Cost of Dying and Other News

 

Cost of dying

Insurance company SunLife released the report of its ninth annual survey of the cost of dying on 13 October 2015. It was based on interviews conducted by YouGov, online on 8-20 May 2015 among 1,507 UK adults who have organized a funeral during the past four years, and by telephone between 16 April and 13 May among 100 UK funeral directors. The average cost of a basic funeral was found to have risen by 92% between 2004 and 2015, slightly less for a cremation (90%) and rather more for a burial (94%). A relatively tiny proportion of the absolute cost in 2015 (£3,693) was accounted for by the fee payable to the clergy or officiant at the funeral (£152 in 2015 for either a burial or cremation), a rise of 73% since 2007 which was substantially more than the 19% increase in doctor’s fees over the same period. Although religious funerals are still in a slight majority, this last bastion of religion is probably underpinned as much by tradition as by conviction. Of the sample of bereaved, just 1% admitted to knowing all the deceased’s funeral preferences, with 31% even having no idea whether their loved-one would have wished to be buried or cremated, and 53% uncertain whether to hold a religious or non-religious service. The report can be downloaded via the link at:   

https://www.sunlifedirect.co.uk/press-office/cost-of-dying-2015/

Church of England buildings

The first attempt in many years to audit the Church of England’s stewardship of its 15,700 church buildings was published on 12 October 2015: Report of the Church Buildings Review Group, chaired by the Bishop of Worcester and established by the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners. It surveys the statistical and theological context before setting out general principles and specific recommendations for the future management of the Church’s places of worship. Some of the national quantitative information is tabulated below, from which it will be seen that 57% of all churches (and 67% of listed buildings) are to be found in rural districts, where only 17% of the population lives. Although per capita attendance is higher in the countryside than in urban/suburban areas, the average attendance is less than one-third in the former than the latter. Future closure of some churches is envisaged and the downgrading of others to ‘festival church’ status, involving the cessation of regular worship in favour of occasional offices and major seasonal services only. The report, which also includes data disaggregated to diocesan level, is available at: 

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2383717/church_buildings_review_report_2015.pdf 

 

Urban

Suburban

Rural

Distribution (% across)

 

 

 

Population

25

58

17

All churches

12

31

57

Listed buildings

8

24

67

Church attendance

20

52

28

Other indicators

 

 

 

Population per church building

7,300

6,600

1,000

Attendance per capita (%)

1.4

1.6

2.9

Attendance per building

103

104

30

Average annual capital expenditure per building (£)

17,700

14,200

6,800

Cumbrian churches

One day after the Church of England national buildings report was published, the Churches Trust for Cumbria, an independent charity established in 2008, very belatedly released the results of its own interdenominational church buildings survey, the fieldwork for which was conducted as far back as 2012-13. The research covered two-thirds of the 600 Anglican, Methodist, and United Reformed churches in the county, highlighting the immense challenges which they face. Almost half (48%) expressed serious concerns regarding their financial viability. Only two-fifths (42%) appear to have been used for worship on a weekly basis. More than one-third (37%) were not used for non-worship purposes more than three times a year. Just 7% of congregations were aged 18 or under, with significant numbers more than 70 years of age – 47% in the Church of England, 51% for the Methodist Church, and 64% for the United Reformed Church. The report, which is somewhat lacking in terms of data and confusing in its presentation, can be viewed at: 

http://www.carlislediocese.org.uk/uploads/1356/Churches_Trust_for_Cumbria_Report_2015-pdf.html

Baptist Union research

The latest meeting of the Baptist Union Council took place on 7-8 October 2015. Among the reports received was one on ‘Fit for Mission’, for which Stuart Davison presented some preliminary findings from an ongoing piece of research among Baptist churches, to which 684 (35%) have responded so far. One interesting (albeit predictable) result concerned the big difference between the perception and reality of whether churches are growing or declining, the reality being measured in terms of membership numbers. The following table presents the headline data. Are churches in self-denial or is membership no longer an appropriate performance indicator? A report of the Council meeting is at:  

http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/450911/Baptist_Union_Council.aspx 

Churches … (% down)

Perception

Reality

Declining

13

49

Constant

49

25

Growing

36

26

Clergy well-being

Revisiting an 11-year-old dataset of 722 rural clergy, Christine Brewster found only partial linkages between churchmanship and psychological well-being (as measured via the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire). Although theological liberals did experience higher well-being than theological conservatives, controlling for sex, age, and personality, there was no significant difference between evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics nor between charismatics and non-charismatics. Possible explanations for these results are briefly offered. Her article, ‘Churchmanship and Personal Happiness: A Study among Rural Anglican Clergy’, is published in Rural Theology, Vol. 13, No. 2, November 2015, pp. 124-34, and access options are outlined at:  

http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/1470499415Z.00000000050

Undergraduate religiosity

The higher degree of religiosity among women than men is a persistent feature of the religious landscape. Yet it may not be the function of biological sex per se as of basic psychological differences in levels of psychoticism, which are lower among women. This finding emerges from a study of the frequency of churchgoing and prayer and attitudes toward religion of 1,682 undergraduate students in Wales at an unspecified date. The authors (Gemma Penny, Leslie Francis, and Mandy Robbins) claim to be first in exploring whether sex differences in religiosity persist after individual differences in personality have been controlled for, concluding that once personality is factored in ‘biological sex adds no further impact on religiosity’. The data are reported in ‘Why are Women More Religious than Men? Testing the Explanatory Power of Personality Theory among Undergraduate Students in Wales’, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 18, No. 6, 2015, pp. 492-502. Access options to the article are outlined at: 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13674676.2015.1079603

Religious hate crimes

On 13 October 2015 the Home Office published Statistical Bulletin 05/15 on Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2014/15 by Hannah Corcoran, Deborah Lader, and Kevin Smith. Of the 52,528 hate crimes recorded by the police in that year, 3,254 (6%) were religion- or belief-related, a rise of 43% on 2013/14. The increase is mainly thought to reflect improved police recording but there was almost certainly some genuine growth in religion hate crimes, linked to trigger events leading to Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. However, even these figures still represent a significant under-count, due to under-reporting, the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggesting that the true number of incidents of religiously-motivated hate crime each year may be as high as 38,000, fairly evenly split between household and personal crimes. Muslims are most likely to be victims of such crimes. The Statistical Bulletin and associated tables can be found at: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2014-to-2015

Strictly Orthodox Jewry

The latest research report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) was published on 15 October 2015: Daniel Staetsky and Jonathan Boyd, Strictly Orthodox Rising: What the Demography of British Jews Tells us about the Future of the Community. It explores the implications of the ‘extraordinary demographic growth of the strictly Orthodox sub-population’ in British Jewry, which is attributed to its high birth rate and low mortality. Making particular use of population pyramids, the authors assess the current and possible future numerical relationships between, and respective characteristics of, the strictly Orthodox and non-strictly Orthodox Jewish communities.  

The evidence base mostly comprises estimates derived from the 2011 census of England and Wales, including what is claimed to be the first presentation in the public domain of estimates of British Jewish fertility. The latter show that the strictly Orthodox possess the highest fertility of any religious group in the country and, all other things remaining unchanged, it is set to become the majority of British Jews during the second half of this century. The picture which emerges, through the growth of the strictly Orthodox, is thus one of reversal of the long-standing contraction of British Jewry and of its increasing religiosity. According to the Jewish Chronicle (16 October 2015, p. 14), aspects of the tone and content of the research have come under fire from the Interlink Foundation (an Orthodox charity). This is especially true of JPR’s estimate of the current maximum size of the Orthodox sub-population (43,500) and of the point at which it will account for half of Jewish births (2031). Interlink calculates that there are actually 58,500 Orthodox Jews and that they will provide the majority of births much sooner than 2031. JPR’s report can be downloaded from: 

http://www.jpr.org.uk/publication?id=4222#.Vh_ayMtdHX6

Jewish prisoners

The Jewish Chronicle for 9 October 2015 (p. 6) carried a news report about the ‘huge leap in [the] number of Jews behind bars’. This was based upon statistics supplied by the Ministry of Justice, from its National Offender Management Service (NOMS), in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the newspaper. The number of Jews in prison in England and Wales has apparently increased by 82% between 2002 and 2015, nearly four times more than the national prison population. It currently stands at 327, with violence against the person, theft, and drug offences the commonest causes of conviction of Jews. The same source also revealed significant growth in Muslim and Buddhist prisoners since 2002 while there are more than one-third fewer Anglican prisoners. The full NOMS data should be published in due course, but, in the meantime, the Jewish Chronicle report will be found at: 

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/146678/huge-leap-number-jews-behind-bars

Baha’is

There are brief references to the early Baha’i presence in Great Britain in Peter Smith, ‘The Baha’i Faith: Distribution Statistics, 1925-1949’, Journal of Religious History, Vol. 39, No. 3, September 2015, pp. 352- 69. However, there are no data on British Baha’i membership for this period. Access options to the article are outlined at: 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9809.12207/abstract

Dalai Lama’s insights

The British government and royal family have been rolling out the red carpet this past week for the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, according to a YouGov poll for the Free Tibet Campaign, the British public is inclined to side with the assessment of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, regarding the government’s motivations for its policy toward China and the protection of human rights in Tibet. ‘Money, money, money. That’s what this is about. Where is morality?’ asked the Dalai Lama. The majority of Britons (69%) agreed with his verdict, while only 8% thought he was wrong with 23% undecided. Online fieldwork was on 14-15 October 2015 among 1,671 adults. The data table is at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/jypdg9dbnd/FreeTibetResults_151015_China_Website.pdf

 

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Exploring Religious Data in the British Social Attitudes 2014 Survey

The latest British Social Attitudes 2014 survey has recently been released via the UKDS, which holds all of the other surveys in the BSA series (as well as the data having being added to the online British Social Attitudes Information System). This post explores religious data available in the 2014 survey.

 

Religious Belonging

The BSA has asked a question on (current) religious affiliation in every survey conducted since 1983. The figures from the 2014 survey are similar to those obtained in recent years. Around half said they had no affiliation (49%), while those with an affiliation divided into Anglicans (18%), Catholics (8%), other Christian (17%: consisting of 5% with a specific affiliation and 12% with no denominational affiliation), and those belonging to some other religion (8%).

The full set of data on religious affiliation, covering 1983 onwards, is shown in Figure 1, visualised in an area chart which displays the proportion within each of the five categories across time. Noticeable are the clear decline in the proportion affiliating as Anglican (40% in 1983); the growth in the proportion identifying with some other religion (3% in 1983); and the steady increase in those with professing no affiliation – often labelled ‘religious nones’ (32% in 1983). The proportion self-identifying as Catholic was 10% in 1983.

Not shown on the chart but also an important aspect of change in religious belonging is the shift within the other Christian category: those who identify as such but without any specific denominational tradition have become a greater share of this group over time, with a decreasing proportion professing a clear denominational association – in particular, with the Nonconformist churches. The proportion identifying as Christian with no specific denominational allegiance was just 3% in 1983 while those with a denominational allegiance comprised 14%. The proportion in the other Christian category has remained static over time, but there has been considerable change within. Whereas in 1983 self-identification as Anglican was more than twice the level found for other Christian (excluding Catholics), in 2014 the levels are almost identical.

 

Figure 1: Religious Affiliation in Britain, 1983-2014

New Picture

Source: BSA surveys.

The BSA surveys have since 1991 asked about the religion (if any) that a respondent was brought up in. In 2014, 30% of respondents said they had been raised as Church of England/Anglican, 15% as Roman Catholic, 27% were raised in some other Christian tradition, with 9% brought up in some other religious faith. Nearly a fifth said they were not raised within a religious faith (19%). Back in 1991, when the question was first asked, the proportions were somewhat different. Well over half (57%) reported being raised as Church of England/Anglican, 14% as Roman Catholic, over a fifth within some other Christian tradition (22%), and 3% within a non-Christian faith. Just 6% said they were not brought up within a religious faith – a figure which has therefore tripled over recent decades. The proportion saying they were raised as Anglican / Church of England has therefore nearly halved over this period.

 

Religious Behaviour

The BSA surveys have also asked questions on religious behaviour, including on a regular basis about religious attendance and – in 2004 and 2014 – about membership of religious organisations and churches. Data on attendance and membership broken down by affiliation are shown, respectively, in Tables 1 and 2. Church attendance is divided into three categories: frequently (once a month or more often); infrequently (less often than once a month); never attends.

Table 1 shows that, across the categories, regular attendance is least common amongst Anglicans (18%) and much more common amongst Catholics (40%), other Christians (34%), and particularly those belonging to other religions (62%). Data from the 1983 survey show that, similarly, Anglicans were least likely to report being regular-attenders (18%), compared to other Christians (47%) and Catholics (55%). Infrequent attendance is most prevalent amongst Anglicans and they are also most likely to say they never attend services (beyond special occasions). Those belonging to other religions are least likely to report that they never attend services – less than a fifth. Splitting the other Christian category into those with and without a specific denominational affiliation, the latter group have reported higher levels of regular attendance. In 1983, 52% of those with a denomination affiliation said they attended frequently compared to 22% of those with no denomination. Three decades later, this difference is still evident: 48% of those with a denominational affiliation say they attend church regularly compared to 29% of those with no denominational allegiance.

 

Table 1: Attendance at religious services, by religious affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

Frequently

18

40

34

62

Infrequently

30

26

26

21

Never

52

34

40

17

Source: BSA 2014 survey.

Question wording: ‘Apart from such special occasions as weddings, funerals and baptisms, how often nowadays do you attend services or meetings connected with your religion?’

 

Overall, the proportions belonging (actively or otherwise) to a religious organisation or church fell somewhat over the decades, from 35% to 26%. Those who used to belong comprised 24% and 25% in, respectively, 2004 and 2014. The proportion saying they had never belonged to such a group rose from just over two-fifths to nearly half.

Table 2 reports data based on affiliation from the 2014 survey. Anglicans are least likely to say that they are active within a group (29%), with active participation most evident amongst Catholics (32%). Catholics are also most likely to say that they are inactive members of a group. Overall, around two-thirds of Catholics belong to a group, compared to two-fifths of Anglicans, and around half of other Christians and those from some other religion. Anglicans and those from other religions are most likely to say they have never belonged to a church or religious organisation. Dividing the other Christian category into those with and without a denominational affiliation again shows a clear difference in levels of involvement. Of those with some form of denominational affiliation, around two-third either actively or passively belong to a church or religious organisation, considerably higher than the two-fifths of non-denominational Christians who say they do so.

 

Table 2: Belongs to a religious organisation or church, by religious affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

Belong, actively participate

19

32

27

26

Belong, don’t actively participate

20

34

21

22

BELONG

39

66

48

48

Used to belong

24

21

31

15

Never belonged

36

13

21

37

Source: BSA 2014 survey.

Question wording:

‘About belonging to different kinds of groups or associations. Do you belong and actively participate; belong but don’t actively participate; used to belong but do not any more; or have never belonged to – a church or other religious organisation?’

 

Social Attitudes  

The BSA surveys also ask a range of question probing social and political attitudes, which can be examined on the basis of religious belonging or behaviour. Two such examples are used here: same-sex equality and tolerance for religious extremists.

In overall terms, opinion in favour of marriage equality for same-sex couples has increased markedly over time: from 13% in 1989 to 49% in 2007, and settling at around three-fifths in more recent surveys. Table 3 reports the proportions agreeing that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, based on religious affiliation. The proportions agreeing with the statement have risen considerably over time. Even so, on each occasion, those with no affiliation are most likely to agree with same-sex marriage (increasing from 20% in 1989 to 74% in 2014). While very small proportions of Anglicans, Catholics and other Christians agreed in in 1989, about a half did so in 2014. The proportions in agreement amongst those from non-Christian religions are clearly lower (33% in 2014), although it should be noted that they obviously represent small proportions of the BSA survey samples.

 

Table 3: Percent agreeing that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, by religious affiliation

 

1989 (%)

2007 (%)

2012 (%)

2013 (%)

2014 (%)

Anglican

10

32

43

46

49

Catholic

14

57

48

56

53

Other Christian

6

40

49

44

52

Other religion

33

36

23

33

No religion

20

60

70

69

74

Source: BSA surveys. Combines ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’.

Question wordings:

1989: ‘Do you agree or disagree that … Homosexual couples should have the right to marry one another.’

2007-2014: ‘How much do you agree or disagree that … gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to.’

 

Finally, Table 4 reports attitudes towards a question asking about religious extremists being allowed to hold public meetings asked in the 2004 and 2014 surveys. In overall terms, attitudes on this question have hardened over time: in 2014, the proportion thinking religious extremists should (definitely or probably) be allowed to hold public meetings is 23%, lower than the 33% expressing the same view in 2004. The same is also the case for each group based on religious affiliation. In general, around a fifth to a quarter think they should be allowed in 2014, with large majorities against – highest at 78% of Anglicans. In 2004, the proportions in favour were in the range of 29-40%, with smaller – but still clear – majorities opposed (with the exception of other Christians, at 49%).

 

Table 4: Attitudes towards religious extremists being allowed to hold public meetings, by religious affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

2014
Should definitely or probably be allowed

19

21

20

22

25

Should probably or definitely not be allowed

78

70

73

70

69

Don’t know

3

9

7

9

6

2004
Should definitely or probably be allowed

33

29

40

33

31

Should probably or definitely not be allowed

61

65

49

67

63

Don’t know

6

6

11

0

6

Source: BSA surveys.

Question wording: ‘There are a number of groups in society. Should religious extremists be allowed to hold public meetings?’.

 

BRIN readers might be interested in earlier posts which used BSA survey data to look in more detail at affiliation and attendance – both levels of change overall and variation across social groups:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2015/socio-demographic-groups-and-religious-affiliation-in-britain/

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2014/changes-in-attendance-at-religious-services-in-britain/

Posted in Research note, Survey news, Uncategorized, visualisation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Muslim Stories and Other News

 

Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

One important international reference work which BRIN has hitherto failed to mention in our regular round-ups of British religious statistical news is Yearbook of Muslims in Europe (ISSN 1877-1432), published by Brill since 2009 with Jørgen Nielsen as editor-in-chief. The core component of each volume is a country-by-country survey of the situation of Muslims throughout Europe, defined in its broadest sense. The most recent edition (Vol. 6), published towards the end of 2014 and reviewing developments in 2013, covers 45 countries. There is a chapter on the UK by Dilwar Hussain (pp. 625-48) which briefly mentions the results of the 2011 official census of religious affiliation (p. 625) and of opinion polls among and about Muslims (pp. 646-7). The first three volumes also included research articles and book reviews, but these have now migrated to Brill’s Journal of Muslims in Europe. Unfortunately, doubtless reflecting its high cost, there are relatively few UK holding libraries for the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe. Anybody interested in finding locations should consult the online catalogue COPAC for details.    

Regulating supplementary religious schools

Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment, made in his recent speech to the Conservative Party conference, to regulate supplementary religious schools (such as Islamic madrassas) seems to have gone down well with most of the electorate, according to a Survation poll for the Huffington Post UK. The Government intends to consult on making these institutions in England register with the Department for Education and become subject to a light-touch inspection regime, closure being the promised fate of those found to be teaching intolerance. In the poll, conducted online on 7 October 2015 among 1,031 adult Britons, 62% endorsed Cameron’s plans, including 70% of over-55s and 77% of Conservative voters, while 13% were opposed and 24% undecided. Data tables were published on 8 October at:  

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Cameron-Speech-Poll-Tables.pdf

Muslims in the labour market

British Muslims are proportionately less well represented in top managerial and professional jobs than any other religious group. They are also disproportionately likely to be unemployed and economically inactive, and to have the lowest female employment participation rate of all religious groups. So claim Louis Reynolds and Jonathan Birdwell in their Rising to the Top, a new research report from think-tank Demos, based upon a review of the academic literature and secondary analysis of data from the census, Labour Force Survey, Higher Education Statistics Agency, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, and other sources. Demographic, cultural, and other factors contributing to Muslim under-representation are explored, and a series of recommendations made to help redress it. Although the official launch of the report is not until 21 October 2015, the text is already available online at: 

http://www.demos.co.uk/project/rising-to-the-top/

Travel to Islamic countries

A ‘summer of discontent’ has transformed the travel plans of Britons, according to a press release from travel deals company Travelzoo on 1 October 2015 and based on a survey among 2,000 UK adults by Censuswide in September 2015. The Islamist terrorist attack on British tourists in Tunisia, the migrant crisis, and the disruption at the Channel Tunnel/Eurostar are causing us to rethink where to holiday in future. Over half (54%) of respondents admitted that the events in Tunisia had put them off holidaying anywhere abroad, while 75% said that they would actively avoid all Islamic countries as destinations in future. Less than 1% would be prepared to visit Tunisia, even if the Government travel ban is lifted in the next few months. The press release is at:   

http://press.travelzoo.com/summer-of-discontent-has-transformed-britains-travel-habits

Islamic State (1)

A trio of online polls of adult Britons by YouGov on behalf of YouGov@Cambridge, and published on 2 October 2015, has explored public attitudes to British involvement in military action against Islamic State (IS) in three Middle Eastern countries. Fieldwork was conducted on 4-5 August in the case of Iraq (n = 1,707), 5-6 August about Libya (n = 1,972), and 24-25 September about Syria (n = 1,646). A few topline results are tabulated below, with the full data tables available under ‘Latest Documents’ on the YouGov@Cambridge website at:

https://yougov.co.uk/cambridge/ 

Approval (%) of these British actions against IS

In Iraq

In Libya

In Syria

Air strikes by RAF planes

57

53

59

Air strikes by aerial drones

60

56

66

Missile strikes from Royal Navy ships

52

48

56

Sending heavy weapons to local forces

41

36

39

Sending small arms to local forces

42

37

42

Sending regular UK troops

29

28

30

Sending UK special forces to fight

50

45

51

Sending UK special forces to rescue hostages

67

58

67

Sending UK military advisers to local forces

62

55

57

It will be seen that there is marginally more public appetite to engage IS in Iraq and Syria than in Libya, and that past reservations about involvement in Syria have weakened. British air strikes against IS, whether by plane or drone, find majority support in all three theatres of conflict, but there is some reticence about supplying military hardware to local armies to help them fight IS. The deployment of British ground troops appeals to under one-third, but there are fewer concerns about committing special forces in an offensive or hostage-rescue context.  

Islamic State (2)

Notwithstanding serious tensions between Russia and the West elsewhere in the world, 59% of Britons would approve of Anglo-American co-operation with Russian military forces in the fight against IS, support peaking among men (72%) and UKIP voters (75%). This is according to a YouGov poll published on 1 October 2015 for which 2,064 adults were interviewed online on 29-30 September, presumably mostly before news broke of the start of Russian air strikes against IS in Syria. Significantly fewer (38%) are willing for Britain and the USA to work with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria against IS, with disapproval running close on 32% and as many as 30% undecided. Endorsement of RAF participation in air strikes against IS in Syria has risen to 60%, three points more than at the beginning of July, with only 20% opposed. However, the potential deployment of ground troops against IS in Iraq continues to divide public opinion, with two-fifths in favour and the same proportion dissenting. YouGov’s own analysis of the survey, with a link to the data tables, is at:    

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/10/01/cooperation-russia-syria/

Sociology of prayer

Two of the eleven research chapters in A Sociology of Prayer, edited by Giuseppe Giordan and Linda Woodhead (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015, xiv + 239pp., ISBN 9781409455851, paperback, £19.99) offer quantitative and qualitative content analyses of prayer requests in the British context. Tania ap Siôn, ‘Prayer Requests in an English Cathedral and a New Analytic Framework for Intercessory Prayer’ (pp. 169-89) reports on 1,658 prayer requests left at the shrine of St Chad in Lichfield Cathedral in 2010. Peter Collins, ‘An Analysis of Hospital Chapel Prayer Requests’ (pp. 191-211) considers 3,243 requests from chapels in two Middlesbrough acute hospitals over the period 1995-2006. More details about the volume, including ‘look inside’ previews, available at: 

http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409455851

Congregational bonding social capital

A seven-item measure of congregational expressions of Robert Putnam’s theory of bonding social capital is proposed and empirically tested (on 23,884 adult churchgoers in the Church of England Diocese of Southwark) in Leslie Francis and David Lankshear, ‘Introducing the Congregational Bonding Social Capital Scale: A Study among Anglican Churchgoers in South London’, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2015, pp. 224-30. The research data support the internal consistency reliability and construct validity of the scale. No significant differences in congregational bonding social capital were found between the sexes, but levels did increase with age and frequency of church attendance. Previous attempts to develop measures of congregational bonding social capital are also briefly reviewed. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2015.1041786

Pastoral Research Centre publications

On 2 October 2015 the Pastoral Research Centre Trust, which undertakes socio-religious research into Roman Catholicism in England and Wales with particular reference to statistical sources, posted on its website an up-to-date list of its own reports and those of its predecessor, the Newman Demographic Survey (1953-64), the latter documents only declassified by the Catholic Church in recent years. These publications provide a much sounder basis for the quantification of the Catholic community during the past half-century than the data to be found in successive editions of the Catholic Directory. The list can be found on the Trust’s homepage at: 

http://www.prct.org.uk/

Education and secularization

In our post of 12 June 2015, we highlighted an article by James Lewis in Journal of Contemporary Religion in which, utilizing census data from Anglophone countries, he reasserted the thesis that higher education appears to have a secularizing effect. That article has now elicited a response from David Voas: ‘The Normalization of Non-Religion: A Reply to James Lewis’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2015, pp. 505-8. In it Voas reiterates his own previous argument, that religious ‘nones’ are becoming normalized in their characteristics. He suggests that the approach adopted by Lewis, a cross-sectional snapshot of the whole population undifferentiated by age together with an over-dependence on write-in replies which are the census exception rather than the rule, misses the generational dynamics of religious change. His own analysis of the 2011 census for England and Wales, one of the sources drawn upon by Lewis, demonstrates that, whereas older ‘nones’ are more educated than Christians of the same age, younger ‘nones’ have fewer qualifications than their Christian counterparts. Access options to the Voas article are outlined at: 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2015.1081354

Scottish Gaelic and religion

On 30 September 2015 the Scottish Government published a report and data tables relating to the results of the Scottish Gaelic questions in the 2011 Scottish census. Five data tables give breaks by religion for Scottish Gaelic for the population aged 3 and over. They are: 

  • AT 250 2011 – Gaelic language skills by religion (council areas)
  • AT 251 2011 – Gaelic language skills by religion (civil parish bands)
  • AT 275 2011 – Use of Gaelic language at home by religion (council areas)
  • AT 276 2011 – Use of Gaelic language at home by religion (civil parish bands)
  • AT 277 2011 – Gaelic language skills by religion by age (Scotland)

These tables can be accessed, in Excel format, under the ‘language’ heading of the 2011 Scottish Census Data Warehouse at: 

http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/ods-web/data-warehouse.html#additionaltab

The national-level picture by religion from AT 250 2011 is summarized in the table below. It will be seen that relatively few Scots, just 57,600, now speak Gaelic and that those who do are disproportionately from Protestant denominations other than the Church of Scotland (although they equate to only one in seven Gaelic speakers in Scotland, two-fifths of whom affiliate to the Church of Scotland).  

% across

Speaks Gaelic

Does not speak Gaelic

Total

1.13

98.87

Roman Catholic

1.02

98.98

Church of Scotland

1.36

98.64

Other Christian

2.94

97.06

Other religion

0.98

99.02

No religion

0.69

99.31

Religion not stated

1.09

98.91

Jewish grandparents

In anticipation of the Jewish festival of Sukkot and UK Grandparents Day (4 October 2015), World Jewish Relief recently commissioned Survation to conduct a telephone poll of self-identifying Jews in Great Britain about grandparents and grandchildren. Unsurprisingly, Jewish grandparents overwhelmingly said they would like to see more of their grandchildren, 92% ideally at least fortnightly, although in practice fewer (70%) saw them that frequently, while nearly one in five saw them less than a few times each year. One-third of Jewish grandchildren aged 18 and over also reported seeing their grandparents a few times a year or less. The principal information about the survey currently in the public domain is a press release dated 1 October 2015 from World Jewish Relief at: 

https://www.worldjewishrelief.org/news/sukkot-offers-grandchildren-chance-to-reunite-with-grandparents/

 

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Sunday Trading and Other News

 

Sunday trading

The Government has recently run a public consultation on its proposals for further deregulation of Sunday shop trading hours in England and Wales, involving devolution to local authorities of decisions to extend hours for large stores beyond the six to which they are currently limited. The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has been in the vanguard of opposing the changes and has commissioned several pieces of research in support of its position. These are conveniently gathered together, with its own response to the consultation, at:

http://www.acs.org.uk/download/devolving-sunday-trading-rules/

A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context. 

An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.  

A report from Oxford Economics for ACS on the Economic Impact of Deregulating Sunday Trading challenged the Government’s assumption that further liberalization of Sunday trading would boost local and regional economies. Oxford Economics, by contrast, forecasts that extending Sunday opening hours by devolution of powers to local authorities is likely to result in displacement of spending, from small stores to large ones, triggering 8,800 job losses in the former, which would not be fully compensated for by job gains in the latter. The report is informed by modelling the impact of the 1994 deregulation of Sunday trading hours and of the temporary liberalization permitted for the 2012 London Olympic Games.  

Meanwhile, the Union of Shop, Distributive, and Allied Workers (USDAW), the UK’s fourth largest trade union, issued a press release on 22 September 2015 in response to the recent Government consultation. USDAW reported that its survey of over 10,000 shopworkers had revealed that 91% of retail staff in large stores are opposed to longer opening hours on Sunday, primarily because of the potential detrimental effect on their family life. The press release is available at: 

http://www.usdaw.org.uk/About-Us/News/2015/September/Shopworkers-in-large-stores-overwhelmingly-reject

Extra-terrestrial life

Majorities of adults in Britain (52%), Germany (56%), and the United States (54%) believe in the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life. This is according to a YouGov poll published on 24 September 2015, for which 1,751 Britons were interviewed online on 13-14 September. In Britain belief in such life was highest among men (61%) and under-25s and residents of Scotland (59% each), and lowest with women (44%) and over-60s (45%). Believers mostly attributed the lack of hard evidence for the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligent life to its distance from earth and the inadequacy of communications technology. Disbelievers numbered 28% (peaking at one-third of women and over-60s), more than half of whom claimed that the earth is unique and the only place capable of sustaining intelligent life, although almost one in five cited as their reason for disbelief that humans were created by God or another higher being. A plurality of the whole sample (46%) favoured a digital message being sent by scientists in an attempt to contact extra-terrestrial intelligent life, one-third did not, and one-fifth were uncertain. Full data tables can be accessed via the blog post at:   

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/09/24/you-are-not-alone-most-people-believe-aliens-exist/

Talking Jesus

Further to our post of 22 September 2015, ComRes has now published the detailed data tables for its online research, on behalf of Barna Group, on perceptions of Jesus, Christians, and evangelism among samples of all adults and practising Christians in England. See: 

http://comres.co.uk/polls/barna-group-perceptions-of-jesus-survey/

Evangelicals

On 22 September 2015 the UK Data Archive (UKDA) released as SN 7786 the dataset for ‘Twenty-First Century Evangelicals, 2010-2015’. This comprises documentation and data for thematic and omnibus online surveys conducted by the Evangelical Alliance among self-selecting samples of UK evangelicals during the past five years, and which have been regularly reported on by BRIN. Access to the data is by application from registered UKDA users, under a special licence, but reports, questionnaires, and certain other material are freely available to download via: 

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

Religion and sex

Two days later, on 24 September 2015, UKDA released as SN 7799 the dataset for the ‘National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, 2010-2012’ (NATSAL III). This was conducted, through a combination of face-to-face interview and self-completion questionnaire, by NatCen Social Research between September 2010 and August 2012 among a sample of 15,162 adults aged 16-74 in Britain (including two booster samples of younger cohorts). The response rate was 58%. Three background questions on religion enable religious attitudes to a wide range of sexual issues to be explored, especially contraception, homosexuality, and sexual experiences. These questions enquired into: the personal importance of religion and religious beliefs; religious affiliation (using a ‘belonging’ form of wording); and frequency of attendance at religious services. The UKDA catalogue description, with links to the codebook and technical report, is at:  

http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7799&type=Data%20catalogue

General Synod candidates

Elections for the 2015 General Synod of the Church of England have just begun. Of the 851 people standing for the 406 seats in the Houses of Clergy and Laity, 34% are women. The proportion of female candidates for the House of Clergy is, at 28%, fairly close to the representation of women in the Church’s licensed ministry as a whole (32%). However, the number of women standing for election to the House of Laity is 20% fewer than the female share of Anglican congregations, as recorded in the Everyone Counts, 2014 diversity audit, 39% and 59% respectively. 

Mosque statistics

Mehmood Naqshbandi published the latest snapshot of UK Mosque Statistics on 23 September 2015. This revealed a total of 1,834 active mosques and prayer rooms, about one-quarter of which are registered charities. Actual mosques number 1,695, a net increase of 3% over the 2014 figure. The overwhelming majority of these premises (94%) are located in England, six with a capacity of over 5,000 (two each in Bradford, Birmingham, and London). There is a wide range of mosque affiliations, with the commonest being Deobandi (43%) and Bareilvi (25%). Seven in ten mosques overall have facilities for women, albeit there is a variation by affiliation from 50% to 100%. Data have been abstracted from the website MuslimsInBritain.org, which is now attracting over 150,000 unique visitors each month, following major changes to make it friendlier for mobile devices. UK Mosque Statistics can be found at: 

http://www.muslimsinbritain.org/resources/masjid_report.pdf

Jewish statistics

A potted history of the now defunct Statistical and Demographic Research Unit of the Board of Deputies of British Jews appears in Geoffrey Alderman, ‘Not Lies but Damned Statistics’, Jewish Chronicle, 25 September 2015, p. 41. The Unit was established in 1965 following revelations of serious Jewish data gaps at a two-day conference on ‘Jewish Life in Modern Britain’ in 1962. ‘There is hardly a single figure that can be quoted with any firmness for the Jewish community of Great Britain today’, one of the speakers had declared gloomily. Initially directed by the late Professor Sigbert Prais as honorary consultant and with Marlena Schmool as research officer, the Unit instituted annual returns of Jewish marriages and deaths and quinquennial surveys of synagogue membership and became involved in several local studies of Jewish populations. Regrettably, according to Alderman, it was ‘undervalued and generally unloved by the community it served’, not least when, during Barry Kosmin’s tenure as the Unit’s executive director in the 1980s, it downwardly revised estimates of the size of that community. This triggered the intervention of ‘communal politics of a particularly nasty variety’. Alderman’s article can be read at: 

http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/columnists/145738/not-lies-damned-statistics

 

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Talking Jesus and Other News

 

Talking Jesus

Newly-published research from the Barna Group on behalf of the Church of England, Evangelical Alliance, and HOPE throws light on perceptions of Jesus, Christians, and evangelism among UK and English adults. Fieldwork was conducted by ComRes on 12-29 July 2015 among a representative sample of 3,014 UK adults aged 18 and over (including 2,545 in England) plus a booster sample of 1,621 practising Christians (1,592 in England). The UK cross-section comprised 58% self-identified Christians and 42% who were not (one-half of whom were atheists or agnostics). Under one in six of the Christians (10%) were practising, as defined by praying, reading the Bible, and attending church services at least monthly. Copies of the questionnaire (for the cross-section), executive summary of the main report (for England), a booklet Talking Jesus: Perceptions of Jesus, Christians, and Evangelism in England, and presentations of results both for the UK and England are available to download at:  

http://www.talkingjesus.org/research/downloads.cfm

Three-fifths (61%) of UK adults thought Jesus was a real person who actually lived. The proportion fell to 57% of under-35s and non-practising Christians and rose to 79% of ethnic minority respondents. A further 22% of the entire sample considered Him a mythical or fictional character, and 17% were undecided. The number believing Jesus was God in human form who lived in the first century was much lower (22%), the alternative propositions that He was a prophet or spiritual leader but not God or that He was a normal human being and not God being subscribed to by 29% and 17% respectively. Two-fifths believed in Christ’s resurrection from the dead, 17% in a literal sense as related in the Bible (including 52% of black adults) and 26% more figuratively, while 14% explicitly rejected the resurrection, the remainder being uncertain or denying that Jesus was real. The commonest words used to describe Jesus were: for all adults – spiritual (49%), loving (48%), and peaceful (47%); and for practising Christians – loving (93%), wise (88%), and inspirational (88%). 

Two-thirds (67%) of UK non-Christians said that they knew a practising Christian, three-quarters of them as a family member (35%) or friend (38%). Among non-Christians knowing Christians, 64% rated the latter as friendly, 52% as caring, 46% as good humoured, and 39% as generous, but some more negative qualities of Christians were also identified, including narrow-minded (13%), hypocritical (10%), uptight (7%), and homophobic (7%). Some two-fifths (38%) of non-Christians claimed to have had a conversation with a Christian about Jesus, but only about one-fifth of them reacted positively to the experience, 60% being uninterested in knowing more about Christ.  For their part, the overwhelming majority of practising Christians (85%) felt a responsibility to talk to non-Christians about Jesus, 52% saying that they were always looking for opportunities to do so, and 66% that they had done so within the past month. However, only 19% of non-practising Christians regarded evangelism as their responsibility, and 40% did not feel comfortable talking to non-Christians about Jesus. 

The survey also explored the personal faith journey of practising Christians. Nearly all (93%) said that they had been a Christian for 11 years or more. Just 15% reported one sudden decision to becoming a Christian (akin to conversion), while 18% recalled several key decisions, 23% described a journey over time, and 42% attributed their faith to growing up in a Christian family. Besides nurture in a Christian home other positive influences on their faith included attending church services (29%), reading the Bible (28%), and conversations with a Christian they knew well (27%). Non-practising Christians were much more likely to highlight the importance of growing up in a Christian family (72%) as the principal factor in their faith journey. 

Transforming Scotland

In our post of 6 September 2015, we flagged up another recent publication by the Barna Group: Transforming Scotland: The State of Christianity, Faith, and the Church in Scotland (ISBN 978-0-9965843-0-2, £30, inclusive of postage, order via Barna’s online store). A copy of this 175-page book is now to hand, and we tabulate below a selection of findings from one of the main elements of the research, an online survey by ComRes of 1,019 Scots on 9-16 June 2014. The questionnaire is somewhat eclectic and imbalanced, shaped by the Protestant evangelical ethos which imbues Barna. The whole book is also inadequately contextualized, both historically and in terms of awareness of other contemporary sources, especially academic ones. The bibliography of secondary research is pitiful and omits any reference to the writings of Callum Brown and Steve Bruce. 

% down

All

Men

Women

18-24

25-44

45-54

55+

Regular church attendance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a child

61

59

62

45

51

70

70

As a teenager

21

23

19

4

16

20

30

As an adult

13

12

13

1

6

14

21

Never

31

33

29

54

41

24

18

Private Bible reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never

63

60

66

62

70

64

57

Less than once a year

17

18

16

12

15

14

22

Less than once a week

13

15

11

16

8

17

13

Weekly or more often

7

7

7

11

6

6

9

Bible literalism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actual word of God

3

3

3

5

3

3

2

Inspired word of God

26

25

27

31

22

28

27

Not inspired by God

16

17

16

8

14

18

21

Just another book of teachings

41

45

36

42

44

39

38

Attitudes to Christianity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favourable

55

54

56

50

47

56

63

Unfavourable

27

32

24

35

32

21

24

Importance of religious faith in personal life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes

29

28

29

31

23

27

33

No

61

63

58

58

64

59

60

Contemporary Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian nation

31

36

26

25

25

32

38

Secular nation

19

21

18

22

20

20

18

Post-Christian nation

17

20

14

27

15

14

16

Nation in spiritual transition

15

17

14

14

15

15

16

Scottish Referendum Study

Preliminary analysis of the results of the second (post-vote) wave of the Scottish Referendum Study, for which 3,700 Scots aged 16 and over were interviewed online by YouGov on 22-26 September 2014, indicates that the majority of Catholics (58%) voted in favour of Scottish independence in the referendum on 18 September 2014, as did 52% of religious nones, whereas the majority of Protestants (60%) opposed it, including 81% of Anglicans. Headline data (differing slightly from those presented by the Scottish Referendum Study team six months ago) were reported by the BBC on 18 September 2015 at: 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-34283948

Organ donation

Within three months Wales will become the first UK home nation where there will be a legal presumption of consent to donate organs after death unless a clear objection to do so has been registered. According to a survey by ICM Unlimited, and carried out among 4,042 adults on 29-31 July and 21-23 August 2015, 62% of Britons support this new legislation in Wales and only 20% oppose it. However, opinions vary by religious profession, the extremes of endorsement apparently being from 64% of atheists or agnostics down to 34% of Muslims. A similar range of attitude was found in response to the question about extending the Welsh opt-out policy for organ donation to the rest of the UK, which was backed by 51% of all Britons but by 55% of atheists or agnostics and 28% of Muslims. No data tables are available in the public domain, the foregoing information appearing in a press release by ICM on 9 September at: 

http://www.icmunlimited.com/media-centre/blog/wales-opts-in-to-organs-will-the-rest-of-the-uk-follow

Measuring religious affiliation

Clive Field’s article on ‘Measuring Religious Affiliation in Great Britain: The 2011 Census in Historical and Methodological Context’, Religion, Vol. 44, No. 3, 2014, pp. 357-82 is now freely available in PDF and HTML formats at: 

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rrel20/44/3

Islamic State

British attitudes toward military action against Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East have hardened slightly in the past two and a half months, according to a YouGov poll for The Times on 15-16 September 2015, for which 1,649 adults were interviewed online. Approval of RAF participation in air strikes against IS in Syria is up two points, to 59% (including seven in ten Conservative and UKIP voters), while disapproval is down two points, to 19%. A plurality (40%) approves the deployment of British and American ground troops in Iraq to help combat IS, peaking at 47% of men and UKIP voters, with disapproval at 36%, down three points on July. Data tables are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/0f34cl5n9e/TimesResults_150916_Corbyn_W2.pdf

A second YouGov poll, for The Sunday Times, revisited the matter of air strikes within the context of a series of questions about the emerging policies of the new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The sample comprised 1,601 Britons interviewed online on 17-18 September 2015. Asked whether they supported ruling out British participation in air strikes against IS, only 22% did so, with 56% opposed, disproportionately Conservative and UKIP voters (72% each), men (67%), and over-60s (64%). Even a plurality of Labour voters (40%) was opposed to their leader’s stance. Data tables are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/i41vkd4xdd/SundayTimesResults_150918_Website.pdf

 

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Coronation Service and Other News

 

Coronation service

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has just become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, so it has been a considerable time (1953) since there has been a coronation in Britain. But already thoughts are beginning to turn to what shape the coronation service for the next monarch should take and, specifically, whether it should retain an exclusively Christian character, given the extent of religious pluralism and secularization in the country. The latest report from the Theos think tank, Who Wants a Christian Coronation? by Nick Spencer and Nicholas Dixon, throws considerable light on this matter and contains, in chapter 2 (pp. 20-30), a summary of the findings of an exclusive ComRes poll for Theos, undertaken online on 10-12 June 2015 among 2,159 adult Britons, including a booster sample of religious minorities. The report can be read at:   

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Reports/Next%20Coronation%20version%208.pdf

The full data tables from the poll, giving breaks by gender, age, social grade, employment sector, region, working status, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and attendance at religious services, can be found at:

http://comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Theos_-Coronation-Poll-_-Data-Tables.pdf 

A summary break by religious affiliation for eight statements about the coronation of the next monarch and one question about the retention of the monarchy is tabulated below. It will be seen that (a) majorities in all principal religious groups favour keeping the monarchy; and (b) notwithstanding a minority preference for a multifaith or secular ceremony (or abolishing the coronation altogether), even many non-Christians and religious nones seem comfortable with the next coronation continuing to be a Christian ceremony, with no more than approximately one-quarter of each group saying they would feel alienated by it. Theos interprets the data as a vindication of keeping the core framework of the coronation while changing some elements to reflect the religiously pluralistic nature of British society. 

% down

All Britons

Christians

Non-Christians

Nones

Having a Christian coronation would alienate non-Christians from ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

19

13

29

27

Disagree

57

67

51

43

Having a Christian coronation would alienate people of no religion from ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

18

12

26

25

Disagree

60

70

53

47

Having a Christian coronation would alienate me from ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

12

6

22

18

Disagree

70

81

57

56

Coronation of next monarch should be multi-faith ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

19

17

33

19

Disagree

56

63

37

49

Coronation of next monarch should be Christian ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

57

73

46

35

Disagree

18

9

29

29

Coronation of next monarch should be secular ceremony

 

 

 

 

Agree

23

20

29

26

Disagree

38

44

35

29

Coronation pointless pageantry and should be abolished

 

 

 

 

Agree

21

13

32

30

Disagree

62

74

51

47

Coronation symbolic centre of British law and should not be modified

 

 

 

 

Agree

63

75

51

47

Disagree

16

10

25

24

Should Britain remain monarchy or become republic?

 

 

 

 

Monarchy

70

79

60

58

Republic

17

11

21

26

Sunday trading

Notwithstanding Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s enthusiasm to see shopping opportunities on Sunday extended, the British public seems to remain broadly content with the current legislation on Sunday trading in England and Wales, which allows large shops to open for up to six hours. This is according to a ComRes poll for the Association of Convenience Stores (which opposes further liberalization of the law), which was eventually published in full on 10 September 2015, and for which 1,004 adults were interviewed by telephone on 13-15 February 2015. Three-quarters (76%) said that they supported the status quo, including 86% of 35-44s and of residents in Scotland (to which the Sunday Trading Act 1994 does not apply). One-fifth (21%) did not endorse the existing arrangements, of whom 60% favoured no or reduced Sunday opening of shops and only 39% (ie just 8% of the whole sample) total or greater deregulation. These findings are somewhat at variance with those of a YouGov survey reported by BRIN on 11 July 2015, which revealed greater pressure for liberalization, reflecting how question-wording can ‘influence’ the outcome of polling on contentious matters. The ComRes data tables are at:  

http://comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/ACS_Public-Sunday-Trading-Tables_16-February-2015.pdf

Funerals

The once religious monopoly over funerals continues to be eroded, according to Funeral Trends, 2015: The Ways We Say Goodbye Media Report which was published by Co-Operative Funeralcare on 8 September 2015. The ‘destination funeral’ is apparently beginning to take off, with 49% of Co-Operative funeral directors contacted in July-August 2015 returning that they had arranged at least one funeral outside a religious setting (church or crematorium chapel) during the previous year. Although 51% of 2,000 UK adults interviewed online by ICM Unlimited for the Co-Operative in July 2015 did not realize that it is possible to hold a funeral outside a religious setting, 37% liked the idea of their own loved ones being able to pay tribute to them in a place which was personal to them, a lake, river, or countryside being most popular. There is also a trend for funerals to become less sombre affairs, with the emphasis switching to a celebration of life (47% of adults wanting this approach for their own funerals), and the traditional wake often taking on more of a party atmosphere. The report is available at:  

http://www.co-operative.coop/PageFiles/989444257/Ways%20We%20Say%20Goodbye%20FINAL.pdf 

British traditions

Churchgoing is one of the British traditions in danger of dying out, according to a new survey commissioned by British Corner Shop, which was published on 11 September 2015. Some 44% of the 2,000 adults interviewed said that going to church on Sunday was old-fashioned, the victim of people’s ‘busyness’ (46%) and the effects of multiculturalism (40%). Wearing Sunday best and attending a harvest festival were perceived as other traditions on their way out. There is no press release, as yet, on British Corner Shop’s website, but reports of the study have appeared in some newspapers, including on the Mirror website at: 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/writing-letters-pen-leaving-door-6426987

This is by no means the first survey of the persistence of British traditions. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Gallup Poll undertook a series of enquiries into things which were deemed to be in or out of fashion. In three of the four studies about churchgoing between 1988 and 1991 two-thirds of adults said that it was already out of fashion, with only one-fifth thinking it still fashionable at that time. 

Organ donation

Almost half (48%) of regular churchgoers in the UK claim to have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register compared with 31% of the general population. This is according to a survey released by the fleshandblood campaign on 7 September 2015 to mark this year’s National Transplant Week. For the study over 2,000 regular churchgoers and church leaders were interviewed by Christian Research as part of its online Resonate panel. An even larger proportion of churchgoers (73%) agreed that organ donation is or could be considered a part of their Christian giving. However, organ donation is still not a subject which is heavily promoted by churches, with just 11% of the sample reporting that they had heard the topic raised from the pulpit. As is usual with Resonate polling, no details of methodology and results have yet appeared on Christian Research’s own website, a generic matter which BRIN has taken up with Christian Research, while the fleshandblood press release is very thin at: 

http://fleshandblood.org/2015/09/churches-engage-with-organ-donation-this-transplant-week/

Welsh religion data

The UK Data Service released on 1 September 2015, as SN 7780 and SN 7779 respectively, the datasets for the Welsh Referendum Study, February-March 2011 (on greater devolution for Wales) and the Welsh Election Study, April-May 2011 (on elections for the National Assembly for Wales). Both were two-wave (pre- and post-vote) panel studies conducted online by YouGov among quota samples of Welsh electors. The main focus of the questionnaires was inevitably political, but a very small amount of religion-related information was collected, which, given the relative paucity of Welsh religious data, is worth noting. The pre-vote questionnaire for the Welsh Referendum Study (n = 3,029) asked about religious affiliation while the post-vote version (n = 2,569) invited respondents to choose from a list of attributes to describe themselves, including Catholic or Protestant and religious or not religious. The pre-vote questionnaire for the Welsh Election Study (n = 2,359) enquired about favourability toward Muslims and other groups on a scale of 0-10. 

Syria drone strike

Two-thirds of the British public endorse Prime Minister David Cameron’s authorization of a drone strike in Syria which recently killed two British citizens who were fighting for Islamic State and apparently plotting terror attacks in the UK. Approval was highest among Conservative and UKIP voters, 85% and 82% respectively, but even three-fifths of Labourites and Liberal Democrats were in favour. Overall, only 11% of voters opposed Cameron’s action. The survey was conducted by YouGov among an online sample of 9,696 UK adults on 7-8 September 2015, and the results reported in a YouGov blog post at:  

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/09/08/public-approval-syria-drone-attacks/

Jewish community statistics

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews announced on 1 September 2015 that they have reached agreement for JPR to take over from the Board responsibility for the collection of Jewish community statistics, including those of births, marriages, deaths, synagogue membership, and enrolment at Jewish schools. JPR has expanded its research team to take on the additional work. In effect, this development brings under one roof the principal research by and into the Jewish community in the UK. For a press release, see: 

http://www.bod.org.uk/board-of-deputies-and-jpr-forge-new-alliance/

 

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People Power and Other News

 

People power

Opinium Research recently completed a major investigation into people and power, in partnership with DHA Communications. Online interviews were conducted with 2,147 UK adults between 21 and 25 August 2015, the data tables extending to 563 pages. These are available via the link at: 

http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/survey-results/people-and-power-country-demanding-change 

Although religion was not a specific focus of the enquiry, religious affiliation was one of the background variables used to analyse replies to all the mainstream questions, albeit cell sizes were only meaningful for two religious groups: nones (n = 911) and Christians (n = 1,071). In many fields, there were few religious differences, but, when it came to the democratic process whereby voters choose the government, nones (possibly in reflection of their comparative youth) were clearly more dissatisfied with current arrangements than Christians or the general public, as the table below shows: 

% down

Total

Nones

Christians

Elections in UK are generally free and fair

 

 

 

Agree

56

52

59

Disagree

18

20

16

Way votes translate into House of Commons seats is democratic

 

 

 

Agree

27

22

28

Disagree

39

45

35

UK voters generally get government they want

 

 

 

Agree

32

25

36

Disagree

41

48

36

UK election system better than any of alternatives

 

 

 

Agree

34

26

39

Disagree

29

36

25

UK election system worked in old days of two big parties but now out-of-date

 

 

 

Agree

52

55

50

Disagree

16

15

17

Current system of translating votes to seats is …

 

 

 

Best compromise, leading to stable governments

37

30

43

Unfair and should be reformed to give more seats to smaller parties

42

49

38

The groups also diverged somewhat in respect of issues about which it would be worth the money and time for the UK to hold a referendum, as the next table reveals: 

Worth money and time to hold referendum on (%)

Total

Nones

Christians

Whether UK remains part of European Union

58

54

62

Whether to replace House of Lords with elected body

43

45

42

Whether to introduce more representative electoral system

46

50

41

Whether to introduce national/regional/local parliaments in England

40

42

39

Whether to reintroduce death penalty

36

30

42

Whether to abolish monarchy and become republic

19

24

13

2021 census

The British Humanist Association (BHA), which was behind a controversial campaign to encourage people to ‘come out’ as religious nones in the 2011 population census, has published its response to the Office for National Statistics’ first consultation on the 2021 census for England and Wales. In it, the BHA reiterates its view that the wording of the census religion question is ‘leading’, recording ‘only very weak cultural affiliation’, and is accordingly unhelpful, indeed misleading, in many contexts. It calls for the question to be rephrased in 2021, from ‘what is your religion?’ to ‘what is your religion, if any?’ It also argues for the inclusion of a second question on religious practice, something along the lines of ‘Do you consider that you are actively practising your religion?’ In these ways, it is affirmed, continuity would be broadly maintained with the 2001 and 2011 census data on religion while avoiding some of the misinterpretations to which they have been subject. See the BHA press release of 28 August 2015 at: 

https://humanism.org.uk/2015/08/28/bha-calls-for-better-statistics-on-religion-in-response-to-first-2021-census-consultation/

More on Scottish religion

Further to our post of 30 August 2015, the Barna Group published three days earlier its first major religious research report outside the United States. Commissioned by the Maclellan Foundation, and personally overseen by Barna’s president David Kinnaman, Transforming Scotland: The State of Christianity, Faith, and the Church in Scotland is available to purchase in print and ebook editions for US $40. BRIN has yet to see a copy, but, from the information on Barna’s website, this appears to contain both secondary analysis of existing data and the results of original research. The latter includes an exclusive online survey of religious beliefs and practices of adults aged 18 and over in Scotland undertaken on 9-16 June 2014. Although Scotland is found to be secularizing rapidly, with the majority of self-identifying Christians labelled as ‘legacy Christians’ (who neither believe basic elements of Christian doctrine nor profess personal faith in Jesus), evidence is also presented for ‘vibrant signs of spiritual life and measurable growth’, notably ‘countertrends’ among young adults. There is a particular focus on examples of best ministerial practice, informed by case studies and a second survey of 200 Protestant clergy in Scotland. BRIN obviously needs to reserve judgment on the report until we have obtained a copy, but, for a taster of the research, see Barna’s press release at: 

https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/730-scotland-lessons-for-effective-ministry-in-a-post-christian-context#.VeWq-stRHX4

Death and the afterlife

No more than 15% of all Britons, and a maximum of 19% in any demographic sub-group, now hold a definite belief in the afterlife, according to an online YouGov poll of 1,770 adults on 16-17 August 2015 and published on 2 September. Even if probable believers (21%) are added, the proportion of believers only reaches 36%, 12% fewer than probable or definite disbelievers (48%), among whom Liberal Democrats (63%), men (57%), and 18-24s (56%) are most numerous. The remaining 15% of adults are unsure. Interestingly, belief or disbelief in an afterlife makes no real difference to people’s fear of dying, just over two-thirds of both groups being scared of death a lot or a little. However, it does correlate a bit with expectations of dying happy (46% among believers in an afterlife and 38% for disbelievers). Asked where, if there were a heaven and hell, they would end up, 48% replied heaven (including 40% of men and 54% of women) while 10% expected to pass through the gates of hell, men and Scots (14% each) and disbelievers in an afterlife (15%) anticipating this fate the most. Almost twice as many believers (65%) as disbelievers (37%) had their eyes set on heaven. Two-fifths of adults were unsure whether it is heaven or hell which awaits them. Data tables are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/zcui1w66ie/Copy%20of%20Opi_InternalResults_150817_Death_R_W_2.pdf

Religion and personal relationships

Just over two-fifths (42%) of people in a relationship are likely to have differences of opinion over religious matters according to a YouGov poll published on 1 September 2015 and undertaken for Relate, Relationships Scotland, and Marriage Care. The sample comprised 6,512 UK adults interviewed online between 27 March and 7 April 2015, 4,664 of whom were in some kind of relationship. Residents of Northern Ireland (65%) were most likely to report religion-related issues in their relationship and Scots the least (38%). As the table below indicates, religious issues were ranked seventh out of eighth overall in terms of relationship differences, albeit the proportion may still seem surprisingly high, given relatively low levels of religiosity. Full data tables are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/secwzqxjxh/RelateResults_Relationships_150407_client_website.pdf

% across

All

Ranked first

Ranked second

Ranked third

Financial issues

64

23

22

19

How to spend leisure time

64

21

22

21

Correct/proper behaviour

59

17

21

21

Decisions relating to children

56

20

18

18

Demonstrations of affection

53

16

20

17

Sex

51

15

16

20

Religious matters

42

20

11

11

Career decisions

41

11

14

16

House of Lords

The House of Lords is now the second largest parliamentary chamber in the world, yet, according to a YouGov poll published on 2 September 2015, Britons still identify some room to improve the representation of professional groups there. In particular, 9% (peaking at 16% of 18-24s) of 1,715 Britons interviewed online on 27-28 August considered there are too few religious leaders in the Upper Chamber, perhaps an implied allusion to the absence of any but senior Anglican bishops. On the other hand, 34% believed the House of Lords already contains too many religious leaders, with UKIP voters (43%), men and over-60s (44%), and Scots (45%) especially feeling this way. The remainder of the sample judged the number of religious leaders about right (19%) or were undecided (38%). Of the eight other professions mentioned, between 8% of the public (in respect of scientists) and 60% (for politicians) sensed they are over-represented, and from 3% (for politicians) to 42% (for service personnel) discerned there is an under-representation of professions in the House of Lords. Full data tables are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/3tckzosgsa/InternalResults_150901_Lords_Website.pdf

 

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Scottish Religion and Other News

 

Scottish religion

The continuing decline of religion in Scotland is documented in two publications from the Scottish Government this month. The first, published on 26 August 2015, is Scotland’s People Annual Report: Results from the 2014 Scottish Household Survey, based on interviews with 9,800 adults in private households in Scotland. The question on religious affiliation revealed that 47% of Scots professed to have no religion in 2014, 7% more than in 2009. There has been a corresponding reduction in affiliation to the Church of Scotland over this five-year period, from 34% to 28%. Other categories in 2014 were: Roman Catholics 14%, other Christians 8%, and non-Christians 3%. The report is available at: 

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/08/3720/downloads

The other publication, released on 20 August by the National Records of Scotland, was Vital Events Reference Tables, 2014, showing, inter alia, the mode of solemnization of marriage in Scotland. Results are tabulated below, with comparisons for 2004 (the year before ceremonies by humanist celebrants were permitted) and 2009. It will be seen that civil marriages now account for the majority, that the Church of Scotland has lost half its market share in the space of ten years, and that one-quarter of ‘religious’ ceremonies are now conducted by humanist celebrants. Full details are at: 

http://nationalrecordsofscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/vital-events-reference-tables/2014/section-7-marriages-and-civil-partnerships 

Form of marriage ceremony, % down

2004

2009

2014

Civil

49.5

51.7

51.6

Church of Scotland

29.6

22.3

15.5

Roman Catholic

6.1

6.5

5.3

Other religious (excluding humanist)

14.9

13.9

14.1

Humanist

0.0

5.6

13.5

Committed Christians and moral issues

Committed Christians remain more conservative on moral issues than the British public but less than might be expected, according to an analysis of YouGov Profiles data published on 27 August 2015. The sample of committed Christians (1,707 Protestants, apparently Anglicans, and 863 Catholics) comprised members of YouGov’s online panel who both identified as Protestant or Catholic and strongly agreed with the statement that ‘my faith is important to me’. As the table below indicates, so-called ‘religious Catholics’ are more likely to favour same-sex marriage than ‘religious Protestants’, whereas for the legalization of assisted dying the position is reversed, with majorities of both groups wanting to see restrictions on abortion tightened. YouGov’s blog is at: 

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/08/27/profile-catholic-protestant-issue/ 

% down

Religious Catholics

Religious Protestants

British public

Same-sex marriage

 

 

 

Support

50

45

66

Oppose

40

47

22

Assisted dying

 

 

 

Support

42

59

79

Oppose

48

33

13

Abortion

 

 

 

More restrictions

69

56

29

No more restrictions

17

27

47

Evangelicals and British values

The September-October 2015 issue of Idea: The Magazine of the Evangelical Alliance exclusively reveals the results of the Alliance’s online polling earlier in 2015 of a self-selecting sample of 1,730 self-identifying UK evangelicals on the subject of ‘British values’, a subject of ongoing political debate. Respondents were asked about the attributes which they judged important for being truly British, with ‘to be a Christian’ ranked only seventh on 43%, albeit 19% more than for all Britons as recorded in the British Social Attitudes Survey. Top of the list for evangelicals were ‘to respect Britain’s political institutions and laws’ (96%) and ‘to be able to speak English’ (95%), much the same priorities as for the general public. Although 93% of evangelicals thought that, historically, British values have been strongly shaped by Christianity, only 31% considered they were today, with 79% agreeing that the state’s view of British values is based on secularism rather than Christianity. Notwithstanding, 71% believed the Government right in principle to try to define and promote British values. Just 18% of evangelicals regarded Britain as a Christian country. Seemingly by way of illustration, they identified many negative traits in the population at large, notably consumerism (65%), obsession with celebrity (58%), and sexual licence/promiscuity (51%). The article can be found at:  

http://www.eauk.org/idea/british-values.cfm 

Jews and Jeremy Corbyn

British Jews tend not to be natural Labour Party supporters (only 14% of them voted for it at this year’s general election), but two-thirds (including three-fifths of Jewish Labour voters) are apparently viewing with some apprehension the prospect that Jeremy Corbyn may be elected the next Labour leader. This is according to a telephone poll of 1,011 self-identifying Jews conducted by Survation on behalf of the Jewish Chronicle on 17-19 August 2015, the headline results of which were published in that newspaper on 21 August. More than four-fifths of Jews were concerned about reports that Corbyn had referred to Hezbollah and Hamas as his friends, and about allegations that he had donated money to an organization run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. Seven in ten thought that politicians such as Corbyn who described themselves as anti-Zionist were in reality often or always anti-Jewish. Full data tables, including breaks by gender, age, region, and voting, are at: 

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Jewish-Chronicle-Poll-August-19th4.pdf

BBC Radio 4 programmes

Programmes on religion are the least listened to genre of programming on BBC Radio 4, according to a survey of 601 medium to heavy Radio 4 listeners in the UK interviewed online by ICM Unlimited on behalf of the BBC Trust between 23 February and 10 March 2015. Just 15% claimed to listen to religious programmes, the lowest proportion of the eight categories investigated, the list being headed by news programmes (88%) and current affairs programmes (87%). Moreover, programmes on religion received the lowest ratings of the same eight categories, only 63% of their listeners evaluating them as good against 90% for listeners of news programmes. Data are extracted from ICM’s report on the survey and available at: 

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/speech_radio/research_report.pdf

GCSE O Level results

Provisional results for the June 2015 GCSE O Level examinations in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland were published by the Joint Council for Qualifications on 20 August 2015. Those for Religious Studies (RS) are tabulated below, with comparisons for 2005. It will be seen that the number of students taking either the full or the short course in RS has fallen by 3% over the decade, a modest decrease when set against that of 13% for all subjects (or 8% for full courses alone). Moreover, this net figure disguises a doubling in entries for the full course in RS and a two-thirds reduction in candidates for the short course, which is equivalent to half a GCSE, in line with the progressive disappearance of short courses in general. For both short and full courses there has been a decennial increase of 3% in the proportion of male students taking RS, contrasting with the continuing preponderance of females at A Level RS. Full results can be found at: 

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

GCSE RS O Level

2015

2005

% change

Full course

 

 

 

All entries

295,730

147,516

+100

% female candidates

54

57

-3

% with A*-C grades

72

69

+3

Short course

 

 

 

All entries

91,476

253,423

-64

% female candidates

48

51

-3

% with A*-C grades

58

54

+4

Full and short course

 

 

 

All entries

387,206

400,939

-3

Anglican clergy career patterns

The career paths of Anglican clergy are affected by their gender, age, and type of theological training. So concludes Kelvin Randall in his ‘Twenty Years On: The Continuing Careers of Anglican Clergy’, Theology, Vol. 118, No. 5, September-October 2015, pp. 347-53. He tracked, by means of Crockford’s Clerical Directory, the subsequent careers of those ordained to the stipendiary ministry of the Church of England or Church in Wales in 1994 (the year in which women were first ordained as priests in the Church of England). The three factors analysed especially affected the proportion still working as stipendiary clergy in 2014. The article appears in a subscription-based journal, and access options are outlined at: 

http://tjx.sagepub.com/content/118/5/347.abstract

Church of England cathedral statistics

Church of England cathedral statistics for 2014 were published on 19 August 2015. Including Westminster Abbey (a royal peculiar), the touristic appeal of English cathedrals remains impressive, visitor numbers exceeding 10 million. In terms of worship services, Christmastide continues to be the biggest draw, with 630,600 people attending during Advent and 124,800 on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, including 32,300 communicants. Easter attendees were 53,100, among them 27,100 communicants, with a further 89,300 attendees in Holy Week. Average weekly attendance was 36,600, 22% more than in 2004, the growth being in weekday rather than Sunday congregations (albeit they were down on 2013 levels). The full report is available at: 

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2279215/2014cathedralstatistics.pdf

Living with cancer

Older people living with cancer do not receive much in the way of religious or faith-based support, nor would they find it particularly useful. This is according to a report from Ipsos MORI on 24 August 2015, for which 1,004 people aged 55 and over in Britain who had received a diagnosis of cancer at any stage in their lives were interviewed online on 6-13 May 2015 on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support. Only 12% of this sample reported that they had received religious or faith-based support for their cancer, the eighth in a list of sources of support headed by information and advice (53%). Over-75s were twice as likely as those aged 55-64 to claim to have received religious or faith-based support, 19% against 10%. Asked which types of assistance they would find most useful, religious or faith-based support dropped even lower, to eleventh place for the 55-64s, being preferred by 9% of that cohort and 13% of over-75s. When the health chips are down, apparently, religion is a consolation for only a small minority. The report can be found at: 

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Publications/SRI_Health_Macmillan_Older_People_August_2015.pdf

 

Posted in church attendance, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Rites of Passage, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trustworthiness of Clergy and Other News

 

Trustworthiness of clergy

Clergy occupy the middle ground of professionals in terms of their perceived trustworthiness, according to two Opinium Research surveys published on 12 August 2015, for which representative samples of adults were interviewed online in the UK as a whole (12-16 June 2015, n = 2,002) and London (12 June-3 August, n = 1,001). The aim of the investigations was to test the public standing of the police, but 11 other groups (including clergy) were used as comparators. Majorities in both the UK (59%) and London (53%) regarded the clergy as very or quite trustworthy, with 28% and 31% respectively deeming them not very or not at all trustworthy. Nationally, the most adverse views of clergy were held by the 18-24s (37%) and ethnic minorities (40%). Summary data are tabulated below, with full results available via the links at: 

http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/survey-results/brits-untrusting-police 

% very/quite trustworthy

UK

London

Nurses

86

83

Doctors

85

84

Teachers

80

79

Armed forces

75

70

Judges

68

65

Police

65

60

Clergy

59

53

Accountants

56

55

Lawyers

52

47

Broadsheet journalists

25

36

Politicians

16

20

Tabloid journalists

13

16

Predicting Anglican extinction

The Church of England’s statistical fortunes may be none too healthy, overall, but it is still likely to see out the present century, just about, according to John Hayward, writing on the blog of the Church Growth Modelling project on 8 July 2015. On present evidence, he predicts, by means of linear regression and extrapolation, that the extinction date for the Church of England will be 2100 in terms of its attendance or 2082 as regards its membership. By contrast, three of its sister Anglican Churches are projected to die out long before that on an index of membership, assuming constant death rates: 2043 in the case of the Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church and 2055 for the Episcopal Church of the USA. Hayward’s data and interpretations are set out at:   

http://churchgrowthmodelling.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/anglican-church-decline-in-west-data.html

In a subsequent blog, dated 3 August 2015, Hayward suggests some potential ‘advantages’ of the Church of England which may explain why it faces a slower extinction than the other three Churches. See: 

http://churchgrowthmodelling.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/anglican-church-decline-in-west.html

National Survey for Wales

On 7 August 2015 the UK Data Service released as SN 7767 the dataset for National Survey for Wales, 2014-15, the third in the series. Commissioned by the Welsh Government, face-to-face and self-completion interviews were conducted by TNS-BMRB and Beaufort Research between April 2014 and March 2015 with 14,285 adults aged 16 and over resident in private households in Wales. Although the questionnaire contained no specific component on religion or morality, a background question on ‘what is your religion?’ was asked. This naturally enables breakdowns of replies by religion for all the topics which were explored in the survey, focusing especially upon wellbeing and attitudes to public services. The catalogue entry for the dataset, with links to technical and other documentation, is at: 

http://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7767&type=Data%20catalogue

A Level results

The June 2015 GCE A Level provisional results for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland were published by the Joint Council for Qualifications on 13 August 2015. In terms of Religious Studies (RS), there were 25,773 entries, 6% more than in 2014 and 53% more than in 2005. RS remains a relatively gendered examination choice, with 69% of candidates being female, compared with an average of 55% for all subjects. The overall pass rate for A Level RS in 2015 was 99%, one point more than for all subjects combined, 80% obtaining a grade of A*-C. There were also 40,067 entries for an AS Level in RS. Much more detail is available at:  

http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels

Religion of FCO staff

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Diversity and Equality Report, 2014-15, published on 31 July 2015, included details of the religious profession of its UK-based staff. Of the 42% who were willing to make a declaration, 43% identified as Christians, 33% as agnostics or atheists, 7% as non-Christians, with 17% preferring not to say. The overall (relatively low) declaration rate fir religion was the same as for disability and sexual orientation. The report is at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/450587/FFFCO827_Equality_Report_2015_v5.pdf

London mayor

The London Mayoral election may not be until 5 May 2016, but the political parties are in the midst of selecting their preferred candidates to represent them. According to a YouGov poll for LBC Radio published on 13 August 2015, for which 1,153 Londoners were interviewed online on 10-12 August 2015, Muslim candidates could find themselves at a disadvantage (Syed Kamall still being in the chase for the Conservative nomination and Sadiq Khan for the Labour one). Asked whether they would be comfortable in a member of several groups becoming the next Mayor of London, only 55% of the public said they would be comfortable with a Muslim mayor, compared with 90% for a woman, 76% for an ethnic minority person, and 71% for a homosexual. Just under one-third (31%) replied they would be uncomfortable with a Muslim mayor, rising to 39% of Conservatives, 49% of over-60s, and 73% of UKIP voters. Data tables are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/2vpf4yt9ve/LBCResults_London_trackers_Mayor_tubestrike_150812_W.pdf

Islamic State

More than two-thirds (68%) of adults in the UK think the European Union (EU) has responded badly to the success of Islamic State (IS), more than ten times the number (6%) who believe that it has handled the matter well. These are much the same results as the average for all seven Western European countries in the survey, 67% and 5% respectively, the other nations being France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Fieldwork was conducted by Opinium Research for Cambre Associates among an online sample of 7.017 adults, including 1,005 in the UK, between 29 June and 10 July 2015. Majorities in both the UK and all seven countries as a whole also judged the EU to have badly handled three other current international issues: refugees arriving from Syria, the Greek debt crisis, and the conflict in Ukraine. Data tables were published on 11 August at:  

http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/sites/ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/files/op5154_opinium_pr_european_union_-_tables.pdf

 

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A Baker’s Dozen of Religious Statistics

  

Civil and religious marriages

A press release from the University of Oxford on 21 July 2015 highlighted the relentless decline in the number of marriages in England and Wales which are legally solemnized in religious ceremonies. They now account for just 30% of the total, although this figure excludes civil marriages which are followed by a service in a place of worship that carries no legal recognition; this is widely the case with marriages for Muslims and Sikhs. The fall in religious ceremonies, which can be traced back to the 1970s, has been especially pronounced since the passage of the Marriage Act 1994, which permitted marriages in ‘approved premises’ (such as hotels, castles, and stately homes). Until the Act came into effect, the majority of first marriages for both partners were still religious ceremonies. The new research is based on an analysis of official data on the solemnization of marriages, from the beginning of civil registration in the early Victorian era, undertaken by John Haskey, formerly of the Office for National Statistics. It will be published in full next month in Haskey’s chapter entitled ‘Marriage Rites: Trends in Marriages by Manner of Solemnisation and Denomination in England and Wales, 1841-2012’ in Marriage Rites and Rights, edited by Joanna Miles, Perveez Mody, and Rebecca Probert (Hart Publishing, ISBN 9781849469135, paperback, £35). The volume will also contain three other chapters on the religious aspects of marriage. In the meantime, the University of Oxford’s press release can be read at: 

http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2015-07-21-just-one-three-weddings-england-and-wales-has-religious-ceremony

Babies in the 2011 census

In the latest post on the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network blog, dated 25 July 2015, Katherine Sissons examines the religion assigned to babies and young children (aged 0-4) in England and Wales in the 2011 census. She notes that males in this age group were 1% less likely than females to be returned as Christian and 1% more likely to be described as having no religion. She speculates about the possible reasons for this and about the potential impact on the balance between religiosity and non-religiosity in the next generation. However, she rather assumes that the assignment of religion to children is some kind of joint decision of parents completing the census schedule. In fact, many if not most questions on the form will have been answered by a single individual on behalf of the whole household, whose members – whether adults or children – may or may not have been consulted in detail about the proposed replies. Other generic issues, not mentioned by the author, are that religion was not stated for 1% more children (under 16 years) than adults (8% against 7%) and that 6% more children (30% versus 24% for adults) were declared as having no religion. It is possible that, in the case of children, some informants may have been using the latter category, not according to its literal meaning, but to denote that their offspring were too young to be religiously classified and that this was a matter about which their children had to make up their minds when they were older. After all, two-thirds of babies are no longer baptised in the UK, so, at least so far as Christianity is concerned, formal links with faith do not commence early in life. The post is at:

http://blog.nsrn.net/2015/07/25/what-religion-is-your-baby-2/

Importance of religion

The latest Eurobarometer (wave 83.3), conducted by TNS for the European Commission in the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) in May 2015, has confirmed that, relatively speaking, religion remains an insignificant personal value. Asked to choose, from a list of 12 values, the three which were most important to them as individuals, only 5% in the UK selected religion, which was also the EU average (with just six countries recording a double-digit figure). Respect for human life was the top personal value in the UK (41%), closely followed by human rights and peace (each on 38%). Religion also scored poorly as a force for creating a feeling of community among EU citizens (7% in the UK, 8% in the EU) and as a value best representing the EU itself (3% in both the UK and EU). Topline results can be found in T123-T128 at:     

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb83/eb83_anx_en.pdf

Religious affiliation

Three recent published surveys by ORB International, conducted among a merged sample of 6,107 adults interviewed online on 19-21 June, 10-12 July, and 24-26 July 2015, reveal the current level of religious affiliation in Britain. The question asked was: ‘Which of the following religious groups do you consider yourself to be a member of?’ This is a form of questioning which, through its reference to ‘membership’, is felt likely to discourage some of the most nominal identification with religion. In reply, 52% of Britons professed themselves Christian, 7% non-Christian, and 38% as of no religion, with 2% preferring not to say.   

Religious broadcasting

Figures published on 16 July 2015 in the Government’s Green Paper on the renewal of the BBC Charter superficially reveal a reduction in the amount of the Corporation’s religious programming during recent years, from 181 hours on network television in 2006 to 157 in 2014, and from 1,084 hours on radio in 2006 to 592 in 2014. However, some of the difference may be attributable to a change in the BBC’s classification scheme over this period. The Green Paper is at: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/bbc-charter-review-public-consultation

Ministerial stress

Stress in the Christian ministry has been in the news recently following the suspected stress-related suicide of Revd Christopher Loveless, an Anglican vicar. His plight is by no means atypical, if the findings of a survey conducted by Oasis UK among a self-selecting sample of 200 ministers and church leaders are anything like representative. Although 86% of respondents described their ministry as very or quite rewarding, 71% found their role very or quite stressful, 65% reported that it had put strain on their marrage or equivalent relationship, while 64% felt incredibly pushed for time and struggled to get everything done. Over two-fifths sensed that their church members had little or no understanding of the pressures they were under. Indeed, they could make the situation worse, 76% of ministers acknowledging that church members regularly behaved rudely or aggressively toward them. A news release about the survey is at:     

http://www.oasisuk.org/news/church-leadership-stress-places-%E2%80%98significant-strain%E2%80%99-marriages

Church of England (1): diversity

Further to our reference on 19 July 2015 to the preliminary results of the Church of England’s ‘Everyone Counts’ diversity audit in 2014, the Church has now felt it necessary to issue a public apology for failing to include any question about the sexual orientation of its congregations in the audit. The statement, released on 24 July, is at: 

https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2015/07/statement-on-‘everyone-counts’-survey.aspx

Church of England (2): finance

Finance Statistics, 2013 for the Church of England (excluding the Diocese of Europe) were published on 30 July 2015. Following three years of parish deficits in 2007-10, mirroring the national economic recession, the financial situation is now improving in absolute terms. A surplus of £33 million was reported in 2013, with income of £953 million (the highest total ever recorded) surpassing expenditure of £920 million. The latter figure was 1.0% down on 2012, reflecting cost reductions, while income rose by 2.6% overall and by 4.5% from the average individual tax-efficient planned giver. However, income is continuing to fall in real terms, and there was a decrease of 2.8% in the number of regular donors. The report is at: 

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2265027/2013financestatistics.pdf

British Humanist Association membership

Organized irreligion may be suffering from the same ageing membership as is to be found in many traditional Churches, if new research from Gareth Longden is anything to go by: ‘A Profile of the Members of the British Humanist Association’ [BHA], Science, Religion & Culture, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 2015, pp. 86-95. The article derives from a questionnaire completed by 1,097 members of the BHA in March-May 2014, just under one-tenth of the organization’s total membership and slightly more than half those invited to participate. Comparisons are made with an earlier membership survey carried out by Colin Campbell in 1964, shortly after the BHA was formed. In 2014 65% of BHA members were aged 50 and over, against 38% fifty years before. In consequence 37% were already retired in 2014, compared with only 14% in 1964. The BHA remained disproportionately male, albeit less so than in 1964 (65% versus 73%). The BHA also lived up to its reputation for being a ‘middle class intelligentsia’, with 82% of members in 2014 in possession of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree and the overwhelming majority in professional or managerial occupations, especially in education and information technology. Spatially, humanists were concentrated in the South of England, notably in London and the South-East. The article is available on an open access basis at: 

http://smithandfranklin.com/journal-details/Science-Religion-and-Culture/9/archive/2015/June

Jewish social care

The Jewish population of the UK may only have numbered 270,000 in 2011, but there are no fewer than 549 social care organizations and 702 social care facilities and services to meet their needs. Even after stripping out small operations to support the economically deprived in the haredi community, there still remain 70 organizations and 205 facilities or services. This is according to preliminary findings from an audit of Jewish social care undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) on behalf of the Jewish Leadership Council, and released on 23 July 2015. Indeed, in Jewish communities experiencing population decline there was evidence of a possible over-supply of social care provision. On the other hand, in JPR’s estimation, insufficient effort is being devoted to poverty prevention among UK Jews. For more information, see the blog by Jonathan Boyd at: 

http://www.thejlc.org/2015/07/mapping-social-care-organisations-and-facilities-in-the-uk-jewish-community/

Anti-Semitic incidents

On 30 July 2015 the Community Security Trust (CST) published a report on Antisemitic Incidents, January-June 2015 in the UK, noting that the number during this period was, at 473, 53% more than during the first six months of 2014. The increase was most pronounced during the first quarter of 2015 and is mainly attributed by the CST to improved notification of incidents, due to raised concerns about anti-Semitism in the Jewish community following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. The report is at: 

https://cst.org.uk/public/data/file/0/e/Incidents_Report_-_Jan-June_2015.pdf

Islamic State (1): flag

Just over three-quarters (77%) of the public want to see the display of the Islamic State (IS) flag banned in Britain, according to a YouGov poll conducted online among 1,669 adults on 9-10 July 2015 and published on 19 July. The proportion rises to 84% among residents of Northern England, 87% of Conservatives, and 88% of UKIP voters and over-60s. Just 15% think the IS flag should not be banned, peaking at 25% of 18-24s. Similar results were obtained for a question on the prohibition of the display of the Nazi swastika in Britain, 75% being in favour and 17% against. In the United States, where the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, there is lower but still majority backing for banning the display of the IS flag (63%) and swastika (57%). More details, including links to data tables, can be found in the blog at: 

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/07/19/ban-isis-flag-american-and-british-public/

Islamic State (2): escalating UK military actions

Two recent polls have probed public opinion on the possible escalation of UK military action against IS in the light of an anticipated House of Commons debate on the subject next month. The first, by ORB International and conducted online among a sample of 2,049 Britons on 24-26 July 2015, revealed 67% support for an extension of UK air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria, including 76% of over-65s. Fewer (41%) endorsed the commitment of UK ground troops and tanks, with 59% opposed, reaching two-thirds among women and the over-55s. Data tables are at:  

http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/julypoll.pdf

The second survey, by ComRes for the Daily Mail, was conducted by telephone interview with 1,001 Britons, also on 24-26 July 2015. Its focus was specifically on possible British military intervention against IS in Syria. There was majority support (56%, with 33% opposed) for air strikes against IS in Syria but reluctance (41% in favour, 49% against) to engage British troops in Syria. Almost two-fifths (38%) agreed, while 49% disagreed, that Britain should not become militarily involved in Syria but should stand back and let the situation there run its course. However, few considered that British military action against IS in Syria would materially improve prospects. Asked whether it would make places safer or more dangerous, just 16% felt the streets of Britain would be safer, 19% tourist beaches in North Africa, 21% the Middle East generally, and 27% the situation on the ground in Syria itself. Two-fifths (39%) thought the streets of Britain would become more dangerous as a result of British military action against IS in Syria. Data tables are at:  

http://comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Daily-Mail_Political-Poll_July-2015.pdf

 

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