Counting Religion in Britain, April 2016

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


Muslim voices

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

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

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

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

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

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

% agreeing


Control group

Gender equality
Girls and boys should be taught separately



Muslim girls should have the right to wear niqab in school



Acceptable for a British Muslim to keep more than one wife



Wives should always obey their husbands



Acceptable for homosexual to be a schoolteacher



Homosexuality should be legal in Britain



Gay marriage should be legal in Britain



Anti-Semitism is a problem in Britain



Jewish people have too much power in Britain



Jewish people have too much power over the government



Jewish people have too much power over the media



Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country



Jews have too much power in the business world



Jews have too much power in international financial markets



Jews still talk too much about the Holocaust



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



Jews have too much control over global affairs



Jews think they are better than other people



Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars



People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave



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



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



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



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



Islamist threat to London

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

Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party

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

British Social Attitudes Survey

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

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey

A majority (52%) of residents in Scotland says they belong to no religion, according to initial analysis by ScotCen Social Research of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) for 2015. This compares with 40% in the first SSAS in 1999. Although the proportion of Roman Catholics and other Christians in Scotland has held relatively steady over the years, there has been a big decline (from 35% in 1999 to 20% in 2015) in professed affiliation to the Church of Scotland. The non-Christian presence in Scotland is limited (2%). Among those with a religion, or brought up in a religion, attendance at religious services monthly or more has also fallen by 10% between 1999 (31%) and 2015 (21%), while 66% in 2015 admitted to never or practically never worshipping (49% in 1999). The latest SSAS interviewed a representative random probability sample of 1,288 adults in Scotland between July 2015 and January 2016. A press release, with link to data tables, is available at:’t-attend-services/

Church visits

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

Referendum on European Union membership

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




US President Barack Obama



HM The Queen



German Chancellor Angela Merkel



The Pope



UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon



International Monetary Fund



Bank of England Governor Mark Carney



French President Francois Hollande



Religion and alcohol

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


Faith-based charities

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

Faith in public service

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

Data tables are at:

Christians and Brexit

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

Evangelical consumers

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

Catholic prisoners

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

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


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

Invisible Church

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

Other outputs from Aisthorpe’s research are available at:


Marriages in England and Wales

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


Secularization and crises

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

Cathedral friends

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

Theology of religions index

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

Intercessory prayer

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

People and places

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


SN 7927: Wellcome Trust Monitor, 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


Table 1: Overall profile of religious and paranormal beliefs





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

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

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


Beliefs and sociodemographic groups

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


A belief typology

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


Table 6: Belief typology (ALL)

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


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

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

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


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


Table 7: Belief typology (WOMEN)

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


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

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

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


Table 8: Belief typology (MEN)

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


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

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

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



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

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


References and further reading

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

Field C. D. (2015a), Religion in Great Britain, 1939-99: A Compendium of Gallup Poll Data. BRIN Working Papers on Religious Statistics. Working Paper 2. February 2015. Available at:

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

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

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

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

Social Surveys (Gallup Poll) Limited. Gallup Poll, May 1975. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 1330,

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

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

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Counting Religion in Britain, March 2016


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


Hope Not Hate

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

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

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

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

Religion and the European Union referendum

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

% down

All adults

Christians Muslims

No religion

Voting intention        
Lean to voting for UK to remain in EU


31 40


More undecided


26 30


Lean to voting for UK to leave EU


43 31


Mean score


55.2 44.8


Britain does best within EU


39 54




24 6


Britain can be just as prosperous outside EU


49 29




24 36


Leaving EU would be security risk


41 64




30 7


Britain should be outside EU even if economically worse off


49 30




21 32


Leaving EU would allow Britain full control of borders


61 45




14 18


Freedom of religion

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

Belief at Eastertide

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

Good Samaritan

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

Easter eggs

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

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

Trust in the Church

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

Papal popularity

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

Topline results for each country are at:

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

Islamic State (1)

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

Islamic State (2)

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

The Sun and Muslim opinion

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

Religion and gender

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

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


Visitor attractions

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

Jewish charitable giving

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

Jewish health

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


Places of worship

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

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


Jewish and Muslim MPs

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

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

London churchgoing in 1913

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

Religion in Bolton

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

Nonconformist prosopography

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


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

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

SN 7919: Health Survey for England, 2014

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


Stephen Bullivant

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


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


Posted in church attendance, Historical studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, People news, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in the Press, Religious beliefs, religious festivals, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, February 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 5, February 2016 features 23 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 5 February 2016



Two-fifths (42%) of 2,023 Britons answered in the affirmative when asked by YouGov ‘do you ever pray?’ in an online poll on 2-3 July 2015. Of those who claimed to pray, 26% said they did so once a day or more. This information appears on the website of Prayersonthemove, an initiative coordinated by SPCK, which in February 2016 posted 3,000 prayer advertisements on the London Underground and 500 on buses in Tyne and Wear, with more advertisements to follow on buses in Birmingham later in the year. Meanwhile, the website can be found at:

Upon enquiry, data tables are available from SPCK upon request, subject to uncontentious conditions. They reveal that, besides the basic information about the frequency of prayer, reasons for praying or not praying were also sought. Those who prayed were additionally asked the subjects of their prayers and whether they believed that prayer can be answered. SPCK also commissioned a separate survey of the incidence of prayer among an online sample of 1,027 Londoners on 17-19 September 2015.

Lent (1)

Three-quarters of people in the UK did not plan to give up anything for Lent this year, according to an online poll of 2,075 adults by YouGov for Homepride Flour on 13-14 January 2016. The remaining 25% aimed to give up something, although not all knew what, at the time of interview. Chocolate was the top forfeit, to be forsaken by 10% of the population, followed by sweets (6%), and alcohol and fizzy drinks (5% each). Those keenest on Lenten abstinence were: 25-34-year-olds (34%), residents of the North-West (32%), 18-24-year-olds (31%), and women (30%). The least observant were: residents of Yorkshire and the Humber (16%) and Wales (18%), men (20%), over-55s (20%), and residents of Eastern England (20%). Since fieldwork was conducted approximately four weeks before the start of Lent on 10 February, it is possible that good intentions never became a reality in some instances. Also, as with New Year’s resolutions, many folk may not have persisted in their abstinence. One-half the sample anticipated that they would be celebrating Pancake Day on 9 February, with 28% recognizing it as the start of giving something up for Lent and 15% as an important religious occasion. Full data tables are available at:

Lent (2)

So much for the good intentions of the previous poll. In a second online survey by YouGov, undertaken on 10 February 2016 (the first day of Lent) and completed by 5,022 Britons, it transpired that just 9 per cent actually planned to give something up for Lent (about one-third of the aspirational 25% of a month before), with a further 8 per cent still undecided. If the figures are taken at face value, the most abstaining group this year were 18-24-year-olds (16%), followed by women and Liberal Democrat voters (12% each). Results can be found at:

Church buildings

Almost three-fifths (57%) of the British public report that they have visited a church building in the past year, either for a religious service (37%), to attend a non-religious activity (18%), or as a tourist (23%). This is according to a survey conducted by ComRes for the National Churches Trust, for which 2,038 adults were interviewed online on 16 and 17 December 2015. Asked what would most encourage them to visit churches in the future, 43% replied a friendly welcome, 34% the provision of toilets, 32% a café or refreshment area, 29% comfortable seating, 28% access to useful visitor information, and 26% heating. There was overwhelming recognition (by 84% of the whole sample and 91% of over-65s) that Christian places of worship constitute an important part of the UK’s heritage and history, with 60% (including 68% of women) favouring Government funding in order to preserve this heritage asset for future generations. Their social value, as community space, was acknowledged by 83%. Full data tables, including breaks by standard demographics and religious affiliation, are available at:

Pope versus Trump

During his return flight to the Vatican after his recent trip to Mexico, Pope Francis took on Donald Trump, front-runner as US Republican presidential candidate, suggesting the latter was ‘not Christian’ because of his wish to build a wall on the American-Mexican border when, to the Pope’s mind, Christians should be building bridges. According to an online poll of 6,245 British YouGov panellists on 19 February 2016, 47% of adults thought the Pope’s comments were appropriate, including 60% of 18-24s and 63% of Liberal Democrats. Just over one-quarter (28%) judged the Pope had been out of order, especially over-60s (37%), Conservatives (39%), and UKIP voters (60%), while 25% were undecided. Data can be found at:

Sunday trading

The Government has tabled amendments to the Enterprise Bill to incorporate its long-held ambition to further liberalize Sunday shopping hours in England and Wales, which are currently limited to a maximum of six for large stores. At the heart of its plans is the proposal to devolve to local authorities and elected mayors decisions for extending the hours large shops could trade on Sundays. YouGov has recently tested public reaction to the Government’s policy through an online poll of 1,896 residents in England and Wales, a plurality of whom (48%) supported the idea of shops being open for longer on Sundays, with 33% against and 19% undecided. This result is perhaps unsurprising, given that 56% admitted that they already regularly shop on Sundays, with 21% anticipating they would do even more shopping on Sundays, in the event of hours being extended. Opinion was more finely balanced about local authorities having the final say, with 39% in favour and 34% not, while 58% agreed that smaller, local shops would lose out from more liberalization and 63% expected confusion to arise from different areas having different hours. Topline results only are available at:

Meanwhile, in its response to the Government’s amendments, USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive, and Allied Workers) issued a press release drawing renewed attention to the survey of 10,536 USDAW members working in retail conducted by Telsolutions in September 2015. This revealed ‘35% of staff in large stores currently want to work less hours on Sundays, 58% say they are already under pressure to work Sundays when they don’t want to, and more than a third of staff were “not usually” or “never” allowed a Sunday off.’ The full report on the survey, entitled Is Sunday Working Working for Retail Staff?, is still available to download at:

Holocaust Memorial Day

Christian Research has filed the following report on its website, based on online interviews with practising Christians and church leaders in membership of its self-selecting Resonate panel: ‘Nearly 90% of Christians believe it is important to have a day to commemorate the Holocaust – however, nearly 65% of those surveyed felt not enough attention is given to other groups that suffered under the Nazis. In a questionnaire we launched in the lead up to Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, the majority of respondents also believed there should be a commemorative day for all the genocides of the past 100 years, such as Armenia, Cambodia, and Rwanda.’ Members of Christian Research can access additional results from this survey by logging on via the link at:

Islam and British values

The majority (51%) of adults think there is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society, according to a YouGov poll for YouGov@Cambridge among an online sample of 1,729 on 13-14 January 2016. The proportion rose to 61% among Conservative voters, 63% of over-60s, and 81% of UKIP supporters. One-quarter disagreed with the proposition, saying instead that Islam is generally compatible with British values, this view being especially popular with Liberal Democrats (42%) and 18-24s (44%). An additional quarter were neutral or undecided. Results were comparable with a previous YouGov@Cambridge study in March 2015 which found 55% taking the fundamental clash option. The data table is available at:

Mosque in EastEnders

The BBC is reported to be including a mosque on the new set of its long-running television soap EastEnders, in order better to reflect the East End of London and to increase the potential for storylines. The proposed development is regarded as ‘a good thing’ by 23% of the British public, and particularly by 18-24s (37%) and Liberal Democrats (40%). It is opposed by 24%, especially by Conservatives (30%) and UKIP voters (57%). The remainder are neutral (37%) or do not know what to think (16%). The survey was conducted by YouGov among 4,750 members of its online panel on 23 February 2016, and the results are available at:

Islamic State (1)

Islamic State (IS) is regarded as the second most important issue facing Britain at the moment, selected by 40% of 1,694 adults interviewed online by YouGov on 20-21 January 2016. It is the number one concern for 18-24-year-old Britons (38%), who are far less exercised than others about the overall top issue of immigration and asylum (17% versus 49% nationally). Above-average anxiety about IS is recorded by Conservatives (51%), UKIP voters (47%), and over-60s (46%). Preoccupation with IS stands slightly lower in Britain than in France (42%), where IS occupies first place in the list of problems. In Germany, by contrast, IS is selected as an important issue only by 28%, Germans being focused much more on the European refugee crisis (59%) and immigration and asylum (52%). IS also drops down the domestic agendas in Baltic countries, scoring 28% in Denmark, 27% in Norway, 22% in Sweden, and 13% in Finland. International topline results from this latest Eurotrack survey can be found at:

Data for Britain alone, with breaks by demographics, are at:

Islamic State (2)

The recent suggestion made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that the British government should seek ‘back channel’ talks with Islamic State has been rejected by a majority (57%) of 1,511 UK adults in an online poll by BMG Research for the Evening Standard on 21-25 January 2016. Most dismissive of the idea were over-55s, Conservative and UKIP voters, self-assigned right-wingers, people wanting the UK to leave the European Union, and those for whom immigration/asylum was the top political issue. Self-described religious persons were slightly more against a dialogue (60%) than the non-religious (54%). Just 22% of all UK residents were in favour, particularly Labour supporters, left-wingers, and Londoners. One-fifth (21%) were undecided. A short article about the survey appeared in the Evening Standard on 12 February and full data tables are available at:


The majority (56%) of the British public do not believe in astrology and star signs, and this is especially true of men (72%). Just under one-third (31%) think there is definitely or possibly some truth in astrology and star signs, and these are disproportionately women (42%) and Londoners (40%). Don’t knows number 13%. The poll was conducted by YouGov among 5,569 members of its online panel on 26 February 2016, and the results are available at:


Christian conferences

The overall proportion of female speakers at 21 UK national Christian conferences edged up by 1% in 2015, to 36%, according to the third annual analysis by Natalie Collins for Project 3:28. The figure varied enormously by individual conference, from 10% to 62%. The report can be found at:

Methodist Statistics for Mission

A downbeat report on ‘Methodist Statistics for Mission, 2015’ was received at the recent quarterly meeting of the Methodist Council. It anticipated that Methodist membership is likely to fall below 200,000 in 2015/16, for the first time in almost two centuries. Four-fifths of Methodist churches did not make any new members during the course of the previous year. The need is flagged to review reporting measures and processes in the light of ‘challenging circumstances’, including a reappraisal of the Methodist community roll, first introduced in 1969 as an indicator of those in pastoral contact with the Church. Little information is available about the age, gender, and ethnicity of members, but the hope is expressed that a mooted ecumenical church census in England and Wales in 2016 might fill the gap. The report is available at:

Anti-Semitic incidents

In 2015 the Community Security Trust logged 924 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, a fall of 22% from 2014 but still the third highest annual total recorded by the Trust since figures were first collected in 1984, notwithstanding the absence of any major trigger event during the year related to the situation in Israel and Gaza. Three-quarters of all incidents in 2015 occurred in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the UK’s two largest Jewish communities. Three-quarters took the form of abusive behaviour, while 9% involved violence. The Trust continues to believe that there is significant under-reporting of incidents both to itself and to the police. The 44-page Antisemitic Incidents Report, 2015 is available at:

Jewish Year Book

The Jewish Year Book, a major source of UK Jewish statistics (and much other information about UK Jewry) since it first appeared in 1896, is to cease publication with immediate effect – there will be no 2016 edition. Vallentine Mitchell, the title’s publishers since 1994, have said that it is no longer economic in the light of falling library and other institutional sales. It was Joseph Jacobs, the inaugural editor of the Jewish Year Book and author of Studies in Jewish Statistics (1891), who pioneered the inclusion of a statistical section, in the 1896-97 edition (pp. 27-33). The centenary edition in 1996 also contained an important retrospective essay (pp. ix-xvii) by Marlena Schmool, ‘A Hundred Years of British Jewish Statistics’. The 2015 edition is still available, priced £37.50, at:


Hospital chaplains

Recent data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that the number of chaplains working in the National Health Service in England has declined by 17% between 2010 and 2015, from 1,107 to 916. The proportion of female chaplains has increased from 32% to 37% over the same period. The Excel file ‘Number of Chaplains Employed by the NHS, 2010-2015’ can be found by searching:

Personal wellbeing

The Office for National Statistics has published measures of personal wellbeing in the UK for the three years from April 2012 to March 2015, derived from approximately half a million interviews on the Annual Population Survey. The four indicators are: ‘how anxious did you feel yesterday?’; ‘how happy did you feel yesterday?’; ‘how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’; and ‘to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?’ These were measured on a scale running from 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely). The Excel tables of results contain breaks by personal characteristics, including religion, mean scores for which are tabulated below.

It will be seen that those without religion have the lowest scores of any faith group on the happiness and worthwhile measures and come near the bottom on life satisfaction; however, they experience lower levels of anxiety than the national average and any other group apart from Sikhs. Religion per se may not wholly or even largely explain this pattern, which is likely to be influenced by a range of interconnecting factors. Commenting on the figures to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Linda Woodhead suggested that faith was probably only a small element in generating happiness: ‘You might say if it is “the opium of the people” they need to up the dose.’ The tables can be downloaded at:

Mean scores Anxiety Happiness Satisfaction Worthwhile
No religion 2.90 7.22 7.41 7.58
Christian 2.92 7.47 7.60 7.86
Buddhist 3.09 7.41 7.40 7.61
Hindu 3.11 7.57 7.60 7.74
Jewish 3.15 7.37 7.51 7.90
Muslim 3.05 7.33 7.41 7.64
Sikh 2.89 7.45 7.50 7.72
Any other religion 3.19 7.26 7.31 7.70
UK average 2.93 7.38 7.53 7.76

Religious education teachers

The number of people applying to train as religious education (RE) teachers in England and Wales has surged in the first few months of the 2016 recruitment cycle, according to data compiled by the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) and highlighted in a press release from the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education. Applications for RE places as at 18 January 2016 were 31% up on the corresponding figure for 2015 (850 against 650), even though those for all secondary teacher training places were down by 1%. Offers of conditional places for RE had already more than doubled over the corresponding point in 2015. The increase in applications to train to teach RE follows the launch of a campaign by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales to encourage graduates and career changers into the discipline. The press release is at:

The UCAS report is available at:


SN 7871: Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2013

Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2013 is the second (but first ‘official’) release of an annual statistical publication of the Scottish Government, gathering into one output responses to identical questions in the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, Scottish Health Survey, and Scottish Household Survey. It provides detailed information on the composition, characteristics, and attitudes of Scottish households and adults across a number of topic areas, including equality characteristics, housing, employment, and perceptions of health and crime. In 2013 there were 21,038 responses to the individual variables, among them religious affiliation (categorized as none, Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, other Christian, Muslim, and other). The official report on the 2013 surveys, to be found with the dataset documentation, contains tables showing country of birth by religion, ethnic group by religion, and religion by demographics, including sexual orientation). Supplementary tables are available online at Nones were the most numerous ‘religious’ group in 2013 (43%), surpassing adherents of the Church of Scotland (31%). For a full description of the dataset, see the catalogue entry at:

SN 7872: Taking Part, 2014-15

The Year 10 dataset for ‘Taking Part: the National Survey of Culture, Leisure, and Sport’ has been released. The survey is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Arts Council England, Sport England, and Historic England. Fieldwork for April 2014-March 2015 was undertaken by TNS-BMRB, through face-to-face interview with a sample of 9,817 adults aged 16 and over living in private households in England. Topics covered were spare-time activities and participation in arts, libraries, archives, museums, heritage, walking, cycling, and sports, as well as barriers to and factors affecting such participation. Demographics included two questions on religion: ‘what is your religion?’ (according to census categories) and ‘are you currently practising this religion?’ These can obviously be used as variables to analyse replies to any of the questions on participation in culture, leisure, and sport. For a full description of the dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

SN 7889: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2014-15

The Crime Survey for England and Wales, formerly known as the British Crime Survey (there has been a separate survey in Scotland since 1993), commenced in 1981. It is now conducted annually, on a rolling basis, by TNS-BMRB on behalf of the Office for National Statistics. Fieldwork for April 2014-March 2015 involved face-to-face and self-completion interviews with 33,350 adults aged 16, and over and 2,374 children aged 10-15, resident in private households. Topics covered experience of crime (including perceived religiously-motivated hate crime) during the preceding 12 months, attitudes to a range of crime-related issues, and a basket of demographics (among them religious affiliation). The affiliation question, which did not differentiate between particular Christian denominations, can be used to analyse replies to all the crime-related questions. For a full description of the dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:


David Voas

Professor David Voas, a leading quantitative sociologist of religion and co-director of British Religion in Numbers, became Professor of Social Science and Head of the Department of Social Science at University College London on 1 February 2016. He was formerly Professor of Population Studies at the University of Essex (2011-16) and Simon Professor of Population Studies at the University of Manchester (2007-11).


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


Posted in News from religious organisations, Official data, People news, Religion and Politics, Religious beliefs, religious festivals, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, January 2016


Counting Religion in Britain, No. 4, January 2016 features 25 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 4 January 2016



On 19 January 2016 Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University delivered a lecture at The British Academy on ‘Why “No Religion” is the New Religion’. It can be listened to at:

The lecture was partly underpinned by an opinion poll designed by Woodhead and undertaken by YouGov among an online sample of 1,668 adult Britons on 21-22 December 2015. Asked to give their religious affiliation, 46% of adults replied that they did not regard themselves as belonging to any particular religion (i.e. they were ‘nones’), more than the 44% self-identifying as Christians (including 28% as Anglican and 8% as Roman Catholic). Nones constituted the majority among the two youngest age cohorts, being 60% of 18-24s and 55% of 25-39s, and also among Scots (52%) and Liberal Democrats (51%). They were least likely to be found among the over-60s (34%). The data table can be found on YouGov’s archive website, filed under 21 January 2016, at:

A press release from Lancaster University on 18 January, which was the basis for much of the pre-lecture media coverage, pointed out that the proportion of nones had increased from previous YouGov surveys (being 37% in January 2013 and 42% in February 2015). In her lecture, Woodhead anticipated that ‘this trend will continue because nones tend to be young whereas Christians tend to be old; nones are being hatched while Christians are being dispatched’. Based on her previous research, both the press release and the lecture also provided some context and commentary about the religious profile of nones, who are by no means entirely secular when it comes to belief in God or even religious practices. This release can be found at:

Andrew Atherstone, the evangelical Anglican theologian and historian, has an article about Woodhead’s research on nones in The Tablet for 30 January 2016 (pp. 8-9), critiquing not so much her data as her interpretation of them. This is available online, to subscribers only, at:

Same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales since March 2014 and in Scotland since December 2014. During the past three years supporters of same-sex marriage in Britain have increased from being a plurality (46% in January 2013) to a majority (56% in January 2016). This more liberal attitude has been reflected in affiliates of most religious denominations and faiths, although in many, including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, it is still only a plurality which believes that same-sex marriage is right, just 8% ahead of Anglicans and 9% of Catholics who say it is wrong. Nones were overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage in both years. A few headline statistics are tabulated below. The 2013 data are taken from one of Linda Woodhead’s YouGov polls, those for 2016 from a YouGov poll commissioned by Jayne Ozanne (Church of England General Synod member and gay rights activist), for which 6,276 Britons were interviewed online on 19-21 January 2016. Two sets of data tables are available, one for all adults disaggregated by religious affiliation and one for professing Anglicans disaggregated by demographics. They can be found on YouGov’s archive website, filed under 29 January 2016, at:

% down


Anglican Catholic


January 2013        


38 36




43 44


Don’t know


19 20


January 2016


45 45




37 36


Don’t know


19 20


Veracity of groups

Trust in clergy and priests to tell the truth has fallen by 18 points in Britain since 1983 (when they were the most trusted of all professions), according to the 2015 Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, conducted by face-to-face interview of 990 adults between 5 December 2015 and 4 January 2016. Although 67% do still trust clergy and priests to tell the truth, this is slightly less than say the same about hairdressers (69%) and the ordinary man/woman in the street (68%), and it is considerably less than trust doctors (89%) and teachers (86%). Just over one-quarter (27%) doubt the veracity of clergy and priests, and the proportion exceeds one-third among members of Generation X, skilled manual workers, and residents of southern England outside London. For further details, see the news blog (including a link to the full data tables) at:

Hate crime

In a poll released for Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2016, 22% of UK adults claim to have witnessed at least one hate crime or hate incident based on religion or beliefs in the last year. The research was conducted by Censuswide, on behalf of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, among a sample of 2,007 respondents aged 16 and over between 2 and 7 December 2015. The Trust’s press release about the survey is at:


On 18 January 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a £20 million initiative to improve the English language skills of Muslim women living in England. The somewhat muddled rationales for so doing included the promotion of integration, the deterring of support for extremism, and the advancement of gender equality. However, the public appears sceptical about the initiative’s potential value as a counter-extremism measure, according to a poll of 5,092 YouGov panellists in the UK on 19 January 2016. Only one-quarter felt the requirement for Muslim women to learn English would reduce radicalization in the Muslim community, while 14% thought that it would simply make matters worse; the remainder judged it would have a neutral effect (43%) or were undecided (18%). Full results are at:

Donald Trump and Muslims

Following his call for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has been incurring somewhat of a backlash, both in his own country and abroad, including in the UK. Here a petition calling on the Government to ban Trump from entering the UK attracted so many signatures that it warranted a debate in Parliament. Trump has retaliated by threatening to pull £700 million of planned investment in golf in Scotland if he is refused entry into the UK. Asked by Survation on behalf of the Daily Record what the Government should do in these circumstances, a plurality (47%) of 1,029 Scots interviewed online on 8-12 January 2016 opposed any ban on Trump travelling to the UK while 40% favoured it, the latter disproportionately women, under-35s, and Scottish National Party voters. The full data can be found in Table 58 at:

Islamic State (1)

A poll published in the Evening Standard on 8 January 2016, but based on online fieldwork by BMG Research among 1,585 UK adults on 9-15 December 2015, found that a plurality (44%) of respondents opposed the deployment of British ground troops in Syria and Iraq in order to defeat Islamic State (IS). One-third were in favour and 23% undecided. Opinion was sharply divided about the wisdom of letting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad remain in power to combat IS, on the lesser of two evils principle, IS constituting a much bigger threat to the UK than Assad’s regime. Some two-fifths of adults could not make up their minds on this matter, with 35% supporting Assad to defeat IS and 26% not, even if it meant that more territory was lost to IS. Data tables are at:

Islamic State (2)

Four-fifths (82%) of Britons regard Islamic State (IS) as an enemy of the UK and 90% consider it has a bad record on human rights, according to a poll by YouGov, conducted online on 5-6 January 2016 among a sample of 1,779 adults. Most of the rest expressed no view, albeit 2% overall (and 5% in Scotland) curiously rated IS as friendly towards the UK. IS also easily topped a list of 11 countries for constituting the greatest threat to the UK, scoring 86%. Data tables can be found at:

Islamic State (3)

Two-thirds of Londoners are very (25%) or fairly (41%) worried about the prospect of a terror attack on London by Islamic State (IS) during the course of 2016. This is according to a YouGov poll for LBC Radio among an online sample of 1,156 London adults on 4-6 January 2016. Most concerned were the over-60s (83%), Conservative voters (82%), and those in favour of Britain leaving the European Union (81%). About one-quarter were not very or not at all worried about IS attacking London and 8% were undecided (including 23% of the under-25s). Data tables are available at:

Sunday trading

The campaign to extend Sunday trading hours in England and Wales (currently limited to a maximum of six for large stores) continues to bubble along below the surface. There is naturally particular interest in such extension among London retailers, and the New West End Company has recently released fresh polling on the subject. Conducted by ComRes online on 7-14 December 2015, it has especial relevance since respondents comprised 850 retail employees in London, 55% of whom were Christians (who have traditionally observed Sundays as a day of rest). Of the whole sample, only 5% never had to work on Sundays and 60% worked every Sunday or every other Sunday. Approximately two-thirds of all retail employees supported plans to extend Sunday trading hours, viewed them in a positive light, and anticipated that they would benefit them personally (both financially and in terms of offering greater flexibility in manage their own time). Even more, around three-quarters, recognized that London requires more flexible shopping hours to accommodate the needs of the capital’s residents and tourists and to compete with online retailers. Full data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation, are at:


Scottish church census

Plans have been announced for a fourth voluntary census of churchgoing in Scotland, to be taken among the country’s 4,000 places of Christian worship on 8 May 2016. It is being sponsored by a consortium of denominations and organizations who have commissioned Peter Brierley of Brierley Consultancy to organize the census by means of a two-page postal questionnaire (which can alternatively be completed online). Brierley has been involved in the three previous Scottish church censuses, in 1984, 1994, and 2002. Statistics will be gathered about the size of congregations at both Sunday and mid-week services, with numbers broken down by gender, age, and frequency of attendance. There will also be some sponsored questions. The final report will be published during spring 2017. Meanwhile, a leaflet about the census is available at:

History of Christian Research

Peter Brierley has also been busy writing a valuable 4,800-word personal history of the Christian Research Association. This commenced as MARC Europe in 1983, with Brierley (the former Cabinet Office statistician and director of the Bible Society) in charge. When it had to be closed down after ten years, following the withdrawal of the subsidy from World Vision, Brierley established the Christian Research Association (usually known as just Christian Research) as a charity in 1993, and with the same aims as MARC Europe. Christian Research ceased to exist as an independent entity in 2008, when it was incorporated into the Bible Society, where it nominally exists. Brierley opted to set up his own consultancy in 2007, which he still runs, carrying on – in necessarily attenuated form – the research, publishing, and training programmes which had been associated with MARC Europe and Christian Research. To request a copy of the history, contact Brierley at:

Evangelicals and health

‘Warning: the Church is seriously good for your health’. So claims the Evangelical Alliance in reporting (in the January-February 2016 issue of Idea magazine, pp. 14-15) the headline results of its online survey of the views of 1,703 self-selecting and self-identifying UK evangelicals at the end of 2015. The claim is based on the finding that ‘more than nine out of 10 evangelicals had been in good health during the past year compared to just three quarters of all English adults’. No attempt is made to explore the social correlates of good health which might explain these differences. Moreover, 93% of evangelicals agreed that they should lead healthy lifestyles to look after their God-given bodies, and 82% were opposed to the legalization of assisted dying. Miraculous healing of the sick was believed in by 98%, while 94% reported that their church offered prayer when they or a loved-one were seriously ill, albeit 59% felt there was scope for churches to strengthen their healing ministry. One-half of evangelicals thought that Christians should never try yoga nor hypnotherapy. The article is available at:

Church of England statistics for mission, 2014

Newly-released statistics for mission for 2014 reveal that the Church of England’s overall steady long-term numerical decline is continuing, affecting all principal measures of religious participation. Most media attention on the release focused on average all-age weekly attendance at church during October, which fell below one million for the first time since the metric was introduced in 2000, to 980,000 or 1.8% of the population and 12% less than in 2004, although this figure excludes 145,000 attending services for schools held in churches. Usual Sunday attendance stood even lower, at 765,000, compared with 1,606,000 when that metric was inaugurated in 1968. Only at Christmas does the Church of England exert significant quantitative reach in terms of churchgoing, drawing in 2,400,000 attenders for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services (equivalent to 4.3% of the population), together with 2,200,000 at Advent services for the congregation and local community, and 2,600,000 at Advent services for civic organizations and schools. Take-up of the Church’s rites of passage, traditionally one of the broadest indicators of its appeal, has decreased more steeply than for churchgoing over the past decade: by 12% for baptisms, 19% for marriages, and 29% for funerals. Just 12% of babies now receive an Anglican baptism and 31% of deceased persons an Anglican funeral (against 41% in 2004). The 58-page report, incorporating extensive disaggregation to diocesan level (which naturally pinpoints some exceptions to the general trend) can be found at:

Archives of Faith in the City

The archives of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Urban Priority Areas (ACUPA), which was appointed in 1983 and produced the seminal if – in some circles – controversial report on Faith in the City: A Call for Action by Church and Nation in 1985, have now become available for consultation at the Church of England Record Centre. They extend to 30 boxes and 512 files, among them records of the research submitted to or commissioned by ACUPA. This includes the interview survey by Gallup Poll of 402 Anglican stipendiary parochial clergy in February-March 1985, designed to elucidate differences between those serving in Urban Priority Areas and elsewhere in terms of background, experience, and attitudes. A hierarchical catalogue for the archives can be browsed at:

Economic impact of St Vincent de Paul Society

Oxera Consulting has completed an economic impact study of the work in England and Wales of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), an international Roman Catholic voluntary organization founded in 1833 which tackles poverty and provides assistance to those in need. In its report, entitled Economic Impact of Visiting and Befriending, Oxera assessed that the visiting and befriending activities of the SVP in England and Wales have a positive economic benefit by: avoiding costs to the National Health Service; improving the quality of life of the beneficiaries; enhancing labour market outcomes; and, in the longer term, reducing costs to social services. In practice, not all the benefits could be quantified, but those which could be suggested that, conservatively, SVP’s 10,000 volunteers generate a net £11 million of welfare improvement each year, albeit the majority of this sum apparently accrues to increased wellbeing of the volunteers themselves. The report, which sets out the full workings on costs and benefits, can be read at:

Baptist ministry

The final report of a review of Baptist ministry undertaken by the Ignite Project Team includes (at pp. 10-18) a statistical snapshot of the ministry, mainly extracted from the database of the Baptist Union of Great Britain Ministries Department. The database contained 2,711 names as at 22 September 2015, including those in training and applicants. Of the 1,521 active ministers, 83 per cent were men and 61 per cent were aged 51 and over, with an additional 979 ministers on the retired list. Since 1985 the number of ministers enrolled each year has been trending upwards and has exceeded that of ministers retiring, except in 2014, although the gap is narrowing. As a consequence of the growth in ministers, there were actually fewer Baptist churches without a minister in 2015 than in 1995 (440, or 23%, versus 723), and there has been a significant increase in churches with three or four ministers. About one-quarter of ministers are estimated to be part-time. The report is available at:

Cost of (Jewish) living

Writing in The Jewish Chronicle for 8 January 2016, two economists (Anthony Tricot and Andrea Silberman) have estimated the additional costs of a Jewish lifestyle in the UK (the so-called ‘Jewish premium’) as £12,700 per family a year. The additional costs were broken down as follows: £5,900 for a property in North-West London (one-fifth of British Jews living in Barnet); £1,500 for eating out in kosher restaurants; £3,000 for a Jewish faith schools supplement; £1,100 for Simchahs (such as weddings and barmitzvahs); £700 for synagogue membership; and £500 for kosher meat (which is double the cost of ordinary supermarket meat and which has inflated more than twice as fast as non-kosher meat during the past ten years). A number of other costs were not included in the basic calculation but are likely to be incurred by many Jewish families, such as Age-16 Israel Tours (£2,800 per child), post-university Israel gap years (£10,000 to £15,000), attendance at the Limmud conference (£1,270 per family), and the 400% mark-up on kosher Passover holidays. Several suggestions are made for improving the affordability of Jewish living. The article can be read at:


2011 religious census

Since the New Year the Office for National Statistics has published three new ad hoc tables of data from the religious census of England and Wales in 2011. These can be downloaded in Excel format from:–identity–language-and-religion–eilr-/index.html

One of the three, Table CT0557 disaggregating religion by proficiency in English by sex by age in England, has acquired political significance in view of Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement on 18 January 2016 of a £20 million initiative to improve the English language skills of Muslim women living in England (the other three home nations being excluded from the funding). In justification, he cited the fact that 190,000 such women, according to the census, speak little or no English. The 2011 census figures for the language proficiency of adult Muslim women have been recalculated by age group and are summarized below:

% down


25-44 45-64 65+


Main language English


42.3 26.4 14.1


Main language not English – speak English very well/well


39.4 34.0 19.2


Main language not English – cannot speak English well


16.4 31.4 37.2


Main language not English – cannot speak English


1.9 8.1 29.5


1851 religious census

The 1851 census of religious accommodation and worship, undertaken by the Government as an extension of the decennial census of population, is an undisputed crown jewel of primary sources for the study of British church history. Its utility is being progressively enhanced by the publication of scholarly editions of the original schedules held at The National Archives in Kew. Two new such editions have appeared recently.

The Religious Census of Bristol and Gloucestershire, 1851 is published in the Gloucestershire Record Series, Vol. 29 (Gloucester: Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 2015, xvi + 428pp., ISBN 9780900197888, hardback, £30). It has been edited by Alan Munden (who already has an edition of the 1851 religious census for Northumberland and County Durham under his belt). Included are full transcripts, with annotations, of the returns for 894 places of worship, 422 of them Church of England, 211 Methodist, and 261 of other denominations. Rather confusingly, their arrangement deviates from the convention followed in most other county editions, Munden juxtaposing the original Census Office order with his own numerical hierarchy. It should also be noted that the manuscript schedules for the five registration sub-districts in Bristol city have long since been lost so that Munden has had to ‘recreate’ them from other contemporary or near-contemporary sources, inserting church attendance data from a local census in Bristol in 1881. There is a substantial 38-page introduction to and commentary on the Gloucestershire returns, together with separate bibliography, explanatory notes, guide to editorial practice, list of parishes transferred to or from Gloucestershire, specimen schedules, seven appendices, and indexes of persons and places. A map and some more intensive aggregate quantitative analysis of the results would have been valuable additions.

Religious Life in Mid-19th Century Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire: The Returns for the 1851 Census of Religious Worship has been edited by David Thompson (one of the pioneers in studying the census, especially through his 1969 doctoral thesis on Leicestershire) and is published in Cambridgeshire Records Society, Vol. 21, 2014 (viii + 275pp., ISBN 9780904323238, paperback, £27). With accompanying footnotes, it reproduces transcripts of the returns for 597 places of worship in the two counties (400 in Cambridgeshire, 197 in Huntingdonshire), of which 272 were Church of England, 144 Methodist, and 181 of other denominations. They are arranged in registration district order, with a statistical summary provided for each registration district, including attendance totals for general congregations and Sunday scholars based on the average figures in the schedules (where given) rather than the actuals for 30 March 1851 (the day of the census). There is a very full introduction (pp. 1-62) which is strong on describing the methodological and interpretative challenges of the census and on a topographical analysis of the results in these counties. There is also a bibliography of primary and secondary sources and indexes of persons and places.


The Changing World Religion Map

Undoubtedly one of the largest-scale religious studies publishing projects of 2015 was Springer’s The Changing World Religion Map: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices, and Politics, edited by Stanley Brunn (ISBN 9789401793759, hardback, £809.50, also available as an e-book). This is less of the encylopedia or reference work implied by the title than a collection of 207 thematically-arranged chapters, cumulating to almost 4,000 pages. Some chapters are multinational in scope while the majority are of the case study variety. At a quick glance, only five of the essays major on the United Kingdom, two of them relating to Northern Ireland, and just one has a quantitative bent. This is Lia Dong Shimada and Christopher Stephens, ‘Mapping Methodism: Migration, Diversity, and Participatory Research in the Methodist Church in Britain’ (pp. 2997-3016). It documents the Church’s efforts in recent years to enhance the collection and exploitation of its statistics for mission, on a participatory research basis, including through the use of maps as a reporting tool and a mechanism to promote inclusivity and diversity. The contents page of the work and abstracts can be freely browsed, and copies of individual chapters obtained (mostly via purchase but some on open access), at:

Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion

On a somewhat more modest scale was the 2015 edition (Vol. 26) of Brill’s annual Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, containing 18 contributions of which five were of British religious statistical interest. In the general section, Judith Muskett explored social capital among 923 friends of six English cathedrals in 2011 (pp. 57-76), while Tania ap Siôn analysed 958 prayer requests posted to the prayer board in Southwark Cathedral (pp. 99-119). In the thematic section on the psychological health of ministers, guest-edited by Leslie Francis, there are two consecutive chapters exploring the stress and coping strategies of a sample of 613 rural clergy in the Church of England in 2004: by Christine Brewster, Leslie Francis, Mandy Robbins, and Gemma Penny (pp. 198-217) and Leslie Francis, Patrick Laycock, and Christine Brewster (pp. 218-36). Finally, Kelvin Randall reported on the work-related psychological well-being of 156 Anglican clergy in England and Wales based on the year 14 (2008) wave of his longitudinal study of those ordained as deacons in 1994 (pp. 291-301). For the full table of contents, go to:

Death in Britain

In Mors Britannica: Lifestyle and Death-Style in Britain Today (Oxford University Press, 2015, viii + 428pp., ISBN 9780199644971, £30 hardback), Douglas Davies offers us a fascinating anthropological-sociological overview of death in contemporary Britain, including its religious aspects. He synthesizes a vast amount of existing published research, much of it his own, and provides extensive contextual material (arguably a bit too much on occasion) and a theoretical perspective. However, he is somewhat sparing in his deployment of statistical evidence, which is largely relegated to chapter 2 and, in respect of cremation (whose growing adoption is viewed as an index of secularization), chapter 3. There is no systematic trend analysis of the various official statistics pertaining to death and coverage is also somewhat selective of available British sample surveys on public attitudes to death and associated beliefs (such as in the afterlife). The book’s webpage is at:

Labour market penalties

Nabil Khattab and Tariq Modood have continued their investigation of employment penalties in the UK, based on an analysis of Labour Force Survey data for 2002-13, research which has been previously reported in the journal Sociology. They argue that these penalties are strongly associated with colour (mainly blackness) and culture (particularly being Muslim), black Muslims facing the highest penalty of all, but that they are not fixed, tending to vary in extent and nature. The article, ‘Both Ethnic and Religious: Explaining Employment Penalties across 14 Ethno-Religious Groups in the United Kingdom’, is published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 54, No. 3, 2015, pp. 501-22 and can be accessed online (via paywall, if not a subscriber) at:

Muslim women

Skaiste Liepyte and Kareena McAloney-Kocaman have explored ‘Discrimination and Religiosity among Muslim Women in the UK before and after the Charlie Hebdo Attacks’ (perpetrated by Islamists in Paris in January 2015), reporting their findings in Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 18, No. 9, 2015, pp. 789-94. Their sample was a self-selecting one of 240 Muslim women living in the UK, with a mean age of 24 years, recruited via YouTube and other online means, 153 of them before and 87 after the attacks. Greater Islamic religious practice and perceptions of discrimination were reported by the post-attack sub-sample. The article can be freely accessed online at:


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


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

Religiosity and Secularity in the 1957 Youth Research Council Survey

The Youth Research Council survey, recently published by the UK Data Service, was motivated by the desire of the Young Christian Workers and the Newman Demographic Survey to investigate religiosity and religious practice among young people during their formative years. To reiterate, the sample comprised young people aged 15-24 living in urban England in 1957. Some headline data are given on religious belief and practice in Table 1 below: belief in God was the norm, but there is evidence that strict adherence to the requirement to attend, and more challenging beliefs such as belief in hell, were in retreat.








Table 1: Percentage of respondents (weighted).


The rest of this post provides examples of individual responses which give further qualitative detail. While the rate of belief in God was high, there is also considerable evidence of secularity, with very straightforward individual responses to that effect.










No time for all that rot. Never been [to church] of my own free will.


The Young Christian Workers members and volunteers fielding the survey were instructed to write down as much as possible of what the respondents said in response to questions. This example shows a response from a believer.





Q: ‘Do you think that Jesus Christ was God?’ A: ‘Well he must be’. 


The response ‘it’s my husband that is athiest [sic]. Not me’ suggests a slight issue with the recording of responses, with this woman apparently giving her husband’s views rather than her own.





In some cases we get a sense that respondents were surprised to be asked questions of this nature. In the example below, to the question ‘do you think a person’s religion should have anything to do with his everyday life?’ the respondent replied ‘[it’s] difficult to answer in [a] few moments’. In the following example, the respondent said ‘you’d better put ‘yes’’ to the question on belief in God, and added ‘[I] didn’t expect these questions’ to that on the divinity of Jesus Christ.









One respondent clarified that they had no religion but were ‘PROTESTANT – not a Catholic’. Most likely, the respondent was just not religious, but aware that their ethnic or nominal religion was Protestant rather than Catholic, even if they could not be more precise as to whether they were Anglican or nonconformist. Similarly, a second respondent identified themselves as Anglican, and clarified further that they were ‘not Catholic!’ And quite a few seemed not to know what they were in terms of religion.
















Q: ‘What is your Religion?’ A: ‘The normal Church. Don’t know what it’s called’.

The interviewer annotated ‘actually C of E’ below their response.


One respondent replied stolidly that their religion was ‘Church’. The coder subsequently identified them as Church of England.






Indeed, there is plenty of evidence of what David Voas terms ‘fuzzy fidelity’:







‘Nothing at the moment – I’m thinking’.


This respondent saw themselves as the norm: a young female Anglican, she clarified that her religion was ‘just ordinary!’







This respondent was apparently a pantheist, or perhaps simply highly credulous.







Some responses to the question on religious identity will be familiar to sociologists of religion who have discussed Sheilaism. This respondent identified her religion as ‘trying to be a good girl’ about a quarter of a century before Robert Bellah and Richard Madsen described the faith position of young American Sheila Larson in Habits of the Heart.







This respondent shows some evidence of switching and ‘shopping around’: to the question, ‘what is your religion?’ he replied ‘Christened in Church of England but I prefer Methodist[s]’.







These were more communitarian times, however, and ‘shopping around’ was difficult for some, as with the respondent below.






‘[I am Church of England] but am frightened to go to Church because am stranger in [the] area’.


The following respondent held forthright views on the community aspect rather than loss of belief as being the reason for going to church less than when they were younger.






‘Petty squabbles among churchgoers’.


This respondent replied clearly that they ‘[had] no religious beliefs’.






There is also the beginning of a sense of authenticity relating to personal religiosity – that participation was not enough.






‘[I attended less than now because] I was sceptical. At one time I was an agnostic – I felt it would be making a mockery if I went’.


We also see some stirrings of anti-authority feeling and independence of mind:






‘I did not like the attitude of the Minister’.








‘[I] didn’t like the way they were teaching at Sunday School – they drummed it into you’.


But then there were other individual, even individualist, answers. On the religious affiliation question, one respondent concluded that he ‘had better say Hedonism’. Another replied ‘Me’.















Q: ‘What is your father’s religion?’ A: ‘Pessimist’.


There was also evidence of reflection, and of highly considered answers. We’ll close with two striking examples.




‘You must be extraordinary to do without fellowship’.






‘I believe it is a good thing to have a religion, but so far have failed to find any religion which I consider perfect’.

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, Historical studies, Religious beliefs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, November 2015

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 2, November 2015 features no fewer than 41 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 2 November 2015


Religious affiliation

ORB International’s latest surveys for The Independent included the pollster’s standard question on membership of religious groups (response options being limited to each of the major world faiths plus categories for other religions and none). Fieldwork was conducted online on 23-25 October and 18-19 November 2015 among samples of, respectively, 2,015 and 2,067 adults aged 18 and over in Britain. The data tables, with breaks by standard demographics, are at:

Freedom of speech

The latest release of data from the Spring 2015 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project covered the attitudes towards free expression among publics in 40 countries. Fieldwork was co-ordinated by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, with 999 adults aged 18 and over interviewed by telephone in Britain between 8 and 28 April 2015. Respondents were asked about the importance which they attached to being able to practice their religion freely and whether people should be able to make public statements which are offensive to religion or beliefs. They were also invited to assess how important religion was in their own lives, a question asked several times before in Britain by Pew, albeit not since 2011. A majority (54%) replied that it was not too important or not at all important to them, albeit this was lower than the 61% of four years before. The Pew report is available at:

Lord’s Prayer and cinemas

News that Digital Cinema Media had refused to run in cinemas a Church of England pre-Christmas advertisement based on the Lord’s Prayer, on the grounds that it might cause offence to people of non-Christian faiths or none, prompted YouGov to mount a snap poll on the subject among its panellists. When the context was explained to them, 55% of respondents thought the advertisement should have been screened, notwithstanding that 67% rarely or never pray themselves (with just 9% claiming to pray every day). Results were reported on 24 November 2015 at:


Funerals remain a relatively under-researched area, notwithstanding that this is the one rite of passage for which faith bodies continue to be majority providers, at least nominally. Although it lacks any specifically religious component, a new online poll from YouGov, undertaken on 9-10 November 2015, gave interesting insights into how far the sample of 1,639 adults had thought about their funeral and the disposal of their body. Data are available via the link in the blog post at:

Life after death

YouGov has replicated six questions originally posed by the British Institute of Public Opinion (later known as Social Surveys, Gallup Poll) in 1939. YouGov’s fieldwork was conducted among an online panel on 1-2 November 2015, with 1,716 respondents aged 18 and over. Gallup, by contrast, employed face-to-face interviewing with quota samples of Britons aged 21 and over. One of the repeated questions concerned belief in life after death. Whereas in 1939 just under one-half of adults believed and just over one-third disbelieved, in 2015 the proportions were reversed. A link to the 2015 data table can be found in the blog post at:

Remembrance Day

To coincide with this year’s event, Survation released the results of two polls on attitudes to Remembrance Day which were commissioned by British Future. Online panel fieldwork was conducted as far back as 8-15 May 2015 among samples of 3,977 adults in Great Britain and 1,056 in Scotland. Two questions were asked, one about wearing a poppy, and the other about whether the commemoration caused frictions between people of different faiths and ethnicities. Data, which include breaks by religious affiliation, are available at:

Religion at Christmas

The importance attached to the religious aspect of Christmas was investigated by ComRes in an online poll for Premier Christian Media on 23-24 September 2015 (but only recently released), for which 2,016 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed. They were asked to signal their agreement/disagreement with six statements regarding the religious meaning of Christmas. Data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation as well as standard demographics, are available at:

Religious texts

Respondents to an online poll from YouGov about the changing status of books were asked which single book they would want to save from being destroyed forever. They were given four options to choose from, one of which was a religious or sacred text, selected by 14% of the sample, well behind a reference work and a novel in first and second places, respectively. The survey was commissioned by Ideate Research for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and it was completed by 2,186 adults aged 18 and over on 4-6 November 2015. Data tables are at:

Scots and organized religion

Ipsos MORI’s latest Scottish Public Opinion Monitor, which surveyed 1,029 adults aged 16 and over in Scotland by telephone between 9 and 16 November 2015, included a short battery of Likert-style statements about social changes. One was ‘organised religion is not for me’, with which 68% agreed and only 28% disagreed, thus confirming other recent research which suggests that Scotland is rapidly secularizing. The data table is available at:

British attitudes toward Israel

The attitudes to Israel of 2,007 adults aged 18 and over in Great Britain have been investigated by Populus on behalf of BICOM (Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre). Fieldwork was conducted online on 16-18 October 2015. Questions included public reactions to the existence of a majority Jewish state in Palestine, both today and going back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Opinions were also sought regarding other current players in the Middle East, among them Islamic State and the danger which it poses to the UK’s security. Data tables are at:

World War III

Pope Francis has warned that World War III has begun in a ‘piecemeal’ fashion. On 18 November 2015, after the Islamist attacks in Paris, YouGov gave its online panellists an opportunity to say whether they agreed with the Pontiff that we are now in World War III and also whether, regardless of their agreement/disagreement, they thought he had been right to say what he did. Although 53% of the 4,757 UK adults who replied believed he had been right to voice his opinion, only 38% agreed with him. Results, weighted to be representative of the population as a whole, are available at:

Muslim attitudes

In the wake of the Islamist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, Survation polled 1,003 Muslims aged 18 and over in Britain by telephone on 18-20 November. Questions covered: relative importance of British and Muslim identity; perceived degree of integration of Muslims into British society; responsibility of Muslims and UK Islamic leaders to condemn terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam; and attitudes to Islamic State (IS) and the bombing of IS in Syria. Results were reported in The Sun, the newspaper which commissioned the survey, on 23 November, while the full data tables are at:

The poll proved controversial and triggered an unusually large number of complaints to the. Independent Press Standards Organisation. The concern arose particularly from the presentation and interpretation of the findings by The Sun, not least its front-page headline ‘1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ Sympathy for Jihadis’. Even the pollsters distanced themselves from the newspaper’s reporting. However, some criticism was also directed against Survation’s methodology (which it had used before). In brief, respondents were sampled based on a modelled probability of self-identifying as Muslim and using a range of demographic indicators. Prior to interview they were asked to confirm that they were Muslim, including non-practising. Apparently, YouGov, The Sun’s normal pollster, declined to pitch for the contract. For a flavour of the negative coverage, see:

For Survation’s published defence of itself, see:


There has been a strong polling focus this month on attitudes to, and potential British actions against, Islamic State (IS). This follows the renewal of the political debate about extending British participation in coalition air strikes against IS from Iraq to Syria and also arises from the aftermath of the Islamist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, which resulted in the death of 130 people. The polls are arranged below in chronological order by date of fieldwork.

BMG Research

On behalf of the Evening Standard, BMG Research surveyed an online sample of 1,528 UK adults on 11-17 November 2015 about their views on extending British air strikes against Islamic State from Iraq to Syria. Interviews were carried out both immediately before and after the Islamist attacks in Paris on 13 November, and the full data tables give the results separately for these two phases. The survey featured in the Evening Standard for 18 November 2015. Data tables are at:


Opinium Research quizzed an online sample of 2,003 UK adults on 13-17 November 2015 about how cases such as that of Mohammed Emwazi, the British ‘Jihadi John’ who executed Western hostages, and who was recently killed in a British and American drone strike, should be handled. Specifically, they were asked whether an attempt should have been made to capture him and put him on trial or whether, given the difficulty of doing so, killing him by drone was appropriate. Data tables are promised but have yet to materialize online. In the meantime, a blog about the poll is at:

YouGov (1)

On behalf of The Times, YouGov took the pulse of public opinion toward Islamic State (IS) in the wake of the Islamist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, interviewing a sample of 1,688 adults online on 16-17 November. Respondents were asked whether they approved or disapproved of: RAF participation in air strikes against IS in Syria; Britain and the United States sending ground troops back into Iraq to help fight IS; Britain and the United States sending ground troops into Syria against IS; and the British and American drone strike which killed Mohammed Emwazi, otherwise known as Jihadi John. Views were also sought about the adequacy of the powers of the British authorities to combat the IS threat in Britain, and the level of concern felt about an IS attack in Britain. The poll results were covered in The Times on 18 November and in a blog post on YouGov’s website the same day, the latter also including a link to full data tables – see:

Much the same suite of questions was also asked by YouGov, on behalf of The Times, of 1,443 members of the Labour Party on 19-23 November 2015, with a view to seeing whether they agreed with the seemingly less hawkish position taken against IS by their leader (Jeremy Corbyn) than adopted by Prime Minister David Cameron. Data tables can be accessed via the link in the blog post at:

Survation (1)

As part of a broader survey commissioned by Leave.EU, Survation polled an online sample of 1,546 UK adults aged 18 and over on 16-17 November 2015 about their attitudes toward military action (including air strikes in Syria) against Islamic State in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris. Data tables are at:

ComRes (1)

Also in the immediate aftermath of the Islamist attacks in Paris, ComRes conducted a poll for the Daily Mail among an online sample of 1,061 adults aged 18 and over on 17 November 2015. The subject matter was attitudes to terrorism, including toward Islamic State (IS). The IS-related questions concerned: support for air strikes, and the commitment of ground troops, against IS; the likelihood of such military action increasing the risk of a terrorist attack in Britain; the prospects for defeating IS with or without military action; and approval/disapproval of the killing of Mohammed Emwazi (Jihadi John). Findings were published in the Daily Mail for 19 November 2015, with full data tables at:

ORB International

ORB International undertook a survey among an online sample of 2,067 adult Britons on 18-19 November 2015 on their attitudes to the extension of British air strikes, and the commitment of British ground troops, against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Data tables are at:

ICM Unlimited

In an online survey by ICM Unlimited among 2,013 adult Britons on 18-20 November 2015, views were sought about: (1) British involvement in air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria, with or without the consent of Parliament; and (2) whether British military intervention against IS would make the Middle East safer or more dangerous. Data tables are at:

ComRes (2)

On behalf of The Independent and Sunday Mirror, ComRes polled an online sample of 2,067 adults aged 18 and over on 18-20 November 2015 about: (1) British involvement in air strikes and a ground war against Islamic State (IS); and (2) the killing of British citizens in Syria who had joined IS. Findings were reported in the Independent on Sunday for 22 November 2015, and data tables are at:

YouGov (2)

Almost four-fifths of Londoners are very or fairly worried about an Islamic State terrorist attack on the capital, according to a YouGov poll for the Evening Standard among an online sample of 1,008 London adults on 18-21 November 2015. Results were published in the Evening Standard for 27 November, with the data table available at:

YouGov (3)

The November 2015 wave of Eurotrack, undertaken online by YouGov in seven Western European nations (Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden) on 19-24 November, included several questions about terrorism and Islamic State (IS). Respondents, including the 1,699 in Britain, were asked whether Western countries were doing enough to combat IS in Iraq and Syria; whether their national police and security services had sufficient powers to combat any IS threat at home; and about their fears of an IS terrorist attack in their own country. Topline results only are available at:

YouGov (4)

YouGov conducted an online poll of 1,659 Britons on 23-24 November 2015 in connection with a YouGov@Cambridge symposium on Syria and the European Union. Questions covered three broad areas: attitudes toward British military action (in the air and on the ground) against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria; the handling of Syria and IS issues by British and world political leaders, including David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn; and possible resolutions of those issues, among them co-operation with the government of President Bashar al-Assad and negotiation with IS. Data tables are available via the link at:

YouGov (5)

An online poll by YouGov on 25-26 November 2015 asked 1,623 Britons whether they thought a decision on military intervention against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria should be taken collectively by the European Union or be a matter for individual member states. Only one-third favoured a decision being made at the European level. The data table is at:

Survation (2)

On behalf of the Daily Mirror, Survation polled an online sample of 1,026 UK adults on 26-27 November 2015 about their attitudes to British involvement in air strikes, and to the commitment of British ground troops (now or in the future), against Islamic State in Syria, including about the potential for air strikes to heighten the risk of a terror attack in the UK. Results featured in the Daily Mirror on 28 November 2015, while data tables are at:


Christians and the refugee crisis

The attitudes of UK practising Christians to the international refugee crisis were explored in an online poll conducted by Christian Research in November 2015 and commissioned by Embrace the Middle East, a Christian charity originating in 1854. Respondents comprised 1,055 members of Christian Research’s Resonate panel. Full results have not been released, but there is a brief press release at:

Church of England finances

The Church of England has published a financial overview for 2004-13, conveniently bringing together information on income and expenditure from over 12,000 parishes, 44 dioceses, 41 cathedrals, and three National Church Institutions (Church Commissioners, Archbishops’ Council, and Church of England Pensions Board). The report is available at:

Catholic schools

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales has published the digest of its 2015 census of Catholic schools and colleges, which, for the second year running, achieved a return of 100%. In separate reports for England and Wales, there are details of: the number, type, and size distribution of schools and colleges; the number of pupils disaggregated by school type, Catholicity, ethnicity, and deprivation; and the number, qualifications, Catholicity, and ethnicity of teaching and support staff. Appendices provide additional breaks by diocese. The reports can be accessed via the links at:

Israelis in Britain

The latest report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) is David Graham’s Britain’s Israeli Diaspora: A Demographic Portrait. It is largely based upon the results of the 2011 UK census, including many tables specially commissioned by JPR from the Office for National Statistics. These revealed 23,221 Israelis (defined by birth or citizenship) living in the UK in 2011, the highest ever recorded number, 73% of whom were Jewish either by religion or ethnicity, equivalent to 6% of the Jewish population of the UK. In fact, during the first decade of this Millennium there were more Israeli migrants to Britain than British emigrants to Israel. The 20-page report is available at:


The Islamic Human Rights Commission has published a substantial (272-page) report by Saied Reza Ameli and Arzu Merali entitled Environment of Hate: The New Normal for Muslims in the UK. In chapter 5 (pp. 123-84) it seeks to document Muslim experiences of Islamophobia based upon a sample (implicitly self-selecting) of 1,782 Muslims in 2014, 1,148 of whom completed a hard-copy questionnaire and 634 an online survey. To judge from the demographics which are quoted, respondents were disproportionately young, of Pakistani heritage, educated to degree level, from middle income groups, and practising Muslims. One in eight informants were not actually resident in the UK, and 1% were not even Muslim. Comparisons are drawn with a similar survey in 2009-10, to which there were only 336 respondents, with many indicators apparently revealing perceived worsening Islamophobia over the period. The tone of much of the text gives it the air of a political tract and, combined with a doubtful survey methodology, weakens the case for considering the work as an objective and balanced piece of empirical research (notwithstanding several academic endorsements quoted on the back cover). The report costs £5 to download in PDF format and £10 in paperback, but an eight-page executive summary is freely available at


Religion of prisoners

The Ministry of Justice’s National Offender Management Service has published its Offender Equalities Annual Report, 2014/15, with associated data tables. This includes details of the religious affiliation of the prison population of England and Wales as at 31 March 2015. Of 85,664 prisoners, 49% professed to be Christian, 31% to have no religion, and 14% to be Muslim. The proportion of Christians was actually 0.5% higher than in 2009 and of religious nones four points fewer; this somewhat counterintuitive trend may reflect a shift in the age profile of the prison population, away from the under-25 cohort. The report is available at:

Religion of armed forces

The Ministry of Defence’s biannual diversity statistics for UK armed forces personnel as at 1 October 2015 presented a rather different religious profile to that of prisoners: 77% of the 152,150 regular forces were Christian, 21% of no religion, and a mere 0.3% Muslim. The distribution was very similar among the volunteer reserve. The report and data tables are at:

Youth social action

Meaningful social action by young people in the UK is rather more prevalent among those professing some religion (45%) than those without (39%). Among those classified as committed to social action, the proportion with some faith is 52%. Overall, 49% of young people expressed a religious affiliation and 46% did not. The findings emerged from face-to-face interviews conducted, by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Cabinet Office, with 2,021 10- to 20-year-olds between 2 and 19 September 2015. The definition of social action used in the survey was ‘practical action in the service of others to create positive change’. A presentation about the study, which is designed to support a Government campaign to advance youth social action, is at:


Personal saliency of religion

Clive Field provides an additional lens on the scale and chronology of secularization in modern Britain by reviewing opinion polls on the personal saliency of religion conducted between the 1960s and the present day. Six self-rating measures were derived from both non-recurrent and serial surveys: religiosity (binary questions), religiosity (non-binary questions), spirituality versus religiosity, importance of religion, importance of God, and difference made by religion. The conclusion is that saliency of religion indicators present one of the bleaker pictures of the extent of secularization, worse than affiliation or belief in God data, with self-assessed non-religiosity in Britain higher than in most other Western European countries. The article, ‘Secularising Selfhood: What Can Polling Data on the Personal Saliency of Religion Tell Us about the Scale and Chronology of Secularisation in Modern Britain?’, is published in Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2015, pp. 308-30. Access options are outlined at:

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:

Clergy theological constructs

In ‘Go and Observe the Sower: Seeing Empirical Theology at Work’, Journal of Empirical Theology, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2015, pp. 155-83, Leslie Francis and Andrew Village sought to operationalize two theological constructs, one concerning the nature of being human (rooted in a theology of individual differences) and the other concerning the nature of the Church (rooted in ecclesiology). These constructs were tested among a sample of 1,418 clergy living in England who self-selected to reply (online or by post) to a questionnaire included in the Church Times in 2013. The data revealed that, after controlling for sex and age, both constructs explained significant variance in three measures dividing clerical opinion: traditional moral belief, traditional religious belief, and traditional worship. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Clergy leadership skills

Personality has substantial effects on the self-rated leadership strengths of Anglican clergy, although the psychological types which have positive associations are often not those most commonly found among these clergy. In particular, there is arguably a shortage of ordained ministers characterized by extraversion and thinking (rather than introversion and feeling). So conclude Laura Watt and David Voas on the basis of an online survey of 1,480 clergy, 95% in stipendiary ministry, in April-July 2013 in connection with the Church of England’s church growth research programme. ‘Psychological Types and Self-Assessed Leadership Skills of Clergy in the Church of England’ is published in Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 18, No. 7, 2015, pp. 544-55. Access options are outlined at:

Attitudes of British Jews toward Israel

The Attitudes of British Jews towards Israel, and to that country’s current policies and conduct in the Middle East, are considered in a new research report published by City University and written by Stephen Miller, Margaret Harris, and Colin Shindler. The study was funded by Yachad, a British, pro-Israel, pro-peace campaigning group, although the authors are at pains to stress their independence of the funding body. Fieldwork was undertaken by Ipsos MORI between March and July 2015 among 1,131 adult British Jews aged 18 and over. The sample was recruited using a combination of: random sampling of individuals on the electoral register with distinctive Jewish surnames; exhaustive sampling of Jewish members of an online panel maintained by Ipsos MORI; and a structured (discriminative) approach to online snowball sampling. An interesting feature of the research is a scale of hawkishness-dovishness in opinions of Israel, based on responses to 41 attitude statements. The report is available at:


SN 6614: Understanding Society, wave 5

The dataset for wave 5 of Understanding Society (United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study) has been released. Face-to-face interviews were completed by NatCen Social Research with 41,041 adults aged 16 and over in the UK between 8 January 2013 and 5 June 2015. Topics covered included the importance of religion to a sense of personal identity; pride in religion; religious affiliation (by upbringing and current); and religion as a source of harassment and discrimination. The dataset description is available at:

SN 7836: Community Life Survey, 2014-15

The Cabinet Office’s Community Life Survey touches on the role of religion in relation to community life, including volunteering and charitable giving. Background questions are also asked about religious affiliation and self-assigned practice of religion. The 2014-15 survey was conducted by TNS BMRB between 1 July 2014 and 30 April 2015, among a face-to-face sample of 2,022 adults aged 16 and over in England, with 2,323 respondents completing an online or postal questionnaire. The dataset description is available at:

SN 7839: Integrated Household Survey, January-December 2014

The Integrated Household Survey is the largest pool of UK social data after the decennial census of population. In 2014 323,935 individuals aged 16 and over were interviewed, face-to-face or by telephone. A question on religious affiliation is included, using the census categories. The dataset description is available at:


Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2015


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The 1957 Youth Research Council Survey of Young People’s Religion and Lifestyles

It’s my pleasure to announce the publication online of a survey dataset, the 1957 Youth Research Council Survey of Young People’s Religion and Lifestyles (SN 7933). This is a project on which I’ve worked for some time, to digitise and make more widely available a large-scale survey of English youth fielded almost 60 years ago.

This project was originally of BRIN inspiration: Clive Field serves as a trustee on the Pastoral Research Centre Trust, a social research institute established and directed by the demographer and religious sociologist Tony Spencer. Clive suggested this project as one where digitisation would help preserve a valuable and high-quality data source both for wider use by sociologists of religion, and for the longer term. He summarised the data source as follows in his 1987 work on religious data sources:

‘[A] major study… conducted in January and February 1957 by the Roman Catholic Young Christian Worker movement with technical assistance from the [Newman Demographic Survey]. Interviews were held with 8,196 persons aged fifteen to twenty-four living in randomly selected streets of twenty-eight London boroughs and thirty English provincial towns and cities with a population in excess of forty thousand. The full questionnaire, which was given to all non-Anglican respondents and to thirty per cent of the five thousand Church of England adherents, covered socio-demographic characteristics, belief in god, Christ heaven and hell, attendance at Sunday school or catechism, public worship and Holy Communion, and confirmation. Proper weighting (to correct for the over-representation of Catholics and fifteen to nineteen year olds) and analysis of the data was never completed on account of shortages both of time and money, and the only significant publication to have arisen from the project was a special double issue of New Life’ (Field 1987: 263).

The survey was conducted jointly by the Young Christian Workers (YCW) and the Newman Demographic Survey (NDS) under a joint committee, namely the Youth Research Council. The YCW interest lay in gathering data for the YCW’s international congress in Rome. It had an activist mission: its motto then and now was ‘See, Judge, Act’. National associations were asked by the YCW headquarters in Brussels to report on young workers in their countries. Frank Lane (1926-1993), then a full-time organiser for the YCW and later to become its chief administrator in England, contacted the Newman Demographic Survey for advice.

Tony Spencer established both the Newman Demographic Survey, in 1953, and the PRC as a legacy organisation in 1964. Inconsistency of funding and programmatic independence caused difficulties for the NDS, as detailed on the PRC website. Spencer managed much of the work of the NDS and PRC alongside a civil service career, military service, and then an academic career at Queen’s University Belfast. He also gave service to the wider community as founder of Lagan College, the first integrated school in Belfast, established in 1981. More on the founding of Lagan College can be learned here.

The YRC 1957 study was a particularly attractive project for many reasons. Commercial polling had come to Britain in the 1930s via Gallup, and government surveys were in their early stages in the 1950s. Among academic studies, the Glass mobility study of 1949, the Family Expenditure Survey of 1961, and British Election Study from 1963 were the first major examples. So it hails from the earlier years of survey research in Britain, and having this dataset available to the scholarly community helps turn this period from one of historical interest to one of social scientific interest. What are apparently the ‘relics of history’ are amenable to standard analytic tools and arguably of contemporary interest.

Even in the US, where the quantitative study of religion is firmly established, the earliest survey data available on religion are Gallup polling data from 1939. Notable early US studies include Gerhard Lenski’s sample of 656 Detroit residents in 1958, reported in his 1961 classic, The Religious Factor, and the first large-scale surveys of American religiosity launched in 1963 by Charles Glock and Rodney Stark.

The detail it provides on young English Catholics is also important. It is now largely forgotten that Irish immigrants were once seen as a social and cultural threat, and it may be that analysis of these data will help shed light on the successful integration of a distinct religious minority.

Further, it is of good quality for a study of its time and comparable quality would be very expensive nowadays when young people are hard-to-reach by survey researchers. There is lots of evidence in the archives of care and thought given to sampling and questionnaire design, with further details in the survey’s Technical Report. Expert advice was sought from survey researchers in government and at Gallup, and also from the Director of Mass Observation. Of the towns and boroughs which were selected for the stratified sample, a 2 per cent sample was taken of those aged 15-24.

The survey was also fascinating in terms of how it was produced. There was almost no funding available – £200 provided by the YCW in 1956, worth about £4500 now. That had to cover the printing of questionnaires and tabulation of the responses for computer analysis as well as the analysis itself. The survey was fielded by volunteers from the Young Christian Workers, mostly young people in their teens and early 20s, with little free time outside work. The survey design, coding up of responses and analysis of the headline results depended very much on the NDS and its advisers working in an entirely voluntary capacity, in the interests of gathering data on youth religiosity and particularly Catholic religiosity at a time of high immigration from Ireland in particular. A similar study nowadays – face-to-face, aiming for good coverage of minority communities – would require funding of several hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to one reviewer of the project.

More importantly, the dataset provides an important insight into youth lifestyle and attitudes to religion in late industrial society. This period is now slipping farther back in British memory, and yet is still part of our present: the majority of that cohort is still alive. Accordingly, the survey is both history and social science, informing us of the youth of the Silent Generation, which is now enjoying retirement or still working, still volunteering and politically-active, and caring for dependents. The target population is now aged 74 to 83. Their social attitudes are borne of memories of wartime and post-war austerity, strong trade unions and a large manufacturing sector, almost full employment in their formative years, and for a lucky few, the provision of free university education. While the late 1950s are commonly thought of as the age of beatniks and rock’n’roll, there is actually little evidence of widespread cultural change – that apparently awaited the 1960s – although 1957 was arguably the first year when television dominated the radio. In providing additional data on what young people were doing on Sundays, and the societies and clubs they belonged to, the survey also tells us of youth leisure and civic life at the time.

For completion of the digitisation project, I was very lucky to be awarded what was, coincidentally, a similar amount of funding by the Nuffield Foundation to that originally provided by the YCW. The practical side was interesting in that there were not many exemplars; very helpful advice on data capture was provided by economists Andrew Newell and Tim Leunig.

On beginning the project, it also seemed that there was a certain amount of data loss – to damp and some boxes of forms were lost so that about half the London boroughs are not represented. The IBM punchcards were also lost over the years. 5832 responses survive.

An example of an original form is given below (click on the images for enlarged versions). Many written-in answers had been coded by the original coding team, notably one Mrs Jane Platts, whose work in coding occupations was stellar. The closed responses had also been ringed by the interviewer, and again back at the NDS offices where checks were made for consistency. The excellent Digital Divide Data took receipt of the set of scanned images and recorded responses in an Excel spreadsheet for further processing.

YCW-example-1 YCW-example-2








This spreadsheet then required further cleaning and checking (and the written-in responses to religious questions remains to be done). The published dataset, available in both SPSS and Stata formats, includes the close-form variables; written-in responses to questions on how time was spent last Sunday, associational memberships and occupation; a number of derived variables; full variable labelling; and has the different types of missingness identified. The Technical Report explains further.

Finally, I created poststratification weights using 1951 Census data together with Spencer’s own estimates of the 15-24 Catholic population of England.

In further posts I will give some examples of individual responses to particular questions to help give a flavour of religious attitudes at the time. There is also the potential for interesting qualitative work drawing on the written-in responses, marginalia and survey paradata.

For now, thanks are due the Nuffield Foundation for funding digitisation costs (SGS/37651). Some of this work was also completed while I was Marston Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, supported by the Marston Family Trust, for which I am extremely grateful; this dataset will inform further work on youth socialisation. The UK Data Service, particularly Louise Bolger and Karen Dennison, were very helpful in advising on preparing the dataset for publication.

For their technical and practical help in digitising the survey, and agreement for granting of copyright clearance for publication online, thanks are also due to:

Phil Callaghan, National President, Young Christian Workers England and Wales

Chhuon Chipon, Digital Divide Data, Cambodia

Martin Cooney, Servicepoint UK, Manchester

James Duff, Conservation Team Leader, John Rylands University Library

Kate Duncan, Digital Divide Data, New York

Clive Field OBE, Director of British Religion in Numbers and Honorary Research Fellow of the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester

Anthony Heath, Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford

Michael Hornsby-Smith, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey

Johanna Juselius, former graduate student in Social Change, University of Manchester

Tim Leunig, then Associate Professor in Economic History, London School of Economics

Tessa Liburd, graduate student in Sociology, University of Manchester

Andrew Newell, Lecturer in Economics, University of Sussex

Paul Norman, Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Leeds

David Voas, Director of British Religion in Numbers and Head of Department of Social Science at UCL Institute of Education

Particular thanks are due to Tony Spencer, whose extraordinary efforts led to the fielding and then preservation of the survey. In turn, in the report of the survey’s headline results made in 1958, he paid tribute to the numerous volunteers who knocked on doors interviewing respondents:

‘to the National Organisers and Regional Leaders who spent weeks travelling the country, preparing street lists by day and briefing interviewers in the evenings: to the Y.C.W. Headquarters Staff who administered and maintained the momentum of the work: and above all to the many hundreds of members of the Y.C.W. and of the Legion of Mary, Knights of St. Columba, the Cell, the Children of Mary, youth clubs, teachers and training colleges and University students, who spent night after night and several week-ends, in wet or cold weather, calling at every house in a particular street, doing one or two interviews and then going on to the next listed street, perhaps some way away, and returning another day to call again at houses where everyone, or all of the young people of the household were found to be out’ (Spencer 1958: 8-9).


Barley, Lynda, Field, Clive D., Kosmin, Barry A., and Nielsen, Jorgen S (1987), Reviews of United Kingdom Statistical Sources XX: Religion (Pergamon Press, Oxford).

Spencer, A.E.C.W. (1958), ‘Youth and Religion’, New Life, Vol. 14, pp. 1-59.

The full technical report is available here:

In terms of papers analysing data from the survey:

Siobhan McAndrew and Lindsay Richards, ‘Nothing to Do in the Affluent Society’ (Working Paper) examines youth leisure and associational memberships in terms of religious affiliation. Further work is underway with Stephen Bullivant looking specifically at religious practice and belief.

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, church attendance, Historical studies, Measuring religion, Religion and Social Capital | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Counting Religion in Britain, October 2015

We are pleased to announce that the migration of the British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) website to its new platform has now taken place, and we are in a position to recommence posting of content to the site. We wish to thank our users for their patience.

The news pages of the site will continue to feature extended research notes on particular resources of topical or historical interest. The most recent of these, which has literally just been published, is by Ben Clements, offering further analysis of the British Election Study 2015 data. This post can be found at:

Our regular round-ups of new statistical sources are now being consolidated into a monthly bulletin, Counting Religion in Britain. The present post provides an overview of sources which came to BRIN’s notice during October 2015. Posts for subsequent months will follow in relatively quick succession.

The content of Counting Religion in Britain, No. 1, October 2015, can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 1 October 2015


Counting Religion in Britain

A Monthly Round-Up of New Statistical Sources

Number 1 – October 2015


Human rights

An online poll by ComRes for Amnesty International, undertaken among 2,051 adults in Britain on 2-4 October 2015, probed attitudes to the proposed British Bill of Rights, which the Government intends as a replacement for the current Human Rights Act. Specifically, respondents were asked whether they considered that rights which are presently protected by the Act, among them the right to freedom of religion and thought, should not be included in the Bill. Data tables are available at:

Religious pluralism

A ComRes poll for the BBC explored perceptions of: (1) contemporary children’s understanding of religion and faith, and different faith communities; and (2) the effects of the changing religious make-up of Britain on moral standards, shared values, acceptance of people from different backgrounds, and understanding of different cultures. Fieldwork was conducted by telephone on 18-28 September 2015 among a sample of 2,016 adults aged 18 and over. Data tables are at:

Religious discrimination

In 2006, 2009, and 2012 the European Commission included a module on discrimination in its regular series of Eurobarometers of public opinion in all member states of the European Union. It has now published a report on a fourth and extended study of the same subject: Special Eurobarometer 437: Discrimination in the EU in 2015. United Kingdom fieldwork was conducted by TNS UK by means of face-to-face interviews with 1,306 adults aged 15 and over. Questions covered attitudes to and experience of discrimination on several grounds, including on the basis of religion or beliefs; and reactions to efforts to promote diversity on the same grounds in the workplace, schools, and media. Respondents were also asked about their attitudes to a range of people (among them atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims) as prospective work colleagues or as partners in a love relationship with their children. The report is available at:

Data are available at:

Regulating supplementary religious schools

Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment, made in his speech to the Conservative Party’s autumn conference, to regulate supplementary religious schools (such as Islamic madrassas) in England was well received by the electorate, securing 62% endorsement. This was according to a Survation poll for the Huffington Post UK, for which 1,031 adult Britons were interviewed online on 7 October 2015. Data tables are at:

Islamic State (1)

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

Islamic State (2)

Notwithstanding serious tensions between Russia and the West elsewhere in the world, the majority of Britons approved of Anglo-American co-operation with Russian military forces in the fight against Islamic State (IS). This was 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. Other questions covered attitudes to British military involvement against IS in Iraq and Syria. YouGov’s analysis of the survey, with a link to the data tables, is at:


Millennial Christians

The Evangelical Alliance has reported on the religious beliefs, practices, opinions, and experiencers of millennial Christians: Lucy Olofinjana, Building Tomorrow’s Church Today: The Views and Experiences of Young Adults in the UK Church. It is based upon an online survey completed by a self-selecting (and thus potentially unrepresentative) sample of 1,703 churchgoing, evangelical Christians aged 18-37 in the UK in October-November 2014 and March 2015. The report, which especially highlighted gender and ethnic differences, is available at:

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 surveyed the statistical and theological context before setting out general principles and specific recommendations for the management of the Church’s places of worship. 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 includes data disaggregated to diocesan level, is available at:

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 in terms of financial viability and ageing congregations. The report, which is somewhat lacking in terms of data and confusing in its presentation, can be viewed at:

Pastoral Research Centre publications

The Pastoral Research Centre Trust, which undertakes socio-religious research into Roman Catholicism in England and Wales with particular reference to statistical sources, has 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:

Strictly Orthodox Jewry

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) has published a major report on Orthodox Jewry: 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:


Religious hate crimes

Home Office Statistical Bulletin 05/15 is 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. The Statistical Bulletin and associated tables can be found at:

Scottish Gaelic and religion

The Scottish Government has 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:


Christian beliefs and religious debates

In his second book, Ben Clements quantitatively illuminates several key aspects of religion in post-war Britain, especially since the 1980s, on the basis of four recurrent historical sample survey sources (Gallup Polls, British Social Attitudes Surveys, European Values Studies, and Eurobarometers) and multivariate analysis of several contemporary non-recurrent polls. Chapters 2 and 3 examine the correlates of theistic and other traditional beliefs (God, atheism, life after death, hell, heaven, sin, the Devil, and the Bible), while chapter 4 reviews the attitudinal evidence for three areas of religious-secular debate (religion and science, faith schools, and disestablishment). There are 38 tables in all. Surveying Christian Beliefs and Religious Debates in Post-War Britain is published by Palgrave Macmillan at £45 (x + 144pp., ISBN 978-1-137-50655-9, hardback, also available in EPUB and PDF formats), and the book’s webpage is at:

Anglican cathedrals

Social scientific interest in the ministry and witness of cathedrals, especially in the contemporary Church of England, is continuing to grow. The latest offering is a series of ten research-focused (often quantitative and survey-based) studies of cathedrals in England and Wales by members of the research group around Leslie Francis, together with introductory and concluding chapters by Francis and Judith Muskett. Topics covered range over both the spiritual and touristic dimensions of cathedral life, and the perspectives are those of empirical theology, sociology of religion, and psychology of religion. Some authors report on individual cathedrals (including three in Wales – Bangor, Llandaff, and St Davids), while others range more widely. All show familiarity with relevant secondary literature, which is usefully listed in the bibliography. Anglican Cathedrals in Modern Life: The Science of Cathedral Studies is edited by Francis and published by Palgrave Macmillan at £57.50 hardback (xiv + 267pp., ISBN 978-1-137-55301-0, also available in PDF format). The book’s webpage is at:–francis/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137553010

Education and secularization

David Voas has replied to an article by James Lewis in Journal of Contemporary Religion in which, utilizing census data from Anglophone countries, Lewis reasserted the thesis that higher education appears to have a secularizing effect. In his response Voas reiterated 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, demonstrated that, whereas older ‘nones’ are more educated than Christians of the same age, younger ‘nones’ have fewer qualifications than their Christian counterparts. ‘The Normalization of Non-Religion: A Reply to James Lewis’ was published in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2015, pp. 505-8, and access options are outlined at:

Congregational bonding social capital

A seven-item measure of congregational expressions of Robert Putnam’s theory of bonding social capital was 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 supported 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 were also briefly reviewed. Access options to the article are outlined at:

New Churches in the North East

The final report on the New Churches in the North East project has been published, written by David Goodhew and Rob Barward-Symmons of the Centre for Church Growth Research, Durham University. It lists and profiles 125 new churches founded in the region between 1980 and 2015, and with a combined usual Sunday attendance of around 12,000. The majority of these places of worship were started by non-mainline Churches or as independent congregations, and they are disproportionately BME in composition and evangelical-charismatic in churchmanship. The report is available at:

Holocaust education

University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education has published a major (273-page) report about young people’s engagement with the Holocaust: Stuart Foster, Alice Pettigrew, Andy Pearce, Rebecca Hale, Adrian Burgess, Paul Salmons, and Ruth-Anne Lenga, What Do Students Know and Understand about the Holocaust? Evidence from English Secondary Schools. Deriving from survey responses of 7,952 students aged 11-18 in 74 schools between November 2013 and October 2014, and 49 focus groups involving 244 students, it claims to be the largest single-nation study in the field. It finds that ‘despite the Holocaust being a staple in the curriculum for almost 25 years, student knowledge and conceptual understanding is often limited and based on inaccuracies and misconceptions’. The report is available at:

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. The report is available at:


SN 7786: 21st Century Evangelicals

Since 2010 the Evangelical Alliance, in association with research partners, has conducted a series of online surveys among self-selecting (and thus potentially unrepresentative) samples of self-identifying evangelical Christians in the UK. Surveys have mostly been carried out quarterly, with each devoted to a particular theme. An overview of the findings of the research programme, which is still ongoing, can be found in 21st Century Evangelicals: Reflections on Research by the Evangelical Alliance, edited by Greg Smith (Watford: Instant Apostle, 2015). The individual datasets for the surveys to 2015 have now been made available on a Special Licence access basis, together with reports, questionnaires, and other documentation. The dataset description is available at:

SN 7799: National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, 2010-2012 (NATSAL III)

NATSAL III 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 dataset description is available at:

SN 7809: British Social Attitudes Survey, 2014

The British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey commenced in 1983 and has been undertaken annually ever since, apart from in two years. The latest BSA was conducted by NatCen by means of face-to-face interview and self-completion questionnaire between August and November 2014, among a sample of 2,878 adults aged 18 and over in Britain. The standard questions on religious affiliation and attendance were asked of the whole sample; these have both an intrinsic interest but can also be used as variables for analysing replies to other topics. A few other religion questions (for example, about attitudes to religious extremists) were put to sub-samples. The dataset description is available at:


Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2015


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