Mid-Summer Miscellany

 

Burka

The burka (and thus Islam) has been in the news again during the past week, partly because the European Court of Human Rights has upheld France’s ban on wearing the full face-veil in public (a similar ban also operates in Belgium), and partly because an imam has written to The Times to point out that ‘there is no Koranic mandate for female facial masks’ and to suggest that wearing the burka in public should be made illegal in the UK.

The latest publicity has prompted Opinium Research to test the popular mood in the UK, and the company put several questions to an online sample of 2,004 adults between 4 and 7 July 2014. Topline results are tabulated below, revealing two-thirds of people in favour of banning the burka, similar to other polls in recent years, albeit one-quarter expressed some concern on the grounds of implications for human rights and individual freedoms.

%

Agree

Disagree

Burqa, or full veil, should be banned in public places

68

14

Burqa a predominantly cultural rather than religious requirement

66

8

Banning burqa would give women who wear it less freedom

24

39

Banning burqa would be serious breach of rights of women

26

46

What people wear in public legitimate topic of public debate

62

11

What people wear, even in public, entirely private matter

26

48

Breaks by sex, age, and region, which show over-55s to be most illiberal in their views on all the questions, are also available at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4663_opinium_pr_veils_tables.pdf

Jihadists

The British Muslim community has also been in the headlines because of official confirmation that several hundred of its members have been engaged in jihad in Syria and Iraq, with a proportion of them potentially continuing their struggle on their return to Britain. The news has inevitably led to public concern, as recorded in a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times, for which 1,936 adults were interviewed online on 26-27 June 2014. Two-thirds of respondents felt that there was a serious danger of such jihadists undertaking terrorist attacks in this country, and this view was particularly held by Conservatives (78%), UKIP supporters (87%), and the over-60s (77%); just 17% believed the risk has been exaggerated. Social media have proved an effective vehicle for jihadist propaganda, and 61% were convinced that these media could be doing much more to prevent this happening, with 12% disagreeing and 27% unsure. Similarly, 63% of Britons considered that there was much more which Muslim community leaders could be doing to help the authorities identify young people who might become jihadists, a position again disproportionately taken up by Conservatives (76%), UKIP voters (85%), and the over-60s (74%); only 12% assessed that such leaders were doing all they reasonably could to assist, the remaining 25% expressing no opinion. In answer to a hypothetical question about having a Muslim child (including a convert), 63% said that they would inform the police if he had gone on jihad in Syria, while 8% would not, and 29% were uncertain what they would do. Full data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/s703u4qd5l/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-270614.pdf

Sunday trading

The overwhelming majority of Britons (77%) appear content with the provisions of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, which limits the opening of large shops in England and Wales to a maximum of six hours on a Sunday. This is according to a ComRes poll for the Association of Convenience Stores, released on 1 July 2014, and for which 1,004 adults were interviewed by telephone between 28 and 30 March 2014. The survey was presumably triggered by recent agitation on the part of some of the retail giants to get these restrictions lifted. Support for the status quo was highest in Scotland (86%), to which the law does not apply, but otherwise did not vary much by demographics (including by religious affiliation). Opposition to the six-hour rule was voiced by 20%, peaking at 30% in South-East England, albeit it sprang from a variety of motives. Among this minority, 56% wished to see no Sunday opening of large shops at all, while 23% wanted their hours to be reduced; on the other hand, 5% opted for a small increase in permitted opening hours and 17% for complete deregulation of Sunday trading, enabling large shops to open for as long as they desired. Data tables can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ACS_Public_Sunday_Trading_Tables_31_March_2014.pdf

Church and clergy

In a seminal article in Social Forces in 1994 Mark Chaves sought to redefine secularization as declining religious authority. His reformulation has hitherto been little examined in a British context, but Clive Field has now used it as a framework for considering changing views of Church and clergy: ‘Another Window on British Secularization: Public Attitudes to Church and Clergy since the 1960s’, Contemporary British History, Vol. 28, No. 2, June 2014, pp. 190-218. This is, in effect, a meta-analysis of opinion poll evidence from the last half-century, derived from 125 non-recurrent surveys and 15 time series (incorporating 114 data points). Much comparative information about other institutions and professions is also provided, notably in the twelve tables. The standing of Church and clergy in Britain is shown to have diminished, especially in the 1990s and 2000s, mirroring the net decline in institutional Christianity revealed in performance indicators of church membership, attendance, rites of passage, and affiliation. This loss of status, it is argued, reflects, not merely the passive effects of a secularizing climate, but active disenchantment with policies and practices pursued by Church and clergy, especially in respect of the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church. Access options for the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13619462.2014.923765#.U7cR4DZwbX4

Roman Catholic pastoral statistics

The Catholic Directory of England and Wales has been a standard source of statistical information about the Roman Catholic Church for more than a century. The statistical section was dropped by the editor from the 2013 edition, on the grounds of doubts about the quality of the data, bur reinstated in the 2014 edition (in respect of returns for 2012). Unfortunately, the new data are also flawed, according to the first of three blogs by Tony Spencer of the Pastoral Research Centre (PRC), subjecting the Catholic Directory figures to forensic examination. This first blog, published on 7 June 2014, reviewed the Catholic Directory’s table of Roman Catholic population, highlighting several problems. In brief, two dioceses failed to send in data (so there is no national total); other diocesan returns were incomplete, sometimes as a consequence of the belated or non-cooperation of parish priests; and most dioceses failed to implement adequate data collection and quality control procedures. As a result, Spencer argues, the Catholic population estimates are ‘meaningless and useless’ and ‘utterly misleading’. The claim is demonstrated by reference to the PRC’s own estimates for several dioceses. The Catholic Directory’s figures thereby exemplify the ‘highly dysfunctional statistics regime’ and ‘chaotic arrangements’ operated by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales since 2000-01. Regrettably, according to Spencer, the Catholic hierarchy has thus far ignored all proposals by the PRC to put a more systematic and credible statistics gathering process in hand. The blog can be read at:

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

Religious hatred in Scotland

Criminalized religious hatred is declining in Scotland, according to Janine McKenna and Kathryn Skivington, Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland, 2013-14, which was published by Scottish Government Social Research on 13 June 2014. In 2013-14 there were 635 criminal charges relating to religious prejudice in Scotland laid under Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 or Sections 1 and 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. This represented a decrease of 17% on the 2012-13 total and of 29% since 2011-12. The majority of those charged were men (90%) and a plurality (47%) aged 16-30, while in 59% of cases the accused was described by the police as being under the influence of alcohol. The faiths targeted were Roman Catholicism (63%), Protestantism (29%), Islam (8%), and Judaism (2%). Almost half (48%) of victims were police officers. Many cases are still ongoing, but, of those which have already been concluded, 85% resulted in a conviction, with a monetary penalty (39%), community penalty (30%), or a custodial sentence (24%) being the principal resolutions. The report is at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00452559.pdf

 

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

Recent Journal Articles and Other News

As well as carrying the usual miscellany of news, this post reports on a selection of recent articles in academic journals which may be of interest to BRIN users. We give a URL for each, in line with our standard practice, but it should be noted that the articles themselves are behind paywalls, only available ‘free’ to those with a personal or institutional paid subscription to the journal concerned. If you do not have such access, you can use the online pay-per-view option or ask your local library to obtain a copy.

Religious polarization

Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme (Nuffield College, University of Oxford), ‘Toward Religious Polarization? Time Effects on Religious Commitment in US, UK, and Canadian Regions’, Sociology of Religion, Vol. 75, No. 2, Summer 2014, pp. 284-308.

http://socrel.oxfordjournals.org/content/75/2/284.abstract

The article tests the theory of polarization between religious and secular people by reference to cross-sectional datasets for 13 regions in three countries from 1985 to 2009-10. The four UK regions are England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The UK datasets are the British, Scottish, and Northern Ireland Social Attitudes Surveys and the Northern Ireland Life and Times Surveys, with a combined sample of 118,244 respondents. A religious commitment typology was devised from measures of self-reported religious affiliation and religious attendance to produce three categories of: no religion, affiliate but attend less than monthly (nominally affiliated), and affiliate and attend monthly or more (committed). Increasing polarization is shown to have occurred in England, Wales, and Scotland (also in Alberta and British Columbia) in that, while there has been undoubted growth in nones over time, the proportion of religiously committed has been fairly stable, thereby averting a decline of religion into nothing. In Northern Ireland, by contrast, religious commitment has decreased and nominal affiliation has risen.

Religious attendance

Marion Burkimsher (University of Lausanne), ‘Is Religious Attendance Bottoming Out? An Examination of Current Trends Across Europe’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 53, No. 2, June 2014, pp. 432-45.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jssr.12111/abstract

The article examines self-reported religious attendance monthly or more in 24 European countries (including 10 ex-Communist states) on the basis of European Values Studies and European Social Surveys for the years 1990-2012. Four different methods of assessing trends in religious participation are deployed: inter-cohort differentials, attendance of young people (aged 18-29), attendance by post-war cohorts born in 1950-81, and life-course variations (child versus young adult). Overall, decline is being experienced in some previously high-attending Catholic countries, while attendance in traditionally secular countries (including Britain) is stabilizing at a relatively low level. Only on the child-adult attendance measure was a decline recorded in Britain. A few ex-Communist countries are seeing sustained growth.

UK religious census

A.J. Christopher (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), ‘The Religious Question in the United Kingdom Census, 1801-2011’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 65, No. 3, July 2014, pp. 601-19.

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9281949&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0022046912003636

The author offers an overview of the historical debates and controversies, inside and outside Parliament, surrounding the attempts to include a religion question in the population census of the various nations comprising the United Kingdom. Apart from Ireland (where a question on religious affiliation was included from 1861) and in Northern Ireland (from 1926), these efforts only succeeded in mainland Britain in 2001. The principal exception was the one-off census of religious accommodation and worship in 1851, which is barely discussed by Christopher, notwithstanding the vast primary and secondary literature to which it has given rise. The most detailed consideration in his article is reserved for the debates on the 1861 and 1911 censuses, while the survey of the campaign in the 1990s to add religion to the 2001 census schedule is somewhat brief and fails to cite several of the published first-hand accounts.

Anti-Catholicism

Clive Field (University of Birmingham and University of Manchester), ‘No Popery’s Ghost: Does Popular Anti-Catholicism Survive in Contemporary Britain?’ Journal of Religion in Europe, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2014, pp. 116-49.

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00702004

In accordance with the self-archiving policy of the publisher (Brill), an open access version of this article is also available on the author’s personal website at:

https://clivedfield.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/anti-catholicism-published.pdf

Anti-Catholicism has been a feature of British history from the Reformation, but it has been little studied for the period since the Second World War, and rarely using quantitative methods. A thematically-arranged aggregate analysis of around 180 opinion polls among representative samples of adults since the 1950s offers insights into developing attitudes of the British public to Catholics and the Catholic Church. Anti-Catholicism against individual Catholics is found to have diminished. Negativity toward the Catholic Church and its leadership has increased, especially since the Millennium. Generic and specific explanations are offered for these trends, within the context of other manifestations of religious prejudice and other religious changes.

Jediism

Beth Singler (Pembroke College, University of Cambridge), ‘“See Mom It is Real”: The UK Census, Jediism, and Social Media’, Journal of Religion in Europe, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2014, pp. 150-68.

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00702005;jsessionid=23bvmdgci17ic.x-brill-live-02

The author considers Jediism (of Star Wars fame) as an ‘invented’ New Religious Movement (NRM) and, in particular, its ‘Internet Event’, in the shape of online campaigns to encourage self-identification as Jedi Knight in response to the religion question in the 2001 and 2011 UK censuses of population. These campaigns had significant impact in 2001, with 390,127 individuals (0.7% of UK residents) writing in Jedi as their religion from a wide variety of motivations, including as a joke, but were much less effective in 2011 (when there were 176,632 Jedis). In practice, the Office for National Statistics chose to categorize Jedis as no religion rather than other religion. The use of email (in 2001) and social media, notably Twitter (in 2011) in underpinning these campaigns is explored as a legitimation strategy for NRMs. In this way even ‘invented’ religions such as Jediism can acquire a source of tradition.

Trust in the Church

A majority (55%) of the British public distrusts the Church, according to the latest results from nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor (CAM), which were published on 23 June 2014. For the twelfth time since 2003 a representative sample of 1,000 Britons aged 16 and over was asked about the degree of trust which they had in various public bodies and institutions, 24 being included in the most recent survey, conducted online in April 2014. The nfpSynergy press release, with links to some Powerpoint slides, will be found at:

http://nfpsynergy.net/trust-2014

Response options included ‘very little’ and ‘not much’, which have been combined to give a distrust score, and ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ which have been merged to produce a trust figure. The table below, ranked according to level of distrust, summarizes the findings for 2014.

%

Distrust

Trust

Difference

Political parties

83

12

-71

Government

75

20

-55

Insurance companies

71

24

-47

Newspapers

71

24

-47

Multinational companies

70

20

-50

Banks

68

27

-41

Local authorities

63

32

-31

Trade unions

62

30

-32

Civil service

57

34

-23

Legal system

56

39

-17

Church

55

37

-18

Supermarkets

47

49

+2

TV and radio stations

45

50

+5

BBC

42

53

+11

Police

42

55

+13

Royal Mail

40

56

+16

Charities

38

56

+18

Royal family

38

57

+19

Fundraising Standards Board

35

28

-7

Schools

34

61

+27

Small businesses

30

62

+32

NHS

29

68

+39

Scouts and guides

26

64

+38

Armed forces

25

70

+45

The Church was the eleventh most distrusted of all the institutions, with 18% more adults distrusting it than trusting it, and only 10% trusting it a great deal (against 27% quite a lot, 29% not much, and 26% very little). A majority from 52% to 65% has distrusted the Church in every single CAM since September 2006, and a plurality of 45% in the first CAM in November 2003.

The relatively poor showing of the Church in terms of public esteem exemplifies how secularization can be understood (following a famous article by Mark Chaves in Social Forces in 1994) as declining religious authority.

Religious freedom

The recent allegations of a ‘Trojan horse’ plot in some Birmingham state schools have sparked off a debate about the importance of teaching so-called ‘British values’. Several opinion polls have tried to get the public to define precisely what those values might encompass. Little weight is apparently attached to religious freedom, according to one such survey, conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday between 11 and 13 June 2014, for which 2,034 adult Britons were interviewed online. Out of a list of 12 possible British values, religious freedom was ranked tenth in importance, with just 12% of the vote, albeit twice that (23%) among the over-65s. Freedom of speech came top (48%), followed by respect for the rule of law (34%), and fairness and tolerance (27% each). Full details on pp. 73-6 of the data tables at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/SM_IoS_Political_Poll_15June_2014.pdf

Scottish Episcopal Church statistics

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church met in Edinburgh between 12 and 14 June 2014 and, on its final day, debated a motion from the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, calling on the College of Bishops to devise an annual statistical return which would better reflect the full range of the Church’s activities, some of which were said to go unrecorded under the present system. In an attempt to provide a fuller picture, the Diocese had compiled a supplementary ‘Fresh Expressions Statistical Return’ for 2011-12, which is reproduced on pp. 157-8 of the General Synod agenda and papers at:

http://www.scotland.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Synod-Papers.pdf

There is a summary of the debate in the Church Times for 20 June 2014 (p. 10). The main speaker was Professor David Atkinson, from the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, who claimed that ‘there is an imbalance between the numbers we collect and what we are experiencing’.

The Church’s latest figures are included in its annual report to 31 December 2013, disaggregated to individual ‘charge’. Three measures are given: persons of all ages belonging to the congregation (members) – 34,119 in 2013 (down 2.3% on 2012); names on the communicants’ roll – 24,852 in 2013 (up 0.8% on 2012); and attendance on a Sunday before Advent – 13,631 in 2013 (3.5% down on 2012). The annual report can be found at:

http://www.scotland.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2014-Annual-Report1.pdf

Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life

The independent Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, an initiative of the Woolf Institute at Cambridge, has recently launched a national consultation, which is, in effect, a call for written evidence in answer to both general and specific questions. The deadline for submissions is 31 October 2014. It does not appear that the Commission intends to conduct a representative national cross-section survey, to set alongside the views of what will inevitably be a self-selecting group of individual and organizational respondents to the consultation and of those invited to attend seven national and local public hearings. Further information can be found at:

http://www.corab.org.uk/national-consultation

Posted in church attendance, Historical studies, Official data, Religion in public debate, Religious Census, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Religious Attitudes Towards Gay Rights in 2013

This post looks at religious groups’ views on gay rights and related issues based on newly-released data from the British Social Attitudes 2013 survey. The 2013 survey asked various questions on this topic, some of which were carried in earlier surveys in the BSA series and some of which have not been asked before. The data have been compiled from the BSA’s interactive, online data catalogue – BritSocAt (the full survey dataset will probably not be made available via the UK Data Service for some time). Those interested in reading about the various topics covered in the 2013 survey can access and download chapters and other material from the accompanying microsite – which can be found here. This analysis builds on previous BRIN posts which have used the BSA (and sometimes other social surveys) to analyse religious groups’ attitudes in this area. The previous posts are as follows:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2014/religion-and-social-morality-issues-in-2012/

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/anglicans-and-attitudes-towards-gay-marriage/

http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/attitudes-towards-gay-rights/

This post focuses on attitudes on the basis of religious affiliation (or belonging). It uses the BSA’s standard categorisation which is itself derived from a more much more detailed classification of religious belonging. Religious affiliation has five categories: Anglican, Catholic, other Christian, other religion, and no religion.

The first two questions looked at here asked respondents about their views of lesbian women and gay men (asked as part of a broader set of questions concerning different groups in society). This is the first time these questions have been asked in the BSA series. The questions were worded as follows:

People have more positive attitudes towards certain groups in society and more negative attitudes towards others. Please tick one box to show how you feel about each of the following groups in Britain. Lesbian women.

People have more positive attitudes towards certain groups in society and more negative attitudes towards others. Please tick one box on each line to show how you feel about each of the following groups in Britain. Gay men.

Responses are shown in Table 1. Note that some of the response options have been collapsed into broader categories: ‘negative’ includes the responses ‘very negative’ or ‘somewhat negative’ and ‘positive’ comprises the responses ‘somewhat positive’ and ‘very positive’. The pattern of responses shows that, in relation to lesbian women, those with no religion are less likely to have a negative feeling compared to all religious groups. In fact, for each group, the most prevalent view is one of having neither positive nor negative feelings – this view is held by a majority of Anglicans, other Christians and those with no religion. Around a third of those with no religion hold a positive view (33.0%), next highest at around a quarter of Catholics (25.7%). A similar picture is evident from the responses to the question on feelings towards gay men. Again, in every group bar one, holding neither negative nor positive feelings is the most prevalent view. The exception is for adherents of other (non-Christian) religions, amongst whom a majority (56.2%) have negative feelings towards gay men, compared to around a quarter or even lower for the other groups. Those with no religion are again more likely to have positive feelings, at just over a third (35.5%).

Overall, then, within all groups a clear majority either holds negative or neutral feelings towards lesbian women or gay men. The majorities are somewhat smaller amongst those with no religious affiliation (64.0% for lesbian women and 63.0% for gay men).  Within these majorities, however, those holding neutral feelings always outnumber those with negative views. The one exception here is for attitudes towards gay men on the part of those belonging to other religions.

Table 1: Attitudes towards lesbian women and gay men

Anglican

(%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Lesbian women
Negative

15.1

24.7

18.1

27.4

9.8

Neither

58.9

47.8

61.5

44.2

54.2

NEGATIVE OR NEITHER

74.0

72.5

79.6

71.6

64.0

Positive

22.3

25.7

17.4

16.1

33.0

Can’t choose

3.6

1.8

3.0

12.3

3.1

Gay men
Negative

23.9

14.9

24.6

56.2

17.1

Neither

47.6

61.3

44.7

12.6

45.9

NEGATIVE OR NEITHER

71.5

76.2

69.3

68.8

63.0

Positive

25.7

20.3

27.9

20.4

35.5

Can’t choose

2.9

3.5

2.8

10.8

1.5

Source: Compiled by the author from BritSocAt.

Next, Table 2 shows responses to a question asking about same-sex couples and parenting. The wording is as follows:

Please tick one box to show how much you agree or disagree with this statement. A same sex couple are just as capable of being good parents as a man and a woman.

The ‘agree’ category includes those who answered ‘agree strongly’ or ‘agree’ and, similarly, the ‘disagree’ category includes those who responded ‘disagree’ or ‘disagree strongly’. Two questions asking about male and female same-sex couples bringing up children were also asked on the 2012 survey – see here for analysis of opinions by affiliation and religious attendance.

In 2013 respondents were much more likely to agree than disagree with the statement. Agreement was highest for those with no religion (at 65.0%), followed by Catholics (at 57.5%). Around two-fifths of Anglicans and other Christians expressed agreement, which was lowest for adherents of other religions (at just 19.1%). Disagreement was therefore much higher amongst those belonging to other religions, at 69.6%, and lowest amongst those with no religion (at 19.1%). In each group, relatively small proportions opted for a neutral stance – reaching just over a fifth of Anglicans and other Christians and lowest for adherents of other religions (at 11.4%) and those with no religion (15.8%).

Table 2: Attitudes towards parenting

Anglican

(%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Agree

43.0

57.5

39.5

19.1

65.1

Neither

21.5

13.2

22.7

11.4

15.8

Disagree

35.5

29.3

37.8

69.6

19.1

Source: Compiled by the author from BritSocAt.

The BSA 2013 also asked a question about equal opportunities, which was worded as follows (a similar question, albeit slightly different in wording, was asked in the 1994 survey):

Do you think attempts to give equal opportunities to lesbians, gay men and bisexuals have gone too far or not gone far enough?

Major reforms in this area – including civil partnerships, adoption and, most recently, same-sex marriage – have been enacted under recent governments. In Table 3, the category ‘gone too far’ consists of ‘gone much too far’ and ‘gone too far’ responses, while the category ‘not gone far enough’ includes the responses ‘not gone far enough’ and ‘not gone nearly far enough’. It is clear that those with no religion are less likely to perceive that equal opportunities have gone too far, at 23.1%, compared to the religious groups (highest at 55.3% for those belonging to some other religion). Interestingly, Catholics are somewhat less likely to offer this response (30.0%) compared to Anglicans (47.5%) and other Christians (41.2%). The view amongst religious groups that things have gone too far may have been influenced by the divisive debate in 2012 and beyond over the coalition government’s same-sex marriage proposals, which met with strong opposition from religious leaders and organisations, representing both Christian traditions and other faiths. Even so, not too dissimilar proportions of every group – those belonging to non-Christian faiths aside – think the situation is about right (in the region of 40.0%-47.0%). There is some divergence in perceptions of whether things have not gone far enough, albeit it is a minority viewpoint in each case – highest amongst Catholics (18.4%) and those with no religion (27.5%).

Table 3: Attitudes towards equal opportunities

Anglican

(%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Gone too far

47.5

30.0

41.2

55.3

23.1

About right

40.2

46.7

45.3

18.3

44.6

Not gone far enough

8.5

18.4

10.5

11.3

27.5

Don’t know

3.8

4.9

3.1

15.1

4.8

Source: Compiled by the author from BritSocAt.

Respondents were also asked about how they would feel about informal or formal social interaction, based on the following two questions:

How would you feel socialising with someone, for example as part of a sports club or leisure activity, who you knew or thought to be gay, lesbian or bisexual?

How would you feel talking to someone in a formal setting such as in a workplace or in a shop, who you knew or thought to be gay, lesbian or bisexual?

The distribution of responses is shown in Table 4. The responses ‘very comfortable’ and ‘fairly comfortable’ have been combined in the ‘comfortable’ category and, likewise, the ‘uncomfortable’ category includes the responses ‘fairly uncomfortable’ and ‘very uncomfortable’. First, in terms of informal interaction in a sports club or leisure activity, large majorities of respondents in each group report being comfortable with this form of social contact. Such views are highest amongst those with no religion (at 87.2%) and Anglicans (81.4%), and lowest amongst those belonging to non-Christian faiths (66.1%). Across all groups, small proportions report either that they feel to an extent uncomfortable with this type of informal social interaction or that they would not feel either comfortable or uncomfortable. Those from other religions are more likely to say they would feel uncomfortable or to be unsure.

In terms of social interaction in a more formal setting (such as in the workplace or a shop), again large majorities declared they would be comfortable talking to someone who they know is, or who they perceive to be, gay, lesbian or bisexual. As with the previous questions, feeling comfortable is most likely amongst those with no religion (87.2%), followed by Anglicans (at 81.4%). Those belonging to other religions are similarly more likely to report they would feel uncomfortable with more formal social interaction (at 16.9%) or to be unsure (8.2%). Overall, a very similar pattern of results is evident for both questions.

Table 4: Attitudes towards social interaction

 

Anglican

(%)

Catholic

(%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion

(%)

No religion (%)

Socialising with someone (sports club or leisure activity)
Comfortable

81.4

76.1

73.8

66.1

87.2

Neither

11.2

18.5

13.0

8.4

8.0

Uncomfortable

7.1

4.5

12.7

17.4

4.2

Don’t know

0.3

0.9

0.6

8.2

0.6

Talking to someone in a formal setting (workplace or shop)
Comfortable

83.8

82.9

78.3

65.0

87.7

Neither

11.1

13.0

10.2

10.0

8.4

Uncomfortable

4.7

4.1

11.0

16.9

3.0

Don’t know

0.3

0.0

0.6

8.2

0.9

Source: Compiled by the author from BritSocAt.

A question, carried in both 2006 and 2013, asked respondents if they personally know anyone who was gay or lesbian (responses are not shown in tabular format here). On each occasion, only a small minority of Christians and those with no religion said they did not know someone who was gay or lesbian. Amongst those with no religion, 18.8% reported they did not know such a person in 2006 (comparable to 19.0% of Catholics) and just 10.6% said this in 2013 (with Catholics again lowest amongst Christian groups, at 15.6%). The exception here on both occasions were those belonging to non-Christian faiths, amongst whom around half in reported that they did not know someone who was gay or lesbian (2006: 53.6%; 2013: 52.1%).

Finally, Table 5 presents the distribution of responses to two other questions asked in the BSA 2013, which were asked in earlier surveys and allow for over time comparison of attitudes. They concern approval of same-sex relations in general – a long-running BSA question since its inception – and acceptance of marriage between same-sex couples. The question wordings are as follows:

About sexual relation between two adults of the same sex. Do you think it is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?

How much do you agree or disagree that … gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to?

Looking first at approval of sexual relations between same-sex individuals – reporting the proportions who think it is ‘rarely wrong’ or ‘never wrong’ in 1983 (the first BSA survey) and 2013 – it is clear that there has been substantial liberalisation of opinion over time, across all groups. Those with no religion were most likely to offer either of these responses in both years, at 29.2% in 1983 and 81.2% in 2013. Just a small minority of Christians – regardless of tradition or denomination – adopted these views in 1983 (a fifth or lower), but majorities expressed such opinions in 2013 (highest at 65.1% for Catholics). In 2013, those from other religions are much less likely to take a liberal standpoint on this question, with only 26.7% saying such relations are rarely or never wrong (1983 survey data are not reported as this group comprised a very small proportion of the sample).

In terms of support for marriage for same-sex couples (showing the proportions who either agreed or strongly agreed), most groups show an increase in support from 2007 to 2013, albeit the magnitude of the increase varies. Support amongst Anglicans has noticeably risen from 32.0% to 45.6%, while amongst the group with no religion it increased from 59.7% to 69.3%. Positive sentiment has remained the same amongst Catholics and marginally increased amongst other Christians. As in 2007 Catholics (at 56.4%) remain more supportive than other Christians in 2013, but are now less so relative to those with no religion. In both surveys, those belonging to other religions are much less likely to favour a right to marry among same-sex couples, with positive opinion amounting to around a third in 2007 (32.0%) and just a fifth in 2013 (22.5%).

Table 5: Attitudes towards same-sex relations and same-sex marriage

 

Anglican

(%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Sexual relations
1983: Rarely or never wrong

19.5

16.8

15.0

-

29.2

2013: Rarely or never wrong

52.1

65.1

52.7

26.7

81.2

Right to marry
2007: Agree

32.0

57.4

40.0

32.0

59.7

2013: Agree

45.6

56.4

43.9

22.5

69.3

Source: Compiled by the author from BritSocAt.

Summary

Overall, the data presented here from the 2013 BSA survey (as well as based on comparisons with earlier points in time) show some clear differences in view on the basis of religious affiliation. While most groups have become much more approving of same-sex relations in recent decades, show considerable support for same-sex marriage and parenting, and overwhelmingly declare themselves comfortable with informal and formal social interaction with gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, those with no religion generally stand out as having the most tolerant or liberal stances in this issue area. Amongst those with a religious affiliation, Catholics are sometimes more likely to hold supportive attitudes compared to other Christian groups (such as same-sex parenting and marriage). Also notable are the more socially-conservative views adopted by those belonging to other religions, evident for a number of the questions analysed above. Indeed, those with no religion and those belonging to other (non-Christian) religions are generally furthest apart in their views and feelings towards gay rights and associated issues. Of course, the higher levels of tolerance shown by those with no religious affiliation will partly reflect their disproportionately younger age profile. What is perhaps surprising is that levels of positive appraisal of both gay men and lesbian women are not higher: across all groups – even amongst those with no religion – a clear majority has either negative feelings or feels neutral, although the latter is usually the more preponderant view.

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British Social Attitudes, 2013

 

Results have recently started to emerge from the 2013 British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, although it will still be some time before the full dataset is available at the UK Data Archive. Meanwhile, the best available source for rather more limited online statistical analysis is the British Social Attitudes Information System, which can be found at:

http://www.britsocat.com/

BSA has been conducted by NatCen Social Research on an annual basis since 1983 (except in two years), and on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council and a consortium of Government and charitable funders.

Interviewing is face-to-face, supplemented by a self-completion questionnaire. For the 2013 survey (undertaken between June and November) the sample comprised 3,244 adults aged 18 and over living in private households in Britain. However, many questions were only put to one of three sub-samples.

This post is confined to reporting the headline results for the religion questions posed in the 2013 BSA, with trend data for previous years, where extant. The British Social Attitudes Information System also permits, as a standard feature, analysis of all other questions by religious affiliation, and we hope to provide additional coverage from this perspective in due course.

Religious affiliation

BSA has routinely asked: ‘do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?’ This was question Q857 on the main BSA questionnaire in 2013. Results at ten-yearly intervals are shown in the following table:

% down

1983

1993

2003

2013

No religion

31.4

36.8

43.4

50.6

Christian – no denomination

3.2

4.6

6.6

11.8

Christian – Church of England

39.9

32.6

26.8

16.3

Christian – Roman Catholic

9.6

10.8

8.9

8.8

Christian – other

14.0

11.8

8.2

4.8

Non-Christian

2.0

3.5

6.0

7.7

It will be seen that the proportion professing no religion has steadily climbed, from 31% in 1983 to 51% in 2013, with a rise also in the number of non-Christians (from 2% to 8%). All forms of denominational Christianity have lost ground, but notably the Church of England (from 40% to 16% over the three decades) and other Protestant Christians (the Free Churches and Presbyterian Churches, down from 14% to 5%). Although the number of non-denominational Christians has virtually quadrupled, the increase has not stemmed the overall fall in Christians, from 67% to 42%.

BSA also asks about religion of upbringing (main questionnaire Q866). Setting religion of upbringing alongside current affiliation, in the table below, emphasizes the extent of loss of faith over the life-cycle, with the Church of England losing half its original constituency but even non-Christian faiths subject to a modest ‘leakage’.

% down

2013

2013

2013

 

Upbringing

Current

Change

No religion

19.0

50.6

+31.6

Christian – no denomination

16.7

11.8

-4.9

Christian – Church of England

31.3

16.3

-15.0

Christian – Roman Catholic

14.5

8.8

-5.7

Christian – other

10.4

4.8

-5.6

Non-Christian

8.0

7.7

-0.3

Religious attendance

It should be noted that BSA does not ask the entire British cross-section sample about attendance at religious services other than for the rites of passage. This question (main questionnaire Q868) is only put to those declaring some religion at the time of interview and/or reporting a religion of upbringing. It is important to interpret the statistics in this light. Self-reported attendance dropped considerably between 1993 and 2003 but seems to have been more stable over the past ten years, albeit the majority of this sub-sample (58%) never worship.

% down

1993

2003

2013

Once a week or more

18.9

13.9

13.1

At least once in two weeks

3.2

2.4

2.5

At least once a month

9.0

5.8

6.4

At least twice a year

16.6

10.1

8.4

At least once a year

8.5

5.8

4.2

Less often

6.1

4.3

5.5

Never

36.7

56.7

58.4

Varies

1.0

1.1

1.4

Christianity and Britishness

Respondents were given a list of attributes which potentially define what it means to be ‘truly British’ and asked to rate their importance. One of the factors was ‘to be a Christian’ (self-completion questionnaire, Version A, Q2e). This question had been included in three previous BSA surveys, although the 2008 data are omitted from the published discussion by Zsolt Kiss and Alison Park, ‘National Identity: Exploring Britishness’, British Social Attitudes, 31, 2014 Edition, eds Alison Park, Caroline Bryson, and John Curtice (London: NatCen Social Research, 2014), pp. 64-5, which is at:

http://www.bsa-31.natcen.ac.uk/media/38202/bsa31_full_report.pdf

The results from all four surveys are shown below. It will be seen that the proportion thinking ‘to be a Christian’ is important to Britishness has reduced from just under one-third in 1995 and 2003 to just under one-quarter in 2008 and 2013. However, between 2008 and 2013 the number believing a Christian profession to be very important to British identity has doubled, while those deeming it unimportant have reduced by four points, from 75% to 71%. These changes coincide with greater public concern about Muslims (see the next item) and Christianophobia.

% down

1995

2003

2008

2013

Very important

18.5

15.1

6.2

12.5

Fairly important

13.5

15.6

17.4

12.0

Not very important

27.3

23.7

37.3

26.2

Not at all important

35.1

39.0

37.7

45.0

Can/t choose/not answered

5.7

6.6

1.4

4.4

‘To be a Christian’ came last in the 2013 list of nine factors defining what it means to be ‘truly British’, well behind sharing customs and traditions in eighth place on 50%. The top three attributes were an ability to speak English (95%), having British citizenship (85%), and respecting institutions and laws (85%).

Attitudes to Muslims

Q467 in the main questionnaire repeated a question asked in 2003 about whether Britain would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live here. Far more agreed with the proposition in 2013 (62%) than in 2003 (48%), with the number who agreed strongly doubling. The growth perhaps exemplifies greater anxieties about Muslims after 7/7 and about immigrants in general. Dissentients reduced from 30% to 22% over the decade.

% down

2003

2013

Agree strongly

17.1

35.3

Agree

31.0

26.8

Neither agree nor disagree

17.0

15.0

Disagree

26.1

16.7

Disagree strongly

4.1

5.2

Don’t know/not answered

4.6

0.9

Respondents were also asked about the scenario in which a close relative married a Muslim, from two perspectives, the perceived reaction of most white people in Britain if one of their relatives was involved (main questionnaire Q656) and the likely reaction of the respondent if it was one of his/her relatives (Q659). The results are tabulated below:

% down

2013

2013

 

White people

Own reaction

Mind a lot

34.0

23.4

Mind a little

36.3

21.0

Not mind

22.7

51.5

Other/DK/refused

7.0

4.0

As so often happens in sample surveys, respondents claimed a greater degree of tolerance for themselves than they were inclined to see in others. Whereas 70% thought that most white people would mind about a relative marrying a Muslim, only 44% felt that they would object themselves.

This particular question has not been asked before, in exactly the same words, but the 2003 BSA did pose a similar one, about reactions to a close relative marrying or otherwise forming a long-term relationship with a Muslim. At that time, just 25% voiced unhappiness at the prospect, 19% less than in 2013, suggesting a growth in Islamophobic attitudes over recent years.

 

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More Trojan Horse Polling

 

Trojan horse plot (1)

For the second week running, YouGov was commissioned by The Sunday Times to investigate public opinion surrounding issues raised by the so-called ‘Trojan horse’ plot, whereby Muslim hardliners were alleged to have been trying to take over the governance of some state schools in Birmingham. For this second poll, 2.106 Britons were interviewed online on 12 and 13 June 2014, with data tables published on 15 June at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/v0zlbnvgel/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140613.pdf

More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents identified some risk to state schools being taken over by religious extremists, 34% agreeing that there was a large risk in many parts of the country and 45% a minor risk in just a few parts of the country (with 10% detecting no significant risk and 2% none at all). Risks were most likely to be perceived by Conservatives (88%), UKIP voters (94%), and the over-60s (91%). One-half the sample considered that academies and free schools were at greater risk from religious extremism than local authority controlled schools, while 28% judged them at equal risk.

In relation to the Birmingham situation, bearing in mind that fieldwork followed the publication of Ofsted reports on the schools concerned, a plurality (44%) of adults were convinced that there probably was a plot by Muslim groups to take control of certain schools in the city in order to install a Muslim ethos. Once again, it was Conservatives (55%), UKIP supporters (74%), and over-60s (56%) who were most convinced of the plot. Another third did not believe there had been a plot, but they did agree that some Birmingham schools had gone too far towards adopting a Muslim ethos. Just 6% sensed there was no problem, in that Birmingham schools with a majority of Muslim pupils were merely reflecting their own cultural background.

A majority (55%) of Britons were critical of the Government for not reacting strongly enough to the situation in Birmingham schools, thinking it should have done more sooner, with UKIP voters (88%) and over-60s (72%) most strongly of this persuasion. Just 10% (and no more than 16% in any demographic sub-group) took the contrary line – i.e. Government had over-reacted to the situation with potential to damage community relations. However, the public was largely neutral (63%) in the recent spat between the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary about which had better handled extremism in schools.

Trojan horse plot (2)

The ‘Trojan horse’ plot also provided the context for an online poll by Opinium Research among 1,002 UK adults aged 18 and over on 12 and 13 June 2014. It was conducted for The Observer, with a report appearing on pp. 1 and 14 of the main section of that newspaper dated 15 June. The survey concerned ‘faith schools’, although it should be noted that the schools at the centre of the ‘Trojan horse’ plot were not faith schools in the strict meaning of the term, but rather community schools, some under local authority control and some academies. The tables from the Opinium poll were released on 16 June and can be found at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4610_observer_faith_schools_tables.pdf

In the wake of the ‘Trojan horse’ controversy, Opinium’s panellists were asked whether they thought some predominantly Muslim schools were actually fostering extremist attitudes among their pupils. Most (55% overall, 60% of men and 63% of over-55s) considered that they were, far more than the 16% who believed that mainly Muslim schools were simply reflecting the values and views of the parents of their pupils. A further 29% did not know or otherwise could not choose between the two options on offer.

A supplementary question was around the perceived risk of predominantly Muslim schools encouraging their students to adopt extremist views. A plurality (44%, with 54% of over-55s) deemed the risk to be very serious and another 31% quite serious, giving a combined 75% sensing some threat. Few (14%) judged the risk to be not very or not at all serious, and no more than 20% in any demographic sub-group. Responsibility for preventing and combating extremism in British schools was felt to lie especially with the Home Office and police (33%) and teachers and governors (31%), and to a much lesser extent with families (13%) and community leaders (8%).

The extensive media coverage of the ‘Trojan horse’ affair will almost certainly have conditioned answers to the more general introductory questions about ‘faith schools’ in the Opinium study, albeit other polls (including by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates in June 2013) have also revealed growing negativity toward them. In the Opinium survey, just 30% of respondents were comfortable with the idea of faith schools and the taxpayer helping to finance them. The majority (58%) voiced concerns, 23% (including 28% of men), opting for a complete ban on faith schools, with 35% accepting their existence but objecting to any state funding of them.

Asked why they opposed faith schools, the reasons most frequently given by this 58% majority were: the taxpayer should not be funding religion (70%), faith schools promote division and segregation (60%), faith schools are contrary to the advancement of a multicultural society (41%), and faith schools promote radicalization and extremism around faith (41%). Those who wanted to see faith schools banned entirely were most likely to cite the second to fourth of these reasons.

Most respondents (56%) were also clear that faith schools should teach strictly in accordance with the national curriculum, rising to 86% among those who thought such schools should be abolished. One-fifth were willing to give faith schools some flexibility about the teaching of other areas, and an additional 11% conceded discretion in the delivery of the national curriculum beyond core subjects. Only 3% wished to give faith schools total freedom about what to teach provided that pupils were still entered for national examinations.

Scottish independence

The potential religious effect has not featured much in the debate about Scottish independence in the run-up to the referendum on 18 September 2014 in Scotland. However, a recent Populus survey (conducted online among an unusually large sample of 6,078 Britons between 28 May and 6 June 2014) ostensibly suggests that religion may have a marginal bearing on the debate.

Respondents were asked what result they were hoping for from the referendum and given three choices: Scotland remaining in the UK, Scotland becoming independent, or no strong views. The results by religious affiliation for Britain overall are tabulated below:

% down

All

Christian

Non-

Christian

None

Remain part of UK

54.3

58.8

48.1

48.7

Leave UK

17.1

15.4

19.8

19.2

No strong view

28.6

25.8

32.3

32.0

It will be seen that: a) non-Christians and those of no religion are more likely than Christians to want Scotland to leave the UK; b) Christians are more likely and non-Christians and those of no religion less likely to want Scotland to stay in the UK; and c) non-Christians and the nones are more likely than Christians to hold no strong views on the matter.

Of course, these associations may imply correlation but they do not necessarily prove causation, so we cannot claim for sure that there is a distinctly religious influence at work. The picture is almost certainly complicated by the operation of other demographic factors. Unfortunately, there is little scope for further analysis of the published data, which are on pp. 33-4 of the tables at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/140607-Populus_FT_ScottishIndependence.pdf

Religious refugees

As part of a YouGov poll for British Future in connection with Refugee Week 2014, a representative sample of 2,190 adults was asked to identify the single biggest historical flow of refugees to Britain from one country arising from persecution or war. Interviewees were presented with a list of six options to choose from, including Belgian refugees at the start of the First World War. There were actually 250,000 of them, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, so this was the correct answer to YouGov’s quiz. However, they were placed last with 0%. The next largest refugee influx was of Huguenots (Protestants) from France at the end of the seventeenth century, of whom more than 50,000 fled to Britain (and some have claimed up to 100,000), but just 7% of YouGov’s respondents thought they were the biggest flow of refugees. Jewish refugees from Germany in the 1930s and 1940s were positioned second, on 17%, yet the total number of Jews admitted to Britain and fleeing Nazi persecution in various countries combined is usually reckoned not to exceed 50,000. Top of the YouGov list, with 20%, were Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi Amin in the 1970s, disproportionately Hindu and to a lesser extent Muslim, notwithstanding fewer than 30,000 of them were allowed to enter Britain. Besides the wrong answers, two-fifths of adults could not even venture an opinion. The data tables, based on fieldwork on 21 and 22 April 2014, are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/nyti7hmnu4/British_Future_Results_140422_GB_Refugee_Week_2_W.pdf

The same survey was also run, between 17 and 23 April 2014, among a sample of 1,005 young Britons aged 17-21. They did little better (2%) than all adults in identifying the predominance of Belgian refugees in the First World War. They had Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in first place (18%), with Ugandan Asians only on 8% and French Huguenots on 7%. One-quarter (26%) knew that ‘Kindertransport’ involved the transport of Jewish children escaping the Nazis, which was 9% less than among all adults. These tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/vudbg13za9/British_Future_Results_140422_Young_People_IMMIG_ONLY_W.pdf

 

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Trojan Horse Plot and Other News

 

Trojan horse plot

Two-thirds of the British public think there is substance behind the allegations of a ‘Trojan horse’ plot whereby hardline Muslim groups have attempted to take over certain schools in Birmingham. However, opinion is divided about where blame for this state of affairs lies. These are among the findings of a poll conducted by YouGov for The Sunday Times, in which 2,134 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online on 5 and 6 June 2014 (i.e. before the formal release of Ofsted’s reports on the 21 schools on 9 June). The data tables were published on 8 June at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/lwiuydgoju/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-x140606.pdf.pdf

The opening questions were generic, YouGov’s panellists initially being asked whether it was acceptable for state schools with a majority of pupils from Muslim families to set rules reflecting their interpretation of Islamic religion and culture. Overwhelmingly (85%), this was deemed unacceptable, with still higher proportions among UKIP supporters (95%), the over-60s (93%), and Conservatives (91%). Overall, only 7% defended the operation of Islamic rules in these circumstances, and no more than 11% in any demographic sub-group.

Interviewees felt almost as strongly (70%) that Government should limit the freedoms of individual schools to ensure that they do not make decisions which are bad for their pupils and that they are not taken over by extremists, with just 11% wanting maximum discretion for headteachers and governors to determine policies and practices in accordance with the needs of their local areas.

In the case of the Birmingham ‘Trojan horse’ allegations, a mere 7% believed they were false, with 28% undecided, and 65% convinced they were probably true, rising to 87% among UKIP voters, 83% of over-60s, and 77% of Conservatives. Blame for the situation in Birmingham was variously attributed to Muslim activists (32%), school governors (15%), central government (13%), Birmingham City Council (10%), and headteachers (5%), with 25% unable to express an opinion.

The survey also returned to the question of whether Britain is a Christian country, the subject of a recent public and media debate to which Prime Minister David Cameron made a major contribution. At the height of that debate, in late April 2014, the majority of respondents agreed that Britain was still a Christian country: 55% according to YouGov and 56% according to ICM Research. Now, however, only 40% do so, with a plurality of 44% claiming Britain is no longer a Christian country (the latter figure up 11% on YouGov’s previous poll). What a difference a few weeks (and the ‘Trojan horse’ affair putting Islam centre-stage) can make to the tide of public opinion! Only among Conservative voters (52%) does a majority subscribe to the reality of a Christian nation.

Marriages in England and Wales

The proportion of marriages in England and Wales solemnized in religious ceremonies is continuing to fall. It stood at 29.7% according to the provisional figures for 2012 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 11 June 2014, 0.2% less than in 2011. This was notwithstanding a rise of 4.6% in the number of religious weddings between 2011 and 2012, which was outstripped by a 5.5% growth in civil ceremonies. However, the Church of England and Church in Wales did improve their market share by a small amount (0.2%, reflecting the fact that Anglican weddings rose by 6.2% over the year). Until 1976 religious weddings surpassed civil ones. Selective trend data are shown in the following table:

 

1981

1991

2001

2011

2012

Civil

49.0

49.3

64.3

70.1

70.3

Church of England/Wales

33.6

33.5

24.4

21.9

22.1

Roman Catholic

7.4

6.4

4.2

3.4

3.2

Other Christian

9.5

10.1

6.1

3.5

3.3

Non-Christian

0.4

0.6

1.0

1.1

1.1

ONS also reported on the number of non-Anglican certified places of worship and those registered for the solemnization of marriage in England and Wales, in both cases as at 30 June 2011. Statistics are summarized below (it should be noted that registration of places of worship for marriage is not required in the case of the Society of Friends and Jews):

 

Certified

buildings

Registered

for marriage

% registered

Roman Catholic

3,623

3,269

90.2

Methodist

6,990

6,127

87.7

Baptist

3,261

3.046

93.4

United Reformed

1,604

1,542

96.1

Congregationalist

1,355

1,241

91.6

Calvinistic Methodist

1,144

1,052

92.0

Brethren

942

733

77.8

Jehovah’s Witnesses

927

838

90.4

Salvation Army

887

721

81.3

Society of Friends

364

NA

NA

Unitarian

176

161

91.5

Other Christian

6,469

4,442

68.7

Muslim

930

205

22.0

Jew

377

NA

NA

Sikh

229

170

74.2

Other non-Christian

516

301

58.3

The ONS statistical bulletin with supporting tables in Excel format (including full trend data back to 1837, when civil registration began) can be found at:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/marriages-in-england-and-wales–provisional-/2012/index.html

Charitable giving

The 26% of Britons who say they practise a religion are more likely to have donated money to a charity during the past month than the 73% who do not practise a faith, according to a ComRes poll for BBC Religion which was published on 8 June 2014. The sample comprised 3,035 adults interviewed by telephone between 28 February and 23 March 2014.

Practising a religion was defined as praying, reading a holy book weekly, or attending religious services at least once a month. Those most likely to do so were women (31%), the over-65s (35%), and Londoners (39%). The split between practising Christians and non-Christians was 19% versus 7%.

Of those practising a religion, 78% claimed to have given to a charity during the past month. This compared with a national average of 70% and with 67% of the non-practising. Not unexpectedly, the practising were also more likely to have seen or heard something from a place of worship or religious group during the previous month about donating to charitable or social causes – 39% against 12%.

Overall, 19% of respondents had been encouraged to give by a church or religious group, and this was especially true in London (30%). This was a greater proportion than had received encouragement to give money by government (8%) or a local political organization (9%), but it was far less than the 72% who had been exposed to an appeal by a charity.

Data tables from this survey are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/BBC_Religion_Charitable_Giving_March_2014_Great_Britain.pdf

Methodist statistics

The Methodist Church has just published its latest Statistics for Mission report, for the year to 31 October 2013, including a number of new measures. The report, which extends to 33 pages, is for consideration at the Church’s annual Conference, to be held in Birmingham from 26 June to 3 July 2014. Overall, the document does not make for encouraging reading (from the Methodist perspective). Indeed, an editorial in the Methodist Recorder (6 June 2014, p. 6) baldly states that the statistics ‘offer no cause for hope’ and that ‘even the most accomplished masseur of numbers would be unable to put any positive spin’ on them.

The picture for the past ten years can be summarized in tabular form as follows:

 

2003

2013

% change

Churches

6,229

5,071

-18.6

Ministers

2,108

1,815

-13.9

Members

304,971

208,738

-31.6

New members

4,483

2,496

-44.3

Deceased members

8,513

6,181

-27.4

Non-members

556,600

237,900

-57.3

Community roll

861,600

446,600

-48.2

Adult attendances

248,500

191,800

-22.8

Children’s attendances

77,900

32,700

-58.0

Baptisms

14,963

10,043

-32.9

Marriages/blessings

7,272

3,101

-57.4

Funerals

33,261

21,057

-36.7

Additionally, Methodism’s demographics remain skewed relative to society as a whole. A one-off survey of Methodist members in 2011 showed that only 31% were male and 69% female. In terms of age, just 7% were under 40, with 24% between 41 and 65, 51% from 66 to 80, and 18% 81 or over. The likelihood of ongoing decline is also suggested by the fact that two and a half times as many members now die each year as are recruited. On the other hand, 43% of churches seem to have recorded an increase over the triennium 2010-13 in either their membership or their attendance or both. The report is at:

http://www.methodistconference.org.uk/media/228157/conf-2014-37-statistics-for-mission.pdf

 

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

Changes in Attendance at Religious Services in Britain

This BRIN post takes a historical perspective on religious attendance in Britain, looking at nationally-representative survey data covering the past three decades. Attendance is a common indicator of what sociologists of religion term ‘behaving’, often analysed alongside religious ‘belonging’ and ‘believing’. Of course, attendance data based on sample surveys need to be treated with caution given well-established concerns over the ‘aspirational’ reporting of attendance by respondents involving exaggeration of how often they actually visit places of worship. Valuable data on religious attendance are also provided via statistics produced by some religious denominations (the most obvious being the Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches) and by periodic church censuses (church attendance figures for England between 1979 and 2005 are available from BRIN here).

The analysis here is based on data from the two surveys which ‘book-end’ the British Social Attitudes (BSA) series – those conducted in 1983 and 2012 (the latter of which has already been the subject of analysis of religion and moral issues in a previous BRIN post). This post focuses on:

(1)   The extent of change over time in overall rates of attendance

(2)    An analysis of which social groups are more or less likely to report that they do not attend religious services.

Earlier studies of popular religion using sample survey data, such as Michael Argyle’s Religious Behaviour (1958, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), found differences in levels of weekly church attendance in Britain based on social factors such as sex and class. Women and those in higher social classes were more likely to attend church on a weekly basis.

The BSA surveys have used the same question wording over time to ask respondents about religious attendance. The wording is as follows:

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

Once a week or more

Less often but at least once in two weeks

Less often but at least once a month

Less often but at least twice a year

Less often but at least once a year

Less often than once a year

Never or practically never

Varies too much to say

Don’t know

The full set of response options shown above has been collapsed into three groups: attends frequently (defined as once a month or more); attends infrequently (less often); and never attends. This excludes ‘don’t know’ responses. Table 1 reports the respective percentage distributions for the 1983 and 2012 surveys.  To provide some wider context for religious change, Table 1 also reports the over-time data for religious affiliation (or ‘belonging’).

The proportion with a religious affiliation has decreased from just over two-thirds in 1983 to just over a half in 2012. The data for attendance also show change over time -  and in the direction of less religious engagement – with the proportion who report attending religious services (whether frequently or infrequently) falling from 44.1% in 1983 to 34.3% in 2012. More specifically, there has been decline over recent decades in the proportions of both frequent-attenders and infrequent-attenders. The proportion never attending services (except for those special occasions mentioned above) has risen from over half to around two-thirds. Overall, frequent attendance at services was very much a minority activity in both 1983 and 2012 and similar proportions were classified as infrequent attenders. Non-attenders comprised the majority group in both 1983 and 2012, but a much clearer majority in the latter survey. 

Table 1: Religious affiliation and attendance at religious services

1983 (%)

2012 (%)

Affiliation
Has a religious affiliation

68.6

52.3

No religious affiliation

31.4

47.7

Attendance
Attends frequently: At least once a month or more

21.3

17.0

Attends infrequently: Less often than once a month

22.8

17.3

Total attends

44.1

34.3

Never attends

55.9

65.7

Source: compiled by the author from BSA surveys.

The second aspect of the religious attendance data examined here is variation across social groups and over time, again presenting data from both the 1983 and 2012 surveys. Table 2 reports the proportions in various social groups who, in 1983 and 2012, said they never attended religious services. There are some interesting variations in non-attendance. Looking at men and women, we can see that the latter are much less likely to report that they never attend services in the 1983 survey. This is also the case in 2012, but the gap between men and women has closed considerably. In 1983, 48.5% of women did not attend services, which had risen to 63.8% by 2012. There was much less change for men over time, increasing from 64.6% to 69.5%.

What about variation based on age group? We can see that a similar pattern is evident in both 1983 and 2012 in terms of the older age groups being less likely to report not attending services. In 1983, 73% of 18-24 year olds said they did not attend religious services, compared to 44.3% of those aged 65-74 years. In 2012, the gap between the age groups least and most likely to say they never attended was considerably reduced: at 71.9% for those aged 18-24 and 58.8% for those aged 75 and older. While the two youngest age groups show relatively little change between 1983 and 2012 in the proportions who never attend, the older age groups – with the exception of those aged 75 and over – show substantial increases in their levels of non-attendance.

Next, there are clear differences in levels of non-attendance based on the region where a respondent lives. In 1983, the proportions who did not attend services were considerably lower in Scotland (41.5%) and Wales (46.5%) than in England (58.3%) as a whole. Within England, there was noticeable variation across the nine standard regions, lowest at 51.1% in Greater London and highest at 69.3% in Yorkshire and Humberside. In 2012, however, Scotland and Wales do not stand apart in comparison with England as a whole. In fact, in Wales the proportion who report they do not attend religious services is the highest recorded in any area (at 78.5%). Moreover, Scotland’s level of non-attendance (68.8%) ranks on a par with the highest recorded for England regions (68.7% in the South West and 68.3% in Yorkshire and Humberside). Between 1983 and 2012, the increase in non-attendance is much greater for Scotland and Wales than it is for England.

Finally, levels of non-attendance are shown for several groups based on religious affiliation: Anglicans, Catholics, other Christian, and other religion. All three Christian groups show an increase in the proportion reporting that they do not attend services, but the same pattern is evident in both surveys. That is, Catholics are least likely to report not attending services, followed by other Christians, with Anglicans most likely to report they do not attend (which constitutes a bare majority of them in 2012). Interestingly, the proportion of other Christians who do not attend services nearly doubles between 1983 and 2012, but this group does include a greater proportion reporting no specific denominational affiliation in 2012, who may be less likely to take part in communal activity. Other survey-based research on churchgoing in the United Kingdom, conducted by Tearfund in 2007 showed that – compared to other Christian denominations – Anglicans were least likely to attend services, on either a weekly or monthly basis. The figures for the other religion group (which comprises adherents of non-Christian faiths) actually show a decrease in the level of non-attendance, but caution should be exercised here given that this group comprised a very small proportion of the samples in 1983 and 2012 (albeit one that has increased over time, from 2.0% to 6.0%).

Table 2: Per cent reporting that they never attend religious services, various socio-demographic factors

 

1983 (%)

2012 (%)

Sex Men

64.6

69.5

  Women

48.5

63.8

 
Age group 18-24

73.0

71.9

  25-34

65.9

68.8

  35-44

55.5

68.8

  45-54

48.9

66.3

  55-64

47.2

67.5

  65-74

44.3

59.4

  75+

55.7

58.8

 
Region England

58.3

65.6

      North East

56.4

72.7

      North West

61.5

65.6

      Yorkshire and       Humberside

69.3

68.3

      West Midlands

54.8

66.9

      East Midlands

65.1

70.7

      East Anglia / Eastern England

54.2

66.7

      South West

59.3

68.7

      South East

54.5

63.4

      Greater London

51.1

57.6

  Scotland

41.5

68.8

  Wales

46.5

78.5

 
Affiliation Anglican

43.3

50.8

  Catholic

25.0

35.0

  Other Christian

23.3

43.7

  Other religion

37.1

25.9

 

Source: Compiled by the author from BSA surveys.

Next, variations in attendance are examined based on two indicators of socio-economic status, education (Table 3) and social class (Table 4 and Table 5). A consistent measure of education is available for both surveys, based on a question asking at what age respondents completed their full-time education (also labelled terminal education age) or whether they were still in some form of education (for example, college or university). Table 3 shows that, in 1983, those who finished full-time education aged 19 or over were less likely to report never attending services (about two-fifths said this) compared to all other groups (highest for those who left aged 17 – at 61.1%). In 2012, there is a similar pattern of non-attendance – those who left-education aged 19 years or older are less likely to report not attending services (at 57.1%), closely followed by those still in education (55.6%). Even so, the proportion of those aged 19 and over who never-attended had clearly risen over the intervening three decades, as had the proportions in the other groups (with the exception of those still in education). Another way of measuring educational background is to look at the highest qualification held by respondents. Such a measure was not included on the 1983 survey, but the data from the 2012 survey show that those holding degree-level (or above) qualifications were less likely to report never attending services (55.7%) compared to those with lower-level qualifications (such as A-Levels or GCSEs)  or none at all (69.4%).

Table 3: Per cent reporting that they never attend religious services by age completed full-time education

 

1983 (%)

2012 (%)

15 or under

55.8

70.1

16

59.8

75.0

17

61.1

67.7

18

56.8

65.8

19 and over

41.5

57.1

Still in education

55.9

55.6

Source: Compiled by the author from BSA surveys.

Table 4 (1983) and Table 5 (2012) show levels of non-attendance based on measures of social class. The measures are not identical, reflecting changes in the way the BSA series has adapted to changes in official classifications in this area. In 1983, we can see that those within the higher grades (professional or intermediate) are less likely to report not attending religious services (46.3% and 50.9%, respectively). In 1983, the highest levels of non-attendance are found amongst those in partly-skilled or unskilled occupations (at 61.5% and 62.4%). In 2012, the differences are narrower across categories, with all groups reporting higher levels of non-attendance. Those within the salariat (i.e. in higher-level ‘white-collar’ occupations) are slightly less likely to report that they do not attend services (63.3%), with non-attendance highest amongst those in the foreman / technicians category (at 73.1%).

Table 4: Per cent reporting that they never attend religious services by social class, 1983 (Registrar General’s Social Class)

               

%

Professional

46.3

Intermediate

50.9

Skilled

61.5

Partly skilled

62.4

Unskilled

57.5

Look after home

46.5

Source: Compiled by the author from the BSA 1983 survey.

Table 5 Per cent reporting that they never attend religious services by social class, 2012 (NS-SEC analytic class)

               

%

Salariat

63.3

Clerical

69.2

Petty Bourgeois

69.0

Foreman / Technicians

73.1

Working class

67.9

Source: Compiled by the author from the BSA 2012 survey.

Summary

The evidence reviewed here from the BSA surveys has shown that sex, age, religious affiliation and, to a lesser extent, socio-economic status – particularly educational background – have been and still are sources of variation in religious attendance in Britain. That is, women and older age groups – traditionally groups more likely to exhibit religious identity and involvement – are less likely to report that they do not attend services. Catholics, other Christians and adherents of non-Christian faiths are less likely to not attend compared to Anglicans. The broader picture, however, shows that, even if these historical gaps are still evident, they have often narrowed in recent decades, as a greater proportion of the adult population reports that it does not attend services in 2012 compared with 1983. Based on the evidence shown here, religious ‘behaving’ – measured as attendance at services – has clearly declined alongside religious ‘belonging’ in recent decades.

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Personal Values and Other News

 

Personal values

Religion is not regarded as a particularly important value either in the UK or in the European Union (EU) generally, according to newly-released data from Special Eurobarometer 415, which was undertaken in March 2014 as wave 81.2 of Eurobarometer among representative samples of adults aged 15 and over in each of the 28 member states of the EU. UK fieldwork was conducted by TNS UK on 15-24 March 2014 with 1,296 respondents.

Interviewees were presented with a list of twelve values and asked to select a maximum of three which were most important to them personally. Only 7% in the UK picked religion (the same figures as a year previously), which relegated it to eleventh position, just ahead of solidarity (a concept which very few related to in the UK compared with other European countries – otherwise, religion might have come bottom of the list). As in the EU as a whole, the top three UK values were respect for human life, human rights, and peace. The highest priority to religion was accorded in Cyprus (21%), Malta (17%), Greece (15%), and Romania (12%). Summary data are tabulated below, with the full topline statistics available on pp. T60-61 of the report at:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_415_data_en.pdf

%

UK

EU

Respect for human life

44

40

Human rights

35

43

Peace

35

41

Equality

33

20

Rule of law

27

18

Individual freedom

24

23

Democracy

22

26

Respect for other cultures

18

9

Tolerance

16

14

Self-fulfilment

8

9

Religion

7

5

Solidarity

5

15

Church membership

There were 5,436,500 church members in the UK in 2013, 4.5% fewer in absolute terms than in 2008 (with an even bigger fall relative to the rising population), according to Dr Peter Brierley writing in the June 2014 issue of FutureFirst, the bimonthly bulletin of Brierley Consultancy. The 2013 figures derive from a form sent to each of the UK’s almost 300 denominations augmented by estimates in the case of non-response or missing data. The overall rate of decline appears to have lessened from the preceding period, and this is attributed to two principal factors: the establishment of new black and other immigrant churches, and Fresh Expressions of church.

However, the absolute decrease in members between 2008 and 2013 was unevenly distributed across the four home nations, reaching 8.4% in Wales, 11.7% in Northern Ireland, and 17.3% in Scotland (the contraction being especially concentrated in, respectively, the Union of Welsh Independents, Roman Catholic Church, and Church of Scotland). England actually registered a small increase (0.4%) over the five years, thanks to growth among the New Churches, Orthodox Churches, and Pentecostal Churches. A full analysis of the data will appear in the forthcoming second edition of Brierley’s UK Church Statistics.

Same-sex marriage

Prime Minister David Cameron may have recently extolled the virtues of Britain as a Christian country, but, in a poll chiefly about same-sex marriage, 34% of its citizens think he has actually undermined Christianity in the nation, the figure rising to 41% of over-65s and 60% of UKIP voters. Dissentients to the proposition number 42%, including 62% of Conservatives, with 25% don’t knows.

Likewise, a plurality of 45% disagrees that Cameron has improved religious freedom in the UK, with 63% for UKIP supporters. Only 19% consider that he has enhanced religious liberty (among them 37% of Conservatives and 30% of Liberal Democrats), a substantial 35% being undecided.

Notwithstanding the multiple locks (to protect religious sensibilities) built into the English and Welsh legislation for same-sex marriage, 44% feel it inevitable that the Church of England will be forced to conduct such unions (the Welsh being especially pessimistic, on 58%), 30% disagreeing and 26% uncertain.

The findings come from a survey commissioned by the Christian Institute from ComRes, and for which 2,056 adult Britons were interviewed online between 9 and 11 May 2014. Full data tables were published on 19 May at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/CI_SSM_Poll_May_2014.pdf

YouGov miscellany

YouGov’s final European election polling for The Times on 20-21 May 2014, employing an especially large sample of 6,124 adults, included several questions on miscellaneous topics, a couple of which are relevant to BRIN.

The first asked respondents to reflect on various changes in Britain in recent times and to say whether, on balance, each had been good or bad for the country. On the list was allowing supermarkets and other big shops to open on Sundays. This legislative change was approved by 63%, with 17% neutral and 16% opposed. Support was greater among the under-40s than over-40s, the figure for women over 40 falling to 55%.

The second question of interest to BRIN posed the statement: ‘Even in its more moderate forms, Islam is a serious danger to western civilisation’. A plurality of 47% agreed, rising to 75% of UKIP voters. Endorsement was much greater among the over-40s than under-40s (22% more in the case of men and 23% for women). Disagreement to the proposition ran at 28%, peaking at 46% of Liberal Democrats and 58% of Greens, with 18% undecided. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/n966r6px4w/Full_EU_Poll_Final_CUKIP.pdf

Armed forces

FOI releases published by the Ministry of Defence on 28 and 29 May 2014 provide details of the religious affiliation of regular members of the UK armed forces as at 1 October 2013, thereby updating the statistics for 1 April 2013 which were noted in our post of 3 October 2013.

The newly-released data may be summarized (aggregating all non-Christian religions) thus:

 

Army

Navy

RAF

Total

%

Church of England

47,950

15,820

18,380

82,150

49.3

Roman Catholic

11,600

3,790

3,800

19,190

11.5

Other Christian

21,070

5,680

5,310

32,060

19.3

Non-Christian

2,470

290

310

3,070

1.8

No religion

13,770

7,860

6,800

28,430

17.1

Undeclared

170

80

1,320

1,570

0.9

Total

97,030

33,520

35,920

166,470

99.9

The breakdown of the 3,070 non-Christians was as follows: 870 Hindus, 650 Muslims, 550 Buddhists, 160 Sikhs, 120 Pagans, 120 Rastafarians, 70 Jews, 40 Spiritualists, 30 Kiratis, 20 Wiccas, 10 Baha’is, and 430 other religions. The two FOI releases are at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315082/PUBLIC_1391420325.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315106/PUBLIC_1391430963.pdf

Women bishops

The Church of England’s internal strife over female bishops may be coming to an end, according to the final tabulation (published on 23 May 2014) of voting in diocesan synods on the current draft legislation to permit women to be appointed to the episcopate. In aggregate, the bishops were 94.9% in favour, clergy representatives 87.7%, and lay representatives 88.6%. Apart from Europe (which could not arrange a vote in time), every diocese voted in favour, including London and Chichester (which had rejected the then proposal for women bishops in 2011), albeit 31.4% of the members of the Chichester synod still remain opposed (among them the Bishop of Chichester). The legislation will now go to the Church’s General Synod in July for final approval. The full diocesan record of voting is at:

http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1995951/pr%2064.14%20diocese%20vote%20table.jpg

Anglican school chaplaincy

The extent and nature of chaplaincy in Anglican secondary schools was revealed in a report published on 25 May 2014 by the Church of England Archbishops’ Council Education Division and the National Society. The underlying research was conducted by Michael Camp in the spring and summer terms of 2013, on the basis of an online survey of 198 schools, of which 72 replied, with 27 follow-up visits or structured telephone interviews. The Public Face of God: Chaplaincy in Anglican Secondary Schools and Academies in England and Wales is available at: 

http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1989177/nschaplaincyreport.pdf

Four-fifths (58) of the responding secondary schools were found to have a designated chaplain (or chaplaincy team). A majority of individual chaplains (34) were ordained, 22 were lay, and one was a religious. A plurality (26) were full-time appointments, 23 part-time employees, and eight were volunteers. Employed chaplains were more likely to be on support staff rather than teaching staff contracts.

Events

A reminder that the Church of England’s annual Faith in Research Conference is taking place this coming Wednesday (4 June 2014) at the Novotel, 70 Broad Street, Birmingham, with the Bishop of Manchester in the chair. The programme of keynote and breakout sessions can be found at:

http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1957190/session%20and%20speakers.pdf

Meanwhile, BRIN readers who live within reach of North-East England may be interested to attend a forthcoming public lecture by Dr Peter Brierley on ‘Church Statistics: the Latest Picture’. This will be given at 5 pm on Monday, 23 June 2014 at Etchells House, Cranmer Hall, 16 South Bailey, Durham. The lecture has been arranged by the Centre for Church Growth Research at St Johns College, Durham University, where Peter is a Visiting Fellow. Anybody intending to attend the lecture is kindly requested to email in advance to: d.j.goodhew@durham.ac.uk.

 

 

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ADL Index of Anti-Semitism

 

Britain has one of the lowest rates of anti-Semitism in the world, according to The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism, which was released by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on 13 May 2014.

Interviews were conducted, under the auspices of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, with randomly selected samples of 53,100 adults aged 18 and over in 102 countries (comprising 86% of the world’s population) between July 2013 and February 2014. They included 510 in Britain, by telephone, from 9 August to 17 September 2013 by an unspecified agency.

The principal output from the research is an interactive website, permitting users to interrogate the data for individual countries, but there is also an executive summary which provides an overview of the results and methodology. Both can be accessed at:

http://global100.adl.org/

The index has been compiled from a list of eleven negative stereotypes about Jews, some included in previous (less extensive) ADL research and some new. Respondents who said that at least six of these statements were probably true were deemed to harbour anti-Semitic attitudes.

Across all 102 countries combined 26% of adults were classified as anti-Semitic on this measure, the largest proportion by far being in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA, on 74%), with the biggest score within MENA being the West Bank and Gaza (93%) and for a non-MENA nation Greece (69%). The aggregate score for English-speaking countries was 13%.

Britain scored 8%, placing it in 97th position, with only Vietnam, The Netherlands, Sweden, Philippines, and Laos recording lower figures. The British statistic was higher for men (10%) than women (6%) and, by age, peaked among those aged 35-49 (9%). It was twice as great among people without religion (12%) as Christians (6%), although the sub-sample of the former apparently represented under 140 individuals.

Of the eleven stereotypes, the most commonly accepted in Britain (as it was in the rest of the world) was that ‘Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in’. This was held by 27% of Britons (34% among 18-34s), the smallest number since ADL surveys began here in 2002 (comparative data for replicated stereotypes appear below). The next most prevalent stereotypes in Britain were that ‘Jews have too much control over the United States government’ (19%, with 24% for men) and ‘Jews have too much control over the global media’ (14%, with 19% among 18-34s).

% saying each stereotype probably true

2002

2004

2005

2007

2009

2012

2013

Jews more loyal to Israel than this country

34

40

39

50

37

48

27

Jews have too much power in business world

21

20

14

22

15

20

11

Jews have too much power in international financial markets

NA

18

16

21

15

22

12

Jews still talk too much about Holocaust

23

31

28

28

20

24

10

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

10

18

NA

NA

NA

NA

8

Somewhat fewer than the 8% categorized by the ADL as anti-Semitic self-identified as holding unfavourable opinions of Jews – just 5%, the same as for Christians. Predictably (from other surveys), Muslims were the most negatively rated. However, in the case of all the non-Christian faiths, one-fifth of the British sample was undecided. This presumably reflected lack of direct acquaintance with the groups concerned (for instance, three-quarters said they rarely or never interacted with Jews) but may also have concealed some who were silently antipathetic. The full figures follow:

% rating of

Favourable

Unfavourable

Can’t rate

Christians

82

5

13

Jews

75

5

20

Muslims

69

11

21

Hindus

72

6

22

Buddhists

74

4

23

Rather more (16%) reported that ‘a lot of the people I know have negative feelings about Jews’, while two-fifths admitted to being very or fairly worried about violence directed at Jews or Jewish symbols/institutions in Britain. Such violence occurred somewhat often according to 6% of respondents, not that often for 27%, and never or almost never for 39%. Of the minority who could isolate the cause of the violence, far more Britons attributed it to anti-Israel sentiment as to anti-Jewish feelings, as had been the case in previous years (see trend data, below).

%   agreeing violence against Jews

2002

2004

2005

2007

2009

2012

2013

Result of anti-Jewish feelings

15

14

24

27

30

32

14

Result of anti-Israel sentiment

46

51

33

34

26

34

33

In fact, as many as 26% of Britons entertained an unfavourable attitude to Israel, with 38% favourable (against 54% being favourable to Palestine). A similar proportion (27%) agreed that their views of Jews were influenced to an extent, and invariably for the worse, by the actions of the State of Israel. This was much the same as in the four previous surveys (2005. 2007, 2009, and 2012) when the figure ranged from 20% to 28%.

There was overwhelming (99%) familiarity with the Holocaust, and there were no absolute Holocaust-deniers in the sample, albeit 6% believed that the number of Jews who had died in it had been greatly exaggerated. Of the remainder, 83% accepted the historical record of the scale of Jewish deaths, while 10% expressed no views. Far fewer accused Jews of talking too much about the Holocaust than in previous surveys – 10% versus a mean of 26% for 2002-12.

Jews accounted for well under 1% of Britain’s population at the 2011 census, yet only 22% of this sample correctly estimated that proportion. Almost half (47%) reckoned Jews constituted more than 1%, including 26% who believed they might form more than 2% of the population.

So far as Britain and several other countries are concerned, the ADL study will doubtless be compared with Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism as reported by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on 8 November 2013. The UK data for the FRA survey derived from an online and entirely self-selecting sample of 1,468 Jews. See BRIN’s post of 15 November 2013 for further analysis.

 

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Islamic and Other Themes

 

Attitudes to Muslims

One-quarter (26%) of Britons entertain a mostly unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion of Muslims, according to the latest release of data, on 12 May 2014, from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, for which 1,000 adults were interviewed by telephone in Britain between 17 March and 8 April 2014.

This was the lowest proportion holding unfavourable views of Muslims in the seven European countries investigated, significantly less than in Italy (63%), Greece (53%), Poland (50%), and Spain (46%), and broadly comparable with France (27%) and Germany (33%). Negativity toward Muslims was typically associated with older people and those espousing politically right-wing views, and Britain was no exception to this rule, with a gap of 9% between the 18-29s and over-50s and of 15% between leftists and rightists. More information is available at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2014/05/2014-05-12_Pew-Global-Attitudes-European-Union.pdf

Notwithstanding a lower incidence of Islamophobia than in other countries, unfavourable attitudes to Muslims in Britain in 2014 are running at one of their highest levels since Pew first started measuring them ten years ago (as the following table of trend data shows), only marginally surpassed by the Autumn 2009 figure of 27%. They also far exceed negativity toward Jews in Britain, which has never risen above 9% during the past decade and stands at 7% in the Spring 2014 survey.

%

Favourable

Unfavourable

2004 Spring

67

18

2005 Spring

72

14

2006 Spring

64

20

2008 Spring

63

23

2009 Spring

63

19

2009 Autumn

61

27

2010 Spring

60

20

2011 Spring

64

22

2014 Spring

64

26

Halal meat

The controversy about halal meat entering the food chain for non-Muslims without clear labelling of its provenance rumbles on, and The Sunday Times commissioned YouGov to test public opinion on the subject, 1,905 Britons being interviewed online on 8-9 May 2014. The overwhelming majority (78%) thought that supermarkets should be required to label products containing meat from animals slaughtered using halal methods, with only 13% opposed; the over-60s (84%), Conservatives (84%), and UKIP voters (87%) were most in favour. A plurality (49%) said they would feel uncomfortable about eating halal meat, with discomfort most evident among women (52%), residents of southern England outside London (54%), the over-60s (56%), Conservatives (59%), and UKIP supporters (65%). Overall, 38% were comfortable with consuming halal meat, including 44% of men, 47% of Labour voters, and 51% of Londoners. Data tables can be found at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/45cxqhtvw7/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140509.pdf

Nigerian schoolgirls

The abduction of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls by the Islamist group Boko Haram was the most noticed news story of the week, for the second week in succession, according to replies to an open-ended question posed in an online Populus poll of 2,043 Britons on 14-15 May 2014. It was mentioned by 19%, just ahead of the Turkish mine disaster in second place on 16% and of the death of teenager Stephen Sutton on 14%. This information is taken from ‘Something for the Weekend’, the weekly email round-up by Populus, dated 16 May 2014.

When prompted in a YouGov poll on 12-13 May 2014, 55% of 1,977 respondents also indicated that they had been very or fairly closely following the story, with a high of 68% among over-60s. A similar number (54%) expressed support for the UK sending troops to help find the schoolgirls, if requested to do so by the Nigerian government, even though far fewer (32%) endorsed more general western military involvement in combating Islamism in northern Nigeria (with 40% declaring it would be ‘a bad thing’). Awareness of the Twitter campaign to BringBackOurGirls stood at 34%, with 54% among 18-24s (reflecting their greater usage of social media). Full results are located at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/hr12kl3iee/InternalResults_140513_Kidnapped_Nigerian_girls_website.pdf

A question about the kidnapping was also included in a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday, 1.005 adults being interviewed online on 9 May 2014. The majority of them (56%) wanted the British government to offer to send the SAS (special forces) to Nigeria to help with the rescue of the schoolgirls, with just under one-third opposed to any British military engagement. Support for SAS involvement was especially strong among Scots (64%), ethnic minorities (65%), and the top (AB) social group (68%). Detailed breaks can be found at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/MoS-tables-11-May-2014.pdf

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a meditative practice which originates in Buddhism but has been increasingly deployed to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions. According to a YouGov online poll on 8-9 May 2014, 45% of Britons (comprising 51% of women and 38% of men) would support mindfulness-based therapy being available on the NHS to treat depression, with 25% opposed and 30% undecided. This idea has been mooted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Somewhat fewer (39%) of the public, however, think that mindfulness probably has health benefits, with 29% unconvinced, and 33% uncertain. Complete results do not seem to have been published, the foregoing information being extracted from a YouGov blog post on 10 May 2014 at:

http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/05/10/mindfulness-therapy-nhs/

Post-war religious statistics

Thanks are due to Dr Ben Clements for alerting BRIN to the existence of a developing resource from the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois. The Composition of Religious and Ethnic Groups (CREG) project is assembling data on these two themes for 165 countries since the Second World War. There are three core sources of statistics – Britannica Book of the Year, CIA World Factbook, and World Almanac Book of Facts – with a variety of supplemental sources for individual countries and years. In the case of the UK actual or estimated religious population figures are provided as percentages for each year between 1945 and 2013 for the following groups: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox, and non-religious (lines 6810-7489 on the ‘long’ worksheet, lines 1727-1795 on the ‘wide’ worksheet). The CREG website will be found at:

http://www.clinecenter.illinois.edu/research/sid-composition.html

These data need to be used with circumspection since specific sources are not cited, the majority of figures appear to be estimates, worksheet columns are poorly labelled (the separate variable descriptions document needs to be consulted for explanations), faith group proportions do not always align with sample survey evidence, and the Protestant category is undifferentiated (and thus impossibly large). The statistics perhaps have some utility for comparative purposes, measured against those of other nations, although there are other compilations for this, perhaps the best-known being the World Religion Database. For the UK alone, Peter Brierley’s estimates are perhaps a better starting-point, albeit not always beyond question either; see, in particular, his UK Christian Handbook, Religious Trends, No. 2 (1999) and UK Church Statistics, 2005-2015 (2011).

Spiritual care at point of death

Hospitals in England are often failing to meet the spiritual needs of dying patients and their relatives, as laid down in national guidelines, according to the National Care of the Dying Audit for Hospitals, England: National Report, which was published by the Royal College of Physicians in conjunction with the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool on 14 May 2014. The research was conducted in 2013 on the basis of a mixed methods approach, comprising an organizational audit of 131 hospital trusts, an anonymized case note review for 6,580 patients, and a survey of the views of 858 bereaved families and friends. The report can be found at:

http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ncdah_national_report.pdf

The case note review indicated that 72% of dying patients professed some religion. Despite this, in 63% of cases the hospital failed to achieve the key performance indicator of assessing the spiritual needs of the patient and their nominated relatives or friends. Direct conversations about their spiritual needs were documented with only 21% of dying patients thought capable of participating in such discussions (equivalent to 11% of all patients), and indirect (proxy) conversations (via the nominated relative or friend) were held for 23% of patients. Evidence that patients had been seen by a spiritual adviser was recorded in a mere 9% of cases. Just 25% of the relatives/carers of dying patients were asked about their own spiritual needs. Among the sample of bereaved families and friends, 39% agreed that the patient’s religious or spiritual needs had been met by the healthcare team, with 50% expressing no clear view, and 11% disagreeing.

 

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