Counting Religion in Britain, March 2019

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 42, March 2019 features 15 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 42 March 2019


  • Crossing religious divides: multinational survey by Ipsos for the BBC
  • Humanist weddings: Humanists UK’s new poll and analysis of Scottish divorce data
  • Self-understanding of anti-Semitism: Deltapoll for Jewish Chronicle
  • Jews, political parties, and anti-Semitism: Survation poll for Jewish Leadership Council
  • YouGov@Cambridge tracker on Islam’s perceived compatibility with British values
  • Islamic State: YouGov polling on the death of Shamima Begum’s son


  • European Jewish Demographic Unit established by Institute for Jewish Policy Research


  • Mode of solemnization of marriages in England and Wales in 2016
  • Report on diversity of candidates and elected officials in Great Britain


  • The Bible and digital millennials: new survey-based research from CODEC
  • Religion and Brexit: evidence from the 2016 British Election Study Referendum Panel
  • Gender differences in religion and spirituality among technical and health professionals
  • Muslim perceptions of discrimination in Western Europe: revisiting 2006 Pew data


  • UK Data Service, SN 8450: British Social Attitudes Survey, 2017


  • Revd Professor David Alfred Martin, FBA (1929-2019)

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2019

Posted in News from religious organisations, Official data, People news, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious prejudice, Rites of Passage, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, February 2019

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 41, February 2019 features 20 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 41 February 2019


  • Multinational surveys of attitudes towards major world religions
  • Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 2018 – international concerns, including ISIS
  • Three surveys on consequences of the erosion of the ISIS caliphate
  • Hope Not Hate’s report on State of Hate, 2019
  • YouGov/Jewish Labour Movement survey of anti-Semitism and the Labour Party
  • Darwin Day poll – belief in evolution and knowledge of Charles Darwin
  • Religious affiliation
  • Londoners’ interactions with people from different backgrounds
  • Popularity of religious education and other subjects with older teenagers


  • Ozanne Foundation’s National Faith and Sexuality Survey, 2018
  • Women speakers on Christian conference platforms in 2018
  • Church Army Research Unit report on Messy Church
  • Census of Catholic schools and colleges in England and Wales
  • Projections of demand for places in state-funded Jewish secondary schools in London
  • Community Security Trust’s anti-Semitic incidents report, 2018
  • Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party


  • Latest Food Standards Agency statistics of ‘religious’ slaughter of animals


  • Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion
  • Ethnic minority voters in the 2015 general election
  • Emergence of the quantitative society – in the long eighteenth century

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2019


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

Counting Religion in Britain, December 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 39, December 2018 features 20 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 39 December 2018


  • The Times end-of-year religion poll
  • Eurobarometer: valuing religion
  • Understanding religious festivals
  • Christmas carols
  • Religious education in schools
  • Racial bias
  • Perils of perception, 2018
  • Islam and British society
  • Sexual violence


  • Faith schools and school choice
  • Barna’s Pastor Poll
  • Jewish brain drain
  • European Union survey of anti-Semitism


  • Census of population, England and Wales, 2021


  • Marriage law: religious elements in civil marriage
  • Religious education teachers
  • Anglican self-identity
  • Anglican clerical burnout
  • Violence against Anglican clergy


  • Ben Clements: research grant to survey Catholics

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2018

Posted in church attendance, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, People news, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious Census, religious festivals, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, November 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 38, November 2018 features 20 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 38 November 2018


  • Trust in clergy and priests
  • Trust in religious leaders and other matters
  • Clergy as lawmakers
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Religion and sex
  • Church social action
  • Christmas traditions
  • Religion in Europe
  • Anti-Semitism


  • Christians making a difference
  • Church of England social action
  • Church of England statistics for mission
  • Church of England digital report
  • Church of England gender pay gap
  • Distance to church
  • Jewish charity


  • National barometer of prejudice


  • Anglican church growth
  • Muslims and education


  • Ceri Peach (1939-2018)

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2018


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

Counting Religion in Britain, September 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 36, September 2018 features 21 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 36 September 2018


  • God’s gender
  • Miracles
  • Archbishop of Canterbury and politics
  • Parent power
  • Religious education
  • Horoscopes


  • 12 August-4 September 2018: Survation
  • 31 August-1 September 2018: Survation
  • 10-13 September 2018: YouGov
  • 18-19 September 2018: YouGov
  • 19-20 September 2018: ComRes
  • 21-22 September 2018: BMG Research


  • Church in Wales membership


  • Religion of hospital patients


  • Steve Bruce, Researching Religion
  • London desecularization
  • Scottish secularization
  • Bobby Duffy, The Perils of Perception
  • British Social Attitudes Survey, 2017
  • Faith schools
  • Anglicans and Brexit

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2018


Posted in News from religious organisations, Organisational data, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, August 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 35, August 2018 features 22 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 35 August 2018


Boris Johnson and the burka

The debate over the wearing of the burka/full face-veil in public in Britain has reignited following a colourfully-worded column in the Daily Telegraph by Conservative politician Boris Johnson. Although the former British Foreign Secretary opposed a ban on the burka, as recently introduced in Denmark, he described the garment as ‘oppressive and ridiculous’ and likened Muslims who wore it to ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’. His comments caused a great deal of offence and there have been many calls for him to apologize, among them from the Prime Minister. The possibility of a disciplinary investigation of Johnson by the Conservative Party has also been mooted.

In the first test of the public mood on the subject, Sky Data interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,649 British Sky customers by SMS on 8 August 2018. Asked whether Johnson should apologize for his choice of words, the country was divided, 45% saying he should (peaking at 58% of under-35s) and 48% that he should not (peaking at 58% of over-55s), with the remaining 7% undecided. But a clear majority (60%) thought it was not racist to describe women in burkas as looking like letter boxes or bank robbers, with 33% saying it was racist. A similar number (59%, including 69% of over-55s) expressed support for banning burkas in public places, 26% being opposed and 15% undecided. Full data tables are available at:

In another online poll, of 4,673 adult Britons on 8 August 2018, YouGov also discovered the nation was split down the middle about whether Johnson should apologize for the language he had used in his column: 45% thought he should, 44% that he should not, and 11% were unsure. The number opposed to him apologizing was greatest among over-65s (61%), Conservatives (65%), and UKIP voters (91%). Full data tables are available at:

A third survey was undertaken by ComRes for the Sunday Express among an online sample of 1,045 adults aged 18 and over on 10 August 2018. They were asked whether they thought Johnson should be disciplined (implicitly by the Conservative Party) for his comments. Two-fifths believed that he should be, including the majority of younger age groups (62% of under-25s and 55% of those aged 25-34) and one-half of Londoners. Among the entire sample, 53% opposed the imposition of discipline on Johnson, peaking at 77% of over-65s, while 7% expressed no opinion or preferred not to say. Full data tables are available at:

Deltapoll brought up the rear with an online poll of 1,904 Britons for the Sun on Sunday on 14-16 August 2018. Asked about Boris Johnson’s comments on the burka, 23% considered them offensive and that he should apologize for them; 28% judged that they were ‘over the top’ and that he should apologize for that but not for starting a debate on a sensitive issue; 36% said that the remarks were correct and Johnson had nothing to apologize for; and 12% were undecided. The pro-Boris camp was strongest among Conservatives (54%), ‘Leave’ voters in the 2016 referendum on European Union membership (60%), and over-65s (61%). Full data tables are available at:

Religious prejudice in political parties

On behalf of The Observer, Opinium Research broadened the agenda to perceptions of religious prejudice in the two main political parties, asking 2,003 members of its UK online panel on 14-17 August 2018 whether the Conservative Party and Labour Party were prejudiced against six groups: British Christians, British Jews, British Muslims, British Hindus, British Sikhs, and atheists. In the case of the Conservative Party, definite or probable prejudice was said to range from 13% (against Christians) to 27% (against Muslims); for the Labour Party, the range was from 11% (against atheists) to 36% (against Jews). The Conservative Party was believed to tolerate Islamophobia by 26% and the Labour Party to tolerate anti-Semitism by 34%. Boris Johnson was regarded as Islamophobic by 26% and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, as anti-Semitic by 32%. Full data tables are available at:

BMG Research also asked its own sample, of 1,481 adult Britons interviewed online for The Independent on 6-10 August 2018, whether Corbyn was anti-Semitic and found 27% in agreement, with 23% considering the Labour Party itself as institutionally anti-Semitic. Three-fifths judged that allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party had been handled badly. Respondents were additionally given a list of four actions (which had surfaced in debates about Labour and anti-Semitism) and invited to say whether each was anti-Semitic or not. Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country was labelled as anti-Semitic by 26%; claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour by 38%; requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations by 36%; and comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis by 47%. For all questions in this survey, approximately one-third were recorded as don’t knows. Full data tables are available at:

The Labour and anti-Semitism controversy took a new turn when it was revealed that in 2014 Corbyn had taken part in a wreath-laying ceremony in Tunisia for people who had been accused of involvement in the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This dimension was explored by YouGov in an online poll of 1,640 Britons on 14-15 August 2018. Although three-quarters of the public were aware of the story, only one-quarter admitted to following it closely. Of those who were aware, 44% assessed that Corbyn had not given an honest account of his attendance at the ceremony and the same number believed that he probably had taken part in laying a wreath on the graves of those responsible for organizing the 1972 attack. The whole affair has tarnished Corbyn’s reputation somewhat, 16% of respondents who were aware of the story now thinking worse of him in the light of it, albeit a plurality of 47% already held a negative opinion of the Labour leader in any case. For a blog on the survey, with links to full data tables, see:

Deltapoll’s survey for the Sun on Sunday, noted above (with link), also covered attitudes to anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. One-half the sample felt that the party had a problem with anti-Semitism, 28% agreeing that it was riddled with people holding anti-Semitic views and 22% that there were pockets of anti-Semitism, while 36% judged Jeremy Corbyn to be personally anti-Semitic. One-quarter of respondents believed that anti-Semitism was more common in the Labour Party than in other political parties, but two-fifths were unable to say.


On behalf of the BBC Asian Network, ComRes has surveyed two samples on lifestyle issues, including in relation to religion. The first sample was of 2,001 British adults, interviewed online on 13-15 July 2018. The second was of 2,026 British Asians, interviewed by telephone during July 2018. Most questions were put to both samples. Full data tables, with breaks by religious affiliation for British Asians (including 1,021 Muslims, 475 Hindus, 189 Sikhs, and 341 others), can be accessed via the links at:

The omnibus survey of British adults was mainly intended to provide comparisons with the replies of British Asians but is also of intrinsic interest in demonstrating the relatively low significance attached to religion by a cross-section of the population. Given 12 options for helping to define personal identity, and invited to select the two most important to them, just 7% chose religion. Asked how important religion was to them, 72% replied that it was not important against 26% claiming it to be important, and with a majority (52%) stating it was not at all important. Three-quarters of Britons agreed with the proposition that religion is a cause of division and conflict in society. Low saliency of religion was also demonstrated by the fact that 90% of Britons would not be offended if a family member had a relationship with someone of a different faith, while 73% anticipated that neither they nor their family would be offended if a family member married someone of a different religion.

More than one-third (36%) of British Asians selected religion as an important factor in helping define their identity, greater even than nationality (33%) or ethnicity (22%). Almost three in four (73%) indicated that religion was very or fairly important to them personally, including 89% of Muslims, and 86% that it was important to their family (94% among Muslims). However, 48% of British Asians and majorities of Hindus and Sikhs acknowledged that religion is a cause of division and conflict. On social issues, Muslims were more conservative than Hindus or Sikhs, particularly when it came to same-sex relationships, which 48% of Muslims declared not to be morally acceptable, with a further 26% not revealing their hand. But there were no differences between the three religious groups when it came to expressing strong confidence in Britain as a place where they could fulfil their aspirations and ambitions.

Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day is the three-minute ‘pause’ in Today, BBC Radio 4’s prime-time flagship morning news and current affairs programme, when invited guests reflect on a topical issue from a religious standpoint. Reform of the slot, to encompass non-religious voices, has long been an ambition of the National Secular Society (NSS), which has recently released partial results of a poll it commissioned from Censuswide with an online sample of 2,003 UK adults on 18-21 May 2018. Asked whether Thought for the Day should still be broadcast by the BBC, 36% of respondents agreed that it should (including 41% of over-55s) and 10% disagreed, but the majority (54%) neither agreed nor disagreed, perhaps indicating indifference or lack of knowledge. Less than one-fifth (18%) considered that Thought for the Day should always feature religious content, while 32% disagreed (peaking at 40% in the South-West and among adults aged 45-54) and 50% were undecided. Full data tables have been supplied to BRIN by NSS and the NSS press release can be found at:

Criticizing Christianity

One-quarter (27%) of 5,525 adult Britons interviewed by YouGov via app on 14 August 2018 felt it to be more acceptable to criticize Christianity (and Christians) than other religions in the UK, UKIP voters (35%), men (34%), and under-25s (33%) being especially likely to say so. By contrast, just 7% deemed it less acceptable, and the plurality (49%) suggested that it was neither more nor less acceptable to criticize Christianity than other religions. The remainder of the respondents (17%) were undecided. Data tables are at:


Regular worshippers volunteer twice as often as those who are not regular worshippers, but the proportion has dropped for both groups between 2012 and 2017, according to a recent report by nfpSynergy on Volunteering Trend Data. In 2012, 40% of regular worshippers and 19% of other Britons claimed to have given time as a volunteer during the previous three months, either to a charity or other organization or in their local community. In 2017, the figures were 37% and 15%, respectively. Data derive from the Charity Awareness Monitor, for which 2,000 adults aged 16 and over were interviewed in each year. The report can be downloaded (after registration) from:

Uniformed organizations

On behalf of the Youth United Foundation, a charitable consortium of 11 uniformed organizations, ComRes has recently completed a report on Social Integration: The Role of Uniformed Youth Groups. The quantitative evidence base was an online survey of 2,015 young people aged 11-18, comprising 569 members and 1,426 non-members of uniformed organizations, between 21 November and 19 December 2017. One of the principal findings was that uniformed youth were significantly more likely than non-uniformed youth to mix with people who were different from them, including persons of a different religion, and to regard it as important so to do. They were also more likely to participate regularly in social action. The report, which includes a profile of uniformed and non-uniformed youth by religion (Christian, non-Christian, unsure, and atheist) and a breakdown by religion of reasons for joining or not joining a uniformed youth group, can be found at:

Young people and immigration

The Ipsos MORI Young People in Scotland Survey, 2017, for which 1,781 state secondary school pupils were interviewed online between September and November, included a module on attitudes to immigration, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government. The responses were disaggregated by religious affiliation, albeit only three categories were deemed statistically viable: no religion (professed by 57% of the sample), Christian (24%), and non-Christian (4%). In general, there were few differences of opinion between religious nones and Christians, but non-Christians tended to have outlier views, possibly a function of small cell size (only 101 cases). On the specific matter of whether Scotland would lose its identity if more Muslims came to live there, 28% of all young people agreed and 42% disagreed. A report on the module is available at:

Scottish religion

Religion appears to be losing its hold over once God-fearing Scotland, according to a poll by Survation for the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS), for which 1,002 Scottish adults were interviewed online on 5-10 July 2018. Although 61% of respondents said they had been raised in some religion, the majority (59%, including 69% of under-45s) currently described themselves as not religious, with 37% being Christian (almost three-fifths of whom were Church of Scotland and one-fifth Catholic) and 4% non-Christian. Seven in ten never or hardly ever prayed outside religious services and three-quarters had never or hardly ever attended such services during the past year, apart from for rites of passage. Less than one-third (31%) believed in God while 49% did not; 34% believed and 51% disbelieved in life after death; 33% believed and 56% disbelieved in heaven; 20% believed and 68% disbelieved in hell; 21% believed and 67% disbelieved in divine miracles; 21% believed and 63% disbelieved in reincarnation; 19% believed and 68% disbelieved in supernatural powers of deceased ancestors; 29% believed and 60% disbelieved in angels; 25% believed and 65% disbelieved in demons or evil spirits; and 18% believed and 71% disbelieved in a judgement day. Full data tables are available at:

HSS has issued a 12-page report on the poll: Fraser Sutherland, Beliefs in Scotland, 2018: A Study of Religion and Belief in Scotland, available to download at:

Dating apps and religion

On behalf of the BBC’s Newsbeat programme, YouGov conducted an online poll among 2,066 16- to 34-year-olds in the UK between 3 and 10 April 2018 to ascertain their views on dating apps/websites. Interviewees were asked about the importance of nine attributes when deciding whether or not to meet up with somebody they had met through a dating app/website. One of the attributes was the religion of the prospective friend, which 11% said would be very important to their decision, 25% fairly important, 35% not very important, 21% not at all important, with 8% undecided or preferring not to say. Full data tables can be found at:

Asian elephants

On 22-24 June 2018, Populus conducted an online survey into the attitudes of 2,065 adult Britons towards the role played by Asian elephants in tourism in India and South-East Asia. One of the questions concerned the taking of elephants from the wild for use in temples in connection with religious services or festivals. The overwhelming majority (88%) of respondents thought this practice was not justified, with only 6% approving it. Full data tables are available at:


Church of England ministry

The Church of England has published two new annual reports on its ministry. The 2018 report on vocations highlights: growth in the overall number of recommended candidates; growth in the number of young candidates (under 32 years); and growth in the number of female candidates, who are now in the majority. The 56-page Ministry Statistics, 2017 presents a wealth of information in 23 figures and 25 tables. Of the 20,040 active ordained clergy in the Church of England, 39% are stipendiary (92% of whom are full-time and 28% women), 15% are self-supporting, 36% (mostly retired) have permission to officiate, 5% are chaplains, and 5% fill other roles. The reports can be accessed via the news release at:

Humanists UK

Humanists UK, formerly the British Humanist Association (BHA), announced on 8 August 2018 that it had reached a new milestone in its history: 70,000 members and supporters across the UK and crown dependencies.  The BHA was formed in 1963 as a common front for the Rationalist Press Association and the Ethical Union but grew very slowly in its early years, having only 3,000 members in 1970.

Islamophobic incidents

Beyond the Incident: Outcomes for Victims of Anti-Muslim Prejudice is the title of Tell MAMA’s annual report for 2017. It documents 1,201 verified incidents of anti-Muslim hatred in the UK during the year, seven in ten of them taking place offline, at street level, and the remainder online, generally on Twitter or Facebook. Most victims were women but most perpetrators were men. The report is available at:


England and Wales census of population, 2021

In the July 2018 edition of Counting Religion in Britain, we reported on proposals to enable Sikhs to be recorded as an ethnic as well as a religious group in the 2021 census of population of England and Wales. There is a similar proposal for Jews to be considered in the same way, by adding a ‘Jewish’ tick-box to the response options for the question on ethnicity. However, senior Jewish community figures, including from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, are understood to have expressed doubts about the wisdom of doing so, fearing it would impact negatively on comparability with data obtained from the 2001 and 2011 censuses in respect of the question on religion. By contrast, Jewish leaders in Scotland (where the census is arranged by the National Records of Scotland) are inclined to favour the proposal, in order to capture thousands of ‘missing Jews’. The issue has been covered by the Jewish News at:

Scotland census of population, 2021

The National Records of Scotland have initiated a consultation, which remains live until 7 September 2018, about proposed changes in the way in which outputs will be created from the religion question in the census, specifically disaggregation by denominations. For more information, and a link to the SurveyMonkey website for the provision of feedback, go to:

Religious Studies GCE A Levels

Following years of steady advance, Religious Studies (RS) is now losing ground as a subject in the wake of the ongoing reforms of GCE A Level examinations and of secondary education more generally. According to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), there were 20,527 entries for GCE A Level RS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the June 2018 examinations, representing a decline of 21.3% on the 2017 total, compared with a decrease of 2.0% for all subjects and of 3.5% in the population of 18-year-olds. RS candidates were predominantly female, at 71.6%, the mean for all subjects being 55.0%. The proportion of RS examinees securing a pass at A* to C grade was 78.8%, against 77.0% for all subjects, although there were fewer than average RS successes at A*. Additionally, there were 8,454 entries for GCE AS Level RS, 55.6% less than in 2017. Full provisional tables for both A and AS Level, showing breaks by gender and grade within home nation, are available, together with an important note and press release outlining changes affecting comparability of results year-on-year, at:

Religious Studies GCSE

GCSE Level RS is also in decline, according to results released by the JCQ the week after the A Level data were published. There were 253,618 entries for the full course GCSE in RS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in June 2018, a decrease of 10.1% on June 2017, compared with an increase of 0.2% in entries for all subjects (notwithstanding a fall of 2.7% in the 16-year-old population). A much smaller proportion of candidates for GCSE RS was female (54.1%) than for GCE A Level RS. The cumulative number obtaining a pass between A* and C for the full course GCSE RS was 72.0%, five points more than the average across all subjects. The short course in GCSE RS (traditionally equivalent to half a GCSE) is in freefall, with 34.4% fewer candidates in June 2018 than in June 2017, in line with the progressive disappearance of short courses generally. Full tables, again with an important note and press release outlining changes in the examination system affecting year-on-year comparability, are available at:

School admissions

The vexed issue of the inclusivity of church schools is likely to be reopened following publication of a new research report commissioned by the Department for Education and covering admissions to secondary schools in England: Matthew Weldon, Secondary School Choice and Selection: Insights from New National Preferences Data. In the case of church schools, which determine their own admissions policies (within government parameters), it highlighted that children from black families are significantly less likely to be admitted to a church school to which they apply than those from a similar white family living nearby; and that children from disadvantaged backgrounds (Pupil Premium-eligible) are significantly less likely to be admitted into a church school than a non-Pupil Premium child living nearby. The report is available at:


Populism and the Church of England

Self-identification as Church of England was an important independent predictor of voting ‘Leave’ in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, according to Greg Smith and Linda Woodhead, ‘Religion and Brexit: Populism and the Church of England’, Religion, State, and Society, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2018, pp. 206-23. This finding, which held good even when controlling for age and region, principally derived from an exit poll commissioned by Woodhead from YouGov in June 2016 but was supplemented by analyses from an earlier (and thus pre-referendum) YouGov study, in June 2013, also commissioned by Woodhead. Comparisons are drawn with the results of Smith’s Spring 2016 survey of an opportunity sample of self-defined UK evangelicals, who inclined to a ‘Remain’ position, had a more internationalist outlook, and were decidedly not in the populist mould of US evangelicals who proved such strong supporters of Donald Trump at the 2016 US presidential election. Possible explanations for this pattern and UK-US differences are advanced, and reasons are given why Brexit-backing Anglicans do not qualify to be described as populist. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Church of Scotland statistics

The extent and nature of the often strained relationship between religious statistics on the one hand and religious mission and planning on the other are explored by Allan Vint in his ‘Statistics, Planning, and the Mission of the Church of Scotland: A Critical Examination of Quantitative Data as a Resource for National, Regional, and Local Engagement’ (PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, 2018, 309pp., including 28 tables and 25 graphs). The introductory chapters consider the rationale and background to the collection and deployment of church statistics from historical, theological, and ecclesiological/ missiological standpoints. The core original research is concentrated in chapters 5-9 and in the 14 supporting appendices, commencing with a presentation of the findings of three online surveys which the author conducted among local leaders and ministers of the Kirk, in 2013, 2015, and 2017. There then follow three case studies of the Church of Scotland’s recent engagement with statistics, one for each of its three tiers of governance: national (the General Assembly and its councils and committee); regional (Presbytery of Glasgow); and local (Kilsyth Anderson Church). The conclusion is that ‘there is currently a significant deficit in fully appropriating and deploying statistical data for church planning and mission’ in the Church of Scotland, and 28 recommendations are made for improvement. The thesis can be downloaded from:

Muslims in politics

The challenges which political parties face in seeking to incorporate ethnic and religious minorities are exemplified in Rafaela Dancygier’s Dilemmas of Inclusion: Muslims in European Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017, xiv + 242pp., ISBN: 9780691172606, £24, paperback). She emphasizes the trade-offs which may arise when parties reach out to newer groups who are disliked by a set of existing voters and demonstrates how their short-term inclusion strategies can undercut their ideological coherence and electoral performance in the long run. Her research employs mixed methods but the core source is a database of the background of over 80,000 local politicians in the most populous municipalities of Austria, Belgium, England (68 municipalities), and Germany during the ‘long noughties’ (elected politicians in all four countries together with unsuccessful candidates in Belgium and England). Muslim (and other religious minority) politicians were identified through an onomastic approach, by their first and last names, additionally using the Onomap software program in the case of the English sample. The book’s webpage is at:

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2018


Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, church attendance, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, July 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 34, July 2018 features 18 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 34 July 2018


Attitudes to Christians and Christianity

In connection with the recent publication of Krish Kandiah’s Fatheism: Why Christians and Atheists Have More in Common than You Think (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2018), Home for Good and Hodder Faith commissioned ComRes to undertake an online survey of attitudes to Christians and Christianity among 4,087 adult Britons on 2-6 March 2018. The core of the poll comprised ten statements to which respondents were invited to indicate agreement or disagreement. Topline results are as follows, revealing a very large number choosing the neither agree nor disagree option (perhaps reflecting a lack of engagement with, or knowledge of, the subject matter):

  • ‘I believe that Christians are a negative force in society’ – agree 10%, disagree 51%, neither 39%
  • ‘When I meet somebody new, I assume that they hold no religious beliefs unless they tell me otherwise’ – agree 39%, disagree 17%, neither 44%
  • ‘When I know that someone is a Christian, I find it harder to talk to them’ – agree 9%, disagree 65%, neither 27%
  •  ‘I would be more likely to trust a person with no religious beliefs than a Christian’ – agree 12%, disagree 45%, neither 43%
  • ‘I would be cautious about leaving my children in the care of a Christian’ – agree 7%, disagree 62%, neither 31%
  • ‘I would have more fun socialising with a Christian than an atheist’ – agree 7%, disagree 37%, neither 56%
  • ‘I think that being an atheist or non-religious is more normal than being a Christian’ – agree 28%, disagree 26%, neither 46%
  •  ‘Overall, I have had a positive experience of Christians and Christianity’ – agree 44%, disagree 15%, neither 41%
  • ‘I feel comfortable discussing my religious beliefs with people at work’ – agree 46%, disagree 16%, neither 39%
  • ‘Christians are more tolerant than other people’ – agree 19%, disagree 32%, neither 49%

Full data tables, including breaks by standard demographics and frequency of church attendance (but not by religious affiliation), can be found at:

Religion and violence

ComRes was commissioned by Theos to run another set of attitude statements, this time exploring the relationship between religion and violence, among an online sample of 2,042 Britons on 6-7 June 2018. Topline results were as follows:

  • ‘Religions are inherently violent’ – agree 32%, disagree 55%, don’t know 13%
  • ‘The teachings of religion are essentially peaceful’ – agree 61%, disagree 27%, don’t know 12%
  • ‘Most religious violence is really about things like politics, socio-economic issues, or Western foreign policy’ – agree 64%, disagree 21%, don’t know 15%
  • ‘It is religious extremists, not religions themselves, that are violent’ – agree 81%, disagree 12%, don’t know 7%
  •  ‘Most of the wars in world history have been caused by religions’ – agree 70%, disagree 21%, don’t know 9%
  •  ‘On balance, religions are much more peaceful today than violent’ – agree 40%, disagree 44%, don’t know 16%
  •  ‘The world would be a more peaceful place if no one was religious’ –  agree 47%, disagree 38%, don’t know 16%
  •  ‘The world would be a more peaceful place if no one believed in God’ – agree 35%, disagree 45%, don’t know 19%

Opinion on the subject was thus divided, and dependent on question-wording. Higher levels of negativity would doubtless have been on display had the topic of Islam and violence been explicitly raised. Data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation, can be found at:

The poll findings are touched upon in Nick Spencer’s foreword to a new Theos report by Robin Gill on Killing in the Name of God: Addressing Religiously Inspired Violence, which was published on 16 July 2018 and can be downloaded from:

Pride in the Church 

Asked which of 13 British institutions they had pride in, just 33% of 1,693 adults interviewed online by YouGov on 28-29 June 2018 said they were very (8%) or fairly (25%) proud of the Church of England/Church in Wales/Church of Scotland, only the House of Commons (28%) and House of Lords (21%) being ranked lower. The institutions in which most pride was taken were the fire brigade (91%), National Health Service (87%), and armed forces (83%). Half the sample claimed they were not very (24%) or not at all (26%) proud of the ‘national’ Churches, including three-fifths of Scots. Full data tables are accessible via the link in the blog at:

Religious affiliation 

Representative samples of adult Britons drawn from an online panel are regularly asked by Populus ‘which of the following religious groups do you consider yourself to be a member of?’ An aggregation of the responses to this question for 27,000 individuals across 13 polls between January and June 2018 revealed that 49.3% self-identified as Christians, 6.1% as non-Christians, 42.9% as of no religion, and 1.7% preferring not to say. Compared with the pooled sample for the period July to December 2017, there were 1.4% fewer Christians and 1.4% more religious nones. Weighted data were extracted from sundry tables on the Populus website.


One-half of adults have no godparents, presumably because they have not been baptised, according to an online poll by YouGov of 4,886 Britons on 13 July 2018. The proportion was highest in Scotland (56%) and among Scottish National Party voters (62%). An additional 17% of respondents did not know whether they had any godparents or not, including 21% of both men and over-65s. Data tables are available at:

Human rights 

Freedom of thought and religion is provided for in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a recent Ipsos Global Advisor survey, conducted among online samples of adults in 28 countries between 25 May and 8 June 2018, 56% of 1,000 Britons aged 16-64 correctly identified this particular right as being covered in the Declaration. However, when asked to prioritize the four or five which were most important to protect from a list of 28 possible human rights, just 20% of Britons selected freedom of thought and religion, five points fewer than the multinational mean, with freedom from discrimination the top priority in Britain (on 33%). Given a list of 16 groups needing most protection with regard to their human rights, religious minorities were ranked twelfth in importance in Britain (on 21%). Topline results only are available at:

Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party

The controversy surrounding anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has flared up yet again. In a further test of public opinion, the Jewish News and Jewish Leadership Council commissioned ComRes to poll an online sample of 2,036 Britons on 20-22 July 2018. This revealed that 34% of the entire electorate and even 16% of Labour voters believe the party has a serious problem with anti-Semitism; and that similar proportions, respectively 31% and 13%, considered the former Labour minister Margaret Hodge had been right to call party leader Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitic. Almost half (48%) of all adults and 29% of Labour voters agreed with the proposition that Corbyn is letting the Labour Party down by failing to tackle anti-Semitism in its midst. More generally, 32% judged anti-Semitism to be on the rise in the UK, while 25% disagreed and 43% were undecided. Full data tables are available at:

Coverage of the survey in the Jewish News can be read at:


One-quarter of 1,668 Britons questioned by YouGov for the Sunday Times on 19-20 July 2018 said that they would be very (13%) or fairly (11%) likely to vote for a new political party on the far right which was committed to opposing Islamism and immigration and supporting Brexit. The proportion rose to 38% with Conservatives and 44% among those who had voted ‘leave’ in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Almost three-fifths of the entire sample declared they would be unlikely to vote for a new party with this sort of agenda and 18% were undecided. Full data tables are at:

Islamic State 

The British government recently became embroiled in controversy when it became known that it was willing to waive its longstanding opposition to the use of capital punishment by foreign governments in the cases of Alexanda Kotey and Shafee el-Sheikh. They are two alleged members of an Islamic State (ISIS) cell which carried out the torture and murder of western hostages in the former ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Originally from Britain, they have been stripped of their British citizenship and are due to face trial in the United States, where the death penalty is still in operation. In an online YouGov poll of 7,177 adult Britons on 24 July 2018, 62% of respondents agreed that the British government had been right to make an exception to its policy and to allow the pair to be prosecuted in a jurisdiction where the death penalty could be imposed. The proportion peaked at 82% among Conservatives and 89% of UKIP voters. Only 20% of the whole sample opposed the government’s course of action, while 18% were undecided. Full results are available at:


Methodist Statistics for Mission

The Methodist Church has an unbroken record of annual statistical returns stretching back to 1766. The series, known officially as Statistics for Mission and unofficially as the October count, has been a real boon to church historians and statisticians as well as the envy of many other denominations. However, the arrangements are now set to change. For the Methodist Conference, meeting in Nottingham between 28 June and 5 July 2018, accepted Memorial M13 from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne District Synod to the effect that the burden of data collection should be reduced significantly (‘only minimal data should be collected’ in future, Conference determined, comprising membership numbers and average attendance) and the effort freed up as a result redirected towards missional activity. Methodist Council has been instructed by Conference to operationalize this new policy, which will transitionally mean much lighter reporting by Methodist circuits and districts in the connexional years 2018/19 and 2019/20. For the text of the memorial and the Conference’s reply, go to:

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust recorded 727 anti-Semitic incidents across the UK during the first half of 2018, the second highest total for a January-June period since statistics were first kept, albeit 8% fewer than between January and June 2017. With only two exceptions, the monthly total of incidents has exceeded 100 in every month since April 2016. The 16-page report on Antisemitic Incidents, January-June 2018 can be downloaded from:


LGBT people

The Government has published the results of its national LGBT survey, completed online in July-September 2017, and associated action plan. The survey attracted responses from a self-selecting sample of 108,100 adults aged 16 and over living in the UK who self-identified as having a minority sexual orientation or gender identity or as intersex, the largest groups being gay or lesbian (61%) and bisexual (26%). Religion or belief was one of the background characteristics investigated, 69% of interviewees claiming to have none, with 18% professing to be Christians. Further information, including a 304-page research report with some religious breaks (for example, in respect of having undergone or been offered sexual ‘conversion’ therapy), is available at:


A further breakdown by religion and sex of the prison population of England and Wales has been published by the Ministry of Justice. The proportion of prisoners professing no religion is currently 30.7% overall, compared with 30.8% twelve months previously, and with no significant gender difference. Full details are available in table 1.5 of the return of the prison population for 30 June 2018 at:

Ethnic Sikhs

According to a report in The Times for 23 July 2018 (p. 17), the campaign to have Sikhs recognized as an ethnic as well as a religious group in the 2021 census of England and Wales has moved a step closer to success, following an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea in a postal survey of gurdwaras organized by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs. This expression of support is felt likely to satisfy the requirement of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for evidence of the ‘public acceptability’ of the proposal, the last major hurdle to be cleared before ONS is able to make a formal recommendation to effect the change.

However, the newspaper’s report prompted several letters to the editor of The Times from Sikhs objecting to the recognition of Sikhs as an ethnic group (24 July 2018, p. 24, 25 July 2018, p. 24). One of the letters, from Lord Singh of Wimbledon, observed that most Sikhs in the UK today are British-born and native English-speakers and thus would not meet the criteria for ethnic Sikhs. Another alleged that British gurdwaras are largely controlled by Sikh separatists, who initiated the campaign in the first place. In reply (27 July 2018, p. 24), Jagtar Singh, Secretary General of the Sikh Council UK, reiterated that there was widespread endorsement of the idea among Sikhs, adding that 83,000 of them had written in their ethnicity as Sikh under the ‘other’ category at the 2011 census.

ONS is also considering offering Jews the opportunity to record themselves as an ethnic group in the 2021 census.


Secularization and economic change

Economic growth can be ruled out as a cause of secularization, a new study suggests. Rather, rises in secularization and, more particularly, tolerance for individual rights have been identified as predictors of economic growth (as measured by GDP) in the twentieth century by Damian Ruck, Alexander Bentley, and Daniel Lawson in ‘Religious Change Preceded Economic Change in the 20th Century’, Science Advances, Vol. 4, No. 7, 18 July 2018, eaar8680. Data derive from a birth cohort analysis of the post-1990 waves of the World Values Surveys and European Values Surveys for 109 nations, including Great Britain. The article, and associated resources, can be freely downloaded at:

Ruck has also blogged about the research on The Conversation at:

British Social Attitudes Survey, 2017

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) has published British Social Attitudes, 35, 2018 Edition, based on face-to-face interviews with a probability sample of 3,988 adults aged 18 and over between July and November 2017. The report itself, comprising a series of chapters of expert analysis of public opinion on various social and political issues, contains nothing of explicitly religious interest but clarifies that the survey included religion as one of its standard background variables. It can be read at:

The questionnaire is available at:


Fiona Tweedie

Revd Dr Fiona Tweedie, part-time Mission Statistics Coordinator for the Church of Scotland since 2014, has now assumed an additional part-time role as Research Associate at the Church Army Research Unit in Sheffield. Her undergraduate degree was in computer science and statistics, and, prior to becoming the Church of Scotland’s first Ordained Local Minister in 2011, she was a lecturer in statistics at the University of Glasgow (1996-2001) and University of Edinburgh (2001-05). 

David John Bartholomew 

The October 2017 edition of Counting Religion in Britain noted the death of Professor Bartholomew earlier that month. Celia Swan and Martin Knott have now contributed a fuller-length obituary in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, Vol. 181, No. 3, June 2018, pp. 907-9. Access options are outlined at:

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2018


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Counting Religion in Britain, June 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 33, June 2018 features 17 new sources.

At present, the full text (including weblinks) is only available to download in PDF format No 33 June 2018

The contents list is as follows:


Christian England? (YouGov for BBC)

Royal wedding (ComRes for Theos)

Religion in education (Censuswide for National Secular Society)

Age gap in religion (Pew Research Center)

Values in Europe (Eurobarometer)

Inclusiveness of nationalities (Ipsos)

Attitudes to Islam (YouGov@Cambridge)

Free speech (YouGov)


UK Church in action (Barna Global for World Vision UK)

Church’s impact on health and care (Cinnamon Network)

Faith school admissions (Humanists UK)

Young Catholics (Camino House for Catholic Youth Ministry Federation)

Jewish vital statistics (Institute for Jewish Policy Research for Board of Deputies of British Jews)


Marriages in Scotland (National Records of Scotland)


Church of England stipendiary ministry (Leslie Francis and Greg Smith)

Methodist philanthropy (David Jeremy)


Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2016

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2018



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