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

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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

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Counting Religion in Britain, June 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 9, June 2016 features 24 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 9 June 2016

OPINION POLLS – BREXIT

The referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union (EU), held on 23 June, was unquestionably the single most important event of the month, and its outcome (a vote to leave the EU) is likely to have far-reaching consequences. Although religion barely surfaced in the heated public and political debates which preceded the referendum, religious elements were occasionally featured in some of the pre- and post-referendum opinion polling.

Pre-referendum: voting intentions of religious groups

ORB International’s online poll for The Independent, conducted among 2,052 British electors on 8-9 June 2016, seems to have been the last pre-referendum survey to have recorded the prospective referendum voting intentions of the principal religious groups. In line with previous polls, it demonstrated the wish of a majority of Christians to leave the EU, as tabulated below. The statistics have been calculated from the full data available at:

http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/orbindependent-friday-10th-june-final-data-tables.pdf

% across

Remain

Leave

All

47

53

Christians

43

57

Non-Christians

52

48

No religion

51

49

Pre-referendum: voting intentions of practising Christians

In contrast with the views of professing Christians, noted above, 54% of 1,200 practising (churchgoing) Christians (laity and church leaders) in membership of Christian Research’s online Resonate panel indicated an intention to vote to remain in the EU at the referendum, in a survey launched on 9 June 2016. This was four points up on the figure from a similar Resonate poll in March. Just over one-quarter (28%) were planning to vote to leave. Awareness of the recent open letter on the referendum by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, which argued that leaving the EU would threaten peace in Europe, was limited, nearly half the respondents not having heard about it at all. Other topics covered in the June Resonate omnibus were attitudes to the National Health Service and the Investigatory Powers Bill. A press release about the survey is at:

http://www.christian-research.org/reports/privacy-nhs-and-the-referendum/

Pre-referendum: voting intentions and science

Assaad Razzouk, the Lebanese-British energy entrepreneur, commissioned ComRes to undertake, between 29 May and 5 June 2016, a telephone poll of two sub-samples of 809 adults intending to vote to remain in or leave the EU, exploring their attitudes to science. One of the statements to which respondents were invited to react was ‘people who question the theory of evolution have a point’. Answers are tabulated below, revealing that Britons who were more sceptical about the EU also found it more difficult to accept the theory of evolution. Data tables can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/assaad-razzouk-eu-referendum-and-science-poll/

% across

Agree

Disagree

Remainers

36

59

Leavers

46

47

Pre-referendum: intervention of religious figures

During the course of the referendum campaign, several prominent religious leaders and groups made their views known on whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The majority of these religious opinion formers argued in favour of remaining. However, the British public was not inclined to attach much weight to their counsel, according to a YouGov poll for the Today programme on BBC Radio, undertaken on 13-14 June 2016 among an online sample of 1,656 adults. Asked which of 13 types of people they trusted for their statements on remaining or leaving, senior religious figures ranked eighth, albeit only 15% trusted what they said about the EU and no more than 24% in any demographic sub-group (those intending to vote remain). Three-fifths distrusted senior religious figures on the EU, peaking at 71% among men. The only consolation for religious leaders was that electors exhibited net distrust in all the types of people on the list, save academics, who notched up a net trust score of 6%. A topline summary is shown below.

% across

Trust

Distrust

Academics

43

37

Economists

38

39

People from well-known businesses

37

43

People from well-known charities

37

40

People from the Bank of England

36

45

People from international organizations

32

46

Think tanks

28

44

Senior religious figures

15

61

Political leaders of other countries

14

67

Politicians from Britain

13

72

Well-known actors and entertainers

12

61

Well-known sports people

10

64

Newspaper journalists

10

74

Data tables can be found at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/x4iynd1mn7/TodayResults_160614_EUReferendum_W.pdf

Post-referendum: actual voting of religious groups

Lord Ashcroft polled 12,369 electors after they had voted in the referendum, 11,369 of them interviewed online and 1,000 by telephone. The reported voting of the major religious groups is tabulated below, from which it will be seen that, in line with voting intentions in pre-referendum surveys, Christians inclined to be leavers and non-Christians and religious nones to be remainers. Age probably largely accounts for this pattern since in general older people were most likely to have voted to leave the EU and younger people to remain; Christians have a disproportionately elderly profile and non-Christians (particularly Muslims) and nones a disproportionately younger profile. Details of voting by religion can be found on p. 10 and of the demographics of religious belonging (including when respondents made their minds up about how to vote in the referendum) on pp. 56-9 of the full computer tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/How-the-UK-voted-Full-tables-1.pdf

% across

Remain

Leave

All

48

52

Christians

42

58

Muslims

70

30

Other non-Christians

53

47

No religion

55

45

Post-referendum: actual voting of Jews

Almost twice as many Jews voted to remain in the EU as elected to leave, 59% versus 31%, according to a telephone poll of 1,002 members of a pre-recruited panel of self-identified British Jews interviewed by Survation for the Jewish Chronicle on 27-29 June 2016. A further 9% did not vote or refused to say how they had voted. Jews aged 55 and over (38%) or who supported the Conservative Party (39%) were among those most inclined to leave, and respondents aged 35-54 (67%) were among those most disposed to stay. Unsurprisingly, given this voting pattern, only 28% of Jews expressed satisfaction with the result of the referendum, 60% being unhappy, while 39% claimed to feel less safe in the light of the outcome and 57% to being pessimistic about the future. Asked who should be the next Prime Minister, following David Cameron’s resignation, a plurality (39%) of Jews plumped for Theresa May. The Jewish Chronicle’s coverage of the poll, with a link to the full data tables, can be found at:

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/159839/brexit-vote-triggers-fears-over-security

OPINION POLLS – OTHER TOPICS

Charitable giving

Religious causes received 13% of charitable donations in 2015, the same as children and young people’s causes, but three points behind medical research. However, religious causes notched up the highest average donation (£49) of all types of charity, as well as the highest median donation (£16). Over-65s were almost three times as likely to report donating to religious causes as 16-24s (17 per cent versus 6%). Data derive from the Charities Aid Foundation report UK Giving, 2015: An Overview of Charitable Giving in the UK during 2015, which is based upon face-to-face interviews conducted by GfK NOP with 4,160 UK adults aged 16 and over in February, May, August, and November 2015. It can be found at:

https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/personal-giving/caf_ukgiving2015_1891a_web_230516.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Religious education and faith schools

YouGov has recently (and very belatedly) posted on its website the data tables for an online poll it conducted among 2,198 UK adults on 14-15 September 2015. It was commissioned by Ideate Research in discussion with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in advance of a major debate on faith and education staged as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on 21 October 2015. Some headline findings were included in a press release from AHRC on that date, which attracted very little media coverage, but this is apparently the first time that detailed results have entered the public domain. The survey found that 77% of the population considered that religious education (RE) should be a compulsory (45%) or optional (32%) part of the national curriculum, with only 17% dissenting; paradoxically, notwithstanding their relatively low religiosity, 18-24s were keenest (53%) on compulsory RE. As the table below indicates, views about faith schools were decidedly more mixed, especially in the case of Islamic schools, which almost half the sample wished to see prohibited. When it came to changes affecting UK society over the next half-century, very few (8%) thought religious leaders would be best able to lead such changes, with just 7% suggesting they would be best equipped to help the general public understand the changes.

Attitudes to … (% down)

Christian schools

Islamic schools

Jewish schools

Should be allowed and receive state funding

44

12

16

Should be allowed but not receive state funding

32

34

43

Should not be allowed in UK

16

44

28

Data tables are at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/v50s4c7q5d/YG-Archive-10616-IdeateResearch.pdf

Freedom of speech

A newly-published ComRes poll commissioned by the Conservative Woman, for which 2,050 adults were interviewed online on 7-9 May 2016, revealed Britons to be somewhat ambivalent about legislative limitations on freedom of speech designed to protect people’s rights not to be offended by what others say. Two of the eight statements the sample was invited to respond to had a religious dimension. One asked whether it was right to have laws against ‘hate speech’ even if it might mean, for example, that Christian preachers could be arrested for repeating something in the Bible. In reply, almost twice as many contended that it was not right to have such laws as agreed that it was, 47% versus 26%, with a majority of men, over-55s, and residents of Northern England and the West Midlands opposed to such restrictions and no more than 31% in any demographic sub-group in favour of them. In similar vein, three-fifths (61%) of interviewees disagreed with the suggestion that persons who criticize Islam should be punished by hate speech laws, the proportion rising to seven in ten among men and over-55s; just 15% agreed with the proposition, and no more than 28% in any sub-group. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ComRes_Freedom-of-Speech-Poll_tables.pdf

Trust in religious leaders

Young people generally do not trust religious leaders or other authority figures, according to an online poll of 1,351 Britons aged 18-30 conducted by YouGov for Hope not Hate on 6-13 May 2016. Three-fifths of respondents said that they did not trust religious leaders very much (29%) or at all (31%), with just 22% registering a great deal (3%) or a fair amount (19%) of trust, the positive rating standing highest among non-whites (30%), part-time workers (30%), and Scots (31%). The only two of the eight groups asked about which were trusted by a majority were teachers or academics and other young persons. Summary findings are tabulated below, and full data tables can be found at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ej63u31ku2/HopeNotHateResults_YoungPeople_160513_website.pdf

% across

Trust

Distrust

A teacher/academic

72

13

A young person like yourself

50

31

A trade union leader/official

31

45

A religious leader

22

60

A TV or sports star

16

66

A leader of multinational company

16

65

The media

13

73

A politician

10

76

Islamic State

Islamic State is the top of eight international concerns in Britain, with 79 per cent of the public regarding it as a major threat to our country and a further 16 per cent as a minor threat. This is according to the latest report from 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. The full ranking of concerns, with comparisons for France and Germany (where, alongside Italy and Spain, Islamic State was seen as an even greater threat than in Britain), is tabulated below, while Pew’s report on the survey can be found at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/13/europeans-face-the-world-divided/

% regarding as a major threat

Britain

France

Germany

Islamic State

79

91

85

Global climate change

58

73

65

Cyberattacks from other countries

55

68

66

Large number of refugees

52

45

31

Global economic instability

48

73

39

China’s emergence as a world power

31

43

28

Tensions with Russia

28

34

31

United States power and influence

24

28

25

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Faith-based charities

New Philanthropy Capital’s ongoing programme of research into faith-based charities has resulted in a further brief report: David Bull, Lucy de Las Casas, and Rachel Wharton, Faith Matters: Understanding the Size, Income, and Focus of Faith-Based Charities. The 43,352 faith-based charities in England and Wales represent 27% of all charities and receive 23% (£16.3 billion) of the charity sector’s income. However, four-fifths of the income of faith-based charities is concentrated in just 1,719 organizations. Despite the inroads of secularization, proportionately more faith-based than non-faith-based charities have been registered with the Charity Commission during the past 10 years, 34% versus 25%. Relative to their non-faith-based counterparts, faith-based charities are especially active in the fields of overseas aid, human rights, and anti-poverty. The report can be found at:

http://www.thinknpc.org/publications/faith-matters/

Church of England ministry statistics

The Church of England has published Ministry Statistics, 2012 to 2015, showing national trends in numbers of stipendiary and self-supporting clergy, and their age, gender, and ethnic profiles. Detailed diocesan-level tables are also available in a separate Excel file. The data primarily derive from a new clergy payroll system, introduced in 2012, supplemented by Crockford’s Clerical Directory. This means that there is not strict methodological comparability with earlier statistics. Although overall totals of ordained ministers have remained stable since 2012, at just over 20,000, there has been a decline of 4% in stipendiary clergy over the four-year period, with the steady increase in female ministers not offsetting the steady decline in their male counterparts. As at 31 December 2015, 26% of stipendiary clergy were women, including 7 diocesan or suffragan bishops, 26 archdeacons, and 6 cathedral deans. One-quarter of stipendiary parochial clergy were aged 60 and over, ranging by diocese from 9% to 41%. Full details can be found at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics/ministry-statistics.aspx

Leadership of large Anglican churches

At the end of 2015, of the 112 Church of England churches with a Usual Sunday Attendance of at least 350, only three were led by women. In a recent paper, Liz Graveling explores why, more than two decades after women were admitted to the priesthood, so few are reaching these positions. Her research has involved statistical analysis of the current leadership of large churches and semi-structured interviews with 22 ordained ministers, mainly Evangelicals. Factors contributing to the gender imbalance are found to be: career progression time-lag; discrimination; social processes; incompatible social roles and working conditions; and organizational structures and dynamics. Graveling’s 25-page paper on ‘Vocational Pathways: Clergy Leading Large Churches’ is available at:

http://www.ministrydevelopment.org.uk/UserFiles/File/TRIG/Vocational_pathways_large_churches.pdf

Baptist statistics

The Baptist Union of Great Britain has recently launched a church statistics page on its website. It is currently limited to returns of membership and attendance for 2015, but the intention is to add information for past years in due course. In 2015 there were 126,144 members of the 2,028 churches in England and Wales belonging either to the Union or another Baptist Association, with 2,724 baptisms (equivalent to 2% of membership). Average attendance at the main weekly service, scaled up for missing data, numbered 159,360, sub-divided between 14% children, 7% young people, 8% young adults, 40% other adults, and 30% seniors. Full details, including geographical breakdowns, can be found at:

http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/471032/Church_Statistics.aspx

Quaker statistics

The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain has published an annual Tabular Statement of membership since 1862, based on information provided by area meetings and collated by the Recording Clerk. Membership at the end of December 2015 stood at 13,401, just 126 less than in 2014, and representing the smallest decrease for two decades. This contrasted with sharper 12-month declines in attenders (minus 5%) and of children not in membership (down 14%). For the first time in 2015, the gender breakdown of adults included the option to identify as other than a man or woman; 1 member and 44 attenders (36 of them in Scotland) were recorded as such. Also new for 2015 was the production of statistics at local meeting level, available as supplementary online tables. The Tabular Statement, which contains a significant amount of historical data (in some cases going back to 1935), can be accessed via the link at:

https://www.quaker.org.uk/news-and-events/ym/documents-1

Islamophobia (1)

The European Network against Racism (ENAR) has published Forgotten Women: The Impact of Islamophobia on Muslim Women in the United Kingdom, researched between December 2014 and January 2016 by Bharath Ganesh and Iman Abou Atta (both of Faith Matters), with support from the European Union, the Open Society Foundations, and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. The 75-page report mostly draws upon pre-existing official statistics, polling data, legislation, case law, and secondary literature to illustrate the inequalities and discrimination which affect Muslim women in the UK, especially as regards employment opportunities and experience of hate crimes. There is a particular dependence upon Faith Matters’ own Tell MAMA database of Islamophobic incidents, which is not yet universally recognized as an authoritative source. On the whole, the analysis seems to add little to previous overviews covering similar ground, although it perhaps has some value in a comparative context, since it forms one of a series of seven simultaneous national reports (the others examining Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Sweden). The document, with a four-page fact sheet on the UK, which serves as an extended executive summary, can be downloaded from:

http://www.enar-eu.org/Forgotten-Women-the-impact-of-Islamophobia-on-Muslim-women

Islamophobia (2)

Meanwhile, Tell MAMA has published its 60-page annual report for 2015, entitled The Geography of Anti-Muslim Hatred. A record number (437) ‘offline’ or in person anti-Muslim incidents were recorded by the organization during the year, 50% involving abusive behaviour and 17% assault. Three-fifths of the victims were women and three-quarters of the perpetrators were men (predominantly white). Tell MAMA received fewer (364) notifications of online incidents than in previous years, which it attributes to better policing by social media platforms of hate speech, abuse, and trolling. The report is available at:

http://tellmamauk.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/tell_mama_2015_annual_report.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Religion and well-being

A meta-analysis of 139 English-language academic studies exploring links between religion and well-being is offered by Nick Spencer, Gillian Madden, Clare Purtill, and Joseph Ewing, Religion and Well-Being: Assessing the Evidence (London: Theos, 2016, 91pp., ISBN 978-0-9931969-4-2). The overwhelming majority of these studies are international, and disproportionately American, reflecting the relatively late beginning of measurement of well-being in the UK, especially in the form of official statistics. Using five conceptions of religion and four of well-being, the authors detect a variable but mostly positive correlation between the two. The book can be freely downloaded from:

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Reports/Religion%20and%20well-being%207%20combined.pdf

Spencer has also written a blog about the report for the LSE’s newly-launched Religion and the Public Sphere website. This can be read at:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2016/06/28/is-religion-good-for-you-analysing-three-decades-worth-of-academic-research-on-the-relationship-between-religion-and-well-being/

British Social Attitudes, 2015

The book-length report on the 33rd British Social Attitudes Survey, based on interviews with a random probability sample of 4,328 Britons aged 18 and over by NatCen between August and November 2015, was published this month. The dataset has not yet been released nor has the questionnaire. Although none of the chapters in the report focuses on religion, the technical appendix (p. 123) does reveal the weighted results of the question on religious belonging, with 48% self-identifying as religious nones, 17% as Anglicans, 9% as Roman Catholics, 17% as other Christians, and 8% as non-Christians. The report is available at:

http://bsa.natcen.ac.uk/latest-report/british-social-attitudes-33/introduction.aspx

Psychological profiles of Anglican congregants

The subject of psychological type and temperament profiles of Anglican congregations in England has been re-examined by Leslie Francis, Howard Wright, and Mandy Robbins through a study of 196 attenders at three services at one particular church, situated against the normative profile generated by 3,302 worshippers at 140 churches reported in International Journal of Practical Theology in 2011. The authors conclude that individual churches are able to offer diverse provisions which result in congregations with distinctively different psychological profiles. ‘Temperament Theory and Congregation Studies: Different Types for Different Services?’ is published in Practical Theology, Vol. 9, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 29-45, and access options are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1756073X.2016.1149679

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7975: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2012 – SN 7977: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2013 – SN 7978: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2014 – SN 7979: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2015

The National Survey of Bereaved People, alternatively known as VOICES: Views of Informal Carers, Evaluation of Services, is an annual survey (begun in 2011) designed to measure the quality of end-of-life care, especially during the last three months of life. It is undertaken in England by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Department of Health by means of a postal questionnaire completed by the persons who registered a random sample of deaths. There were 22,635 respondents in 2012, 22,661 in 2013, 21,403 in 2014, and 21,320 in 2015, each of whom provided an assessment of the care received by the deceased (including spiritual support during the final two days), together with background details about the deceased (including religious allegiance). Catalogue descriptions and documentation can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7975&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7977&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7978&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7979&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7995: Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2014

The report on this dataset was considered in Counting Religion in Britain, No. 8, May 2016. The dataset itself has now been deposited with the UK Data Service, and a catalogue description and documentation can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7995&type=Data%20catalogue

PEOPLE NEWS

Bill Pickering (1922-2016)

William Stuart Frederick Pickering, pioneer British sociologist of religion and Anglican clergyman, died on 23 May 2016, aged 94. He taught successively at King’s College London (1955-56); St John’s College, University of Manitoba (1956-66); and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1966-87), from where he retired to Cambridge. He is perhaps best known nowadays for his writings on Émile Durkheim and for establishing the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies at the University of Oxford, as well as the journal Durkheimian Studies and the Durkheim Press. However, some of his earliest work was in the empirical sociology of religion. His 1958 doctoral thesis, ‘The Place of Religion in the Social Structure of Two English Industrial Towns (Rawmarsh, Yorkshire and Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire)’, remains a ground-breaking study of the British religious landscape in the 1950s, employing a range of archival, census, and life history approaches. Sadly, little from this was ever published, mainly as essays in Vocation de la sociologie religieuse (1958) and Archives de Sociologie des Religions (1961). He also analysed the statistical background to the Anglican-Methodist Conversations (1961), patterns of post-war churchgoing (1972), and the endurance of rites of passage (1974). An important monograph, Theological Colleges: A Sociological Appraisal, written in the 1970s and based on a survey of British colleges in 1968-69, never made it into print.

 

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

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Stephen Bullivant on contemporary Catholicism

It was a great pleasure to see the launch of Stephen Bullivant’s report, ‘Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales‘, at the House of Commons on 24 May 2016. I first heard of Stephen’s interest in a data-driven approach to the question of Catholic vitality in 2013, when the British Academy issued a call for currently practising academics to expand their skillset by learning quantitative methods. Stephen was successful both in being awarded a British Academy Quantitative Skills Acquisition Award and also in thereafter becoming a quantitatively-proficient sociologist with quite alarming ease.

It’s wonderful to see Stephen’s progress as a quantitative sociologist, having begun his academic life in philosophy and theology, and a tribute both to the BA scheme and his own commitment to enriching both conceptual and empirical frameworks for understanding contemporary religiosity. He visited the BRIN team at Manchester, and attended some classes and pointers, but ultimately needed little formal training. So it’s very encouraging to see the resulting contributions to both academic and public debate in this fashion.

Having read the report with great interest, we next need to probe further the drivers of change in contemporary Catholicism. The report presents an array of estimates of the Catholic community in Britain, and one of the clearest findings is that, while those raised Catholic are more likely to ‘stick’ than those raised Anglican, a very large proportion of those raised Catholic still leave the faith. So, why has lapsation occurred?

CC-Bullivant-Figure-3

 

 

 

 

 

A good deal of work shows that the drift away from religion in Western societies is generational in nature: those born in the 1930s who stayed religious tended to see that about half their children born in the 1950s and 60s retained religion, and in turn they saw about half their children retain religion. We also have witnessed fairly high rates of immigration from quite religious societies, which has provided a countervailing trend. And there are some people whose families have been secular for generations. So in that regard, many people in Britain have a religious background, with links to faith communities via parents and grandparents; a significant but small minority is highly religious; and another significant minority is highly secular.

But what of the Catholic community in particular? For some separate research Stephen and I are hoping to take forward, the Nuffield Foundation funded some work to digitise and re-analyse a random sample survey of young people in the 1950s, where young Catholics, mostly Irish but sometimes Polish, Italian, or Afro-Caribbean, were well-represented. This was large enough to allow detailed analysis of religiosity and lapsation among a critical social generation.

From this we have found that for young English people as a whole, attending church less often over the course of their adolescence was predicted by:

  • Being in work rather than in school;
  • Being married; and
  • Having more to do on a Sunday.

We also see that those who reported no religious affiliation were more likely to be members of political associations, which suggests that some exchanged religious identities for political identities.

Among Catholics, however, of those who attended church less often in their later teens and early 20s than they had in childhood, very little predicted lapsation except not being a member of a social club or other association. Perhaps lapsation can be understood by the rise of the consumer society, and personal independence, through work or marriage. Some of it therefore may be down to value shifts, from values stressing conformity to those stressing personal choice.

Catholics were, however, less likely to drop their attendance compared with Anglicans and others, backing up Stephen’s finding that religious retention is relatively good. We don’t know why there is this difference yet. My suspicion is that doctrine is not the major factor – and that it is that it is something to do with the family and community environment, and moral socialisation in the family rather than the appeal of church services themselves, or doctrinal questions. Catholics were more recent immigrants in the 1950s and 60s, and there was community and parental pressure to attend.

We do see generational change in the young ethnic minority British too, in the present day – in the wider Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. Those who are second generation British rather than first show slight shifts in communal practice such as mosque attendance, and clearer shifts in private prayer.

The strong showing which Stephen reports here of ethnic minority Catholics in terms of attendance is not a surprise – we know from a great deal of US work, and some British work, that religious communities are important for immigrants and people of immigrant origin because, as termed by Hirschman, they provide refuge, respect, and resources.

These are just some questions which we could probe further. Others relate to the importance of education for religiosity. The sociologist Sarah King-Hele analysed the BSA for 1983-2008 and distinguished different social generations, from those born in the 1910s to those born in the 1970s. She found as follows:

  • Most changes in attendance could be explained by generational change rather than the wider climate making those already practising less religious.
  • The average proportion of Catholic weekly attenders dropped from 57% among the 1910s cohort to just 16% among the 1970s cohort in the 2000s. So for Catholics of my generation weekly attendance is an aberration.
  • Higher levels of weekly attendance is linked to having children in the household of primary school age, and being married.
  • Levels of strong belief in God among Catholics declined (47%-35%) in Britain over the 1983-2008 period. However, most explanatory variables didn’t really predict anything – apart from having primary school aged children, which predicted stronger belief
  • Education strongly predicts attendance, which raises the question of class. Further analysis of the BSA could perhaps identify whether Catholicism in Britain has become more middle-class since 1983. The shift of some social and moral communities from having a working class to middle class basis is a change found elsewhere in society.

All in all, Bullivant’s paper is of great interest and his longer-term research programme extremely promising. There has been a great deal of scholarly interest in British Islam, and the experience of people of visible ethnic minority background. We can learn a lot, however, about earlier waves of immigration and how religion – including Catholicism – worked to help people become established as British citizens. To paraphrase the American moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, religion both binds and blinds. Our task as social scientists is to understand the drivers and consequences of both.

 

 

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The European Social Survey 2014: Political Attitudes of Religious Groups in Britain

This short BRIN post is the second one looking at religious data in Britain based on analysis of the European Social Survey (ESS), a cross-national survey which has so far involved seven waves conducted every two years since 2002. The first BRIN post is available here:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/2016/the-european-social-survey-and-religion-in-britain/

This second post looks at the attitudes of religious groups on a selection of political issues, using the most recent ESS survey from 2014. In each wave, the UK adult population has been sampled, but the analysis here is restricted to those living in Britain (and so excluding the small subset of respondents in Northern Ireland). The ESS country datasets for the UK can be downloaded (along with accompanying documentation) from the ESS website:

http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/

 

Party Support

The ESS has regularly asked two questions which gauge support for political parties. Firstly, a question asking whether respondents feel close to a party and, if they do, which one. Secondly, a question asking about which party they supported in the most recent national election (if the respondent said they had voted).

Responses to these two questions in the 2014 ESS are displayed in Figure 1 (feel close to a party) and Figure 2 (party supported at most recent national election), based on five categories of religious affiliation (CofE / Anglican, Roman Catholic, other Christian, other religion, no religion).

On both measures – voting behaviour in the 2010 general election and general closeness to a party – the traditional party-denominational linkage between Anglicans and the Conservative Party is upheld. Anglicans are more likely to feel close to the Conservatives than to Labour or any other party; while around half said they voted Tory in the 2010 general election.

 

Figure 1: Party feel close to, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig1Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

 

All other groups are more likely to feel close to Labour than to the Conservatives; with this difference most pronounced for those affiliated to non-Christian religions. Similarly, all groups (except for Anglicans) reported that they were more likely to have backed Labour in 2010, with the divide again most pronounced for those from non-Christian religions. Those within group were around three times as likely to feel close to Labour compared to the Conservatives and three times as likely to have voted for Labour than the Conservatives in 2010.

It is worth noting that, for each religious group, the most common response when asked is to not feel close to any party (highest at nearly three-fifths of those from a non-Christian religion).

 

Figure 2: Party voted for at most recent national election, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig2Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

 

Left-Right Ideology

To gauge left-right ideological position, the ESS surveys have asked respondents to locate themselves on a scale ranging from 0 to 10, where 0 represents most left-wing and 10 represents most right-wing. The average score for each group on this scale is shown in Figure 3. It is evident that Anglicans position themselves more to the right than the other groups, with a mean score of 5.5, ahead of other Christians with an average of 5.2. The other three groups have somewhat lower averages of 4.8 or 4.9.

Of all the groups, then, Anglicans are most likely to express support for the Conservative Party and are more right-wing in their ideological positioning.

 

Figure 3: Mean scores on left-right self-placement scale, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig3Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note: 0-10 scale, where 0=most left-wing and 10=most right-wing.

 

Attitudes towards Gays and Lesbians

The ESS surveys have asked a question about gays and lesbians being able to live life as they wish. Respondents’ views are gauged by a Likert scale running from strongly agree through to strongly disagree. Here, the strongly agree and agree categories, and the disagree and strongly disagree categories, have been combined. Figure 4 reports the responses for the religious groups. For all groups a majority agrees with the statement – highest at 92% of those with no religion and lowest at 57% of those from some other religion. Very small proportions disagree, although this rises to a fifth of those belonging to some other religion (and which outweighs the proportion with a neutral viewpoint).

 

Figure 4: Attitudes towards gays and lesbians being free to live life as they wish, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig4Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

 

European Integration

Respondents’ opinion on European integration are measured by means of a self-placement scale asking about unification. On this scale, a score of 1 indicates that unification has already gone too far and a score of 10 indicates unification should go further. The mean scores are shown in Figure 5. All group scores are below the scale mid-point, but they are somewhat higher for Catholics (4.4) and those belonging to some other religion (4.6). Anglicans registered the lowest mean score (at 3.2).

Figure 5: Mean scores on a European unification self-placement scale, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig5Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note: 0-10 scale, where 0=unification has already gone too far and 10=unification should go further.

 

Immigration

Finally, the ESS has asked a series of questions on immigration – responses to three of which are shown in Figure 6. It reports the mean scores by religious group for three self-placement scales where respondents have been asked: whether immigration is generally good or bad for the country’s economy; whether the country’s cultural life is generally undermined or enriched by immigration; and whether immigrants make the country a better or worse place to live. The scales ranged from 0 to 10, with higher values representing more more positive evaluations.

Across all three questions, more positive assessments of the effects of immigration come from Catholics and those from non-Christian religions. Less favourable evaluations are evident on the part of Anglicans and those with no religion.

Figure 6: Mean scores on immigration self-placement scales, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig6Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note: 0-10 scales, where higher scores represent more positive evaluations of the effects of immigration and immigrants.

 

The 2014 ESS also included a special module of questions asking about various aspects of immigration. Responses to two such questions with a religious theme are displayed in Figure 7, which also used self-placement scales ranging from 0 to 10.  Again, mean scores are presented for each religious group. Firstly, in response to a question asking how important it is for someone to have a Christian background when deciding on whether an immigrant can come and live in this country. A score of 0 equals extremely unimportant and a score of 10 equals extremely important. Secondly, in response to a question asking whether, in general, religious beliefs and practices are undermined or enriched by immigrants coming to live in this country. A score of 0 represents a view that beliefs and practices are undermined; a score of 10 that they are enriched.

Anglicans were more likely to think that having a Christian background was an important factor when making decisions to admit immigrants (at 4.1, but clearly below the midpoint of the scale). Those from other religions were least likely (at 2.0), followed by those with no religion (2.2). Those belonging to non-Christian religions were the most positive in their assessment of the impact of immigration on religious beliefs and practices (5.9); Anglicans were least positive, with a mean score of 4.0.

 

Figure 7: Mean scores on immigration self-placement scales, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig7Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note:

[1] Christian background: 0-10 scale, where a score of 0 equals extremely unimportant and a score of 10 equals extremely important

[2] Religious beliefs and practices: 0-10 scale, where a score of 0 represents a view that beliefs and practices are undermined; a score of 10 that they are enriched

 

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The European Social Survey: Religion in Britain

This BRIN post looks at religious data pertaining to Britain from  the European Social Survey (ESS), a cross-national survey which has so far involved seven waves conducted every two years since 2002. In each wave, the UK adult population has been sampled. The most recent survey wave was conducted in 2014 – the UK country dataset has recently been released and can be downloaded (along with accompanying documentation) from the ESS website: http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/.

The religious data presented here are based on analysis of the 2002 and 2014 surveys, in order to provide an over-time comparison. While each of the samples covers the UK, the small proportion of cases resident in Norther Ireland have been omitted, so that the focus it on those in living in Britain.

Four religious indicators are used here: affiliation; attendance, prayer, and personal religiosity. The analysis first examines each religious indicator in turn before looking at how different measures of religious engagement (attendance, prayer and religiosity) are associated with belonging to a particular faith or denomination. For attendance and prayer, the full set of response options provided in the ESS surveys have been collapsed into more parsimonious sets of categories. Question wordings are given underneath each table. All tables present the results from analysis of weighted data.

 

Religious indicators

Table 1 presents the data on religion affiliation from the 2002 and 2014 surveys. Over time, the total proportion professing some form of Christian affiliation has been broadly stable (2002: 43%; 2014: 42%). However, as an identical set of response categories was not used for Christian traditions in both surveys, this limits the observations that can be made. The proportion claiming no religious affiliation is almost identical over time (2002: 52%; 2014: 53%). The proportion recorded in 2014 is a little higher than that recorded in the 2014 British Social Attitudes survey. There has been an increase in the proportion belonging to some other religion (from 5% to 7%).

 

Table 1: Religious affiliation

2002 (%)   2014 (%)
TOTAL CHRISTIAN 43 TOTAL CHRISTIAN 42
   Protestant 33     Anglican 24
   Catholic 8     Catholic 10
   Other Christian 2     Other Christian 8
OTHER RELIGION 5 OTHER RELIGION 7
NO RELIGION 52 NO RELIGION 53

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Questions: ‘Do you consider yourself as belonging to any particular religion or denomination?’ and ‘Which one?’

Note:  Some of the categories included under ‘CHRISTIAN’ are not equivalent between the 2002 and 2014 surveys.

 

Table 2 is based on responses to a question only asked of those who said they had no religious affiliation. It gauges whether they have ever belonged to a religious faith or denomination. In both surveys around three-in-ten indicate that they have (though it is slightly higher in 2014). In both years, then, a large majority of those with no current affiliation also stated that they have never had an affiliation in the past.

 

 

Table 2: Ever belonged to a particular religion or denomination (only asked of those with no affiliation)

2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Yes 28 32
No 72 69

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Have you ever considered yourself as belonging to any particular religion or denomination?’

 

Table 3 presents data for the first of three measures of religious engagement – attendance at religious services (beyond going on special occasions). The picture is one of continuity over time – just under a fifth report that they attend services on a frequent basis (that is, once a month or more often); around three-in-ten attend less often; and about half said that they never attend services.

 

Table 3: Religious attendance

  2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Once a month or more 18 19
Less than once a month 32 30
Never 51 51

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Apart from special occasions such as weddings and funerals, about how often do you attend religious services nowadays?’

 

Table 4 shows the responses to a question asking about prayer. It shows an increase over time in the proportion saying that they never pray, from 44% in 2002 to 50% in 2014, with small decreases in the proportions saying that either they pray at least once a week or less often.

 

Table 4: Prayer

  2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Once a week or more 31 29
Less often 25 22
Never 44 50

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Apart from when you are at religious services, how often, if at all, do you pray?’

 

Moving beyond measures of religious practice, Table 5 shows responses to a question asking respondents to self-assess how religious they are. They are asked to locate themselves on a scale running from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates not at all religious and 10 indicates very religious. In Table 5, respondents have been categorised as to whether they have a low (scored 0-3), medium (scored 4-6) or high (scored 7-10) level of religiosity, as well as showing the overall mean score for the full scale. There has been some degree of change over time: the proportion with a low level of religiosity has increased from 40% to 48%. The proportion with a medium or high levels of religiosity have both fallen over time. In 2014, just under half have a low level of religiosity, 30% have a medium level (down from 36%) and 21% report having a high level (down from 24%). The average value underscores this movement towards lower levels of religiosity, decreasing from 5.0 to 3.8.

 

Table 5: Self-assessed religiosity

  2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Low (0 to 3) 40 48
Medium (4-6) 36 30
High (7-10) 24 21
Mean score 5.0 3.8

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Regardless of whether you belong to a particular religion, how religious would you say you are?’

 

Religious engagement by affiliation

Table 6 takes the analysis of the religious data in the 2014 ESS survey a step further by looking at how the indicators of religious engagement are associated with the measure of religious affiliation. In other words, does religious engagement vary across different religious traditions? Table 6 provides a breakdown of attendance, prayer and self-assessed religiosity for Anglicans, Catholics, other Christians and those who belong to other religions. Data are not reported for those who do not have an affiliation.

A common finding across the three indicators of religious engagement is that Anglicans are less likely to be engaged. Anglicans are much less likely to say that they attend religious services on a regular basis (once a month or more); much less likely to report that they pray once a week or more; and are less likely to have a high level of personal religiosity.

Around a half of Catholics, other Christians and those affiliated to non-Christian religions say they attend services once a month or more. A clear majority in each group other than Anglicans also report praying once a week or more often. While 31% of Anglicans are categorised as having a high level of religiosity, this is considerable lower than the proportions for the other groups: Catholics: 47%; other Christians: 45%; other religion: 54%. Looked at another way, Anglicans’ mean score on the religiosity scale is 5.25; the average scores for the other groups are somewhat higher (highest at 6.53 for those belonging to other religions).

Finally, a summary measure of religious engagement was created based on the three indicators used already: attendance, prayer and self-assessed religiosity. Those respondents who met the following criteria of (i) attending services once a month or more, (ii) praying once a week or more and (iii) having a high level of religiosity were classed as having a high level of religious engagement. The proportion that is highly engaged – on this summary measure – within each affiliation category is shown in the bottom row of Table 6.

Within each religious group only a relatively small proportion can be identified as highly engaged on all three measures. The summary measure encapsulates what was found for each indicator when analysed in turn. That is, Anglicans somewhat stand apart from the other religious groups. Only 15% of Anglicans are classed as highly religiously engaged based on the summary measure, compared to around twice as many Catholics (33%), other Christians (31%) and those within non-Christian faiths (30%).

 

Table 6: Religious engagement by affiliation

Anglican (%) Catholic (%) Other Christian (%) Other religion (%)
Attendance
Once a month or more 25 47 48 49
Less than once a month 43 34 33 36
Never 33 20 19 15
Prayer
Once a week or more 38 61 55 68
Less often 32 22 23 21
Never 31 17 22 11
Religiosity
Low (0-3) 23 15 14 10
Medium (4-6) 46 38 41 36
High (7 to 10) 31 47 45 54
Mean score 5.3 6.0 6.2 6.5
         
Proportion with a high level of religious engagement* 15 33 31 30

*Based on a combined measure of: (i) attends once a month or more; (ii) prays more than once a week; and (iii) has a high level of self-assessed religiosity.

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014.

 

Religious engagement by sociodemographic group

As a final step, Table 7 shows the incidence of different religious indicators across sociodemographic groups (based on sex, ethnicity and age). Specifically, within each group, Table 7 reports the proportion with a religious affiliation, the proportion attending services once a month or more, the proportion praying once a week or more, the proportion with a high level of religiosity, and the proportion categorised as highly religious engaged (based on the summary measure discussed already).

There are some consistent features in the data. Across all indicators, women are always more religious than men: that is, they are more likely to have some form of affiliation, more likely to practice their religion, and more likely to see themselves as being very religious.  Based on the combined measure of religious engagement, 13% of women are highly religiously engaged, as against a tenth of men.

Those who belong to a minority ethnic group are much more likely to be religiously engaged those who do not. With the exception of identifying with a religion, those who belong to a minority ethnic group are more than twice as likely to be religiously-engaged. Based on the summary measure (shown in the final column), 31% of those belonging to a minority ethnic group are classed as highly religiously engaged, compared to 9% of those who do not belong to a minority ethnic group.

In terms of the evidence across age groups, those aged 65 and over are most likely to be religiously-engaged, and this finding is consistent across indicators. Those in the youngest age group are consistently least likely to be religiously engaged. Based on the summary index, those aged 65 and older are twice as likely to be highly religiously engaged compared than those aged 15-29.

 

Table 7: Religious engagement by sociodemographic group

  Has a religious affiliation (%) Attends services: Once a month or more (%) Prays: Once a week or more (%) High level of religiosity (%) Religiosity: Mean score High level of religious engagement* (%)
Men 44 17 24 18 3.4 10
Women 50 21 33 24 4.1 13
Belongs to a minority ethnic group 67 38 56 45 5.4 31
Does not belong to a minority ethnic group 45 16 25 19 3.6 9
Aged 15-29 33 11 18 13 2.8 8
Aged 30-49 41 19 26 20 3.4 11
Aged 50-64 49 17 28 21 3.9 11
Aged 65+ 64 24 39 28 4.6 16

*Based on a combined measure of: (i) attends once a month or more; (ii) prays more than once a week; and (iii) has a high level of self-assessed religiosity.

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014.

 

Summary

Across time, the picture is generally one of stability in terms of affiliation and attendance. There was some decline in self-assessed levels of religiosity; and a rise in the proportion who do not pray.

The examination of variation in levels of religious engagement across religious groups (defined by affiliation) and across sociodemographic groups tended to reaffirm the ‘conventional wisdom’ on which segments of wider society tend to be more (or less religious). Across faith traditions, Anglicans are least religiously engaged based on the measures used here, either separately or in combination. Sociodemographically, levels of religious engagement are higher amongst women, those aged 65 and older, and particularly so within those belonging to minority ethnic groups.

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Counting Religion in Britain, May 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 8, May 2016 features 31 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 8 May 2016

OPINION POLLS

Anti-Semitism (1): Attitudes of Jews toward the Labour Party

The recent row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party seems to have further damaged its standing with the Jewish electorate. A majority (63%) of British Jews regard the Labour Party as anti-Semitic, and 66% assess its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as doing a bad job in addressing the issue. Whereas 15% of Jews voted Labour at the 2015 general election, and 32% of those who did not have considered voting Labour at some time in the past 10 years, only 7% would vote Labour now. The Jewish community remains overwhelmingly (67%) Conservative in its political allegiance, although it has only really been so since the Second World War. In part, this perhaps reflects the very low perception of anti-Semitism in that party (6%), a similar perception applying to the Liberal Democrats but not to UKIP (which 46% of Jews view as anti-Semitic). Notwithstanding the current publicity being given to anti-Semitism, 82% of Jews say they feel very or quite safe in Britain. Data derive from a survey of 1,008 members of Survation’s pre-recruited panel of self-identifying Jews in Britain, interviewed mainly by telephone on 3-4 May 2016.

The poll was commissioned by the Jewish Chronicle which published its own analysis of the results in its edition for 6 May 2016 at:

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/157746/labour-support-among-british-jews-collapses-85-cent

Full data tables, including breaks by demographics, are available at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-Tables-JC-Poll-030516SPCH-1c0d0h8.pdf

Results for a question on the voting intentions of Jews in the forthcoming referendum on European Union membership were separately reported in the Jewish Chronicle for 13 May 2016, 49% being in the ‘remain’ camp, 34% in the ‘leave’ camp, and 17% undecided. These data tables are at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-Tables-JC-EU-Poll-030516SPCH-1c0d0h8.pdf

Anti-Semitism (2): Attitudes of Labour Party members

A bare majority (52%) of 1,031 Labour Party members interviewed online by YouGov for The Times on 9-11 May 2016 acknowledged that the Party has a problem with anti-Semitism, 38% being in denial. Moreover, 47% thought it no worse a problem in the Labour Party than in any other political party, while 35% blamed the press and opponents of Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for exploiting the issue in order to attack him (a further 49% accused them of manufacturing the problem for the same reason). Likewise, although 59% approved of the suspension from the Party of Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, only one-quarter judged the remarks leading to his suspension to be anti-Semitic and wanted him to be expelled from the Party. Data tables can be accessed via the link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/17/labour-members-increasingly-bullish-on-corbyn/

Anti-Semitism (3): Attitudes of the electorate

Asked about the extent of prejudice against Jews in the UK, 29% of 1,694 Britons replied that there is a great deal or a fair amount in an online poll by YouGov for Tim Bale on 2-3 May 2016. This was five points more than in a previous survey in December 2014. Not very much prejudice was reported by 43%, none at all by 5%, with the remaining 23% unable to say. Some anti-Semitism on the part of respondents themselves was in evidence, 7% agreeing with the long-standing trope that ‘Jews have too much influence in this country’, rising to 14 per cent among UKIP supporters and 10% for men and Scottish residents. A similar overall proportion (6%) acknowledged that they would be less likely to vote for a political party led by a Jew and also disagreed with the proposition that ‘a British Jew would make an equally acceptable Prime Minister as a member of any other faith’; the number was again double among UKIP voters. Almost one-third of the sample claimed to have Jewish friends, acquaintances, or work colleagues, which is a surprisingly high ratio, given that there are relatively few Jews in the country and that they are spatially concentrated.

Bale had an article about the survey in the online edition of the Daily Telegraph for 5 May 2016, which can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/05/labour-voters-dont-have-a-problem-with-jewish-people-but-london/

The full data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/prmzmd3z1w/TimBaleResults_160503_Anti-Semitism_W.pdf

Perceptions of Islam

A significant degree of negativity toward both Islam and Muslims has again surfaced in a poll conducted by ComRes for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (UK) among a sample of 2,012 adult Britons interviewed online on 22-24 April 2016. Topline findings are tabulated below, in the order in which questions were asked, except for the omission of questions about understandings of the Caliphate (a central preoccupation of the sponsor), which are too complex to summarize here. It will be seen that a majority of respondents denied that Islam is compatible with British values, while a plurality disagreed it promoted peace in the UK and believed it is a negative force in the country. Only a minority acknowledged having a good grasp of Islamic traditions and beliefs, but there was little appetite to learn more or to see Islam taught more in schools. At the same time, there was acceptance that British Muslims are seriously and unfairly disadvantaged by misconceptions of Islam. The public’s long-standing desire for a separation of religion and politics was reaffirmed. Detailed computer tables, giving breaks by a range of demographics (including religious affiliation and possession of Muslim family, friends, or acquaintances), are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Ahmadi-Muslims_Perceptions-of-the-Caliphate.pdf

% across

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

Islam promotes peace in UK

32

46

22

Possess good understanding of Islamic traditions/beliefs

32

57

10

Possess Muslim family/friends/acquaintances

41

54

5

Get most of knowledge about Islam from media

55

37

8

Islam is compatible with British values

28

56

17

Islam promotes acts of violence in UK

33

51

16

Islam is a violent religion

28

57

14

Most people in UK have negative view of Islam

72

15

13

Islam is a negative force in UK

43

40

17

Would like to know more about Islamic traditions

36

49

15

More should be taught about Islam in UK schools

38

47

15

Misconceptions of Islam negatively impact quality of life of British Muslims

67

18

15

Misconceptions of Islam negatively impact quality of life of all Britons

60

24

16

Extremist views/actions conducted in Islam’s name by Muslim minority unfairly impact perceptions of Muslims

78

12

11

No place in UK politics for religious influence of any kind

62

23

15

UK Muslims do not have unifying figurehead

45

17

38

Admiration for global religious figures

Of the three international religious leaders included in YouGov’s latest 30-nation ranking of most admired living figures, the Dalai Lama took a larger share of the vote than the Pope in 19 countries, including the United Kingdom, the Dalai Lama performing especially strongly in Australia, France, Germany, and Norway. The Pope out-performed the Dalai Lama in nine countries, most impressively in the Philippines, while in Argentina and New Zealand the two leaders were tied. Internationally, the Pope has fallen seven places since last year’s rankings, suggesting his influence may be on the wane. The veteran evangelist Billy Graham, mostly out of the limelight these days, predictably trailed the other two religious leaders, except in Egypt (where he came first of the three) and in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States (where he came second). In the United Kingdom, which Graham has missioned on several occasions, his percentage share of admiration was below the global mean, whereas for Pope Francis it was slightly above. Of course, in virtually all countries the lists were dominated by secular names. Statistics for religious figures alone are tabulated below. Topline results for all figures for all participating nations, together with an explanation of methodology, can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/07/wma-2016/

% share of admiration

Pope Francis

Dalai Lama

Billy Graham

Global mean

3.0

4.3

1.6

Argentina

7.0

7.0

1.0

Australia

4.8

11.4

2.1

Brazil

1.9

8.4

2.0

Canada

7.8

5.8

2.4

China

0.4

NA

0.2

Denmark

1.7

9.9

0.4

Egypt

0.7

0.6

0.9

Finland

2.3

7.0

0.8

France

7.7

10.0

0.1

Germany

1.3

10.0

0.3

Hong Kong

4.2

2.6

0.7

India

2.2

2.9

0.9

Indonesia

1.8

2.8

0.8

Malaysia

1.4

2.0

0.8

Mexico

3.7

9.1

0.8

Morocco

0.2

0.7

0.2

New Zealand

5.6

5.6

2.7

Norway

7.7

10.0

0.1

Pakistan

0.1

0.4

0.0

Philippines

20.7

2.8

1.7

Russia

1.1

2.8

0.1

Saudi Arabia

0.6

0.5

0.3

Singapore

3.4

2.5

1.7

South Africa

2.0

5.4

3.2

Spain

2.2

7.4

0.4

Sweden

2.0

8.7

0.3

Thailand

1.8

4.5

0.2

United Arab Emirates

4.1

2.0

0.9

United Kingdom

3.5

4.1

1.1

United States

8.2

3.7

5.2

Trust in religious leaders

In a separate YouGov study for YouGov@Cambridge, three-fifths of 1,742 Britons interviewed on 13-14 March 2016 said they had limited (32%) or no trust (28%) in religious leaders in general to tell the truth, peaking at 73% among those judging the current political system to be broken. Just 30% expressed a great deal or fair amount of trust in religious leaders, with marked contrasts between 18-24s (20%) and over-65s (43%) and between those thinking the political system works well (43%) and that it is broken (22%). Comparisons with a somewhat eclectic list of other groups are shown in the table, below. 

% degree of trust to tell truth

Great deal/fair amount

Not much

Not at all

Friends

89 7

0

Family members

89

6

1

Academics

64

22

5

People you meet in general

50

36

6

UK military leaders

40

32

17

Religious leaders

30

32

28

Trade union leaders

24

37

27

Journalists

18

45

32

People who run large companies

17

47

27

UK government ministers

15

38

38

Senior European Union officials

13

36

40

Senior US government officials

12

38

38

The same survey explored several other matters of religious interest. Asked about the role of a ‘higher force’ (such as God, fate, or destiny) in their own lives, 5% assessed that everything which happened to them was caused by this force, 8% that most of what happened was so caused, and 22% that some of what happened was so caused. That made 35% according some role to a higher force against 38% denying it had any influence at all, the remaining 27% being undecided between the options on offer. Men (45%) and 18-24s (48%) were most likely to refute the intervention of a higher force in their lives. Membership of church or religious organizations during the past five years was reported by 8% of respondents overall, rising to 13% of over-65s and 14% of Scots. Given a list of possible conspiracy theories, the suggestion that official accounts of the Holocaust are a lie, with the number of Jews killed being exaggerated, was strenuously refuted – merely 2% agreed with the proposition (albeit 5% of UKIP voters).

Data tables for the poll can be accessed via the link at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/27/conspiracies/

Dying

Britons claim to feel far more comfortable about discussing religion with their family and friends (80%) than they do sex (50%), according to the latest poll by ComRes for the Dying Matters Coalition, for which 2,085 adults were interviewed online on 15-17 April 2016. There is also greater willingness to discuss religion than either dying (64%) or money (78%), albeit slightly more reticence than about politics (82%) or immigration (85%). Just 17% say they would feel uncomfortable talking about religion, and no more than 19% among any demographic sub-group (the Welsh being most reluctant). However, when it comes to factors potentially ensuring a ‘good death’, ‘having your religious/spiritual needs met’ is rated as the least important of the six options, with a mean score of 5.29 on a six-point scale, the list topped by ‘being pain free’ on 2.44. Addressing religious and spiritual needs is judged the single most important factor by only 5% of respondents overall, and no more than 6% in any sub-group. Data tables are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/NCPC_Public-polling-2016_Data-tables.pdf

Places of worship and community

Places of worship are accorded a very low priority by the public in shaping a local community, according to a recent survey commissioned by TSB Bank, for which OnePoll surveyed 4,000 UK adults online between 20 January and 18 March 2016. Indeed, asked which of 22 facilities and services were most essential, a place of worship came in penultimate position, attracting just 12% support, marginally ahead of a youth club on 10%. The list was headed by a post office (74%) and a bank (73%). Even fewer, 9% of men and 8% of women, said that the existence of easily accessible places of worship was a factor they liked about their current home. Full data tables from the poll are not in the public domain, but headline findings appear in a report from TSB at:

http://www.tsb.co.uk/news-releases/tsb-home-reports.pdf

Brexit

This will be the last edition of Counting Religion in Britain before United Kingdom voters decide on 23 June 2016 whether they wish the country to remain a member of the European Union (EU) or not. So, it seems appropriate to review the latest evidence about referendum voting intentions by religion. It comes from Lord Ashcroft’s online survey of 5,009 adult Britons interviewed between 13 and 18 May 2016. Respondents were not asked how they proposed to answer the actual question on the referendum ballot paper but about their inclination to vote, on a feeling thermometer running from 0 to 100, where 0-49 denoted a leaning towards remaining in the EU, 51-100 a leaning towards leaving, and 50 represented undecided. As the table below indicates, a majority of voters (52%) inclined towards the leave position, 14 points more than opted to remain. However, among Christians the gap in favour of leaving widened to 22%. A plurality of both non-Christians (49%) and religious nones (48%) was also in favour of leaving, albeit the margin over the remainers was very small (3% and 6%, respectively). See, further, page 92 of the data tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Euro_Poll_May16.pdf

% across

Remain

Undecided

Leave

All voters

38

10

52

Christian

34

9

56

Non-Christian

46

5

49

No religion

42

11

48

Voting intentions of Jews in the referendum, according to a different survey, are mentioned in the final paragraph of the first item in this edition, ‘Anti-Semitism (1)’, above. For Sikh views on the EU, see ‘British Sikh Report’, below.

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

English church census, 2016

Plans for another ecumenical census of church attendance in England, the first since 2005, have been abandoned, according to news reports in the Church Times and on the Churches Together in England website. The census was to have taken place in October, with a pilot scheduled for June. The plans had been devised by a steering group which has been meeting since autumn 2015 under the chairpersonship of the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker. But they had to be aborted after several major denominations, including most recently the Church of England itself, indicated their unwillingness to sign up to the administrative resource implications. News stories about the cancellation of the census can be found at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/13-may/news/uk/church-census-2016-cancelled-after-c-of-e-drops-out

http://www.cte.org.uk/Articles/468006/Home/News/Latest_news_articles/Proposed_Church_Census.aspx

http://www.cte.org.uk/Groups/273292/Home/Resources/Proposed_2016_Church/Proposed_2016_Church.aspx

Sermons

The overwhelming majority (88%) of 1,800 UK churchgoers and church leaders interviewed online by Christian Research in early May disagreed with the suggestion that preaching a sermon in church is outdated. However, sermons in excess of half an hour in length appealed to only 10% of the sample, more so to men (14%) than women (6%) and to those aged 25-34 (19%) than over-65s (9%). In reality, 15% of sermons were reported as exceeding 30 minutes, the most common length (44%) being from 10 to 20 minutes. Regarding priorities for content, most emphasis (44%) was placed on biblical exposition, by men (49%) more than women (39%). Practical application was second in significance (40%), albeit preferred by more women (44%) than men (36%). Neither sex attached much importance to humour or anecdote in sermons. Four-fifths of worshippers did not mind whether the preacher was male or female, but one-fifth favoured a man in the pulpit. The research was commissioned by the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in the run-up to CRE International at the ExCeL Centre in London on 17-20 May, which featured a Sermon of the Year competition. As with virtually all Christian Research polling via its Resonate panel, few data have entered the public domain, but CRE has a press release at:

https://www.creonline.co.uk/news/preachers-told-give-us-content-over-comedy-please/

Church Commissioners annual report

The Church Commissioners, who support the mission and ministry of the Church of England from the proceeds of a diverse investment of £7 billion, have published their annual report and financial statements for 2015, entitled Investing in the Church’s Growth. The overall return on this investment last year was in excess of 8%, not far short of the annual average of almost 10% over the past 30 years, and well ahead of inflation. The Commissioners’ total expenditure in 2015 was £218.5 million, amounting to 15% of all spending across the Church, with their biggest single outlay (56%) being on clergy pensions (for service prior to 1998). Media coverage has focused disproportionately on the fact that Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, is shown among the Commissioners’ 20 most valuable equity assets, despite frequent accusations against Google that it fails to pay its fair share of UK tax. The report is available for download at:

https://churchofengland.org/media/2492846/churchcommissionersar2015.pdf

Fresh Expressions of church in the Diocese of Sheffield

An analysis of 56 Fresh Expressions of church (fxC) started in the Diocese of Sheffield between 1992 and 2014 has been prepared by George Lings and published by the Church Army’s Research Unit. Nearly all (47) of these fxCs are still in existence, adding 13% to the average weekly attendance in the diocese’s parish churches. Of the 2,450 fxC attenders, 35% are existing Christians, 27% dechurched, and 39% non-churched. The report is available at:

http://www.sheffield.anglican.org/UserFiles/File///CARU_Research_report_19_Sheffield_Diocese.pdf

Church of Scotland statistics

Church of Scotland statistics for the year-ending 31 December 2015, which were reported to the General Assembly meeting in Edinburgh this month, revealed a continuing decline. There were 14,788 fewer members in 2015 than 2014, a decrease of 4%, this being the net figure of 6,330 admissions and 21,118 removals from the rolls. Half the removals were as a result of deaths, which were nine times as numerous as new members received on profession of faith. The Church conducted 21,235 funerals during the course of the year, equivalent to 37% of all deaths in Scotland. There were only 3,591 baptisms, a far cry from the peak of 51,767 in 1962. Indeed, media coverage of the General Assembly highlighted the intention to give serious consideration to online baptisms (for example, via Skype or over the phone), which are already popular in America, to stem the fall. The headline statistics can be found in Appendix X of the General Assembly’s Order of Proceedings at:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/32879/Order_of_Proceedings.pdf

Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches

The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) has released a summary report on its 2014-15 ‘data survey’, which was initially prepared for consideration by its Leaders’ Conference in November 2015. The FIEC was founded in 1922 as an umbrella organization for non-denominational and unattached churches and missions. It currently represents 559 ‘church gatherings’ in Great Britain and is continuing to grow. The ‘data survey’ revealed that 39,000 individuals (31,000 adults and 8,000 young people under 18) attend FIEC churches on a typical Sunday morning, an increase of 10% since a similar survey in 2003. The number worshipping at least monthly (and thus considered to be regular attenders) is, at 46,000, almost one-fifth more. Church membership stood at 27,000 in 2014-15, equivalent to 59% of regular adult attenders compared with 64% in 2003. Most (54%) of FIEC churches have fewer than 35 members, the smaller the church, the more likely it is to be in numerical decline. The proportion of Sunday attendances in the morning has risen from 58% in 1989 to 70% today, while the number of churches holding evening services has fallen over the same period, from 93% to 77%. The ratio of young people in FIEC congregations has reduced from 32% to 20% since 1989, with 13% of churches having no young people in the pews and 53% reporting no baptisms in the past year. One in seven attenders is aged 75 or over. A further data survey is planned towards the end of 2016. The summary report for 2014-15 can be found at:

https://fiec.org.uk/docs/FIEC_How_are_we_looking.pdf

British Sikh Report

British Sikh Report, 2016 is the fourth annual edition of a survey overseen by a group of Sikh professionals, and conducted (mainly online) in late 2015 and early 2016 among a self-selecting (and thus potentially unrepresentative) sample of 1,416 adult Sikhs in the United Kingdom. Britain’s place in the world was a special theme of this year’s study. On membership of the European Union (EU), 57% of British Sikhs were in favour of remaining (mostly subject to reform of the EU, the survey being conducted before the British government’s agreement with the EU in February 2016), 12% wanted to leave the EU, with 31% undecided. However, 54% disagreed with allowing an unlimited number of EU migrants into the country, and 67% wanted their access to benefits to be limited. On immigration generally, although 59% agreed that migrants made a positive contribution to society, 67% feared that public services could not cope with the current level of net influx, and 53% that diversity and cohesion would be adversely affected by it. Only 32% supported Britain taking in more refugees (with 39% opposed), albeit 51% approved of greater help being given to refugees already in Europe. Other topics covered were ethno-religious self-identity, relevance of caste, observance of the Panj Kakkars, charitable giving and volunteering, attitudes to British military involvement in Syria and the retention of a nuclear deterrent, and demographics (including employment status and highest educational attainment). Gurbachan Singh Jandu contributes an article on ‘Britain’s Sikhs in 2016: A Community with Society in Mind’ (pp. 5-12). British Sikh Report, 2016 is available to download at:

http://www.britishsikhreport.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/British-Sikh-Report-2016.pdf

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

2021 census

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that it intends to include a question on religious affiliation in the 2021 population census of England and Wales, using the same wording as in 2011, to ensure continuity in reporting with both 2001 and 2011 results. A primary driver for so doing is to enable organizations to meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010, which defines religion as a protected characteristic. Following public consultation, ONS is declining to extend the question, noting: ‘While data users proposed that additional information about philosophical belief should also be collected, testing ahead of the 2011 Census demonstrated that including philosophical beliefs within the question changed how respondents thought about religion. This led to them providing answers on religious belief rather than affiliation. It is therefore not intended to expand the scope of the religion question to include this aspect of the protected characteristic.’ The statement appears in section 3.9 of The 2021 Census: Assessment of Initial User Requirements on Content for England and Wales – Response to Consultation, which is available (in English and Welsh) at:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/census/censustransformationprogramme/consultations/the2021censusinitialviewoncontentforenglandandwales

Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2014

Scottish Surveys Core Questions combines into a single dataset the answers to identical questions asked of an aggregate 21,000 respondents in the annual Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, the Scottish Health Survey, and the Scottish Household Survey. The report and tables for 2014, the third year of the series, have just been published by the Scottish Government, with religion as one of the 19 core questions. Overall, 44% of the Scottish population had no religion, 52% was Christian (29% Church of Scotland, 15% Roman Catholic, 8% other denominations), and 3% non-Christian. Religious affiliation was used as a variable for analysing the incidence of general health, long-term limiting health conditions, smoking, mental wellbeing, unpaid care, local crime rates, and confidence in the police. The apparent statistical significance of some religious correlates was weakened when results were standardized by age, reflecting the disproportionately elderly profile of Church of Scotland affiliates and the younger profile of nones and Muslims. However, even after age standardization was applied, the greatest prevalence of smoking was still found among Catholics and nones. More details at:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/05/7615/downloads

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Protestant and Catholic differences

‘Protestant and Catholic Distinctions in Secularization’ are examined by Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, with particular reference to the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, pp. 165-80. The underlying data derive from cross-sectional national surveys for the period 1985-2012, including 86,000 respondents to British Social Attitudes Surveys. In all three countries, there has been a steep decline in Protestant affiliation over time, but the remaining Protestants have generally seen heightened rates of religious practice (measured by attendance at religious services and prayer) when compared with remaining Catholics. With regard to orthodox religious beliefs, both remaining Protestants and remaining Catholics exhibit increasing levels of believing. For the incidence of religious behaviour and believing, Protestants now surpass Catholics in the United States and Canada and are said to be on track to do so in Britain. The societal implications of the ‘religious core’, at once diminished yet strengthened, are briefly assessed. Access options to the article, and to supplementary tables available online, are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2016.1152660

Catholic disaffiliation

British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys, in this case for 1991-2011 (and especially 2007-11), have also been mined by Stephen Bullivant in his study of ‘Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain: A Quantitative Overview’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, pp. 181-97. Disaffiliates are defined as those who were brought up as Catholics but no longer identify as such, either because they regard themselves as belonging to some other religion (switchers) or to none at all (leavers). A much smaller proportion of Catholics (38%) was found to have disaffiliated than was the case with other mainstream denominations, some of the lowest retention rates being among Baptists and Methodists, only 36% and 34% of whom (respectively) stayed loyal to their faith of upbringing. Nevertheless, Catholic disaffiliations increased over time, from 25% for pre-1945 cohorts to 40% for post-1945 cohorts (a possible Vatican II effect, Bullivant suggests), and dwarfed, in the ratio of ten to one, converts to Catholicism. Men raised as Catholics were one and a half times more likely than women to disaffiliate. Moreover, a large contingent of the overall 62% of Catholics retaining their cradle identity rarely or never practised their religion, while a significant minority were even atheists or agnostics. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2016.1152664

A somewhat broader and more up-to-date account of results from this research, focusing on England and Wales and drawing upon BSA surveys for 2012-14, can be found in Bullivant’s Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales: A Statistical Report Based on Recent British Social Attitudes Survey Data (Catholic Research Forum Reports, No. 1, London: Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society, St Mary’s University Twickenham, 2016, 18pp.). Its four chapters explore: religion in England and Wales; the Catholic population; retention and conversion; and church attendance. Catholic data are disaggregated by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. Extrapolating from BSA, Bullivant suggests that the Catholic community of England and Wales numbers (professedly) 3,800,000 against 6,200,000 brought up as Catholics. This report is freely available to download at:

http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/benedict-xvi/contemporary-catholicism.htm

Catholics and faith schools

‘Attitudes Towards Faith-Based Schooling amongst Roman Catholics in Britain’ are explored by Ben Clements in an online first article in British Journal of Religious Education. The underlying data derive from a survey of 1,062 adult Catholics in Britain by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates in 2013. Some support is found for the ‘solidarity of the religious’ thesis, with the more orthodox Catholics (in terms of their religious practice and beliefs) showing a greater propensity to endorse publicly-funded faith school provision for Christians and non-Christians alike. The effects of moral attitudes and socio-demographic variables (except for ethnicity) were weaker and less consistent. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01416200.2015.1128393

Urban and rural Anglican dioceses

Owen Edwards has proposed a new model for defining rural, mixed, and urban Anglican dioceses in England and Wales, based upon 10 statistical factors, in comparison with an earlier (2001) model devised by David Lankshear. ‘Classifying “Rural” and “Urban” Dioceses of the Church of England and the Church in Wales: Introducing the Ten-Factor Model’ is published in Rural Theology, Vol. 14, No. 1, May 2016, pp. 53-65, and access options to the article are explained at:

http://tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14704994.2016.1154729

Polarized Jews

Jews are likely to hold more divergent and stronger views than non-Jews across a wide variety of social issues. This is according to a comparison of a 1995 study of British Jewish opinion, undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys for 1993-94, both of which permitted respondents to choose between moderate or more extreme positions in answer to 14 identically-worded questions. No subsequent survey of the British Jewish community appears to have deliberately replicated BSA questions in this way. In all but one of the 14 cases, the Jewish sample exhibited a wider spread of attitudes than BSA interviewees, which was statistically significant in 11 instances. Competing non-religious (socio-demographic and language norm) explanations for the variance are considered and dismissed. This greater polarization of Jewish opinion conforms to Jewish folklore, religious narratives, and tropes of Jewish humour. An open access version of Stephen Miller, ‘Are Jews More Polarised in Their Social Attitudes than Non-Jews?  Empirical Evidence from the 1995 JPR Study’, Jewish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 57, Nos 1 and 2, 2015, pp. 70-6 is available at:

http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/12694/1/2%20Miller.pdf

Digital methodologies

Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion are explored in a new book edited by Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Suha Shakkour (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, xxvi + 227pp., ISBN 978-1-4725-7115-1, £21.99, paperback). It comprises 15 fairly short chapters by 25 contributors (10 of them from the United Kingdom) which tease out the methodological lessons to be learned from online research which they have conducted, identifying key tips for future practitioners. There is also a useful bibliography of relevant primary and secondary literature (pp. 197-223). The empirical findings of the research are only incidentally reported. Digital methodologies employed, besides the fairly obvious use of online surveys, include Facebook, YouTube, videoconferencing, apps, crowdsourcing, and gaming. They can be helpful in targeting minority and otherwise hard-to-reach populations, particularly in non-Christian communities, which are the subject of several of these essays (for example, Jasjit Singh’s contribution on the religious engagement of young Sikhs). However, in statistical terms, digital research, although relatively inexpensive, often struggles to achieve representative samples and thus to generate scientifically robust data. This even applies to online surveys, which frequently rely upon self-selecting respondents. The book’s webpage can be found at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/digital-methodologies-in-the-sociology-of-religion-9781472571151/

Implicit religion and adolescents

Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny have examined the late Edward Bailey’s notion of the persistence of implicit religion among a sample of 8,619 adolescents aged 13-15 in England and Wales who participated in the Teenage Religion and Values Survey and who had no formal religious affiliation (nones) nor practice (never attended religious services). Implicit religion was operationalized as attachment to traditional Christian rites of passage (religious baptism, marriage, and funeral). Marriage in church was sought by 43%, a church funeral by 42%, and baptism of children by 21%. It was found that young people who remained attached to these rites displayed higher levels of psychological wellbeing than those who were not attached, suggesting, the authors contend, that implicit religion serves similar psychological functions as explicit religion. ‘Implicit Religion and Psychological Wellbeing: A Study among Adolescents without Formal Religious Affiliation or Practice’ is published in Implicit Religion, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2016, pp. 61-78, and access options are explained at:

https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/IR/article/view/30009

Journalists and religion

The United Kingdom’s 64,000 professional journalists are not an especially religious lot, even less so than the population as a whole. This is according to a new report from the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Neil Thurman, Alessio Cornia, and Jessica Kunert, Journalists in the UK. A random sample of journalists drawn from the Gorkana Media Database was invited to complete an online survey in December 2015, of whom 715 responded. The majority (61%) said that they had no religion, 74% that religious belief was of little (22%) or no importance (52%) to them, and 76% that religious considerations had little (28%) or no influence (48%) on their work. Moreover, as many as 45% expressed little (27%) or no trust (18%) in religious leaders, only 11% having a great deal or complete trust in them. The relatively low religiosity of journalists may be at least partially explained by the fact that they are disproportionately white and university-educated. The report is available at:

http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Journalists%20in%20the%20UK.pdf

George Whitefield’s voice

Christian history is full of examples of evangelists who have preached to large crowds in the open air without any amplification of their voice. Historians have often doubted whether these crowds were quite as large as estimated at the time and, in any case, whether the preacher would actually have been audible. Now matters have been put to the test in respect of George Whitefield, the great transatlantic preacher of the eighteenth century, who is said to have attracted as many as 80,000 people on a single occasion. Braxton Boren, a graduate in both physics and music technology, has used contemporary experimental and topographical data combined with modern simulation techniques to calculate the maximum intelligible range of Whitefield’s field preaching in Philadelphia and London. He concludes that, based on Whitefield’s vocal level, he could have reached a crowd of 50,000 under ideal acoustic conditions and still half as many even when noise levels were higher or crowd density lower. Braxton’s ‘Whitefield’s Voice’ is published in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 167-89.

British Religion in Numbers

The annual update of the British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) source database has just taken place (it was deliberately delayed to allow the BRIN website to be migrated to a new platform, and, as part of that, for the database itself to be moved from MySQL to WordPress software). New entries have been created for 158 British religious statistical sources (disproportionately sample surveys), of which 121 date from 2015, 27 from 2014, and 10 from previous years. This brings the total of sources described in the database to 2,552. The 2015 sources include many important surveys, a very large number relating to Muslims, Islam, or Islamism (notably Islamic State), with a smaller cluster of polls exploring Jewish opinion and the attitudes of Britons toward Jews and anti-Semitism. Sources can be browsed at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/source-list/

An advanced search facility is available at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/search/

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7894: What about YOUth? Survey, 2014

The ‘What about YOUth?’ survey was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and conducted by Ipsos MORI through a combination of self-completion postal and online questionnaires between 23 September 2014 and 9 January 2015. It investigated the health and wellbeing of a random sample of 15-year-olds in England, which can be analysed by a raft of background variables, one of which was religious affiliation. The substantial size of the dataset (120,115 interviews, representing a response rate of 40%) makes it of particular interest. A catalogue description, with links to technical and other information, is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7894&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7963: Scottish Household Survey, 2013 and SN 7964: Scottish Household Survey, 2014

The Scottish Household Survey, initiated in 1999, is undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government by a polling consortium led by Ipsos MORI. Information is collected about the composition, characteristics, attitudes, and behaviour of private households and individuals in Scotland; and about the physical condition of their homes. For the 2013 survey (January 2013-February 2014) data were gathered on 10,650 households and 9,920 adults; for 2014 (January 2014-March 2015) on, respectively, 10,630 and 9,800. The specifically religious content of the questionnaire for both years covered: religion belonged to; experience of discrimination or harassment on religious, sectarian, or other grounds; and incidence of volunteering for religious and other groups. Catalogue descriptions for the datasets are available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7963&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7964&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7972: British Election Study, 2015 – Face-to-Face Post-Election Survey

The series of British Election Studies originated in 1963, and the post-election survey for 2015 (there was also an internet panel) was based on face-to-face interviews with a probability sample of 2,987 British electors, 1,567 of whom also filled out a self-completion module. Fieldwork was conducted by GfK NOP between 8 May and 13 September 2015, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council allocated to a research team at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and Nottingham. Respondents were asked whether they regarded themselves as belonging to any religion and, if so, how often they attended religious services other than for rites of passage. These are important background variables for analysing the answers to the recurrent and non-recurrent questions on political and related topics. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7972&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, April 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 7, April 2016 features 23 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 7 April 2016

OPINION POLLS

Muslim voices

Opinion polls conducted among British Muslims have a habit of sparking controversy. No sooner had the storm died down surrounding a telephone survey by Survation for The Sun, specifically regarding the latter’s presentation of the results, than another blew up around a poll by ICM Unlimited for Channel 4, for which 1,081 Muslims aged 18 and over were interviewed face-to-face (in the home) between 25 April and 31 May 2015. Respondents were drawn from Lower Super Output Areas where at least 20% of the population in the 2011 census was Muslim, using random location, quota-based sampling.

Some Muslim commentators (such as Miqdaad Versi in The Guardian and Maha Akeel in The Independent) subsequently criticized this sampling methodology as ‘skewed’ toward Muslims of a lower socio-economic status, but Martin Boon, ICM Director, robustly defended his company’s approach, arguing that this was ‘the most rigorous survey of Muslims that has been produced for many years’. ICM has further published a detailed account of its methodology at:

http://www.icmunlimited.com/data/media/pdf/Survey%20of%20Muslims_Sampling%20approach.pdf

As an additional cross-check, a significant sub-set of the 53 questions posed to Muslims was put to what ICM described as a ‘control group’ of 1,008 adult Britons interviewed by telephone on 5-7 June 2015. The 615 pages of data tables comprised breaks by demographics and attitudinal types both for the Muslim sample and the control group, together with a topline comparison of the two samples in respect of the questions which were common to both. The breaks for the control group included religious affiliation. These data tables will be found at:

http://www.icmunlimited.com/data/media/pdf/Mulims-full-suite-data-plus-topline.pdf

The poll was commissioned by Channel 4 in connection with its documentary What British Muslims Really Think, which was screened on 13 April 2016 and presented by Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. However, results were fed into the media a few days earlier, notably through two lengthy and hard-hitting articles by Phillips in Sunday Times Magazine (10 April) and Daily Mail (11 April). In them, Phillips suggested that Muslims had become ‘a nation within a nation, with its own geography, its own values, and its own very separate future’, requiring ‘a far more muscular approach to integration’, replacing the failed policy of multiculturalism, if they were to be successfully incorporated into the mainstream.

The overwhelming majority of British Muslims judged Britain to be a good place to live (88%) and had a sense of belonging to the country (86%). This is notwithstanding a perceived growing problem of Islamophobia, with 40% assessing there was more religious prejudice against Muslims than five years ago and 17% reporting a personal experience of harassment because of their religion in their local area over the past two years. The overall positivity toward Britain is almost certainly linked to the feeling of 94% of Muslims that they are able to practice their faith here.

At the same time, there is a wish of Muslims to retain a certain distance from the wider society; while 49% would like to integrate fully with non-Muslims in all aspects of life, 46% wanted some degree of separation in favour of an Islamic life. Moreover, as the table below demonstrates, there is a significant amount of rejection by Muslims of values which have become normative among most non-Muslims. Equality and diversity with regard to gender and sexual orientation are heavily compromised by social conservatism, there is a disproportionate adherence to anti-Semitic views, and subscription to freedom of speech is qualified when Islam is felt to be under attack or criticism.

% agreeing

Muslims

Control group

Gender equality
Girls and boys should be taught separately

33

10

Muslim girls should have the right to wear niqab in school

64

37

Acceptable for a British Muslim to keep more than one wife

31

9

Wives should always obey their husbands

39

5

Homosexuality
Acceptable for homosexual to be a schoolteacher

28

75

Homosexuality should be legal in Britain

18

73

Gay marriage should be legal in Britain

16

66

Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism is a problem in Britain

26

46

Jewish people have too much power in Britain

35

9

Jewish people have too much power over the government

31

7

Jewish people have too much power over the media

39

10

Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country

42

24

Jews have too much power in the business world

44

18

Jews have too much power in international financial markets

40

16

Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust

34

18

Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind

34

11

Jews have too much control over global affairs

38

10

Jews think they are better than other people

30

11

Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars

26

6

People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave

27

11

Freedom of speech
Sympathize with groups who organize violence to protect their religion

24

7

Sympathize with people who use violence against those who mock the Prophet

18

NA

Any publication should have the right to publish pictures of the Prophet

4

67

Any publication should have the right to publish pictures making fun of the Prophet

1

47

Islamist threat to London

In the wake of the Islamist attacks on Paris and Brussels, the majority (61%) of 1,017 Londoners interviewed online by YouGov for the Evening Standard between 15 and 19 April 2016 remained anxious that Islamic State/ISIS may attempt a terrorist attack on the capital this year, concern running especially high with Conservative and UKIP voters. Overall anxiety had dropped by five points since the question was last put on 4-6 January, the fall occurring entirely among the ranks of the fairly worried, the very worried being unchanged at 25%. Asked which of the two leading candidates in the upcoming London mayoral election, Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) or Sadiq Khan (Labour and a Muslim), would be most likely to tackle Islamic extremism, 41% of the sample could offer no opinion, while 16% opted for Khan and 13% for Goldsmith, with 30% saying neither or both equally. Data tables can be accessed via a post about the general results of the survey (which revealed Khan well ahead of Goldsmith in terms of voting preferences) at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/04/21/sadiq-khan-leads-20-london-mayoral-race/

Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party

It was not just Muslim anti-Semitism which came under the spotlight during April 2016. At the end of the month, a long-simmering row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party finally erupted, resulting in the Party suspending two of its prominent figures, one an MP and the other Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London who had risen to the MP’s defence. Livingstone has a track record of getting into anti-Semitic hot water, and 27% of 4,406 members of the British public interviewed online by YouGov on 29 April 2016 thought that he was very or fairly anti-Semitic, including 46% of Conservative voters and 39% of over-60s. Still more, 45% of the whole sample, considered the Labour Party had been right to suspend Livingstone, and this included 43% of Labour voters as well as 62% of Conservatives. Just over one-fifth (22%) of all Britons judged anti-Semitism to be a very or fairly big problem in the Labour Party, while 45% said it was only a small problem or none at all, with 33% undecided. Labour voters were less inclined (11%) to view it as a problem. A majority (60%) was clear that criticism of the Israeli government was not in itself anti-Semitic, merely 9% deeming it so. However, hating Israel and questioning its right to exist was regarded as anti-Semitic by 53%, against 21% who disagreed and 26% who could not make up their minds. The data are available in full via the link at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/04/30/drawing-line-anti-semitism/

British Social Attitudes Survey

Londoners are more religious than the rest of Britain, in terms of both belonging and behaving, according to fresh analysis by NatCen Social Research of data from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey. In 2014, the latest year available (the dataset and documentation for which is already held by the UK Data Archive as SN 7809), there was a 20 point difference in the proportion of respondents professing no religion between Londoners (32%) and the remainder of the country (52%), whereas in 1983, when BSA commenced, the gap had only been 5%. Of those with a religion, or brought up in a religion, twice as many Londoners (38%) claimed to attend religious services at least monthly in 2014 as people in the rest of Britain (19%). Immigration to the capital, by persons from both Christian and non-Christian backgrounds, largely explains these differences. In 2014, no fewer than 31% of Londoners subscribed to non-Christian faiths (a 9% increase on 2010), against just 4% elsewhere in the nation. In fact, there were almost as many non-Christians as Christians (37%) in London. A press release, with link to data tables, is available at:

http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2016/march/londoners-are-more-religious-than-rest-of-britain/

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey

A majority (52%) of residents in Scotland says they belong to no religion, according to initial analysis by ScotCen Social Research of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) for 2015. This compares with 40% in the first SSAS in 1999. Although the proportion of Roman Catholics and other Christians in Scotland has held relatively steady over the years, there has been a big decline (from 35% in 1999 to 20% in 2015) in professed affiliation to the Church of Scotland. The non-Christian presence in Scotland is limited (2%). Among those with a religion, or brought up in a religion, attendance at religious services monthly or more has also fallen by 10% between 1999 (31%) and 2015 (21%), while 66% in 2015 admitted to never or practically never worshipping (49% in 1999). The latest SSAS interviewed a representative random probability sample of 1,288 adults in Scotland between July 2015 and January 2016. A press release, with link to data tables, is available at:

http://www.scotcen.org.uk/news-media/press-releases/2016/april/two-thirds-of-religious-scots-don’t-attend-services/

Church visits

An online poll by Populus for the Charities Aid Foundation on 19-21 February 2016 quizzed 2,054 UK adults about their engagement with charities, defined in the broadest sense, the principal finding being that almost every household has used at least one charitable service at some point. Churches or religious institutions of charitable status were one of the types of ‘charitable service’ asked about. The proportion of respondents claiming to have ever visited a church themselves (presumably, not necessarily for an act of worship) was 46% (half of them within the past year), which was two points less than those who had never done so. The number of ‘attenders’ was highest among Londoners (55%), public sector workers (56%), the top AB social group (57%), BMEs (57%), and members of households with a combined annual income of more than £55,000 (60%). Those least inclined to have set foot in a church came from the bottom social strata, characterized as being from the DE group (59%), members of households with a combined income of under £14,000 (59%), retired people living only on a state pension (61%), and council tenants (63%). Data tables can be found at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/OmValue-of-Charity-Shortv2.pdf

Referendum on European Union membership

One of the fascinating aspects of the campaign around Brexit, whether the UK should vote to leave the European Union (EU) in the forthcoming referendum on 23 June 2016, is the number of  international leaders who have voiced their opinions that the UK should remain in the EU. These have included the Pope who has let it be known, through a senior Vatican diplomat, that he believes the UK would be better ‘in’ than ‘out’ and that it would also make for a stronger Europe. With President Barack Obama the latest world leader to wade into the debate, ITV News commissioned ComRes to conduct an online poll among 2,015 Britons on 20-21 April 2016. Respondents were asked how important to them were the views on the UK’s EU membership of eight leaders or institutions. As the table below indicates, the Pope’s opinion on this matter counted least of all with the electorate. Only 13% overall regarded what he thinks as important and no more than 20% among any demographic sub-group. Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ITV-News_Obama-Poll_tabs.pdf

 

Important

Unimportant

US President Barack Obama

30

60

HM The Queen

49

42

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

34

55

The Pope

13

77

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

26

60

International Monetary Fund

48

37

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney

61

29

French President Francois Hollande

28

60

Religion and alcohol

Religion continues to exercise a marginal influence on alcohol consumption in the UK, according to recent research by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Drinkaware, for which 2,303 adults aged 18-75 were interviewed online between 16 November and 4 December 2015. Among the 10% of respondents who claimed that they never drank, 39% gave as a reason for abstinence that drinking alcohol was against their religious or spiritual beliefs, the remaining 61% saying that this was not an important factor for them. Of the 90% of drinkers, 9% reported that a change in their religious circumstances had occasioned a sustained decrease in their consumption of alcohol at some point and 1% an increase. However, for both groups the dominant influences on non-drinking behaviour were secular, such as health, finance, and being in personal control. A report about the research, Drinkaware Monitor, 2015, is available at:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Publications/Drinkaware-Monitor-2015-%20Report.pdf

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Faith-based charities

More than one-quarter (27%) of the 187,500 registered charities in Great Britain are faith-based, in the sense of embodying some form of religious belief – or cultural values arising from a religious belief – in their vision or mission, founding history, or project content. This is according to research by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), which has devised an improved methodology for identifying faith-based charities, employing a combination of existing classifications and automated text analysis of keywords. About two-thirds (65%) of these charities are categorized as Christian or deriving from a Christian tradition, 23% as generally faith-based, and 12% are associated with non-Christian faiths (mostly Islam or Judaism). Almost one-fifth have been formed since 2006. More information about NPC’s ongoing research into the effect of faith on the charitable sector, including a seven-page description of the methodology used to build the underlying dataset of charities, can be found at:

http://www.thinknpc.org/publications/understanding-faith-based-charities/

Faith in public service

A new report from the Oasis Foundation, the research and policy unit of the Oasis group of charities and social enterprises, calls for a rebranding and relaunch of the failed ‘Big Society’ initiative and especially upon the Christian Church in the UK to re-imagine its role and re-orientate itself more radically towards social action and the delivery of public services: Ian Sansbury, Ben Cowdrey, and Lea Kauffmann-de Vries, Faith in Public Service: The Role of the Church in Public Service Delivery. In building their case, the authors draw upon two online surveys conducted on 5-6 April 2016, one by YouGov among 1,710 members of the general public and the other by Oasis of 124 church leaders. The public was clearly ambivalent about the Church assuming a greater role in the delivery of public services. Some people recognized that the Church might be more likely to care than other providers, to add the personal touch, to be better connected to other community groups, and to be more motivated to do a good job. Others, however, worried that the Church might be insufficiently inclusive in its approach, attempting to make converts in the process or to shut out non-Christians or other minority groups. These concerns were held particularly by the 18-24 age group. For church leaders, capacity constraints were a major potential challenge, with only 28% confident that their church could run substantial public services such as education or healthcare. The report can be downloaded from:

http://oasis.foundation/sites/foundation.dd/files/Oasis%20Foundation%20Report%20FINAL%20RS.PDF

Data tables are at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ncm2584h0d/Oasis_Results160406_W.pdf

Christians and Brexit

One-half of practising Christians (including church leaders) believe that the UK should remain in the European Union (EU), according to an online survey conducted by Christian Research among members of its self-selecting Resonate panel during the first week of March 2016. Free movement of trade was cited as the main reason for their pro-EU stance, while many also considered the debate thus far had been too dominated by anti-immigration rhetoric. Just one-fifth intended to vote for Brexit in the forthcoming referendum on 23 June, mostly because they felt the EU to be too bureaucratic and wasteful or its laws threatened our sovereignty. The remaining 30% were undecided. Promoting peace was seen as the most important part of the EU’s mission by 61% of the sample, but its track-record for advancing religious freedom and tolerance was deemed ineffective by 56%. A press release about the survey (with a tiny amount of additional content available to logged-in Christian Research subscribers) can be found at:

http://www.christian-research.org/news-blog/brexit-and-mothering-sunday-survey/

Evangelical consumers

The March/April 2016 issue of Idea, the magazine of the Evangelical Alliance, contained some headline results from a 2015 survey of evangelical attitudes to ethics and consumerism, completed by 1,461 self-selecting members of the Alliance’s research panel. Four in five respondents (81%) concurred that greed for material possessions is one of the greatest sins of our time and 76% that consumerism is eroding family and community life. The advertising industry was widely blamed for this state of affairs, 67% wanting it more tightly regulated and 44% considering it was generally unethical. Although 92% of evangelicals accepted that the Bible teaches us to be content with what we have, 84% also thought there was nothing wrong in enjoying the material things God has provided for us. On Sunday trading, 59% said that Christians should avoid doing their shopping on Sundays, and just 5% backed longer opening hours for larger stores on Sundays. The magazine is available at:

http://www.eauk.org/idea/upload/idea_magazine_mar_april2016_webversion.pdf

Catholic prisoners

Self-professed Roman Catholics constitute a disproportionate number (18%) of the prison population of England and Wales. Insights into their religious background and engagement with the faith in prison are contained in a new 57-page report commissioned from Lemos & Crane by the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales: Gerard Lemos, Belief & Belonging: The Spiritual and Pastoral Role of Catholic Chaplains for Catholic Prisoners. All Catholic inmates at 17 prisons and young offender institutions in England were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire, and 332 replied, of whom 86% were male. This was evidently a small minority of those approached, and the sample is not claimed by Lemos as statistically representative. It is possible that prisoners who were least well-disposed to the faith, or suspicious about the involvement of Catholic chaplains in the distribution of the survey, may have been less inclined to take part.

Respondents often had fairly close links with the Catholic Church in their pre-prison life, 82% stating they had attended Mass, 78% they had been baptised, 72% they had made their Communion, and 62% they had been confirmed. Within prison, 88% said they engaged in private prayer and 87% that they had a religious object (typically a rosary or picture) in their cell. Three-quarters wrote that they tried regularly to attend Mass in the prison chapel, albeit 24% had encountered practical or logistical problems in doing so. Favourable opinions were expressed of the Catholic chaplains, whom 94% trusted and 86% considered had helped them learn more about the faith or to practice it, with 58% having come to the chaplain with a specific problem or at a difficult time. The report can be downloaded from:

http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/belief-belonging-survey-040416

FutureFirst

The lead article in the April 2016 issue (No. 44) of FutureFirst, the bimonthly bulletin of Brierley Consultancy, was by Mark Griffiths on the subject of parental transmission of faith to children, based on his August 2015 online survey of members of the New Wine database, to which 1,500 parents responded. The remainder of the content was written by Peter Brierley, including articles on church growth, larger churches, churchgoing in London, Church of England mission statistics, and religion and wellbeing. A special four-page insert, also by Brierley, examined trends in UK church membership and attendance since 2000, with forecasts through to 2030. The current year of FutureFirst is only available on subscription, but a complete backfile from 2009 to 2015 is freely available at:

http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/future-first/

Invisible Church

Steve Aisthorpe illuminates the persistence of Christianity beyond the confines of formal church membership and attendance in his The Invisible Church: Learning from the Experiences of Churchless Christians (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2016, x + 214pp, ISBN 978-0-86153-916-1, £14.99, paperback). The book is based on his original research in Scotland, initially qualitative (in 2013) and then quantitative among two random samples interviewed by telephone, 2,698 members of the general public in the Highlands and Islands in 2014 (of whom 430 non-attending Christians went on to complete a detailed survey) and 815 non-churchgoing Christians in 2015 across five regions. It is written in an accessible style, with cartoons, plenty of Bible references, individual stories, and remarkably few statistics (certainly there are no tables nor figures). The work seems primarily aimed at an ecclesiastical rather than academic readership, both church leaders and church attenders, with questions and activities for further reflection included. Much time is spent by Aisthorpe exposing what he regards as the myths, stereotypes, and prejudices surrounding non-churchgoers. The pervasive message of the volume is that, for many post-congregational and non-congregational Christians, faith continues to play a central role in their lives, even to the extent of a willingness to engage in a different formulation of ‘church’, to display a hunger for informal fellowship, to recognize the importance of ‘mission’, and to become conscious or unwitting pioneers of alternative Christian communities. In this way, ‘what the evidence points to is a reshaping, rebalancing or reconfiguration of the Church.’ Those who subscribe to the thesis that religion is changing rather than declining will derive hope from this book, but it will utterly fail to convince scholars who, arguing from a wider and more balanced portfolio of data, continue to feel that, overall, Britain remains on a secularization trajectory. Further details of the book can be found on the publisher’s website at:

https://standrewpress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9780861539161/the-invisible-church

Other outputs from Aisthorpe’s research are available at:

https://www.resourcingmission.org.uk/resources/mission-research#

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Marriages in England and Wales

There were 9% fewer marriages in England and Wales in 2013 than in 2012, according to a newly-released Statistical Bulletin from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This was the first decrease in marriages since 2009 and is explained by ONS thus: ‘The fall could indicate the continuation of the long-term decline in marriages since 1972 or could be due to couples choosing to postpone their marriage to avoid the number 13 which is perceived as unlucky by many cultures.’ Moreover, the reduction in weddings conducted with religious rites was more than double the level of those performed in civil ceremonies, 14% compared with 6%. The proportion of religious marriages in 2013 was, at 28%, the lowest figure ever recorded and 20 points below 1994, the last full year before the legalization of marriages in approved premises, where over three-fifths of weddings now take place (the final tenth occurring in registry offices). The overwhelming majority (73%) of religious marriages were celebrated by the Church of England or Church in Wales, with Roman Catholics accounting for 11%, other Christian denominations for 12%, and non-Christian faiths for 4%. Unlike Scotland, humanist marriage ceremonies are still not legal in England and Wales. The ONS Statistical Bulletin, with embedded links to a range of detailed data, is at:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/bulletins/marriagesinenglandandwales/2013

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Secularization and crises

The proposition that social crises cause religious revivals has been evaluated by Steve Bruce and David Voas with reference to the effect of three twentieth-century crises (the First and Second World Wars and the inter-war Great Depression) on several statistical measures of British and UK church adherence. They conclude there is little or no evidence that these crises produced any religious resurgence. Rather, they found the trajectory of decline in institutional Christianity during the course of the century to be remarkably smooth, thereby supporting (they contend) the notion that secularization has been a long-run process with amorphous and deep causes. ‘Do Social Crises Cause Religious Revivals? What British Church Adherence Rates Show’ is published in Journal of Religion in Europe, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2016, pp. 26-43. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00901001

Cathedral friends

Judith Muskett has reported further findings from her 2011 survey of 1,131 members of the friends’ associations of six English cathedrals in her ‘Associational Social Capital and Psychological Type: An Empirical Enquiry among Cathedral Friends in England’, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-15. She demonstrated that higher levels of religious social capital were exhibited by extraverts compared with introverts, posing a potential challenge for the cathedrals among whose friends introverts outnumbered extraverts by almost two to one. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2015.1103550

Theology of religions index

Jeff Astley and Leslie Francis have devised a new multi-choice research instrument to measure ‘theology of religions’, which is concerned with the interpretation and evaluation of the divergent truth-claims and views of salvation asserted or implied by different religious traditions. The methodology is explained in their ‘Introducing the Astley-Francis Theology of Religions Index: Construct Validity among 13- to 15-Year-Old Students’, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2016, pp. 29-39. The construct validity of the measure was supported in research among a sample of 10,754 adolescents from London and the four UK home nations surveyed for the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project in 2011-12. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1141527

Intercessory prayer

Using a special analytic framework for intercessory prayer which she devised, Tania ap Siôn has examined 577 prayer requests posted on the Church of England’s Pray One for Me website over a six-month period in 2012 and compared the results with recent studies of posts to physical intercessory prayer boards in three Anglican cathedrals (Bangor, Lichfield, and Southwark). She highlights important differences between the functioning of requests made in the online and offline environments. Access options to the article (‘The Church of England’s Pray One for Me Intercessory Prayer Site: A Virtual Cathedral?’, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2016, pp. 78-92) are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1141531

People and places

Danny Dorling and Bethan Thomas have compiled the third in a series of census-based atlases of the UK, deriving from the 2011 census but also incorporating some more recent data: People and Places: A 21st-Century Atlas of the UK (Bristol: Policy Press, 2016, 284pp., ISBN 978-1-44731-137-9, £22.99, paperback). Through maps, tables, and figures with associated commentary, a succession of topics are explored, including a chapter on religion and ethnicity (pp. 47-80). The book’s webpage is at:

http://policypress.co.uk/people-and-places

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7927: Wellcome Trust Monitor, 3, 2015

The Wellcome Trust Monitor is a triennial survey of public attitudes to and knowledge of science and biomedical research (including alternative and complementary medicine) in the UK. It was initiated in 2009. Fieldwork for the third wave was conducted by Ipsos MORI between 2 June and 1 November 2015 among a sample of 1,524 adults aged 18 and over, interviewed face-to-face. Four religious topics were included as background characteristics, which can be used as variables to analyse responses to the more purely scientific and biomedical questions. They covered: religious affiliation (using a ‘belonging’ form of wording); attendance at religious services; frequency of prayer; and beliefs about the origin of life on earth. The catalogue entry for the dataset is at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7927&type=Data%20catalogue

A variety of research outputs from the survey can be accessed on the Wellcome Trust’s website. They include a report (with a section on the origin of life on earth at pp. 74-5, 53% of the sample being unqualified evolutionists, allowing no role for God) and full data tables for all questions, with breaks by demographics. They can be found at:

http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/Publications/Reports/Public-engagement/WTX058859.htm

SN 7933: Youth Research Council Survey of Young People’s Religion and Lifestyles, 1957

The Young Christian Workers’ path-breaking survey of the lifestyles and religiosity of adults aged 15-24 living in urban England in 1957 has hitherto been known mainly from preliminary accounts and analyses published in New Life, Vol. 14, 1958, pp. 1-59 and The Tablet, 12 and 19 April 1958. However, the paper questionnaires completed during the course of the face-to-face interviews have mostly been preserved by the Pastoral Research Centre Trust (PRCT), successor to the Newman Demographic Survey, which was one of the partners involved in the original study. Now, with the cooperation of PRCT’s Tony Spencer and funding from the Nuffield Foundation and Marston Family Trust, Siobhan McAndrew has been able to arrange for the scanning of the majority (5,834) of the questionnaires and their transformation into a dataset. This should support significant secondary analysis in the years ahead which, in turn, will inform the growing scholarly debate about changes in the British religious landscape during the long 1950s. The catalogue entry for the dataset, incorporating a link to a very full and brand new user guide compiled by McAndrew, can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7933&type=Data%20catalogue

McAndrew has also blogged about the dataset on the British Religion in Numbers website at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/2016/the-1957-youth-research-council-survey-of-young-peoples-religion-and-lifestyles/

http://www.brin.ac.uk/2016/religion-in-the-1957-youth-research-council-survey/

 

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

 

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

Re-examining religious and paranormal beliefs in mid-1970s Britain

A recent YouGov survey shed interesting light on levels of religious beliefs and other forms of belief in contemporary Britain. This BRIN post takes a historical turn by analysing one of the few available surveys enabling assessment of religious and paranormal beliefs in Britain the post-war period. The analysis is based on a Gallup opinion poll undertaken in May 1975, based on a sample of adults aged 16 and older in Britain. The dataset and accompanying documentation for this survey were obtained from the United Kingdom Data Service. Taken as a whole, post-war Gallup polling in Britain provides an important resource for studying change and continuity in popular religion (for more information see Field, 2015a).

This survey dataset is particularly useful because it allows analysis of the relationship between religious and paranormal beliefs in the British public, and the nature of the association between them. For example, was the relationship between religious and paranormal beliefs tending towards a mutually-exclusive one, in which the holding of the former tended to preclude affirmation of the latter? On the other hand, did individuals subscribe to a mixture of religious or paranormal beliefs and – perhaps – were those who held religious beliefs more likely – than those who did not – to believe in paranormal phenomena? Analysis of this survey can hopefully tell us something about the incidence, patterning and overlap of the two types of belief in mid-1970s Britain.

First, Table 1 shows the distribution of responses for religious and paranormal beliefs, based on the distinction between ‘traditional religious’ and ‘non-traditional religious beliefs’ set out in Gill et al. (1998) and Gill (2003).[i] Field uses a distinction between ‘orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’ beliefs in his recent book on religious change in Britain during the ‘long 1950s’, with the former set of beliefs coming within the ‘framework of traditional Christianity’ (2015b: 74). For each belief, Table 1 shows the proportions responding ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’. The survey asked about five religious beliefs and eleven paranormal beliefs.

The most prevalent religious belief was in God (71%), followed by believing in heaven (50%). Three other religious beliefs were subscribed to by varying minorities (around a third for life after death, and one fifth for belief in the devil and in hell). Overall, expressed belief in paranormal phenomena varied markedly in British society in the mid-1970s, highest at 51% for being able to forecast (and 48% for thought transference) and lowest at 12% for black magic (and 13% for exchanging messages with the dead). The proportions saying they did not know also varied across the different belief items – highest at 22% for life after death (religious beliefs) and 20% for reincarnation (paranormal beliefs).

 

Table 1: Overall profile of religious and paranormal beliefs

  Yes

(%)

No

(%)

Don’t know (%)
Traditional religious beliefs
God 71 17 12
Heaven 50 36 14
Life after death 35 43 22
Devil 20 72 9
Hell 19 72 9
Classic paranormal beliefs
Being able to forecast 51 36 13
Thought transference 48 37 15
Faith healing 43 42 15
Hypnotism 41 48 10
Horoscopes 28 66 7
Reincarnation 23 58 20
UFOs 20 66 14
Lucky charms 20 75 5
Ghosts 18 72 10
Black magic 13 79 8
Exchanging messages 12 77 11

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

Note: Percentages rounded and sum across the rows. Distinction amongst types of belief based on that used in Gill et al. (1998) and Gill (2003).

 

Beliefs and sociodemographic groups

The next step in the analysis is to move beyond profiling overall levels of belief and to look at levels of belief across different social groups. Table 2 reports the proportion within each sociodemographic group saying they believe in each religious belief.  Tables 3(a) and 3(b) do the same for the set of paranormal beliefs.

The more notable areas of difference for religious belief concern sex, age group and religious affiliation. Religious beliefs, in mid-1970s Britain, were always more common amongst women than men (82% and 60%, respectively, expressed belief in God; 59% and 39%, respectively, expressed belief in heaven). Some beliefs were generally more common amongst older, as compared to younger, age groups (God and heaven). Based on religious affiliation, unsurprisingly religious beliefs were much more likely to be subscribed to amongst those with some form of denominational allegiance  (highest amongst Catholics). Those with no religious affiliation exhibited some level of religious belief (a quarter said they believed in God and nearly a fifth believed in in life after death). There are somewhat variant results for levels of belief based on social grade, and the marked difference in belief in God and heaven based on age completed education needs to factor in the tendency for who finished at an earlier age being drawn from the older generations in society.

 

Table 2: Religious beliefs by socio-demographic group (percent saying ‘yes’)

God Heaven Hell Devil Life after death
Overall 71 50 19 20 35
Men 60 39 15 16 26
Women 82 59 23 23 44
Aged 16-24 66 41 21 21 33
Aged 25-34 60 43 16 19 31
Aged 35-44 69 47 18 20 30
Aged 45-54 74 49 17 16 33
Aged 55-64 81 58 20 23 37
Aged 65+ 83 65 23 20 46
*Education: 14 or under 80 59 19 18 38
Education: 15 66 43 17 18 30
Education: 16 71 51 20 23 31
Education: 17 66 48 26 26 44
Education: 18 or over 60 35 22 20 42
Social grade: AB 67 48 27 27 38
Social grade: C1 66 45 17 18 35
Social grade: C2 71 48 19 18 34
Social grade: DE 77 56 19 20 36
Church of England 76 52 17 16 34
Church of Scotland 80 57 10 10 40
Nonconformist 84 57 23 20 56
Catholic 87 78 43 44 40
Other religion 67 50 35 36 38
No religion 22 7 6 9 18

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May  1975.

*Refers to the age at which a respondent completed their full-time education.

Belief in paranormal phenomena also varied across social groups in Britain in the mid-1970s, as shown in Tables 3(a) and 3(b). As with religious beliefs, women were more likely than men to hold paranormal beliefs (most marked in relation to horoscopes; the exception being belief in UFOs).The patterns of age groups show that younger people were more predisposed to express belief in some paranormal phenomena, and the oldest age group (65 and over) were least likely to do so for some of these beliefs. These age-related differences are particularly evident for belief in black magic, ghosts, hypnotism and UFOs, with younger people expressing higher levels of belief than older people. On the other hand, belief in faith healing tended to be higher amongst older age groups.

Based on religious belonging, there is no consistent pattern for those with no affiliation to be clearly more likely to profess belief in the paranormal. For many beliefs, they are eclipsed by those belonging to particular Christian denominations (or affiliated with some other religious group). As with religious beliefs, there were no consistent differences for social grade. Paranormal belief did tend to be higher amongst those who completed their education later on.

 

Table 3(a): Paranormal beliefs by sociodemographic group (percent saying ‘yes’)

Reincarnation Hypnotism Black magic Horoscopes Thought Transference
Overall 23 41 13 28 48
Men 19 40 12 15 43
Women 26 42 14 39 52
Aged 16-24 25 50 23 31 48
Aged 25-34 20 54 17 26 53
Aged 35-44 16 48 11 23 44
Aged 45-54 21 40 12 31 50
Aged 55-64 26 33 9 28 52
Aged 65+ 27 20 6 27 40
*Education: 14 or under 25 28 7 30 45
Education: 15 17 42 12 24 39
Education: 16 21 52 16 29 55
Education: 17 34 62 30 22 50
Education: 18 or over 25 59 23 28 65
Social grade: AB 25 54 17 20 59
Social grade: C1 22 48 15 22 58
Social grade: C2 22 43 13 25 44
Social grade: DE 23 31 11 38 40
Church of England 24 42 13 29 49
Church of Scotland 25 35 7 42 35
Nonconformist 25 35 9 29 57
Catholic 24 35 10 21 46
Other religion 29 47 21 35 55
No religion 9 48 17 17 39

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

*Refers to the age at which a respondent completed their full-time education.

 

Table 3(b): Paranormal beliefs by sociodemographic group (percent saying ‘yes’)

Ghosts UFOs Faith healing Being able to forecast Lucky charms Exchanging messages
Overall 18 20 43 51 20 12
Men 16 24 38 45 14 11
Women 20 16 47 56 26 13
Aged 16-24 28 28 38 57 25 15
Aged 25-34 22 24 38 58 18 12
Aged 35-44 14 20 35 49 13 7
Aged 45-54 23 22 51 44 25 16
Aged 55-64 12 12 51 52 23 10
Aged 65+ 7 10 45 45 16 10
*Education: 14 or under 12 13 46 46 23 13
Education: 15 18 20 38 52 18 10
Education: 16 19 25 39 55 17 9
Education 17 26 26 38 58 12 12
Education: 18 or over 33 31 50 58 19 20
Social grade: AB 16 23 44 50 16 12
Social grade: C1 22 23 50 57 14 13
Social grade: C2 19 20 38 49 19 10
Social grade: DE 15 17 42 49 27 13
Church of England 20 21 47 54 24 12
Church of Scotland 10 8 33 40 12 8
Nonconformist 16 13 49 56 11 9
Catholic 18 21 29 50 20 11
Other religion 21 26 53 59 26 22
No religion 15 22 32 34 7 10

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

*Refers to the age at which a respondent completed their full-time education.

 

Table 4 sheds some light on the crossover of religious and paranormal beliefs amongst the British public in the mid-1970s by showing levels of paranormal belief based on responses to the religious belief questions. That is, we can compare levels of belief in the paranormal amongst those who did or who did not express belief in God, in heaven, and so on.The association between religious and paranormal beliefs

When individuals are grouped by belief in God, belief in the paranormal tended to be highest amongst those who expressed believed in God; not those who expressed disbelief in God. The same pattern is evident when individuals are grouped based on belief (or not) in heaven, in hell, in the devil and in life after death. In other words, there is no obvious basis for saying that religious and paranormal beliefs tended to be mutually exclusive belief systems amongst many individuals. In actual fact, those who held religious beliefs were more likely than those who did not to express belief in a range of paranormal phenomena. Of course, often significant proportions of those who did not subscribe to particular religious did affirm belief in paranormal phenomena, but usually they were outranked by those who did hold common religious beliefs.

 

Table 4: Paranormal beliefs by religious beliefs (percent saying ‘yes’)

  Hypnotism Black magic Horoscopes Thought transference Ghosts UFOs
God Yes 39 13 31 50 20 20
No 45 14 18 41 13 17
Heaven Yes 36 13 33 51 20 21
No 44 13 21 43 15 19
Hell Yes 45 22 36 61 32 29
No 39 10 25 45 14 18
Devil Yes 45 26 36 61 36 27
No 39 9 26 44 13 17
Life after death Yes 49 18 37 61 29 24
No 34 10 22 37 9 15
Faith healing Being able to forecast Lucky charms Exchanging messages Reincarnation
God Yes 48 52 23 14 29
No 28 50 12 5 8
Heaven Yes 50 55 26 15 36
No 32 47 14 8 9
Hell Yes 55 60 25 24 44
No 39 49 19 9 19
Devil Yes 56 61 28 26 39
No 39 48 19 8 19
Life after death Yes 58 63 25 22 43
No 31 44 18 7 10

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

 

Table 5 looks at the association between these types of belief in reverse: that is, it shows levels of religious belief based on ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses to the questions on paranormal belief. So, for example, of those who expressed a belief in hypnotism, 68% expressed belief in God, compared to 75% of those who did not believe in hypnotism (and so on).

 

Table 5: Religious beliefs by paranormal beliefs (percent saying ‘yes’)

  God Heaven Hell Devil Life after death
Hypnotism Yes 68 44 21 22 42
No 75 55 17 16 29
Black magic Yes 68 48 32 38 48
No 72 50 16 16 33
Horoscopes Yes 79 60 25 25 47
No 68 46 16 17 30
Thought transference Yes 75 53 25 25 45
No 70 47 13 13 25
Ghosts Yes 79 55 34 39 56
No 71 49 15 15 30
UFOs Yes 72 54 28 27 43
No 73 51 17 18 35
Faith healing Yes 79 58 25 26 47
No 65 45 15 14 25
Being able to forecast Yes 73 53 23 23 43
No 73 50 15 16 28
Lucky charms Yes 83 64 24 28 44
No 68 47 18 17 33
Exchanging messages Yes 82 63 38 42 66
No 71 49 17 17 31
Reincarnation Yes 92 79 37 34 67
  No 64 39 13 15 23

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

 

A belief typology

Given Tables 4-5 presented the finely-grained detail of how paranormal beliefs are associated with religious beliefs and vice versa, it is helpful to try and distil the essence of this messy and complex association between different types of belief. As a final step in profiling the nature of belief in the British population in mid-1970s, belief indices for religious and paranormal beliefs were computed (based on all of the different beliefs utilised above), in order to arrive at an overall typology of belief. This was undertaken based on the procedures and category labels set out in Rice (2003: 103-104).[ii] Producing two separate belief indices and then looking at the association between them produces a four-fold typology of belief (‘sceptics’; ‘classic paranormal believers’; ‘traditional religious believers’; ‘full believers’), and allows us, in broad terms, to see the proportions contained within each belief type. The results of this analysis are shown in Table 6 (for all individuals) and in Tables 7-8 (respectively, for women and men).

 

Table 6: Belief typology (ALL)

Tend not to believe in traditional religious phenomena Tend to believe in traditional religious phenomena

 

Tend not to believe in classic paranormal Sceptics: 52% Traditional religious believers: 24%
Tend to believe in classic paranormal phenomena Classic paranormal believers: 10% Full believers: 14%

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

Note: Based on the analytical procedures set out in Rice (2003: 103-104), and using the same category labels.

 

We can say that in the mid-1970s – and probably rather surprisingly – about half (52%) could be categorised as ‘sceptics’ – that is, they tended not to believe in traditional religious beliefs and paranormal beliefs, on the basis of the typology constructed based on Rice’s procedures (2003). One in ten (10%) tended to believe in only paranormal phenomena, outranked by the larger share who were ‘traditional religious believers’ (24%). When the belief typology is reproduced for women and men separately, we can see that women were more likely to have ‘full believers’ and ‘traditional religious believers’, and less likely to have been ‘sceptics’. There was no difference in the proportion of ‘classic paranormal believers’ amongst women and men. Again, it should be noted that this typology is based on a single snapshot of popular beliefs from a one post-war survey – of course the results could well be different if varied sets of religious and paranormal beliefs were used; and a more nuanced typology could be applied to the data.

 

Table 7: Belief typology (WOMEN)

Tend not to believe in traditional religious phenomena Tend to believe in traditional religious phenomena

 

Tend not to believe in classic paranormal Sceptics: 42% Traditional religious believers: 30%
Tend to believe in classic paranormal phenomena Classic paranormal believers: 10% Full believers: 19%

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

Note: Based on the analytical procedures set out in Rice (2003: 103-104), and using the same category labels.

 

Table 8: Belief typology (MEN)

Tend not to believe in traditional religious phenomena Tend to believe in traditional religious phenomena

 

Tend not to believe in classic paranormal Sceptics: 64% Traditional religious believers: 18%
Tend to believe in classic paranormal phenomena Classic paranormal believers: 10% Full believers: 9%

Source: Author’s analysis of Gallup opinion poll, May 1975.

Note: Based on the analytical procedures set out in Rice (2003: 103-104), and using the same category labels.

 

Summary

The empirical results reported above showed that, overall, religious and paranormal beliefs were subscribed to by varying segments of the adult population in mid-1970s Britain. In terms of belief across different social groups, women were consistently more likely affirm belief in both religious tenets and paranormal phenomena. The results for the belief typology showed that, in more general terms, women were more likely to have been ‘full believers’ and ‘traditional religious believers’ than men.

Of course, analysing a single survey from the mid-1970s (and no claims are made here that this period is – or is not – of particular note for studying religious change in general or beliefs in particular in post-war Britain) provides a very limited window into the incidence, patterning and overlap of religious and paranormal beliefs within the British public in the post-war period. However, given the coverage of both types of belief in the survey – generally not available in other survey datasets available to academic researchers, certainly those held at the UKDS – the modest empirical findings presented and discussed here may offer some nuggets of interest to sociologists of religion and social historians focusing on the British context, however time-bound the analysis may be. Replicating this exercise using a contemporary sample survey of the British adult population, with suitable coverage of both religious and paranormal beliefs, may shed some light on areas of change in popular belief across the intervening decades.

 

References and further reading

Clements, B. (2016), Surveying Christian Beliefs and Religious Debates in Post-War Britain. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Field C. D. (2015a), Religion in Great Britain, 1939-99: A Compendium of Gallup Poll Data. BRIN Working Papers on Religious Statistics. Working Paper 2. February 2015. Available at: http://www.brin.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Religion-in-Great-Britain-1939-99-A-Compendium-of-Gallup-Poll-Data.pdf

Field, C. D. (2015b), Britain’s Last Religious Revival? Quantifying Belonging, Behaving, and Believing in the Long 1950s. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gill, R. (2003), The Empty Church Revisited. London: Ashgate.

Gill, R., Kirk Hadaway, C. and Marler, P. L. (1998), ‘Is Religious Belief Declining in Britain?’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(3): 507-516.

Rice, T. W. (2003), ‘Believe It Or Not: Religious and Other Paranormal Beliefs in the United States’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42(1): 95-106.

Social Surveys (Gallup Poll) Limited. Gallup Poll, May 1975. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 1330, http://dx.doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-1330-1.

[i] For ‘non-traditional religious beliefs’ Gill et al (1998) noted that: ‘These items reflect a heterodox collection of ideas with decidedly cultic and “pre-Christian’ connotations. They are often disparaged as “superstitious.” Such beliefs may also connect to more recent new religious or “new age” movements with antiinstitutional, nonmaterialistic, and nonrational features’ (512).

[ii] The religious belief index was created by adding up responses towards the five religious beliefs and the paranormal belief index was created by adding up responses towards the eleven paranormal beliefs. For each individual in the sample, a value of 1 was assigned for each phenomenon they did not believe in (‘yes’ responses) and a value of 2 for each phenomenon they did believe in (‘no responses’). ‘Don’t know’ responses were assigned a value of 1.5. The indices ranged from 5-10 for the religious beliefs and 11-22 for the paranormal beliefs. Both indices were then divided into two categories. For the religious belief index, scores of 5–7.5 were given the value of 1 and scores of 8-10 were given the value of 2. For the paranormal belief index, scores of 11-16.5 were given the value of 1 and scores of 17-22 were given the value of 2. For more information, and to see this analysis undertaken for beliefs in the United States, see Rice (2003: 103-104).

Posted in Historical studies, Measuring religion, Religious beliefs, Research note, Survey news, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, March 2016

 

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 6, March 2016 features 23 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 6 March 2016

OPINION POLLS

Hope Not Hate

Hope Not Hate, founded in 2004 to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate, was responsible for the most detailed opinion poll on religious issues whose results were released in full this month. Online fieldwork was conducted by Populus among a sample of 4,015 adults in England on 1-8 February 2016. An overview of the findings can be found in Robert Ford and Nick Lowles, Fear & Hope, 2016: Race, Faith and Belonging in Today’s England, running to 60 pages and full of bar charts, which can be purchased from the Hope Not Hate website, priced £3 for the ebook and £4 (inclusive of postage) for the printed version. Full data, extending to 436 tables over 541 pages, and incorporating breaks by a range of standard demographics (among them religious affiliation) and segmentation by six identity tribes, are freely available at:

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

Overall, compared with the Fear and Hope, 2011 report, England was said to have become a more tolerant and confident multicultural society than five years ago, with attitudes towards race, immigration, and religious hate speech all becoming more positive, due mainly to growing optimism about the economy and changing demographics. However, Muslims continued to be regarded as a uniquely different and problematic religious minority, albeit concerns about them were at a lower level than in 2011. There was majority support for a range of measures to promote greater integration by Muslims.

The richness of the data source precludes comprehensive analysis here, but readers may find it helpful to have a complete checklist of the specifically religious survey questions, as follows:

Q.7 Religious affiliation
Q.16 Religion and other influences as source of identity
Q.18 Compatibility of British values with religious faith
Q.19 Words/phrases (including Christian teachings) marking out British people
Q.20 Respect for local religious leaders/other local institutions
Q.27a Attitudes to influence of religion on laws/policies
Q.27b Personal importance of religion
Q.27c Perceptions of religion as force for good
Q.27d Attitudes to tolerance of different religious/cultural beliefs
Q.29 Perceived similarity to self of Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs
Q.30 Frequency of contact with Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs
Q.31 Know well people who Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs
Q.32a Extent to which Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs create problems in UK
Q.32b Extent to which Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs create problems in world
Q.35a Attitudes to relative seriousness of religious/racial abuse
Q.35b Perceptions of relative extent of religious/racial abuse in Britain
Q.35c Perceptions of increasing religious abuse in Britain
Q.35d Attitudes to free speech about religion
Q.37 Attitudes to new party wanting, inter alia, to challenge Islamic extremism and restrict building of mosques
Q.38 Attitudes to campaign against religious/racial extremism
Q.39 Attitudes to campaign against new mosque
Q.40 Attitudes to violence by either side in connection with new mosque
Q.41a Perception that Islam poses serious threat to Western civilization
Q.41b Perception that discrimination serious problem for Muslims in Britain
Q.41c Perception that media too negative to Muslims
Q.41d Perception that Muslim communities need to do more about Islamic extremism
Q.41e Perception that most Muslims have successfully integrated into British society
Q.41f Agreement that wrong to blame entire religion for actions of a few extremists
Q.42 Reaction to seeing/hearing Muslims associated with violence/terrorism
Q.43 Sympathy for English national/Muslim extremists when violence between them
Q.44a Support for more positive media coverage of Islam/Muslim communities
Q.44b Support for active promotion of British values within Muslim communities
Q.44c Support for closer monitoring of faith schools, including Muslim faith schools
Q.44d Support for measures to enable Muslim immigrants to speak English
Q.44e Support for high-profile campaign against anti-Muslim hatred

Religion and the European Union referendum

A by-product of the Hope Not Hate/Populus survey in England (see preceding item) is that it furnishes the first known evidence in the current European Union (EU) referendum campaign about the attitudes of different religious groups to whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU. The EU-related data will be found in Tables 364-388. A selection is presented below for the three main groups (Christians, Muslims, and nones). Unfortunately, cell sizes for other religions are too small to be statistically reliable. The voting question utilized a scale from 0 (will definitely vote for the UK to remain in the EU) to 100 (will definitely vote to leave), which was subsequently compressed by Populus into three categories (shown here). All the questions suggest that professing Christians are currently more likely than average to take up Eurosceptic positions, with Muslims the most Europhile. However, these views will be the product of a multiplicity of factors, of which religion on its own may not be especially significant.

% down

All adults

Christians Muslims

No religion

Voting intention        
Lean to voting for UK to remain in EU

34

31 40

38

More undecided

27

26 30

27

Lean to voting for UK to leave EU

39

43 31

35

Mean score

52.0

55.2 44.8

48.8

Britain does best within EU
Agree

41

39 54

40

Disagree

21

24 6

20

Britain can be just as prosperous outside EU
Agree

44

49 29

38

Disagree

25

24 36

26

Leaving EU would be security risk
Agree

44

41 64

46

Disagree

27

30 7

24

Britain should be outside EU even if economically worse off
Agree

44

49 30

49

Disagree

23

21 32

24

Leaving EU would allow Britain full control of borders
Agree

57

61 45

53

Disagree

15

14 18

17

Freedom of religion

Asked to select the single most important of 30 possible human rights, just 1% of Britons and of the publics of six other European nations prioritized the right to pursue a religion of choice (or none); in the United States, the figure was 7%. Allowed to pick four or five rights, 26% of Britons opted for religious freedom (peaking at 37% of Liberal Democrat voters), the overall proportion comparable with five of the other European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden), albeit much less than in the United States (53%). British fieldwork for the survey was conducted online by YouGov among 1,700 adults on 22-23 February 2016. International topline results and detailed British data tables are available via the post at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/30/which-rights-matter-most/

Belief at Eastertide

Using YouGov Profiles data, YouGov has reported on the level of belief in 14 spiritual or paranormal phenomena among 12,000 people who affiliate with Christianity and a control set of 39,000 adults. From the list of phenomena, Britons overall were found most likely definitely to believe in fate and alien life, with belief in ghosts and karma more prevalent than in a creator or heaven. Only 41% of Christians definitely believed in a creator (while 18% did not), less than in fate or destiny (46%). Christians also tended to identify with the more comfortable elements of faith, 44% definitely believing in heaven against 27% in hell, and 35% in angels against 24% in the devil. Additional analysis of YouGov Profiles for 234,000 adults showed Christians and religious nones neck and neck at 46% each, with other religions on 8%. For more information, see the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/26/o-we-of-little-faith/

Good Samaritan

As part of its ongoing initiative ‘Pass It On’ (to hand down the stories and messages of the Bible to future generations), the Bible Society has been asking Britons about the contemporary meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). It commissioned YouGov to run two online surveys, one among 2,057 adults aged 18 and over on 4-7 December 2015, the other among 745 children aged 8-15 on 4-9 December 2015. Seven in ten adults said they had read or heard about the story of the Good Samaritan, with 40% (including 46% of women but just 27% of 18-24s) agreeing that educating school pupils about it would help create a kinder society. However, only 13% of adults had actually passed this story on to their own children, rising to 27% of over-55s. Majorities of both adults (64%) and children (58%) claimed to be worried that Britain is becoming a less kind society, while 86% and 89% respectively thought the country would benefit if people were more willing to help each other. In practice, given various scenarios outlined in the poll, there were clear limitations to respondents’ preparedness to help strangers in need in a public place, particularly if it might cost them money and the environment appeared unsafe. Lending somebody a mobile phone to make a call seemed an especially challenging prospect, even when the stranger was a religious leader. No data tables are available online as yet, but a report – Pass It On: The Good Samaritan in Modern Britain – The Power of the Parable in the 21st Century – is available to download at:

http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/uploads/files/good_samaritan_report_03083845.pdf

Easter eggs

Four in five (79%) of Britons disagree with the suggestion that manufacturers of chocolate eggs should avoid using the word Easter on their packaging, according to a survey of 2,050 adults conducted online by YouGov on 1-2 March 2016 on behalf of the Meaningful Chocolate Company (which has made The Real Easter Egg since 2010, including a copy of the Easter story in the box). One in nine (11%) of people agrees that Easter should be dropped from the packaging, while one in ten is undecided. The poll was commissioned in response to a tendency by some manufacturers to remove the word Easter from their boxes or to reduce it in size and reposition it on the back of the box. Data tables from the survey are not in the public domain, but there is a news report at:

http://www.inspiremagazine.org.uk/Stories/National?storyaction=view&storyid=2154

During the fortnight after the story broke, there was growing public and media outrage that chocolate manufacturers were airbrushing Easter from their eggs. Manufacturers were put on the spot to explain themselves, they were mocked on social media sites, and even MPs joined in the fray. Had the poll been undertaken a bit later and nearer Easter, against this backdrop, probably the majority in favour of reinstating the prominence of Easter on chocolate eggs would have been even more overwhelming.

Trust in the Church

The most recently published trust in institutions module of nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor, conducted in April 2015 among 1,000 adults aged 16 and over, revealed that 36% of Britons trust the Church quite a lot (26%) or a great deal (10%), a similar proportion to previous years (the survey has been running annually since 2006). The majority (55%) trusts the Church very little (27%) or not much (28%). The most trusted institutions are the armed forces (77%) and National Health Service (70%). Slides containing topline results can be downloaded (after free registration) from:

http://nfpsynergy.net/press-release/trust-charities-now-lowest-eight-years-scotland-and-northern-ireland-have-higher-trust

Papal popularity

In a WIN/Gallup International survey of the publics of 64 nations at the end of 2015 but not released until Easter, 54% overall entertained a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Pope Francis, 12% held an unfavourable view, with 34% undecided. In Britain, where the fieldwork was conducted online by ORB International among a sample of 1,000 adults on 19-28 November 2015, the plurality (46%) was neutral, with 37% favourable and 17% unfavourable. Britain ranked 46 out of 64 in terms of favourability towards the Pope, just behind Sweden and just ahead of Greece, the whole list being headed by Portugal (94%) and Philippines (93%). Not unexpectedly, favourability tended to be highest in predominantly Catholic countries. The proportion of Britons who were very favourable to the Pope was 9%, not much more than one-third of the global average of 24%, although the figures were an identical 5% for those holding a very unfavourable opinion. A report can be found at:

http://www.wingia.com/web/files/richeditor/filemanager/Opinion_Pope_Francis_Q8_Press_Release_v16-3-2016___.pdf

Topline results for each country are at:

http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=pope-more-popular-than-world-leaders-easter-2016-poll

The same survey also asked about favourability toward other world leaders. In Britain, Barack Obama (66%), David Cameron (42%), and Angela Merkel (40%) were all given higher ratings than the Pope, François Hollande the same (37%). These comparative data have been online for some time at:

http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/global-q4-only-final.pdf

Islamic State (1)

A poll by YouGov conducted among an online sample of 2,459 Britons on 23 March 2016, the day after the attacks by Islamic State (IS) in Brussels left 32 people dead, found 77% very or fairly worried that IS would attempt a terrorist attack on British soil, just 4% saying they were not worried at all. Concern was highest among over-60s (86%), women (85%), Conservative voters (84%), and Londoners (83%). Only 11% thought the war against IS was being won, while three times that number agreed IS was actually getting stronger, including 48% of UKIP supporters. A blog about the snap survey, incorporating a link to the full results, is available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/23/were-failing-fight-against-isis-public/

Islamic State (2)

There have been calls recently for the killing by Islamic State (IS) of Christians and Yazidis (a Kurdish-speaking religious minority) in Iraq and Syria to be formally recognized as genocide. The calls have thus far been resisted by the British Government but appear to enjoy the support of a majority of the British public, according to an online poll by ComRes among 2,023 adults on 16-17 March 2016, commissioned by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Asked what the Government should be doing about the killing of Christians and Yazidis by IS, 63% thought it should be officially recognizing the killing as genocide, 69% wanted it to raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council with a view to onward referral to the International Criminal Court, 59% endorsed it launching its own enquiry into claims that IS had committed genocide, and 68% agreed that it should be using Britain’s broader international influence to ensure the killing is classified as genocide and the IS leadership brought to account. There was very little opposition to each of these proposed measures being taken by the Government, although about one-quarter of the population was undecided on each statement. Data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation, can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ADF_Genocide-Tables_March-2016.pdf

The Sun and Muslim opinion

In the November 2015 edition of Counting Religion in Britain, we reported on a telephone poll by Survation of 1,003 British Muslims conducted in the wake of the Islamist outrages in Paris, and of the developing row surrounding the presentation of the findings by The Sun (which commissioned the survey) in its issue of 23 November 2015. The newspaper’s reporting of the poll, particularly its suggestion of substantial sympathy among Muslims for individuals who left the country to fight on behalf of Islamic State in Syria, triggered an unusually large number of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). IPSO has now investigated the matter and has upheld the lead complaint by Muslim Engagement and Development. IPSO has ruled that The Sun ‘failed to take appropriate care in its presentation of the poll results, and as a result the coverage was significantly misleading’. Accordingly, the newspaper has been found guilty of breaching Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice and has been required by IPSO to publicize the decision, in print and online, in remedy of the breach. IPSO’s judgment can be read in full at:

https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=331

Religion and gender

A helpful compilation of contemporary global data about the (generally) greater religiosity of women than men, together with an exploration of the various theories surrounding gender differences in religion (including a possible link to female labour force participation), is contained in the latest report from the Pew Research Center, The Gender Gap in Religion around the World. This was prepared under the direction of Conrad Hackett. The data on religious affiliation relate to 192 countries and derive from national censuses and surveys. Those on religious practices and belief are taken from Pew’s own surveys in 84 countries. In Britain atheists were more likely to be men (56% versus 44%), but women were 5% more likely to attend religious services weekly (15% versus 10%), 9% more likely to pray daily (23% versus 14%), and 7% more likely to say that religion was very important in their lives (25% versus 18%). Regrettably, measures of gender differences in belief in heaven, hell, and angels, which are also available for many countries, were not asked by Pew in Britain, although they have been covered by other survey agencies here. The Pew report can be downloaded at:

http://www.pewforum.org/files/2016/03/Religion-and-Gender-Full-Report.pdf

Meanwhile, the dataset from the Spring 2014 Pew Global Attitudes Project has been released. Questions of British religious interest concern attitudes to Jews and Muslims; opinions of Pope Francis; and the perceived threat to the world from religious and ethnic hatred. This dataset (and earlier ones) can be downloaded from:

http://www.pewglobal.org/category/datasets/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Visitor attractions

Westminster Abbey was the UK’s top ecclesiastical destination for tourism in 2015 and the fourteenth most frequented UK visitor attraction, among member organizations of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). It drew 1,664,850 fee-paying customers, 3% fewer than in the previous year. St Paul’s Cathedral was two places behind, with 1,609,325 visitors, 10% down on 2014. Canterbury Cathedral came thirty-fourth, with 957,355 visitors, a fall of 5%. Prominent among the former monastic ruins were Fountains Abbey (371,012 visitors) and Whitby Abbey (146,277), in the care of, respectively, the National Trust and English Heritage. Several places of worship administered by the Churches Conservation Trust appeared in the bottom quartile of the 230 properties on the ALVA list, while the sole designated religious museum (St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow) attracted 143,967 free visitors, up 5%. Visitor figures for ALVA members for 2015 and all years back to 2004 are available at:

http://www.alva.org.uk/details.cfm?p=423

Jewish charitable giving

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has published a new report, the first on the topic since 1998, on the charitable giving of the country’s Jews: David Graham and Jonathan Boyd, Charitable Giving among Britain’s Jews: Looking to the Future. The underlying data derive from the Institute’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey, which elicited 3,736 responses from a self-selecting and non-probability convenience sample. A very high proportion of these respondents (93%) claimed to have given something to charity during the year prior to interview, although a much smaller number (28%) had donated more than £500. The report identified the three most important variables which predict the scale of charitable giving of British Jews as age (older Jews being both more generous and habitual donors), strength of Jewish identity and engagement, and level of income. It forecast that secularization of the mainstream Jewish population may lead to a decline in giving, as may the growth in strictly Orthodox Jewry, which will reduce the overall wealth of the Jewish community, also increasing its charitable needs. The report is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2016.Charitable_giving_among_Britains_Jews.pdf

Jewish health

A 2015 survey of 507 members (207 children, 300 adults, the latter disproportionately female) of Salford’s 7,500-strong strictly orthodox (Charedi) Jewish population has surfaced sundry health issues. It was sponsored by NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and conducted by Jonny Wineberg and Sandi Mann by means of focus groups and questionnaires. Particular concerns were raised by the researchers about immunization take-up, healthy eating, amounts of exercise (especially among men), and attitudes to mental health. Although alcohol consumption by adults was not generally a problem, 12% were classed as binge-drinkers on the Jewish Sabbath. A 54-page report of the survey can be found at:

http://archive.jpr.org.uk/download?id=2721

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Places of worship

A relatively little-known aspect of religious data is that the state collects statistics of places of worship through a process of certification to the Registrar General laid down under an Act of 1855. This is a valuable source of information, notwithstanding certain limitations, in particular that the duty only applies to England and Wales, does not extend to the Church of England and Church in Wales, and is optional (albeit certification confers certain financial advantages and is a prerequisite for subsequent registration of a building for the solemnization of marriages).

A full-page article in The Times on 28 March 2016 used the certifications for 2010 and 2016 to highlight changes in the country’s religious landscape, notably the contraction in mainstream Churches and the growth of newer manifestations of Christianity and non-Christian faiths as a consequence of inward migration. Over this six-year period, places of worship belonging to the United Reformed Church reduced by 8% and to the Methodist Church by 6%. Salvation Army, Quaker, and Roman Catholic ones were down by around 3%. On the other hand, there were more Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, up by 17% and 39% respectively, while places of worship certified to Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims increased by one-quarter. ‘For every Church of England church that has closed over the past six years, more than three Pentecostal churches and almost two mosques have opened’, the newspaper’s journalist, Kaya Burgess, reported in the piece which was variously headlined, according to edition, including as ‘Anglican Faith Sinks in Sea of Diversity’. Subscribers can read the full text at:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/faith/article4722614.ece

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Jewish and Muslim MPs

In general, MPs from a Jewish or Muslim minority background in the UK House of Commons are not statistically more likely than MPs from other backgrounds to address issues of concern for Jews or Muslims in the House of Commons. This is according to a content analysis of 3,103 Early Day Motions (EDMs) sponsored by 38 Jewish MPs and 196 by 11 Muslim MPs between 1997 and 2012 compared with a control group of EDMs tabled by non-minority MPs. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that religious background was a vastly inferior predictor of raising minority issues than ‘institutional’ factors such as holding a leadership legislative role, representation of a constituency with a substantial minority population, and length of Parliamentary service. The research is reported in Ekaterina Kolpinskaya, ‘Does Religion Count for Religious Parliamentary Representation? Evidence from Early Day Motions’, Journal of Legislative Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2016, pp. 129-52. Access options to this article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13572334.2015.1134905

In an article in the advance access edition of Parliamentary Affairs, the same author applies the same methodology to Parliamentary Questions for Written Answers (WPQs) asked by the same group of MPs over the same timescale (39,877 WPQs by the Jewish and 2,398 by the Muslim MPs). An identical conclusion is reached about the limited impact of a religious minority background on engagement with minority issues in the House of Commons. Access options to Kolpinskaya’s ‘Substantive Religious Representation in the UK Parliament: Examining Parliamentary Questions for Written Answers, 1997-2012’ are outlined at:

http://pa.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/02/03/pa.gsw001.abstract

London churchgoing in 1913

Late Victorian and Edwardian London had a reputation for relatively low levels of religious practice, as evidenced in the census of church attendance conducted in the capital by the Daily News in 1902-03. In 1912-13 its successor, the Daily News and Leader, attempted to replicate this census but was forced to abandon it at an early stage in the face of concerted opposition from both Anglicans and Nonconformists. In its place was substituted a survey of the religious and social work of the metropolitan churches, which was published in 1914. The story of ‘the census that never was’ has been pieced together for the first time by Clive Field, who also explains the reasons for its significance, within the context of the broader scholarly debate about whether Edwardian Britain was a ‘faith society’. ‘“A Tempest in the Teapot”: London Churchgoing in 1913 – The Census That Never Was’ appears in London Journal, Vol. 41, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 82-99. Access options to this article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03058034.2015.1108624

Religion in Bolton

Although Mass-Observation’s pioneering social survey of industrial Worktown (Bolton), Lancashire in the late 1930s is generally well-known, no serious investigation has hitherto taken place of its sub-project on religion. Clive Field has now published a preliminary survey of the extant and somewhat disordered documentation, enabling a basic history of the sub-project to be constructed for its principal phase in 1937-38, spanning organization, research methodology, and plans for a book which never saw the light of day. The account is underpinned by detailed references to relevant material in the Mass-Observation Archive, thereby facilitating future scholarly exploitation. Briefer descriptions are also provided of subsequent phases of Mass-Observation’s religion research in Bolton, during the early months of the Second World War and in the summer of 1960. A summative assessment finds that the overall output from the sub-project is somewhat disappointing and methodologically impoverished (notably in the limited recourse to quantification), more illuminating of religious institutions in the town than of the role of religion in the everyday lives of ordinary Boltonians, especially non-churchgoers. Access options for ‘Religion in Worktown: Anatomy of a Mass-Observation Sub-Project’, Northern History, Vol. 53, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 116-37 are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0078172X.2016.1127629

Nonconformist prosopography

Mary Riso casts light on the lives as well as the deaths of Victorian Nonconformists in her new book, The Narrative of the Good Death: The Evangelical Deathbed in Victorian England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015, xvi + 276pp., ISBN 9781472446961, £65.00 hardback, also available as an ebook). It is based upon an analysis of 1,200 obituaries published between 1830 and 1880 in the magazines of four denominations, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists. Of course, obituaries cannot be regarded as an approximation of a cross-section of the laity of these denominations. In this instance, their limitations also include a tendency to become progressively less formulaic and less spiritual in content over the half-century covered and for their subjects to become increasingly more male and middle class. A methodological chapter (pp. 29-56) explores some of these difficulties. Setting these considerations aside, the sample is large enough to permit some quantification, with statistics appearing throughout the text and, in figure format, in appendix B (pp. 231-47). The analysis is by theme (theology; lifestyle and social mobility; social background; age at death; and religious experience) within denomination. The book’s webpage can be found at:

https://www.routledge.com/products/9781472446961

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7899: National Survey of Young People’s Well-Being, 2010

The National Survey of Young People’s Well-Being, 2010 was a collaboration between the Children’s Society and the University of York, with data collection the responsibility of the National Foundation for Educational Research. A self-completion online questionnaire was filled in, during December 2010 and January 2011, by 5,443 children aged 8-15 in years 4, 6, 8, and 10 of schools in England. It covered a range of measures of well-being and some background information, including religious affiliation (‘what would you say your religion is?’), allowing a ‘not sure’ response alongside ‘none’ and the major world faiths. The religion question does not appear to have been asked in the successor Children’s Worlds Survey, England, 2013-2014. For a full description of the 2010 dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7899&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7919: Health Survey for England, 2014

The Health Survey for England, 2014 is the twenty-fourth in a series of annual studies designed to monitor trends in the nation’s health. It is commissioned by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care and conducted by NatCen Social Research and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. It is undertaken through a combination of face-to-face interview, self-completion interview, and clinical and other measurements. A number of core health-related topics are explored each year with additional topics investigated on a more occasional basis (mental health being a special focus in 2014). A question ‘what is your religion or belief?’ was one of the background variables included in the self-completion booklet given to the 8,077 adults aged 16 and over interviewed in 2014, with reply options of no religion, Roman Catholic, other Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and any other religion. This permits analysis of the religious correlates of particular health conditions and attitudes. For a full description of the dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7919&type=Data%20catalogue

PEOPLE NEWS

Stephen Bullivant

Stephen Bullivant is the inaugural director of the new Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society which has been established at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. It will function as an international hub for research and engagement activities in the interaction between religion and economics, sociology, and political science. The Centre’s current major research projects are on the Scientific Study of Nonreligious Belief; Catholic Social Teaching, Policy, and Society; and Humanae Vitae at 50. A Catholic Research Forum also operates from the Centre, comprising a number of smaller initiatives, including a statistical profile of Catholics in England and Wales compiled from British Social Attitudes Surveys; an investigation among Catholics who no longer regularly attend Mass, in partnership with the Diocese of Portsmouth; and research into the uptake of free school meals in Catholic state schools, in collaboration with the Catholic Education Service. The Centre’s website can be found at:

http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/benedict-xvi/

 

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

 

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