a ‘toxic’ brand). The limited trust and allegiance which the English now exhibit toward their Established Church is depicted as in stark contrast to the higher levels of support enjoyed by ‘its closest historical cousins’, the Scandinavian state Churches.

Since the work seems primarily addressed to a general readership, rather than an exclusively academic audience, the argument is not unreasonably built up primarily through description and analysis of key episodes and personalities in the life of the Church, often enlivened by the direct personal experiences of the authors. Some of the judgments on individuals may seem harsh and are likely to ruffle a few feathers, not least among allies of two former (and still living) Archbishops of Canterbury, George Carey and Rowan Williams, who come in for a fair amount of overt or implied criticism. Indeed, That Was the Church, that Was is already proving controversial (the first edition was withdrawn following legal challenge) and has received several unflattering reviews. Some British Religion in Numbers users may also be disappointed by the comparatively limited use made of statistics to substantiate the central claim that the Church of England ‘lost’ the English people during the period in question. Although some reference is made in the text and, more especially, the endnotes to Church and sample survey data, including research commissioned by Woodhead in recent years, their treatment is far from systematic. A possible solution might have been the inclusion of a short appendix where the relevant quantitative evidence could have been assembled for scrutiny. The publisher’s webpage for the volume can be found at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/that-was-the-church-that-was-9781472921642/

Religious nones

In a recent post on the LSE’s Religion and the Public Sphere blog, Ben Clements collates evidence from sample surveys and opinion polls to illuminate the growth of no religionism in Britain since the Second World War and the extent to which it is driven by avowed atheism or agnosticism. He highlights variability in the findings arising from fluctuations in methodology and question-wording. The post can be found at:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2016/07/26/who-are-the-religious-nones-in-britain-atheists-agnostics-or-something-else/

Historical Quaker statistics

A reasonably full history and analysis of national-level statistics relating to the Religious Society of Friends in Britain is offered by James William Croan Chadkirk, ‘Patterns of Membership and Participation among British Quakers, 1823-2012’ (MPhil thesis, University of Birmingham, 2015, xx + 261 + xxxivpp., with 72 figures and 55 tables). It covers three broad areas: membership (both before and after the inauguration of the ‘Tabular Statement’ in 1861); attendance at meetings for worship (commencing with the Government’s 1851 religious census and with an especially good overview of the national Quaker censuses in 1904, 1909, and 1914); and various ad hoc studies conducted in recent years, including the longitudinal ‘Present and Prevented’ surveys undertaken by Chadkirk and Ben Pink Dandelion in 2006, 2008, and 2010 (considered at length in chapters 5 and 10). There is no substantive discussion of the British Quaker Survey, 2014 but some preliminary findings are given in footnotes. The conclusion draws brief quantitative comparisons with the experience of other Churches and denominations but emphasizes the distinctiveness of Quakerism and rejects generalized secularization theory as an explanation of Quaker decline. The thesis can be downloaded from: 

http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5787/1/Chadkirk15MPhil.pdf

Religion and higher education

James Lewis, Sean Currie, and Michael Oman-Reagan have utilized the population censuses of Australia (2006), New Zealand (2006), Canada (2011), and England and Wales (2011) to establish a positive relationship between higher educational attainment and affiliation to new religious movements (NRMs). They also contend that, apart from New Zealand, irreligion and higher education are similarly correlated. In the case of England and Wales, as the authors note, data on NRMs were only available for those individuals who ticked ‘other’ religion and chose to write in their specific religion on the census schedule. ‘The Religion of the Educated Classes Revisited: New Religions, the Nonreligious, and Educational Levels’ is published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 55, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 91-104, and access options are outlined at:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jssr.12246/abstract

Collective worship in schools

Imran Mogra surveyed 125 primary school trainee teachers (preponderantly female) at an English university to investigate their knowledge and understanding of, and attitudes toward, collective worship in schools. A large majority of the students thought such worship should be retained and that it makes a significant contribution to the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, emotional, and intellectual development of pupils. ‘Perceptions of the Value of Collective Worship amongst Trainee Teachers in England’ is published in Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol. 37, no. 2, 2016, pp. 172-85, and access options are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1185227

 

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2016

Posted in Historical studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment