Counting Religion in Britain, August 2018

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


Boris Johnson and the burka

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

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

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

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

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

Religious prejudice in political parties

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thought for the Day

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

Criticizing Christianity

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


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

Uniformed organizations

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

Young people and immigration

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

Scottish religion

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

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

Dating apps and religion

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

Asian elephants

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


Church of England ministry

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

Humanists UK

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

Islamophobic incidents

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


England and Wales census of population, 2021

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

Scotland census of population, 2021

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

Religious Studies GCE A Levels

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

Religious Studies GCSE

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

School admissions

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


Populism and the Church of England

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

Church of Scotland statistics

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

Muslims in politics

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

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, July 2018

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


Attitudes to Christians and Christianity

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

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

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

Religion and violence

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

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

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

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

Pride in the Church 

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

Religious affiliation 

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


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

Human rights 

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

Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party

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

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


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

Islamic State 

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


Methodist Statistics for Mission

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

Anti-Semitic incidents

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


LGBT people

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


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

Ethnic Sikhs

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

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

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


Secularization and economic change

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

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

British Social Attitudes Survey, 2017

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

The questionnaire is available at:


Fiona Tweedie

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

David John Bartholomew 

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

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, June 2018

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

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

The contents list is as follows:


Christian England? (YouGov for BBC)

Royal wedding (ComRes for Theos)

Religion in education (Censuswide for National Secular Society)

Age gap in religion (Pew Research Center)

Values in Europe (Eurobarometer)

Inclusiveness of nationalities (Ipsos)

Attitudes to Islam (YouGov@Cambridge)

Free speech (YouGov)


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

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

Faith school admissions (Humanists UK)

Young Catholics (Camino House for Catholic Youth Ministry Federation)

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


Marriages in Scotland (National Records of Scotland)


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

Methodist philanthropy (David Jeremy)


Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2016

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



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Counting Religion in Britain, May 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 32, May 2018 features 17 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 32 May 2018


Being Christian in Western Europe

The Pew Research Center has released the second tranche of findings from its 2017 Religion in Western Europe study, comprising a 168-page analytical report entitled Being Christian in Western Europe and a 191-page topline. The first tranche of results, which examined the persistence of the Catholic-Protestant divide 500 years after the Reformation, was featured in the August 2017 edition of Counting Religion in Britain. Fieldwork for the study was undertaken by telephone (both landline and cellphone) in 15 Western European countries under the direction of GfK Belgium, the British sample consisting of 1,841 adults aged 18 and over interviewed between 12 April and 1 August 2017.

The second tranche of data concerns a wide range of religious beliefs, practices, and opinions, as well as attitudes to a few secular issues analysed by religious variables. Particular attention is paid to differences for each nation between church-attending Christians, non-practising Christians, and the religiously unaffiliated. Breaks for non-Christians are not given, since they would have been based on extremely small cell counts. It should be noted that the religious belonging question (‘what is your present religion, if any?’) was of the variety which typically maximizes religious allegiance, and this explains why ‘only’ 23% of Britons self-designated as religious nones, about half the proportion revealed in some other surveys, and 73% claimed to be Christians. Very few Britons (6%) were categorized as spiritual but not religious, perhaps further undermining the case for a ‘spiritual revolution’.

Particular interest attaches to two scales which Pew has constructed from the data. One relates to religious commitment, a composite of the importance attached to religion, attendance at religious services, prayer, and certainty of belief in God; just 11% of all Britons (and no more than 13% of Christians) exhibited a high level of religious commitment, 31% a moderate one, and 58% a low one (the same as the median for Western Europe). The second scale was derived from 22 questions about nationalist, anti-immigrant, and anti-religious minority sentiments, which, superficially, were most pervasive among churchgoing Christians and least among religious nones. Highly committed Christians were also the least likely to favour abortion and same-sex marriage. The documentation relating to Being Christian in Western Europe can be found at:

Religious affiliation of young people

Twice as many UK adults aged 18-35 now profess no religion as self-identify as Christians, 59% versus 30%, according to an online survey of 1,666 such young people by Populus between 9 and 28 March 2018. Non-Christians numbered 9%. The question-wording was: ‘which of the following religious groups do you consider yourself to be a member of?’ For breaks by demographics, see table 20 in the New Farming Techniques report (conducted on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council) at:

Faith-based charities

A recent blog by Jenny Smith offers a few insights into public attitudes towards faith-based charities, derived from nfpSynergy’s November 2017 Charity Awareness Monitor, for which 1,000 Britons aged 16 and over were interviewed online. The blog, which focuses on ways in which faith-based charities could broaden their appeal and attract supporters who are not necessarily religious, is at:

Royal family and diversity

A substantial majority (72%) of the British public thinks it acceptable for a member of the royal family to marry someone of a different religion, according to an online poll by YouGov of 1,648 adults on 8-9 May 2018. Just 16% view the prospect as unacceptable, disproportionately Conservatives (24%), leave voters in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union (23%), and over-65s (22%), while 12% are undecided. Full data tables are at:

Islam and British values

A plurality (44%) of Britons continues to think there is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society, according to a YouGov@Cambridge poll of 1,640 adults on 28-29 March 2018. This view was particularly widely held among those who voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum (65%), Conservatives (63%), and over-65s (58%). One-quarter of respondents felt that Islam is generally compatible with British values while 31% were undecided or held another opinion. Full data tables are at:

For trend data on the same question, see:

Sikhs and alcohol

It is generally supposed that the Sikh faith prohibits the consumption of alcohol, but a new poll conducted by BMG Research for the BBC has found that, of a sample of 1,049 UK Sikhs, 61% consume alcohol at least occasionally (men more than women), 49% feel under pressure to drink at social events, and 27% have an immediate family member suffering from an alcohol problem. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 December 2017 and 14 January 2018 by a combination of face-to-face and online interview. The definition of Sikh was relatively broad, embracing those who self-identified as such or who had a parent or grandparent from a Sikh background. Full data tables and description of methodology are not yet available but BMG has a press release at:


Rites of passage

Over the past decade, the Church of England has made great efforts to reinvigorate its ‘occasional offices’, the services which it provides in connection with the so-called ‘rites of passage’, amidst evidence of a long-term decline in their take-up. Notwithstanding, it is estimated that even today the Church potentially encounters 15 million individuals each year through such life events, almost six times the number attending Anglican worship at Christmas.  A range of quantitative and qualitative research has been commissioned by the Church to investigate people’s attitudes to baptisms, weddings, and funerals. This underpins Sandra Millar’s Life Events: Mission and Ministry at Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals (London: Church House Publishing, 2018, xi + 191pp., ISBN 978-1-78140-033-3, £14.99, paperback). However, the focus of the book is essentially practical and pastoral, and the research itself is not systematically presented therein. The book’s webpage is at:

Sex education

Most faith schools are distorting sex education. So claims the National Secular Society in a recent report: Unsafe Sex Education: The Risk of Letting Religious Schools Teach within the Tenets of their Faith. It is based upon quantitative and qualitative analysis of the policies on sex and relationship education, as displayed on their websites, of 634 secondary and all-through state schools in England with a religious character between February and April 2018. Basic statistics are presented in chapter 3. The report is available at:

Church Commissioners annual report and review

The Church Commissioners, who contribute 15% of the running costs of the Church of England, have published their annual report and review for 2017. Their total return on investments was 7.1%, two points below both the target for the year and the thirty-year average return. For a press release, with links to the two documents, see:

Quaker membership statistics

The 2018 Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain was held in London on 4-7 May, and one of the documents under consideration was Patterns of Membership, including the 2017 Tabular Statement. Such statements have been produced annually since 1862. The Quakers have never been a large movement but gained a reputation historically for punching well above their numerical weight in terms of socio-political impact and influence. Membership of the Yearly Meeting at the end of 2017 was 12,934, a decrease of 254 from 2016, together with 9,461 attenders. There has been a ten-year decline of 9% in members and attenders combined. The report can be found at:

Humanist marriages in England and Wales

According to data released by Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association), the number of marriages solemnized by humanist celebrants in England and Wales increased from 287 in 2004 to 975 in 2015, representing 1.6% of all opposite-sex religious marriage ceremonies in the latter year and making humanists the seventh largest provider of such ceremonies (after the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, Church in Wales, Methodists, Sikhs, and Baptists). In 2016, when humanist weddings topped 1,000, humanists were allegedly (official figures for 2016 have yet to be released) the fifth largest provider. This is notwithstanding humanist ceremonies are currently not legally recognized in England and Wales (unlike in Scotland), necessitating parties undergoing them to enter into a parallel civil marriage in order to gain legal recognition and protection. The data also include a much more granular picture of religious marriages for each year between 2004 and 2015 than is ordinarily published by the Office for National Statistics. The Humanists UK press release is at:


Religion in the armed forces

The latest edition of UK Armed Forces Biannual Diversity Statistics includes details of the religious profession of the UK’s regular forces (table 4) and reserve forces (table 18) as at 1 April 2018. Although the number of religious nones is increasing year-on-year in all three armed services, Christian self-identification remains strong and higher than in the general population (71% of regulars and 74% of reserves). The spreadsheet can be downloaded from:


Dissent in 1851

A local study based on the 1851 religious census of accommodation and attendance is Kate Tiller, ‘Patterns of Dissent: The Social and Religious Geography of Nonconformity in Three Counties’, International Journal of Regional and Local History, Vol.13, No. 1, 2018, pp. 4-31, the three counties concerned being Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire. Seven significant determinants of Dissenting experience and its locations are identified and discussed. An appendix lists modern scholarly editions of the manuscript returns of the census. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Sexual attitudes

To mark International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the University of Manchester released new research by Laura Watt and Mark Elliot revealing that in 2010 a person’s religion and ethnicity were more strongly associated with their attitude towards homosexuality than their level of education, a reversal of the situation in 1990. The findings derived from secondary analysis of the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles for 1990, 2000, and 2010. Among 16-44-year-olds, just 11% of those who did not identify as religious viewed homosexuality as always wrong in 2010 compared with 60% of weekly attenders at religious services (only marginally down from 68% in 1990). The University’s press release is at:

Labour and the Jewish vote

The ongoing row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party cost the party dear in the local council elections held on 3 May 2018 in the London Borough of Barnet, which has a sizeable Jewish population, according to two blog posts by Daniel Allington. His analysis of ward-by-ward voting in relation to the 2011 census showed that Labour picked up votes only in those parts of Barnet where there were relatively few Jews; the more Jews there were within a ward, the more likely it was for Labour to lose votes, most of them transferring to the Tories, thereby enabling the latter to retake control of the council. The blogs are at:

Muslims and stop and search

Muslims in England and Wales are among the least likely ethnic and religious group to be stopped by the police, but they are among the most likely to be searched once stopped (by a factor of eight in respect of foot searches). So concludes Julian Hargreaves in ‘Police Stop and Search within British Muslim Communities: Evidence from the Crime Survey, 2006-11’, an advance article in the British Journal of Criminology, 2018. This claims to be the first known study to model large-scale police stop and search data for British Muslims. However, the author acknowledges the limitations of the Crime Survey as a source for ‘minority’ populations, especially in respect of low cell counts. The article is freely available at:


UK Data Service SN 8156: Millennium Cohort Study, Sixth Survey, 2015

The Millennium Cohort Study, an initiative of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the University of London, is tracking the lives of a sample of individuals born in the UK in 2000-01. The sixth sweep was conducted, by a mixture of methods, between January 2015 and April 2016, when the cohort members were aged 14, 11,884 responses being obtained. Information about religious affiliation was collected from both cohort members and their parents, which can be used as a variable for the analysis of replies to other questions. The modules in the young people’s self-completion questionnaire covered activities (including attendance at religious services), attitudes, education, identity, family/friends/ relationships, victimization/ risky behaviours, health, and personality/well-being. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

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

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

Counting Religion in Britain, April 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 31, April 2018 features 20 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 31 April 2018


Religious divisions

The gulf between people of different religions is second only to that between immigrants and natives as a cause of tension in society, according to the 1,000 adults aged 16-64 interviewed online by Ipsos MORI for the BBC in late January and early February 2018. Almost half (47%) regarded inter-religious differences as a source of societal friction in Britain, 20 points more than the 27-nation mean and only exceeded in Belgium and India. Moreover, 11% of Britons agreed that mixing with people from other religions created conflict, with a further 30% suggesting that it sometimes led to misunderstandings, the combined figure not far short of the 46% thinking it produced mutual understanding and respect. A hard core of 7% in Britain did not trust persons from a different religion to their own. Topline results for all nations are at:

Most admired men

In its latest annual multinational poll of the most admired men and women, conducted online in early 2018, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis emerged as, respectively, the fourth and eleventh most admired men among the sample of adult Britons, with scores of 4.1% and 2.8%. The list was headed by David Attenborough (16.6%), Barack Obama (12.3%), and the late Stephen Hawking (9.2%). Globally, across the 35 nations surveyed, the Dalai Lama was ranked the seventh most admired man (3.9%) and Pope Francis sixteenth (2.2%). More details are available at:

Religion in Scotland

On behalf of the Sunday Times (Scotland), Panelbase has conducted one of the most detailed national cross-sectional surveys of religion in contemporary Scotland for many years. Online interviews were completed with 1,037 adults resident in Scotland between 23 and 28 March 2018. Questions covered three areas: personal religion; perceptions of change in the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Francis; and attitudes to the respect shown to major religions in Scotland and personal experience of religious prejudice. The proportion belonging to no religion was 46%, with Church of Scotland adherents numbering 30% and Roman Catholics 11%. Apart from rites of passage, two-thirds last attended a religious service over a year ago (31%) or have never or practically never done so (35%). Just one-quarter believed that Jesus Christ was a real person who died and came back to life and was the Son of God, a plurality of 47% disbelieving and 24% undecided. With regard to Pope Francis, the majority (52%) did not know whether he has moved the Roman Catholic Church in new directions or maintained its traditional positions, the remainder being evenly split between the two options. However, only minorities felt the Church during his pontificate had: become more accepting (32%) and more open (28%); more hospitable to homosexuality (22%), artificial contraception (21%), abortion (12%), and married priests (19%); and got tougher with abusers (23%). One-third of Scots considered that Islam is shown too much respect, with one-quarter thinking that Christianity receives too little. Nine in ten had not experienced religious prejudice or abuse in the past five years. Two articles derived from the survey were published in the Sunday Times (Scotland) on 1 April 2018 (pp. 1-2 and 5) and full data tables are available at:

Christian giving

The Christian Opinion Panel: Giving Survey is a 40-page report from Colchester-based TMH Media, derived from an online poll which it commissioned in October 2017 and answered by 546 British Christians aged 15 and over who were viewers of Christian television channels. Exact details of survey agency and sampling methodology are uncertain and the sample seems potentially demographically skewed. Certainly, compared to the known profile of all churchgoers, respondents were disproportionately young (only 5% were over 65!), educated to degree level, from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (there were almost as many Africans as white British), and resident in London and the South-East. The 43 questions covered three main areas: charity giving, church giving, and legacy giving. Although 99% considered it important to give to charity, slightly fewer (87%) claimed to be doing so in practice, religious causes and those dedicated to helping young people and the homeless being most popular. Of those giving to charity, 48% also volunteered for charity. Of the 13% who did not give to charity, 72% were giving to their church (implying that 4% of the whole sample gave neither to charity nor to church). Only 29% had plans to leave a legacy gift in their will. The report can be downloaded for free but requires prior registration with TMH Media at:

Patron saints’ days

According to a YouGov poll conducted for St George’s Day in 2018, there is limited appetite among UK adults for each of the four UK patron saints’ days to become bank holidays across the whole of the UK. The preference is for each day to be observed as a public holiday only in the appropriate home nation (as is already the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland). For instance, 49% of English residents think St George’s Day should be a bank holiday just in England compared with 24% who want it marked across the entire UK and 18% who do not want it to become a bank holiday for anyone. Full results and details of fieldwork and sample size have not been released, but there is a blog at:

Religious discrimination

The newly-released Special Eurobarometer 471 on Fairness, Inequality, and Intergenerational Mobility enquired into the personal experiences of discrimination or harassment of EU citizens during the preceding 12 months. Relatively few reported such experiences on the grounds of religion or beliefs, 3% in the UK and 2% across the EU as a whole. The overwhelming majority of respondents, 77% in the UK and 83% in the EU, could recall no incidents of discrimination or harassment of any sort during the past year. Data were gathered as part of Eurobarometer Wave 88.4, the UK fieldwork for which was conducted face-to-face by Kantar TNS between 2 and 9 December 2017 among a sample of 1,338 adults aged 15 and over. Topline results have been published in the report at:


Negative attitudes towards Islam and Muslims continue to be widespread, according to fresh polling for Hope not Hate, for which over 5,000 adults were interviewed online by YouGov in late January 2018. More than one-third (37%) of informants thought Islam poses a threat to the British way of life (including majorities of over-65s and Conservative leave voters in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union), against 33% who viewed Islam as generally compatible with the British way of life (the remainder could not choose between the two options). Almost one-fifth (18%) claimed to have become more suspicious of British Muslims since the Islamist terrorist attacks in Britain during 2017, with a further 24% being already suspicious before. With regard to the integration of Muslims in Britain into British society, the pattern of responses was:

  • Almost all British Muslims want to integrate – 10%
  • Most Muslims want to integrate but there are some who do not – 49%
  • Most Muslims do not want to integrate but there are some who do – 23%
  • Almost all Muslims do not want to integrate – 7%
  • Don’t know – 10%

There was significant support, including by pluralities of over-65s and Conservative leave voters, for banning the burka as a means of improving community relations. At the same time, there was majority recognition that Muslims face discrimination in Britain: 58% saying this existed in the media and 71% in the wider society. Full data tables have yet to be posted online, but headline findings are reported in Rosie Carter and Nick Lowles, Britain Divided? Rivers of Blood 50 Years On, published by Hope not Hate and available for free download at:

Negativity towards Muslims also emerged in a major opinion poll on immigration which British Future commissioned from Survation, 2,014 UK adults being interviewed online on 16-19 February 2018. When asked how much ethnic or religious prejudice they perceived there was against adherents of the major faith groups, respondents had little doubt that Muslims were the clear religious ‘outsiders’, the distribution of answers being as follows:

Extent of prejudice against (% across) A lot A little Hardly any None at all
Muslims 56.1 32.4 7.2 4.3
Jews 14.3 45.1 32.2 8.4
Sikhs 13.8 44.1 32.8 9.3
Hindus 12.5 47.1 32.1 8.2
Christians 10.1 26.9 39.0 24.0

Some of this prejudice was displayed by the interviewees themselves, in their replies to another question, enquiring how comfortable or uncomfortable they would feel about various positions being occupied by a Muslim. Those saying they were uncomfortable about Muslims occupying particular roles were: as boyfriend/girlfriend of one of your children (35%), husband/wife of one of your children (35%), Prime Minister (34%), your local MP (24%), your child’s school teacher (22%), your next-door neighbour (21%), best friend of one of your children (18%), your boss/line manager (18%), police officer (16%), your colleagues (14%), doctor/nurse treating you in hospital (13%), and local business owner (12%). Data tables are available at:

On behalf of British Future, Survation ran the identical survey with two specialist samples. One was of 519 adults aged 18 and over in the West Midlands, interviewed online on 23-27 February 2018, with data tables available at:

The other sample was of 1,023 black and minority ethnic adults aged 18 and over in the UK, interviewed online on 22-25 February 2018, with data tables available at:

Labour and anti-Semitism

The political and media row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which reignited in March, rumbled on into April 2018 and prompted four new polls among the general public.

The first poll to be published was a debut survey from Deltapoll, for which 1.010 adult Britons were interviewed online on 5-6 April 2018, on behalf of The Observer. It found that 51% of the electorate believed that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism to some degree (comprising 21% thinking the party is riddled with people holding anti-Semitic views and 30% detecting pockets of anti-Semitism), peaking at 69% of over-65s and 70% of Conservative voters. Another 14% overall (and no more than 28% even of Labour supporters) felt that Labour has little or no difficulty with anti-Semitism, while 35% (including just over three-fifths of non-voters) were undecided. One-third of interviewees associated Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with anti-Semitism, reaching 50% among over-65s and 59% of Conservatives. Full data tables are available at:

The second poll, by YouGov on 4-5 April 2018 among an online sample of 1,662 adult Britons, focused on Corbyn’s handling of the claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, a story of which 85% professed to be aware, albeit fewer than one-third of that number were following it closely. A plurality of 46% considered that Corbyn had dealt with the issue badly, and this was especially true of Conservatives (74%) and over-65s (65%). Just 15% deemed he had responded well, and no more than 31% among Labour voters, with 38% expressing no views on the subject (including the majority of under-25s). One in ten voters agreed that their opinion of Corbyn had been damaged by his response (this being especially true of Liberal Democrats), on top of the 40% who were already negative towards him. Full data tables are available at:

The third poll was carried out by BMG Research on behalf of The Independent, among an online sample of 1,562 Britons on 10-13 April 2018. Asked whether each of the four main political parties had a problem with racism and/or religious prejudice, 61% believed this was true of the Labour Party to some degree, second only to UKIP (67%). A majority (52%) of respondents judged that Corbyn had dealt with claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party badly – quite badly (25%) or very badly (27%) – compared with 21% who thought he had handled them well and 27% undecided. At the same time, 32% agreed to some extent with the proposition that the issue had been exaggerated to damage Corbyn and the Labour leadership. Full data tables are available at:

The fourth poll was undertaken by ComRes for the Sunday Express, among an online sample of 2,038 Britons on 11-12 April 2018, 46% of whom disagreed that Corbyn was tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party effectively, peaking at 65% of over-65s and 78% of Conservatives. One-fifth considered that he was on top of the situation, while 34% were undecided. Full data tables are available at:

70th anniversary of Israel

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, the Jewish News commissioned ComRes to conduct an online survey of 2,039 Britons on 17-18 January 2018 to gauge attitudes towards the Jewish state. On the whole, from the five questions asked, the public did not emerge as especially engaged or well-informed. Only minorities agreed that Israel and Britain are natural allies and partners (29%) or that Britain should continue its support for Israel as a valuable ally in the Middle East (35%). However, there were a large number of ‘don’t knows’, which ComRes had to exclude in order to yield more ‘positive-looking’ results. Full data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation, are available at:

Inter-religious marriages

The overwhelming majority (92%) of 1,681 UK adults aged 16-75, interviewed online by Ipsos MORI for King’s College London on 23-27 February 2018, raised no objections to people of different religions marrying each other. Just 2% thought the practice should be banned, with a further 3% disapproving but not in favour of a ban, and 4% undecided. Somewhat fewer, 82%, said they would still have no concerns even if it was a family member or close friend who was marrying somebody of a different religion, against 3% anticipating they would be very concerned and 12% slightly concerned. Rather fewer still, 77%, were comfortable with the prospect of a member of the Royal Family marrying a person of a different faith. Topline results and breaks by demographics are both available at:

The topic was also explored in the Survation/British Future immigration polls mentioned above. In the UK cross-section, 70% of adults said they would be comfortable, and 30% uncomfortable, about the prospect of their child or grandchild entering into a serious relationship or marriage with a person practising a different faith. For black and minority ethnic adults, the figures were, respectively, 68% and 32%. Among a sample of 1,030 Londoners, interviewed online by YouGov on 13-19 March 2018, 68% deemed it acceptable for a member of the Royal Family to marry someone of a different religion, while 18% were opposed and 14% undecided. Full data tables for the YouGov survey are available at:


#LiveLent 2018

The Church of England has announced the results of its multifaceted six-week Lent 2018 campaign. The headline statistics include: a reach of 3.54 million across the Church’s social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) for the #LiveLent reflections; short explanatory videos on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day watched 164,000 times; and Good Friday and Easter video prayers seen 300,000 times. For full details, read the press release at:

Marriage intentions

The national marriage rate may be declining, and the proportion choosing to marry in a religious ceremony may also be falling, but the Church of England has derived encouragement from the findings of a survey of millennials it commissioned from 9Dot-Research. The sample comprised 1,012 unmarried young adults aged 18-35 interviewed (presumably online) on 14-15 November 2017, having excluded the 7% of the original 1,085 who said they had no intention of ever being married. Almost three-quarters (72%) of the remaining respondents expected to get married at some stage, one-sixth of whom were already engaged. More expressed a preference for a wedding in church or chapel (47%) than in a registry office or town hall (34%), albeit this choice was often driven by a wish for a traditional venue. Of those contemplating marriage, 17% stated that faith or religion had influenced their thinking. Detailed computer tables from the survey have not been published, but the Church of England’s press release is available at:

Pastoral Research Centre Trust

The Pastoral Research Centre Trust (PRCT), an independent centre for applied socio-religious research with particular reference to the Roman Catholic community in England and Wales, was formally dissolved as a company on 24 April 2018. This was at the request of the company’s directors and reflected commencement of the transfer of the PRCT’s library and archive to Durham University and the need to reduce administrative overheads. The PRCT’s work will be continued by a new Pastoral Research Centre Association, whose secretary will be Tony Spencer (as he was for the PRCT). There is a potted history of the PRCT at:

Jewish identity

In the latest report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, David Graham utilizes a 2012 survey of European (including UK) Jewry commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to investigate European Jewish Identity: Mosaic or Monolith? An Empirical Assessment of Eight European Countries. It analyses Jewish identity comparatively (between Europe, Israel, and the United States) and within Europe (in terms of beliefs; practice and ritual observance; schooling; and ethnicity, parentage, and intermarriage). UK Jews emerged as the most likely of the eight national Jewish communities to be Jewish by birth, least likely to be intermarried, most likely to be religiously observant, and least likely to feel threatened by anti-Semitism. The 49-page report can be downloaded at:


Liverpool sectarianism

Liverpool Sectarianism: The Rise and Demise, by Keith Daniel Roberts (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2017, 334 pp., ISBN 978-1-78138-317-9, £19.99, paperback) draws upon a certain amount of quantitative evidence. This is mainly concentrated in the four appendices (pp. 310-23) which cover: the incidence of faith schools; Orange lodge numbers in Liverpool and Bootle province; newspaper attendance estimates for the Twelfth of July Orange parades since the early nineteenth century (discussed in more detail on pp. 80-5); and the results of a questionnaire survey of 215 members of the Orange Order. The book’s webpage is at:

Empirical rural theology

The current issue of Rural Theology (Vol. 16, No. 1, 2018) includes two exemplars of research into empirical theology in rural contexts: Owen Edwards and Tania ap Siôn, ‘Learning in Rural Cathedrals: A Case Study of Religious Education outside the Classroom’ (pp. 17-33), based on the responses of 310 cathedral visitors aged 7-11 from 14 primary schools across north Wales; and Christopher Rutledge, ‘Churchmanship and Personality among Rural Anglican Clergy’ (pp. 34-42), based on data provided by 136 clergy from a mainly rural diocese of the Church of England. Access options are outlined at:

Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity

Mark Cartledge’s Narratives and Numbers: Empirical Studies of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 2017, x + 221 pp., ISBN 978-90-04-34552-2, €49, paperback) gathers together 10 essays published by the author over an 18-year period. They comprise a mixture of quantitative and qualitative case studies of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity in the UK and the USA. The book’s webpage is at:


UK Data Service SN 8331: Annual Population Survey, 2017

The Annual Population Survey is compiled by the Office for National Statistics in partnership with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It incorporates a sub-set of key variables from the several Labour Force Surveys and is designed to be sufficiently robust and large-scale to produce reliable estimates at local authority level. The January-December 2017 dataset is based on 290,060 face-to-face and telephone interviews with adults and young persons living away from the parental home. A question on religious affiliation is included: ‘what is your religion?’ in Britain and ‘what is your religious denomination?’ in Northern Ireland. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

UK Data Service SN 8333: Scottish Household Survey, 2016

The Scottish Household Survey, initiated in 1999, is undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government by a polling consortium led by Ipsos MORI. Information is collected about the composition, characteristics, attitudes, and behaviour of private households and individuals in Scotland; and about the physical condition of their homes. For the 2016 survey (January 2016-March 2017) data were gathered, by means of face-to-face interview, on 10,470 households and 9,640 adults. The specifically religious content of the questionnaire covered: religion belonged to; experience of discrimination or harassment on religious grounds; and incidence of volunteering for religious and other groups. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

UK Data Service SN 8334: Health Survey for England, 2016

The Health Survey for England, 2016 is the twenty-sixth in a series of annual studies designed to monitor trends in the nation’s health. It is commissioned by NHS Digital and conducted by NatCen Social Research and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. It is undertaken through a combination of face-to-face interview, self-completion questionnaire, and clinical and other measurements. A number of core health-related topics are explored each year with additional topics investigated on a more occasional basis (including, in 2016, physical activity, weight management, kidney and liver disease, and problem gambling). A question ‘what is your religion or belief?’ was one of the background variables included in the self-completion booklets given to the 10,067 adults and children interviewed in 2016, with reply options of no religion, Roman Catholic, other Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and any other religion. This permits analysis of the religious correlates of particular health conditions and attitudes. For a full description of the dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, March 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 30, March 2018 features 18 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 30 March 2018


Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday, aka Mother’s Day, has a mix of ecclesiastical and secular origins. In the UK, it was observed on 11 March 2018, preceded by a couple of opinion polls.

On behalf of the Church of England, ComRes asked an online sample of 2,015 Britons on 2-4 March what is or was the most important thing their mother had ever done for them, and who they would name as the ideal mother, past or present (three-fifths said nobody, but some nominated Mother Teresa or the Virgin Mary). Data tables are available at:

YouGov asked 1,598 members of its British online panel on 5-6 March whether Mother’s Day and other festivals were ‘proper’ special occasions or merely celebrated because of pressure from commercial entities such as greetings card companies. Only 40% regarded Mother’s Day as a ‘proper’ occasion compared with 80% who thought Christmas ‘proper’ and 57% Easter. Birthdays (90%) and wedding anniversaries (77%) also scored highly as ‘proper’ special occasions. Four in five respondents felt that the observance of Valentine’s Day and Halloween had been manufactured by commercial interests. Data tables are available at:

Church schools

The majority (56%) of 3,526 Britons interviewed by YouGov in an app-based poll on 9 March 2018 deemed it unacceptable for parents to attend church specifically to get their child into an affiliated school. Opposition was strongest among those aged 50-65 (64%) and over-65 (70%). The practice was judged acceptable by 22% with another 22% undecided. Data tables are available at:

Charity Awareness Monitor

The Church is the seventeenth most trusted (of 24) public bodies and institutions in Britain, according to the February 2018 wave of nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor, for which 1,000 adults aged 16 and over were interviewed online. About one-third of Britons now trust the Church a great deal (8%) or quite a lot (26%) compared with 58% who trust it not much (27%) or very little (31%). As they were in 2017, religious charities are also the least trusted of 15 charity sectors, 32% trusting them a great deal (8%) or up to a point (24%) against 40% who trust them not very much (22%) or not at all (18%), with 27% unsure. Topline results only are available at:

An earlier nfpSynergy report into religious charities, seemingly not in the public domain, was also briefly noted on pp. 2-3 of the Church Times for 30 March 2018 at:

Labour Party and anti-Semitism

The row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has reignited. The response of The Times was to commission YouGov to undertake an online survey of 1,156 Labour Party members on 27-29 March 2018. This seemed to reveal that very many Party members did not share the concerns being widely expressed within the Jewish community, by politicians generally, and in the media. For, although 66% of members acknowledged that anti-Semitism was a genuine problem in the Labour Party, 77% believed that its extent was being deliberately exaggerated in order to damage Labour and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, or to stifle criticism of Israel. As many as 78% also said that anti-Semitism was either not a problem in the Labour Party or no bigger a problem than in other political parties, while 55% believed the Party had done well in reacting to claims of anti-Semitism and 61% said the same about Corbyn’s performance. Two-thirds labelled Israel (the Jewish state) a force for bad in the world and one-third favoured the reinstatement as a member of the Party of Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, who has been suspended since 2016 for his comments about anti-Semitism. Data tables are available at:

Influence of Islam

In answer to a somewhat ambiguously-worded question, 46% of 1,646 adult Britons interviewed online by YouGov on behalf of Handelsblatt on 27-28 February 2018 said that, relative to a few years ago, Islam now has more influence on the British government, the proportion being slightly lower than in France and Germany. Just 7% thought Islam has less influence, with 24% sensing there is no difference and 22% undecided. Topline data for all eight nations in the survey are on p. 21 of the tables at:


Religion Media Centre

After a long period of gestation, the Religion Media Centre (RMC) was officially launched on 27 March 2018, with Ruth Peacock as inaugural director. It is an independent and impartial body seeking to help journalists and other media professionals cover religion. Its website already includes several factsheets which summarize the statistical and other background to various religious topics. They include one on secularization in Britain by BRIN co-director Clive Field, who is also a member of the RMC’s advisory board. The RMC website is at:

Premier Media Group audience

An online survey of 8,159 Britons conducted by ComRes between 19 January and 1 February 2018 has enabled Premier Media Group to estimate that the number of regular listeners to its three Christian radio stations (Premier Christian Radio, Premier Praise, and Premier Gospel) now exceeds the Church of England’s weekly congregations. In all, 6.6% of the adult population claims to listen to one or more of the stations, with 4.1% tuning in to all three. Premier Christian Radio has the biggest regular audience of the three (2.4% listening weekly or more), followed by Premier Praise (1.9%), and Premier Gospel (1.5%). Data tables (whose labelling might perhaps have been a little clearer) are available at:

Christian nominalism

In his monthly column in Church of England Newspaper, 9 March 2018, p. 7, church statistician Peter Brierley revisited the incidence of Christian nominalism in Britain. For each of the five decennial years from 1980 to 2020 (estimated), he sub-divided the population into eight religious categories. Based on past trends, his forecast for 2020 is that 50% of people will believe in a Christian God and 50% will not (with 9% of the latter belonging to other religions and 41% non-religious). Of the 50% who believe in a Christian God, 5% will be regular churchgoers (3% being church members and 2% not) and 45% will not (6% being nominal church members and 39% notional Christians). The article is not freely available online, although short-term access can be purchased by non-subscribers from the newspaper’s website. A repackaged and longer version of the article has subsequently been published in the latest edition (No. 56, April 2018, pp. 1-2) of FutureFirst, the bimonthly bulletin of Brierley Consultancy; a copy can be requested by emailing

Church attendance

In 8 Measures of Church Attendance (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2018, 12pp., ISBN: 978-0-9957646-2-0, £2), church statistician Peter Brierley synthesizes the data he has collected about churchgoing in Britain since 1980. The eight short sections cover attendance over time and by geography, age, gender, ethnicity, environment, denomination, and churchmanship. The overall picture is presented as one of challenge, notwithstanding pockets of church growth. The pamphlet is available from ADBC Publishers, The Old Post Office, 1 Thorpe Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent, TN10 4PW (cheques payable to ‘Peter Brierley’).

Women in church

Three-fifths of women claim to have experienced sexism in the Church, and 53% feel there is institutional sexism there. This is according to a new report by the Sophia Network, entitled Minding the Gap: Women in the Church – Experiences, Barriers, and Hopes. The research was conducted online, via Survey Monkey, in May-June 2017, and the 1,211 respondents were entirely self-selecting and disproportionately (85%) in leadership positions, paid or voluntary, in the Church, one-fifth being ministers or pastors; three-quarters were aged 25-54. The report can be downloaded at:

Church tourism

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, whose members include some cathedrals and other major churches, has published its visitor figures for 2017. In London, somewhat bucking the overall metropolitan trend, St Paul’s Cathedral reported an increase in visitor numbers of 3.4% over 2016 and Westminster Abbey one of 4.6%. Outside the capital, Canterbury Cathedral was down 3% but York Minster was up 13.4% and Glasgow Cathedral up 36%. The full figures are available at:

Church music

Billed as the first serious empirical investigation into church music for many years, The InHarmony Report: A Survey of Music for Worship in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich has been researched and written by Richard Hubbard, music development director for the diocese. It is based on a survey distributed in 2016 to all parishes in the diocese, to which 444 replied (a very high response rate of 94%). Of these, 28% had to use recorded music to accompany the congregation. The report is published by St Edmundsbury Cathedral and can be purchased in ePub or printed formats, at £5 and £10, respectively. Orders can be placed at:

Christians and debt

Debt counselling charity Christians against Poverty (CAP) has published the latest in a series of client reports, Bringing Restoration to Desolate Homes, principally based upon management information relating to 5,413 CAP client households in 2017 and 1,080 responses to a postal and online survey of clients’ experience of indebtedness between September and November 2017. The 42-page report is available at:

Jewish charities

A survey of the country’s 80 biggest Jewish and pro-Israel charities has revealed that 32% of their trustees are women, up from 29% in 2017 but still below the national average of 36%. Sixteen of the charities have all-male boards and another 14 have only one female trustee each. The research was conducted by Ben Crowne and published in the Jewish Chronicle for 9 March 2018 (pp. 4-5) at:


Young adults and religion

The Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University Twickenham has published, in association with the Institut Catholique de Paris, Stephen Bullivant’s Europe’s Young Adults and Religion: Findings from the European Social Survey (2014-16), to inform the 2018 Synod of Bishops. The first of three short chapters provides an overview of the religiosity of adults aged 16-29 in 22 countries, the second investigates Catholics, and the third offers a comparative study of the UK and France. In the UK, 70% of young adults professed no religion (one-fifth of whom had a religious upbringing), with 21% self-identifying as Christians (half of them Catholic) and 6% as Muslims; 59% never attended religious services; and 63% never prayed outside religious services. The report can be downloaded from:

Bullivant also had an article about this research in the Catholic Herald for 23 March 2018 at:

Domestic abuse in churches

Kristin Aune and Rebecca Barnes, In Churches too: Church Responses to Domestic Abuse – A Case Study of Cumbria reports on a research project carried out by Coventry University and the University of Leicester in association with Restored and Churches Together in Cumbria and with financial support from four funding bodies. The empirical data derive from a paper and online survey into the experiences, impacts, and attitudes towards domestic abuse of an essentially self-selecting (and not wholly representative) sample of 438 regular churchgoers in Cumbria, three-quarters of them female. Almost half (48%) of all respondents (rising to 57% of women) claimed to have experienced domestic abuse in a current or previous relationship, emotional abuse being the commonest form, while 38% thought that domestic abuse affected people in their own church. The 72-page report is available at:

Review of survey research on Muslims

The Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute has prepared A Review of Survey Research on Muslims in Britain on behalf of the Aziz Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and Unbound Philanthropy. The report is certainly useful as a consolidation of some existing knowledge in the field but it is far from comprehensive, being restricted to secondary analysis of just 14 existing datasets of academic sample surveys or ad hoc opinion polls conducted between 2004 and 2016 (mostly at the end of that period). Although both British Muslim and national cross-sectional samples are considered, the emphasis is very much on reprising what is known about Muslim experiences, civic engagement, and opinions. Only in the final chapter are public attitudes towards Muslims addressed and then rather sketchily. The report is available at:


UK Data Service SN 7348: European Quality of Life Survey Integrated Data File, 2003-2016

This third edition of the European Quality of Life dataset incorporates results from the fourth survey, undertaken in 33 countries in 2016-17 on behalf of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. Face-to-face interviews were conducted by Kantar Public with adults aged 18 and over, including 1,300 in the UK. Questions were asked about frequency of attendance at religious services (other than for rites of passage) and perceived tensions between different religious groups. A catalogue description is available at:

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


Posted in church attendance, News from religious organisations, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, religious festivals, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, February 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 29, February 2018 features 18 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 29 February 2018


Female suffrage anniversary

To commemorate the then impending centenary of the partial extension of the franchise to women in Britain, BBC Radio 5 Live commissioned ComRes to undertake an online survey of 4,086 adults on 15-20 December 2017, asking whether being able to vote or the advent of the contraceptive pill represented the more important advance for women in the past hundred years. In addition to breaks by standard demographics, results were disaggregated by religious affiliation, as summarized in the table, below (don’t knows not shown). In all three faith communities, women accorded a higher priority than men to the pill over the vote, but a majority of non-Christian females still prioritized the vote over the pill. Notwithstanding, a slightly lower proportion of female non-Christians than the norm (67% against 70% for all women and 74% for all adults) said that they always voted in general elections, with Christian women on 74% and female nones on 67%. Female non-Christians who never voted or did not usually vote gave a variety of reasons for failing to do so. Data tables are at:

% down

All Christians Non-Christians




45 51




48 35




50 62




40 23




47 57




44 30


National Health Service

The public services think tank Reform commissioned Populus to survey an online sample of 2,106 Britons on 15-16 January 2018 about their attitudes to the future funding of the National Health Service (NHS). Respondents were asked six questions and the results were disaggregated by religious affiliation as well as by standard demographics. Non-Christians were less likely than Christians or religious nones to be willing to pay higher income tax in order to fund the NHS. Religious nones were less likely than Christians or non-Christians to agree that ‘the NHS needs reform more than it needs extra money’. Full data tables are at:


A row recently broke out over the hiring of a cinema screen at Vue Piccadilly in London by the Core Issues Trust, a Christian group, for a private showing of the documentary film Voices of the Silenced, telling the story of 15 people emerging from homosexual lifestyles. The film was interpreted by its critics as advocacy for a ‘gay cure’ and, in the light of the outcry, the cinema cancelled the booking. Asked on 8 February 2018, 64% of 3,967 adult Britons interviewed in a YouGov app-based poll thought that Vue had been right to cancel the screening, including a disproportionate number of women (73%) and Labour voters (75%). About one-fifth (19%) of respondents judged that Vue should not have cancelled, among them 28% of men and Conservatives, with 17% undecided. Data tables are at:

Religious studies

A majority (55%) of the public does not consider it important to teach religious studies (RS) at secondary school, making it the fourth perceived least useful of the 18 subjects covered in the survey by YouGov, after Latin (82%), drama (61%), and classics (58%). RS was felt to be especially insignificant among men (64%) and Scots (61%). It was considered important by 41% of the sample, including 48% of women and 46% of under-25s. Voting patterns in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) had a big effect on preferences, with remainers 14 points more likely than leavers to deem RS important and leavers 13 points more likely than remainers to judge it unimportant. The poll was conducted online on 18-19 December 2017 among a sample of 1,648 Britons. Full data tables are at:

Religious figures

Prompted by the recent death of veteran American evangelist Billy Graham, YouGov asked 3,456 British panellists, via mobile app on 22 February 2018, what their feelings were about religious figures who amassed a large public following. A slim majority (52%) said they were suspicious of such individuals, peaking at 64% of Liberal Democrats and 61% of those aged 50-65. Just 10% said they admired them, the greatest number among UKIP supporters (20%) and over-65s (15%). The remainder (38%) gave other replies or expressed no opinion. Results, including breaks by standard demographics, can be found at:


At the beginning of Lent, on 16 February 2018, YouGov asked 5,005 of its British panellists, via mobile app, whether they normally gave up or took up something for Lent. The overwhelming majority (84%) said that they did not. Observance of the festival was reported by 11%, of whom 6% said they gave up or took up something and stuck to it and 5% (rising to 9% of under-25s) initially did so but that it tended not to last. Results, including breaks by standard demographics, can be found at:

Hate speech

One-quarter (27%) of UK adults claim to have witnessed, in person or online, one or more incidents of hate speech during the past year, and one-quarter of these think that the incident was mostly based on someone’s religion or faith. This is according to an online survey of 2,111 YouGov panellists on 1-4 December 2017, on behalf of Amazon. Data tables are at:

Attitudes to Muslims

Voting patterns in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU are a good predictor of opinions towards Muslims in the UK, according to a YouGov poll for the Muslim Council of Britain among an online sample of 1,629 adults on 31 January and 1 February 2018. Asked to indicate their view of Muslims on a scale running from 0 (very negative) to 10 (very positive), the national mean score was 5.7, with the range from 4.7 (those who voted leave in 2016) to 6.7 (for remainers). Under-25s likewise achieved the highest figure of 6.7. Respondents were additionally asked about: the number of Muslims they currently knew as friends, neighbours, or work colleagues (27% said none); any visits within the past five years to a place of worship not of their own faith; and their interest in visiting a mosque in the future (of the 88% who had not visited a mosque within the past five years, only one-quarter were so interested) The survey was commissioned to promote Visit My Mosque Day on 18 February 2018. Data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation, are at:

Another module of the same poll was commissioned by Prospect and included a question about which groups people were most likely to talk about in a disrespectful or offensive way. Respondents were permitted to select up to three groups from a list of twelve. Muslims topped the chart (on 50%), followed by gypsies and travellers (43%). Christians, the only other religious group mentioned, were judged to be disrespected by 7%. The data table is at:


Church-based social action

Church in Action: A National Survey, written by Tom Sefton and Heather Buckingham, is the third in a series of studies of the scale and nature of the social engagement of Anglican churches in England, undertaken by the Church of England and Church Urban Fund. It is based on online interviews with 1,094 incumbent status clergy from a cross-section of parishes in September-October 2017, being a response rate of 22%. The survey found that 70% of churches were running three or more organized activities for the benefit of local communities, those in more deprived areas being most active. Loneliness (76%) and mental health issues (60%) were said to be the commonest major or significant social problems in parishes. The report, which also draws some comparisons with the 2011 and 2014 studies, is available at:

Ministerial reading habits

Paul Beasley-Murray reports on ‘Ministers’ Reading Habits’ in Baptist Quarterly, Vol. 49. No. 1, 2018, pp. 23-44, based on shorter and longer online surveys completed by, respectively, opt-in samples of 309 and 175 British Baptist ministers in 2017. Sundry generalizations are made, for example: most ministers enjoy reading; women ministers read less than men; more experienced ministers read the most; most ministers prefer to read print books to digital (particularly when preparing sermons); many ministers spend time reading non-ministry related books; very few ministers read the Bible in its original Hebrew and Greek; most ministers consult multiple Bible commentaries, and so on. Various encouragements, concerns, and recommendations are identified with regard to the reading-related aspects of continuing ministerial development. Access options to the article are outlined at:

A fuller (and free) analysis of the surveys is also available at:

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK during 2017, 3% more than in 2016 and the highest annual total since monitoring began in 1984. Three-quarters took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the two largest Jewish communities. CST considers there is likely to be a ‘significant under-reporting’ of incidents to both itself and the police. Antisemitic Incidents Report, 2017 is available at:


Marriages in England and Wales, 2015

The proportion of marriages between opposite-sex couples in England and Wales solemnized in religious ceremonies continues to slide, according to 2015 figures released by the Office for National Statistics on 28 February 2018. In that year, it had fallen to 26%, with four in five of the couples concerned cohabiting before marriage (only nine points less than those marrying in civil ceremonies). The lion’s share of religious marriages was conducted by the Church of England or Church in Wales (73%), 11% by the Roman Catholic Church, 11% by other Christian denominations, and 4% by non-Christian faiths. Under 1% of couples entering into a same-sex marriage had their wedding celebrated religiously. A report and data are available at:


Religion and immigration

‘Do the religious feel differently about immigration and immigrants?’ That is the question posed by Wing Chan, Harry Drake, Lucy Moor, Tom Owton, Silvia Sim, and Siobhan McAndrew in their Faith and Welcoming, a report by students and staff of the University of Bristol. They endeavour to answer it by undertaking bivariate and multivariate analysis on a range of data sources: British Social Attitudes Surveys (2010-16); European Social Survey (2014); Ethnic Minority British Election Study (2010); and British Election Study Online Panel (2015-17). They conclude that: ‘for those who identify with a religion and who do not attend a place of worship regularly, attitudes to immigrants tend to be more hostile, perhaps because a religious identity is chosen to signal ethnic or national heritage. But for those who practice what they preach, at least in terms of regular attendance, their attitudes on average tend to be more welcoming than those of the unreligious and “religious in name only” alike.’ The full (76-page) report can be found at:

A 16-page executive summary is also available at:

and a blog post at:

Spiritual development

Lessons in Spiritual Development: Insights from Christian Ethos Schools by Ann Casson, Trevor Cooling, and Leslie Francis (London: Church House Publishing, 2017, xiv + 101pp., ISBN: 978-1-7814-0034-0, £25, paperback) presents the findings of a mixed methods research project into the spiritual development of pupils at ten leading Christian-ethos secondary schools (mostly Anglican) in England and Wales. The project was a joint initiative between the National Institute for Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University and the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit at the University of Warwick. The quantitative strand of the research was led by Francis and Ursula McKenna, each of the schools completing a survey which included the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity in both 2015 (for years 9 and 10 pupils, n = 2,942) and 2016 (for years 7-11 pupils, n = 6,538). Tasters of the results are given in the ten chapters devoted to each school in turn and a fuller description of the aggregate data is provided in an appendix (pp. 95-101). The book’s webpage is at:

Leslie Francis scales

The continuing robustness and applicability of two sets of scales devised by Leslie Francis, and extensively used by him and other scholars in the psychology of religion and related disciplines, are demonstrated in two articles in the latest issue (Vol. 20, No. 9, 2017) of Mental Health, Religion, and Culture: Leslie Francis, David Lankshear, and Emma Eccles, ‘The Internal Consistency Reliability and Construct Validity of the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity among 8- to 11-Year-Old Students in Wales’ (pp. 922-9); and Leslie Francis, Patrick Laycock, and Christine Brewster, ‘Exploring the Factor Structure of the Francis Psychological Type Scales among a Sample of Anglican Clergy in England’ (pp. 930-41). Access options are outlined at:


UK Data Service SN 7215: Wealth and Assets Survey, waves 1-5, 2006-2016

A new edition of the Wealth and Assets Survey, a longitudinal study of financial and economic well-being conducted by the Office for National Statistics, has been released, incorporating data for wave 5 (July 2014-June 2016). For this wave, 42,832 adults aged 16 and over resident in private households in Great Britain were interviewed face-to-face, ‘what is your religion?’ being included as one of the background questions. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

UK Data Service SN 8321: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2016-2017

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey) is a face-to-face victimization survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of a range of crimes during the 12 months prior to interview as well as about their attitudes to different crime-related issues. The series began in 1982. The 2016-17 survey was conducted by Kantar Public (previously known as TNS BMRB) for the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Office for National Statistics and achieved 35,420 interviews with adults. In addition to investigating the incidence of religiously-motivated hate crime, respondents were asked to give their religious affiliation, which can obviously function as a background variable for analysing replies to any other part of the questionnaire. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

UK Data Service SN 8323: Public opinion and the Syrian crisis in three democracies: surveys of French, British, and American samples, 2014

This dataset is based on multinational online interviews conducted by YouGov between February and September 2014 on behalf of a consortium of three universities (Strathclyde, Essex, and Texas). There were three waves of interviews in Britain, the first in March 2014 and the second and third in May 2014 (before and after the elections to the European Parliament). The topics covered are broader than the title of the dataset might imply. For example, the second British survey included attitude statements on: Islam as a danger to Western civilization; the threat to public safety posed by British Muslims who had fought in Syria on their return to Britain; and banning the burka in public places in the UK. The third wave asked respondents whether the Church of England should retain its status as the established Church in England. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

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


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

Counting Religion in Britain, January 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 28, January 2018 features 26 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 28 January 2018


Religious affiliation

For a current snapshot of religious affiliation in Britain, we can merge the weighted data from 13 polls undertaken among the Populus online panel between July and December 2017, with an aggregate sample of 29,000 adults aged 18 and over. They were asked ‘which of the following religious groups do you consider yourself to be a member of?’ The answers are tabulated below:















Other non-Christian


No religion


Not answered


It will be noted that the proportion with no religion is, at just over two-fifths, lower than the one-half recorded in recent British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys, and there are perhaps four factors which might contribute to an explanation of this difference:

  • The wording of the question is different, BSA employing the concept of ‘belonging’ and Populus of ‘membership’
  • The form of the question is different, BSA’s being two-stage with a binary form in the first stage while Populus is single-stage
  • The interview mode is different, face-to-face in BSA and online with Populus
  • The sampling mode is different, probability in BSA and a volunteer panel with Populus


One-half (51%) of the population claim to pray at some time and 20% to do so regularly (at least monthly), according to a ComRes poll for Tearfund with an online sample of 2,069 UK adults on 1-3 December 2017. The self-reported incidence of regular prayer was greatest for over-65s (24%), residents of London (26%) and Northern Ireland (43%), Roman Catholics (42%), non-Christians (53%), and regular churchgoers (87%). Among those who ever prayed, 54% disagreed that they did so more often than five years ago and 32% acknowledged that it had been harder to make time to pray in recent years. Family (71%), thanking God (42%), friends and healing (40% each) were the commonest subjects of prayer, while the principal reasons for prayer were given as personal crisis or tragedy (55%) and belief in God (39%). However, the efficacy of prayer seemed often to be doubted since, in the sub-sample of those who ever prayed, only 49% believed that God heard their prayers, 45% that God could answer their prayers, 40% that they had witnessed answers to their own prayers, 40% that prayer changed what happened in their lives, and 39% that prayer changes the world. Although 67% of this sub-sample asserted that prayer helped them to find peace, in practice it left just 33% with a sense of peace and contentment and 40% with reassurance and hope. Two sets of data tables, one for all UK adults and one for self-identifying Christians, are available at:

Trust in the Church

The Charity Awareness Monitor (CAM), from nfpSynergy, includes a regular module on trust in public bodies and institutions, and headline findings from the October 2017 fieldwork, for which 1,000 Britons aged 16 and over were interviewed online, have just been released. Respondents were asked to rate the trustworthiness of 24 organizations. The proportion expressing quite a lot (10%) or a great deal (24%) of trust in the Church was 34% compared with 57% who had very little (28%) or not much (29%) trust. The Church lay in seventeenth position in terms of trustworthiness, the most trusted bodies being the National Health Service (72%) and the armed forces (70%). Although it has slipped three places in the league table within the past year, the Church’s rating has actually been fairly stable in recent CAMs, being trusted by 35% in October 2016 and 33% in October 2015. The latest report from nfpSynergy can be found at:

Relationships education

Against the background of a Government requirement that primary schools in England teach a new course on relationships education to all children, the Evangelical Alliance commissioned ComRes to survey an online sample of 2,036 Britons on the subject on 19-21 January 2018. One of the questions asked was whether the content of this relationships education should respect the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of children and their families. In reply, 71% of adults agreed that it should, with 16% dissenting and 14% undecided. Data tables, with breaks by demographics (but not by religious affiliation), are at:

Illicit encounters

Adultery may be prohibited in the Ten Commandments, but, in a recent survey, 35% of 2,000 members of, the UK’s leading dating website for married people, claimed to be Christians, 12% of whom were consoled by the fact that God would forgive them for cheating on their spouse. The finding was widely reported in print and online media during January 2018, but the website’s press office has yet to post its press release online.

YouGov Christmas religion poll – more results

In Counting Religion in Britain, No. 27 we briefly reported on a religion poll undertaken by YouGov for The Times on 11-12 December 2017 and published in the newspaper’s Christmas Day online edition. Full data tables from this survey have now been released, giving breaks by standard demographics (gender, age, social grade, region, and voting). They cover the four questions noted in our report (concerning religion and politics, the presence of clerics in the House of Lords, belief in God, and intended churchgoing over Christmas) plus three more – on the frequency of churchgoing and prayer and attitudes to state-aided faith schools. Three-fifths of the 1,682 Britons who were interviewed admitted they never attended religious services with another fifth going once a year or less; 10% claimed to worship at least monthly. The majority (54%) acknowledged they never prayed (including 62% of men and under-25s) and a further 24% did so less than weekly, 17% praying more often. On faith schools, a plurality (46%) opposed Government funding, the proportion being especially high among men (56%) and Scots (58%); 29% supported Government funding and 25% were undecided. The tables are at:

Religious broadcasting

On 20 December 2017, the BBC Religion & Ethics Review was published, announcing ambitious plans to enhance and diversify the Corporation’s programme output in these areas. They were underpinned by qualitative and quantitative attitude research, which was summarized in Appendix 2 (pp. 32-40) of the report. This research included: a BBC Pulse survey of 1,367 adults on 17-23 April 2017, demonstrating that ‘having actual faith is a minority position, and those without faith are equally split between agnostics and atheists’; and a digest of existing sources of UK data on religious identity, belief, and practice, prepared by the ComRes Faith Research Centre in May 2017, and drawing on an earlier ComRes poll for the BBC in February 2017. The review can be found at:

Publication of the BBC review prompted YouGov to ask a sample of Britons, in an app-based poll released on 21 December 2017, whether they approved of the Corporation’s specific plan to increase prime-time coverage of non-Christian festivals. In reply, the majority (53%) endorsed greater air-time for religious festivals, made up of 16% who wanted more coverage of all religious festivals, 20% of Christian festivals only, and 17% of non-Christian festivals only. Less coverage of all religious festivals was sought by 44% while 4% were undecided. Answers were possibly affected by the survey’s proximity to Christmas. Respondents were not asked whether they had any intention of watching or listening to the broadcasts. Topline results only are at:

Muslim values

In two surveys recently commissioned by Peter Kellner, YouGov panellists were asked to make a series of ideological choices after being presented with pairs of opposing statements. Among other topics, the survey on 20-21 November 2017 required the 1,670 respondents to decide which of two statements about the upbringing of Muslim children they felt closer to. Statement A was: ‘Most Muslim families in Britain these days want their children to grow up with fundamentally similar values to those of British children generally’. Statement B was: ‘Most Muslim families in Britain these days want their children to grow up with fundamentally different values from British children generally’. A plurality (44%) felt closer to statement B, and this was a majority for certain groups, notably for people who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum (63%), Conservatives (60%), and over-65s (60%). Just under one-third (31%) felt closer to statement A, including 51% of Liberal Democrats, while 25% could not make up their minds. Full data tables are at:

Donald Trump and Jerusalem

A plurality of UK adults (45%) disagrees with US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the US embassy there, just 12% approving it, with 23% neutral and the remainder undecided. A much higher proportion, 74%, considers the decision will lead to increased terrorism in the Islamic world, compared with 24% thinking it will have no impact in that regard. ORB International conducted 2,109 online interviews in the UK on 15-17 December 2017 as part of a global (24-nation) poll by the Gallup International Association on the subject. Topline findings only are available at:


An online poll by ComRes of 2,039 Britons on 17-18 January 2018 on behalf of Jewish News found that, among the 54% who had an opinion on the subject (the remainder were don’t knows), four-fifths would support an extension of the British Government’s current designation of Hezbollah (the Lebanon-based Islamist movement which is fiercely anti-Israel) as a terrorist organization from its armed wing alone to cover its political wing, also. There was little to distinguish the views of the three principal faith groupings (Christians, non-Christians, and religious nones). Data tables are available at:

Science fiction technologies

On 9-10 January 2018, YouGov asked 1,714 members of its online panel how likely they would be to use each of 11 science fiction technologies. The anticipated level of take-up was relatively low, the most favoured technology to use (by 29%) being an implant to record (and subsequently play back) everything which a person had heard and seen. In addition to the standard breaks by demographics, results were also disaggregated by whether the respondent self-identified as religious (45%) or not (48%). Six of the technologies were more likely to be used by the non-religious than the religious, the margin being as wide as nine points (25% versus 16%) in the case of a virtual reality world, where an individual would live for eternity after death. Four technologies were more favoured by the religious than non-religious, particularly a parental-control installation enabling parents to track their children, filter what they saw, and see through their eyes; 23% of the religious said they would be likely to use this compared to 16% of non-religious. Full data tables are at:


Spiritual abuse

In the first judgment of its kind by a Church of England disciplinary tribunal, a vicar in the Diocese of Oxford has recently been convicted of spiritually abusing a teenage boy by subjecting him to intense prayer and Bible study in an attempt to get him to stop seeing his girlfriend. Quite coincidentally, the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service has published a brief report on Understanding Spiritual Abuse in Christian Communities, written by Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys, and incorporating the results of online research undertaken by Bournemouth University during the first quarter of 2017. Respondents comprised a self-selecting and denominationally-skewed sample of 1,591 practising Christians (churchgoers or members of a Christian organization) who had heard of the term ‘spiritual abuse’. The majority (74%) was confident they knew what the term meant, and 63% claimed to have experienced such abuse themselves. The report is available at:

Church and youth (1)

The Church Times of 12 January 2018 contained several research-focused articles on the Church and young people. The lead contribution (p. 22) was by BRIN’s David Voas, drawing on national sample surveys. He emphasized that gains and losses to the Church in adulthood are roughly in balance and that the critical success factor is the retention of the new generation, concluding: ‘The Church of England has not done well at keeping the children and grandchildren of its members, and contemporary society offers many competing distractions. It is going to be a challenge.’ Other articles in the features section were by Naomi Thompson (p. 23), on the rise and decline of the Sunday school movement, based on her recent book; and Phoebe Hill (p. 25), on the December 2016 Youthscape and OneHope report entitled The Losing Heart, for which 2,054 places of worship were surveyed about their youth and children’s work by Christian Research in September-December 2015. The Voas article is at:

The Losing Heart (which self-describes as ‘more a sober warning from a doctor than an autopsy of a dead body’) can be downloaded (after registration) from:

Church and youth (2)

‘Not as Difficult as You Think’: Mission with Young Adults is the latest report by the Church Army’s Research Unit. It is based on 12 local case studies of different approaches to mission among young adults aged 18-30 which it conducted, between January and September 2017, on behalf of the Church of England’s Strategy and Development Unit. Much of the information gathered was of a qualitative nature, but a survey of 489 attenders at 11 of the local projects did support a degree of quantitative analysis, which is summarized in Appendix 2 (pp. 14-20). In aggregate, the case studies’ contribution to church growth was described as ‘quite modest’, 91% of attenders already self-identifying as Christian; of these just 14% claimed to have come to faith at the case study churches, with a further 11% saying the case study had helped them recover a lost faith. Seven in ten attenders had been to, or were currently at, university. The report is available at:

Digital evangelism

Adrian Harris, Head of Digital Communications for the Church of England, has prepared a two-page paper (reference GS Misc 1174), for discussion at next month’s meeting of General Synod, which summarizes the metrics for the Church’s principal digital initiatives as at January 2018. The report covers projects to promote evangelism, discipleship, and the common good as well as efforts to transform the Church’s national websites. The report can be found at:

Christian conferences

Women accounted for 39% of the speakers at 25 national Christian conferences in the UK in 2017, three points more than in 2016, according to a report from Project 3:28. Only one (Church and Media Conference) had a gender-balanced platform, although National Youth Ministry weekend (49%) and New Wine (46%) came close. The Keswick Convention (12%) and Ichthus Revive (17%) had the lowest proportion of female speakers. The report, which includes data for all years since 2013 (when the gender audit began), is available at:

European Jewish demography hub

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) has launched a new interactive online hub for European Jewish demography, research, and current affairs. It encompasses every Jewish population on the continent (including the UK) and links to recent national press coverage about Jewish issues as well as to research documentation in JPR’s pre-existing European Jewish Research Archive. The hub can be accessed at:


Religion and modernity

Religion and Modernity: An International Comparison, by Detlef Pollack and Gergely Rosta (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, xvii + 487pp., ISBN: 978-0-19-880166-5, £95, hardback) is an English-language translation of a work first published in German in 2015. It offers a global perspective on both theoretical and empirical aspects of contemporary religious change. Part I reflects on the concepts of modernity and religion; parts II-IV comprise national case studies of religious change in, respectively, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and outside Europe; and part V gives a systematic overview. Part II, on religious decline in Western Europe, includes a certain amount of data for Great Britain (drawn from the European Values Surveys), although it is not one of the three case studies in this section (which relate to West Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands). The book’s webpage is at:

Anglican churchmanship

In what is probably the longest-running panel study of the Anglican ministry, Kelvin Randall has been intermittently surveying the experience and attitudes of clergy ordained deacon in the Church of England or Church in Wales in 1994. His latest report, ‘Are Liberals Winning? A Longitudinal Study of Clergy Churchmanship’, is published in Journal of Empirical Theology, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2017, pp. 148-63. Using the answers obtained from the panel in 1994, 2001, 2008, and 2015, he demonstrates that individual clergy – regardless of gender or age – have become less Conservative and more Liberal in their churchmanship over the years. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Church in Wales primary schools

David Lankshear, Leslie Francis, and Emma Eccles have pilot-tested the inclusion of student input to the evaluation of the quality of state-maintained faith schools in their ‘Engaging the Student Voice in Dialogue with Section 50 Inspection Criteria in Church in Wales Primary Schools: A Study in Psychometric Assessment’, Journal of Research on Christian Education, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2017, pp. 237-50. By means of an offline English-language questionnaire completed by 1,899 pupils aged 9-11 attending Church in Wales primary schools, six short scales were devised to assess attitudes towards school ethos, school experience, school teachers, relationships in school, school environment, and school worship. The internal consistency reliability of these scales proved satisfactory and they have been recommended for future application. In terms of their personal religiosity, 50% of the pupils never attended church or did so only once or twice a year and 42% never engaged in private prayer or did so once or twice a year. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Church of the Nazarene

In ‘Solidarity with the Poor? Positioning the Church of the Nazarene in England in 2003 and 2013’, Michael Hirst has sought to test whether this small-scale Church lives up to its self-identification with the socially marginalized by charting the postcode distribution of its churches, clergy, and lay office-holders against a widely accepted index of relative deprivation in small neighbourhoods. ‘Findings show that the local presence of the Church of the Nazarene broadly intersects with its self-proclaimed responsibility to the poor. Overall, the distribution of churches and church staff is skewed towards deprived areas. Despite that a substantial minority of lay office-holders and ministers lived at some distance, in socio-economic terms, from the most deprived areas and the churches they served.’ The article is published in Wesley and Methodist Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2018, pp. 66-84 and can be accessed from the JSTOR platform, for a fee in the case of those without institutional or personal access to JSTOR, at:

Muslims and abortion

Data from the 2009-12 EURISLAM project underpin Sarah Carol and Nadja Milewski, ‘Attitudes toward Abortion among the Muslim Minority and Non-Muslim Majority in Cross-National Perspective: Can Religiosity Explain the Differences?’, Sociology of Religion, Vol. 78, No. 4, Winter 2017, pp. 456-91. The focus of the overall project was on cultural interactions between Muslim immigrants and receiving societies in six Western European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands). Telephone interviews were conducted with samples of (a) Muslims of Moroccan, Turkish, former Yugoslavian, and Pakistani descent, recruited via an onomastic method (n = 798 in Britain); and (b) the non-Muslim majority (n = 387 in Britain). In investigating attitudes to abortion, which were measured on a 10-point scale, the authors carry out much of their (mainly regression) analysis at the aggregate level, examining variables for the five nations combined (The Netherlands are omitted), but some results are also presented for Britain alone (the relative liberality of Britain’s abortion laws should be borne in mind in making cross-national comparisons). In general, Muslims were found to be more conservative in their views than non-Muslims. Although valuable insights are offered into Muslim opinions on abortion, the smallness of the non-Muslim majority samples renders them of lesser interest, given that there are other and better sources of cross-national data. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Persistence of tolerance

In an interesting but (for the historian) rather speculative effort to demonstrate the intergenerational persistence of regional variation in prejudice against immigrants, David Fielding has correlated the pattern of medieval Jewish settlements in England prior to the expulsion of the Jews in 1290 with views on foreign immigrants and support for the far right exhibited in the 2005 and 2010 British Election Studies for all English constituencies outside London. He concludes that: ‘attitudes towards twenty-first century immigrants are significantly more positive among respondents in constituencies that were home to a medieval Jewish immigrant community. These constituencies also show less support for far-right political parties.’ The article, ‘Traditions of Tolerance: The Long-Run Persistence of Regional Variation in Attitudes towards English Immigrants’, is published in British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 48, No. 1, January 2018, pp. 167-88, and access options are outlined at:


UK Data Service SN 8301: National Survey for Wales, 2016-2017

The National Survey for Wales (NSW) is conducted by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Welsh Government and three of its sponsored bodies. Between March 2016 and March 2017, 10,493 adults aged 16 and over living in private households in Wales were interviewed face-to-face and by self-completion questionnaire. The NSW now subsumes topics from five predecessor surveys, including local area and environment, NHS and social care, internet and media, children and education, housing, democracy and government, sport and recreation, wellbeing and finances, culture and Welsh language, and population health. Answers for these can be analysed by the single question on religion (‘what is your religion?’) There is also a question on volunteering for religious and other groups. A catalogue description of the dataset is at:

UK Data Service SN 8311: Wellcome Trust Monitor, Waves 1-3: Combined Adults Data, 2009-2015

The Wellcome Trust Monitor is a survey of public attitudes to and knowledge of science and biomedical research (including alternative and complementary medicine) in the UK. This merged dataset of the adult replies to the first three waves (2009, 2012, and 2015) contains only questions asked in more than one wave. Datasets for each individual wave are also held by the UK Data Service and have been previously reported by BRIN. Four religious topics are included as background characteristics, which can be used as variables to analyse responses to the more purely scientific and biomedical questions. They cover: religious affiliation (using a ‘belonging’ form of wording); attendance at religious services; frequency of prayer; and beliefs about the origin of life on earth. A catalogue description of the dataset is at:

British Election Study 2017 Face-to-Face Survey

The British Election Study (BES) 2017 is managed by a consortium of the University of Manchester, University of Oxford, and University of Nottingham. The team has just released the dataset from the BES 2017 face-to-face survey, for which a probability sample of 2,194 electors in Britain was interviewed by GfK between 26 June and 1 October 2017, immediately after the general election; 984 of them also returned a self-completion postal module. A wide range of political questions was asked, the answers to which can be analysed by two religious variables, religious affiliation and (for those professing a religion) frequency of attendance at religious services apart from rites of passage. The questionnaire, technical report, and dataset (as SPSS and STATA files) are available to download at:

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


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

Counting Religion in Britain, December 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 27, December 2017 features 24 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 27 December 2017


Perils of perception

The latest Ipsos global Perils of Perception survey again sought to quantify the public’s perception of facts and compare it with the reality (as established by a variety of verified sources). The study was conducted in 38 countries between 28 September and 19 October 2017 by means of interviews (mostly online) with 29,133 adults aged 16/18-64, including approximately 1,000 in Britain. This year, respondents in each country were asked how many of their compatriots they thought said they believed in heaven, hell, or God. The British sample consistently overestimated what the answers might have been. In other words, interviewees assessed other Britons as being more religious than they actually claimed to be. This was particularly the case in respect of hell, in which nearly twice as many people were thought to believe as did so (38% versus 21%). The divergence was least for belief in God where the average guess was 43% against a reality of 39%, while for belief in heaven it was 45% versus 32%. Topline results only are available at:

Importance of religion

The relative insignificance of religion to UK citizens, and most other Europeans for that matter, was actually revealed in another contemporaneous survey, Wave 88.3 of the European Commission’s Eurobarometer, face-to-face fieldwork for which was conducted with 1,334 adults aged 15 and over in the UK by TNS UK on 5-14 November 2017. Asked to select from a list of twelve values the three which were most important to them personally, just 5% in the UK chose religion, one point less than the European Union mean. Peace was the most highly-prized (by 41%) value in the UK, closely followed by respect for human life and human rights on 40% each. Topline results only are available at: 

Knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ

To mark the UK launch of its mini-series Robert Powell on the Real Jesus of Nazareth, the History Channel commissioned OnePoll to conduct an online survey of 2,000 UK adults about their knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ. Although more than seven in ten reckoned they had a good grasp of the Christmas story, quite a few were ignorant of some of the specifics, including one-fifth who did not think Jesus was born on Christmas Day. If anything, there were even more gaps in respondents’ knowledge of His later life, one-fifth unaware that He had twelve disciples, three-fifths that Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, and one-quarter that Good Friday witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. Just three in ten admitted that their knowledge of the life of Jesus derived from reading the Bible.

As with so many OnePoll studies, the full data tables from this survey are unlikely to enter the public domain, while media reporting of the headline results has been relatively unsystematic. The History Channel has a brief news release at:

A little more detail can be found in The Independent’s reporting at:

Christmas carols

Almost three-quarters of Britons claim to like Christmas carols, according to an app-based poll by YouGov published on 20 December 2017. A plurality (45%) said they enjoyed both singing and listening to carols, while a further 22% liked to listen to them and 6% to sing them. Approximately one-fifth (22%) neither enjoyed listening to nor singing carols and 5% were unsure of their preference. Topline data only are available at:

Meanwhile, Classic FM’s annual listeners’ poll of ‘The Nation’s Favourite Carol’ for 2017 revealed it to be O Holy Night, with Silent Night and In the Bleak Mid-Winter (Gustav Holst version) in second and third places, respectively. The top 30 listing is at:

Christmas cards

A Mail on Sunday survey of more than 580 Christmas cards from two leading greetings card producers, Hallmark and Card Factory, found only seven with a Nativity theme. And of the branches of Waitrose, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, and Waterstones which were visited by the newspaper’s investigators, none was selling cards depicting the Nativity. The story is told in:

Religion and politics

Most Britons consider that religion and politics belong to separate spheres, according to an online poll of almost 1,700 adults conducted by YouGov for The Times in December 2017, and reported in the Christmas Day online only edition of the newspaper. Asked whether politicians should feel free to use their religious beliefs to inform their political decisions, just 14% agreed, while 65% wanted politicians to keep their religious views out of their politics, with 21% undecided. Respondents were similarly unenthusiastic about the presence of clerics in the House of Lords, 62% saying that none should have an automatic right to a seat in the chamber; a mere 8% supported the continuation of the current arrangement of seats for 26 Church of England bishops alone, a further 12% thinking other faith leaders should sit alongside them, and 18% being unsure. The Times also took the opportunity to add a couple of more general religious questions, about belief in God (36% being disbelievers and 29% believers, with a further 23% believing in some sort of spiritual greater power) and intentions to attend a Christmas service (20% saying they had plans to do so). No data tables are available as yet but the newspaper’s report can be found at:

Entrance fees for places of worship

News that the Pantheon, a church which is one of Rome’s most celebrated tourist attractions, is to start charging visitors for admission prompted YouGov to ask, in an app-based poll published on 14 December 2017, whether it is acceptable to levy an entrance fee to places of worship. One-quarter of respondents deemed it inappropriate to charge at all, but the majority (57%) considered it acceptable to make tourists pay (albeit not worshippers) and a further 16% to charge everybody. Topline data only are available at:

Pope Francis

‘Global Leaders’ was the theme of the Gallup International Association’s 41st Annual Global End of Year Survey, Pope Francis being one of 12 leaders whom respondents were asked to rate. Fieldwork was conducted in 55 countries, including in the UK, where 1,004 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online by ORB International on 4-11 December 2017. Across the world in the aggregate, 56% viewed Pope Francis favourably and 18% unfavourably, giving a net score of +38%, which was larger than obtained by any of the other world leaders covered by the survey, all of whom were prime ministers or heads of state. In the UK, this net score for the Pope was somewhat lower, at +32%, the product of a 57% favourable and 25% unfavourable opinion. Although the UK was positioned 26th= for favourability towards the Pope, it came as high as 8th= for unfavourable attitudes, which were mainly worse in nations with large Muslim populations. Topline results only are available at:

Muslim experiences

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has recently released several reports on the Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II), which was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 2015-16. One of the reports concerns the experience of discrimination by Muslim minorities in 15 European Union countries, including the UK, where 710 self-identifying Muslim adults who were immigrants or descendants of immigrants from South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa were interviewed face-to-face between 24 September 2015 and 24 April 2016. Relative to their co-religionists in the other nations, UK Muslims had a slightly above average attachment to their country of residence and a below average perception of widespread discrimination existing against them. They had certainly experienced somewhat lower levels of discrimination during the previous five years, especially on the grounds of ethnic or immigrant background. The published report on Muslims can be found at:

An interactive search tool for the whole dataset is at:

Islamic State (1)

The public has mixed views about what precisely should be done with the estimated 850 Britons who have fought as jihadists with Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, but the majority is clear in not wanting to see them back home. This is according to an online survey of 2,007 UK adults by Opinium Research on 27-30 November 2017, following on from comments by a Foreign Office minister (Rory Stewart) that, in most instances, the best course of action would be to kill them. A plurality of respondents (42%) wished to see the Government strip the British jihadists of their citizenship and prevent them returning to the UK, while 35% wanted them treated as enemy combatants and thus as legitimate targets for attack. However, when Stewart’s comments were quoted, 62% agreed with them, 18% dissenting. In other questions, 84% accepted that the British jihadists were, indeed, legitimate targets and 77% that they could never be reintegrated into UK society. When it was suggested that the UK could be considered to be as bad as ISIS if the Government pursued a strategy of killing British jihadists rather than imprisoning them, only 29% agreed with the proposition, 46% disagreed, and 24% were neutral or unsure. Full data tables, disaggregated by an extensive range of variables, can be found at:

Islamic State (2)

Perhaps in reflection of the defeats suffered by ISIS on the battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria, United States President Donald Trump (33%) is now perceived by Scots as the greatest threat to international security, one point ahead of Islamic terrorism, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in third place (18%). This is according to a poll by Survation for the Sunday Post, conducted among an online sample of 1,006 adults aged 16 and over in Scotland on 1-5 December 2017. By far the highest proportions selecting Islamic terrorism as the greatest threat were found among Conservative voters (43%) and those who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum (42%). Further information is contained in table 55 of the survey report at:


Belief in aspects of the paranormal was tested by YouGov in three app-based polls conducted during December 2017, for which topline data only are available.

Asked whether it is possible to see or hear or feel a ghost, a plurality (44%) of Britons replied in the affirmative, with 41% disagreeing and 15% unsure. See:

When it came to unidentified flying objects (UFOs), one-half of adults said they would approve of the UK government having a programme to investigate UFO sightings, comparable with the one run by the US Pentagon between 2007 and 2012. Opposition to the idea stood at 39% with 11% undecided. See:

Even more, 71%, were confident that there are non-human life forms existing somewhere in outer space, with 11% emphatic there are not and 17% uncertain. See:


UK Church Statistics

By far the most important new religious statistical source this month is UK Church Statistics 3, 2018 Edition, edited by Peter Brierley (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-9957646-1-3, £28, paperback). It comprises 18 sections, the first 12 of which relate to the number of members, churches, and ministers in the UK for 257 denominations (collated into ten groups) for every year between 2012 and 2017, with a forecast through to 2022. These figures derive from a request sent to each denomination in mid-2016 supplemented by websites and estimates by Brierley. Notwithstanding membership growth in two-thirds of denominations, the overall trend remains one of decline (of 7% for the whole UK between 2012 and 2017 and 17% for Scotland alone), with 9.4% of the population a church member in 2017. Of the remaining sections in the book, special interest attaches to 22 pages of detailed tables and maps from the Scottish church census of 2016; and 10 pages of reworked tables of English church census data back to 1980.  There are also five reprinted essays by Brierley on specific aspects of the UK religious scene and a miscellany of other religious and social statistics. All in all, despite an occasional reservation, the volume is an impressive achievement. For a fuller content description and ordering information, go to:

Christian charities

The top ten Christian charities in the UK have a combined annual income of almost £521 million, according to an analysis by Charity Financials. The list, which is headed by the Salvation Army Trust on £209 million, is somewhat curious. The figures do not seem to add up, and, since there appear to be many obvious omissions, it remains unclear what criteria were used to identify the big-hitting Christian charities. The analysis is available at:

Unionized clergy

The Times (4 December 2017, p. 11) reported that almost 1,500 individuals have now joined the faith workers branch of the trade union Unite. This is an increase of nearly 200, or 16%, on the year before. The majority (54%) of the branch’s members are from the Church of England (who have their own workplace grouping within the branch, Church of England Clergy Advocates), with a further 10% Methodists (who likewise have a workplace grouping, the Association of Methodist Faith Workers), but rabbis and imams have also started to join. Even so, a comparatively small proportion of faith workers in the UK are unionized, at least via Unite. This is despite the fact that many have the legal status of office holders, rather than employees, and thus may be more likely to require independent advice and representation. According to Peter Brierley, the number of Christian ministers in the UK is actually increasing somewhat, and now exceeds 40,000.

Church growth, Anglo-Catholic style

Part A of Tim Thorlby’s A Time to Sow: Anglican Catholic Church Growth in London (London: Centre for Theology and Community, 2017, 96pp.) showcases seven examples of recent Anglican church growth in the Dioceses of London and Southwark, all in Anglo-Catholic parishes serving deprived areas. Part B contains summative reflections on church growth arising from the research. The report is available at:


The National Secular Society’s latest report, Separating Church and State: The Case for Disestablishment, includes, at pp. 10-11, an historical overview of public opinion towards the disestablishment of the Church of England. It can be downloaded from:



A special theme issue of Journal of Religious History (Vol. 41, No. 4, December 2017) is devoted to ‘New Perspectives on Secularisation in Britain (and beyond)’, guest-edited by David Nash and William Gibson. It comprises an introduction by Gibson (pp. 431-8) followed by five research articles, by Callum Brown on atheism (pp. 439-56), Stefan Fisher-Høyrem on the Victorian public sphere (pp. 457-75 – a distinctly odd piece), Dominic Erdozain on the origins of European doubt (pp. 476-504), David Nash on secularization narratives (pp. 505-31), and John Wolffe on London since the 1960s (pp. 532-49). The authors mostly engage with secularization at a theoretical and intellectual level, with Charles Taylor’s work often foregrounded, but Wolffe’s article has significant empirical interest, demonstrating (he suggests) a quantitative and qualitative religious resurgence in the capital, originating in the 1960s and 1970s and gathering momentum around 2000. Although this was mainly rooted in the growth of Pentecostalism, Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism, and most traditional Christian denominations continued to experience net decline, even here there were instances of expansion and effective new activity. For options to access this issue, go to:

Religious diversity

A special theme issue of Journal of Beliefs and Values (Vol. 38, No. 3, 2017) on relations between Abrahamic religions includes two articles reporting additional findings from the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project of 2011-12, conducted among 11,809 13- to 15-year-olds attending state-maintained schools in the UK. Tania ap Siôn, ‘Seeing how We See Each Other: Learning from Quantitative Research among Young People in the UK’ (pp. 305-17) concludes that: ‘students who are themselves religiously motivated hold more positive attitudes towards religious diversity; there is no evidence that schools with a religious character produce students who are less-accepting of people from other religious faiths; religious education does work in the sense of leading to attitudes that promote community cohesion, lessen religious conflict and promote the common good.’ Leslie Francis and Ursula McKenna, ‘Assessing Attitude toward Religious Diversity among Muslim Adolescents in the UK: The Effect of Religious and Theological Factors’ (pp. 328-40) uses regression analysis to demonstrate that theological factors (measured on the Astley-Francis Theology of Religions Index) account for much more variance than religious factors in explaining individual differences in Muslim students’ attitudes towards religious diversity. For options to access these articles, go to:

Bertelsmann Foundation Religion Monitor, 2017

The Bertelsmann Foundation has completed the third in a series of international Religion Monitors, this one focusing on Muslims. Fieldwork was conducted towards the end of 2016 with representative samples of the general population and of Muslims in each of five European countries: Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Great Britain (where approximately 1,000 adults and 500 Muslims were interviewed). Initial findings have been published in a 15-page report written by Yasemin El-Menouar, Muslims in Europe: Integrated but Not Accepted? Results and Country Profiles (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Foundation, 2017). Muslims in Britain were differentiated from the rest of society by their relative youth (their average age being 38 years versus 49 years for the national cross-section) and their significantly greater religiosity (98% self-rating as highly or moderately religious compared with 57% of Britons generally). Other indicators of social distance between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain were that: no more than 68% of Muslims had regular contact with non-Muslims in their leisure time; just 20% of Muslims felt an exclusive connection with Britain (with a further 68% having a dual allegiance to Britain and their country of origin); 42% of Muslims claimed to have experienced discrimination in the previous year; and 21% of non-Muslims objected to Muslims as neighbours (against merely 4% opposed to Jews as neighbours, 3% to atheists, and 1% to Christians). The report is available at:

British Religion in Numbers

A further update of the British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) source database has just taken place. New entries have been created for 103 British religious statistical sources, 73 of them from 2017, and 16 existing entries have been augmented, mostly by additional bibliographical references. The total of sources described in the database now stands at 2,739, disproportionately sample surveys. Sources can be browsed at:

An advanced search facility is available at:

Educating late Hanoverian Anglican clerg

In The Education of the Anglican Clergy, 1780-1839 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017, x + 272pp., ISBN: 978-1-78327-175-7, £70, hardback), Sara Slinn offers a prosopographical study of the educational backgrounds of men ordained to the Anglican ministry in the late Hanoverian period, which was largely before the establishment of theological colleges. She demonstrates that the clergy of this era were socially, culturally, and educationally a more diverse group than has been previously recognised, with significant numbers of non-graduates. Extensive reliance is placed on quantitative data, mined from the Clergy of the Church of England Database, ordination application papers in diocesan archives, and ordination lists in contemporary periodicals and newspapers. The book’s webpage is at:


SN 6614: Understanding Society, Waves 1-7, 2009-2016 and Harmonised British Household Panel Survey, Waves 1-18, 1991-2009

This is not a new dataset per se but a major step forward in integrating access to pre-existing resources. For the first time in the study’s history, data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) have been harmonized with those from Understanding Society to create 25 years of longitudinal data for the UK. BHPS started in 1991 and followed the same representative sample of individuals over an 18-year period. In 2009, BHPS participants were invited to consider joining the new, bigger, and more wide-ranging survey called Understanding Society. This merged longitudinal dataset naturally has many advantages over traditional cross-sectional surveys in tracking over-time changes in attitudes and beliefs among a very large sample. During the lifetimes of BHPS and Understanding Society, various religion-related questions have been asked, including about religious affiliation, attendance at religious services, and the difference made by religious beliefs to everyday life. BRIN readers can explore further via the catalogue record and documentation at:

SN 8294: Community Life Survey, 2016-17

This is the fifth annual wave of the Community Life Survey (CLS), initiated by the Cabinet Office in 2012-13 to carry forward some of the questions in the discontinued Citizenship Survey; responsibility for the CLS currently rests with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Fieldwork for this wave was undertaken by Kamtar Public (formerly TNS BMRB) between 10 August 2016 and 31 March 2017, online interviews or postal questionnaires being completed by 10,256 adults aged 16 and over in England (being a response rate of 21%). Besides demographics, the interview schedule explored identity and social networks, community, civic engagement, volunteering, social action, and subjective wellbeing. More specifically, respondents were asked about their religion and whether they practised it, the proportion of their friends drawn from the same religious group, their participation in and volunteering for religious groups, and their charitable giving to religious causes. A full catalogue description of the dataset, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017


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

Counting Religion in Britain, November 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 26, November 2017 features 23 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 26 November 2017


Good life

What makes for a good life in the eyes of the public? GfK set out to find the answer to this question in a global poll conducted during summer 2017, for which 23,000 adults from 17 countries were interviewed online, including 2,175 in the UK. Respondents were given a list of 15 factors which might make for ‘the good life’ (specified as the life they would like to have) and asked to choose those which were most significant for them. The UK’s selection was headed by good health (82%), financial security (75%), and leisure time (68%), with spiritual enrichment in eleventh place, on 26%, compared with the multinational mean of 39% (the national peak being in Brazil at 47%). The importance attached to spiritual enrichment did not differ between the sexes in the UK, but it was surprisingly low for the over-60s (21%) and high among under-20s (30%). GfK’s press release, including a link from which to download a free copy of the full report on the survey, is at:

Royal family

The recent announcement that Prince Harry is to marry American actress Meghan Markle in 2018 prompted The Times to commission YouGov to repeat some of its standard questions about attitudes to the royal family, in an online poll of 1,575 Britons on 27-28 November 2017. The topics covered included reactions to a member of the royal family marrying a person from various backgrounds. Just over two-thirds (68%) deemed it acceptable for a member of the royal family to wed somebody of a different religion, which was three points less than in November 2016, with 16% opposed (among them 22% of Conservatives) and a further 16% unsure. This was a similar proportion as in favour of a member of the royal family marrying someone of a different ethnicity (69%). A blog about the survey, containing a link to the full data tables, is at:

Protection of churches

Notwithstanding low and declining church attendance, cathedrals and churches rank second only to castles in a list of ten categories of UK historic buildings which the public considers should be protected for future generations. Asked to identify the first, second, and third most important category, 69% in aggregate opted for castles, 60% for cathedrals and churches, and 49% for royal palaces. Support for cathedrals and churches varied by age, rising from 49% among under-35s to 74% for over-65s. Findings derive from a ComRes survey commissioned by the National Churches Trust, for which 2,062 adults were interviewed online on 21-22 June 2017. The data tables are at:

Trust in clergy

The latest annual Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, compiled from face-to-face interviews with 998 adults on 20-26 October 2017, has revealed clergy and priests to be the tenth most trusted of the 24 professions included on the list. Two-thirds (65%) of the public trusted them to tell the truth (four points less than in 2016 and twenty points lower than in 1983, when the index began), against 30% who did not trust them and 4% who were unsure. The net veracity score of +35% for clergy and priests was way behind that of nurses (+89%), doctors (+84%), and teachers and professors (+76% each). The most negative scores were for government ministers (-59%) and politicians generally (-63%). At present, topline results only are available at:

Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day is a regular faith-based slot in BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme, broadcast continuously (under different titles) since 1939. Its appropriateness in a news and current affairs programme is periodically challenged, and it has recently come under attack from some of Today’s own presenters. This prompted YouGov to include a question in an app-based poll reported on 1 November 2017, the British public being divided between those who wanted Thought for the Day removed from the schedules (44%) and those wishing to retain it (47%), 9% being undecided. Topline results only are available at:

Religious education

YouGov ran an app-based poll on the back of news that schools in Staffordshire are to offer virtual tours of mosques after some parents refused to allow their children to visit them during school religious education trips. Three-fifths of respondents thought that parents should have the right to withdraw their children from school visits to certain places of worship while a third suggested they should not be allowed to do so. Topline results were posted on 16 November 2017 at:


The vast majority of Britons (83%) still prefer to describe the period around 25 December as Christmas, according to an online poll of 3,372 adults taken by YouGov on 17 November 2017. The proportion was lowest among under-25s (76%), Scots (78%), and Scottish National Party supporters (72%). It peaked (at 95%) with UKIP voters. Another 5% of the whole sample opted for Xmas while 9% gave other answers. Results, with breaks by demographics, are at:

Gender fluidity

In recent guidance issued to its own schools, the Church of England has stated that children should be free to try out ‘the many cloaks of identity’ without being labelled or bullied. This statement was approved of by 71% of respondents to an app-based poll by YouGov reported on 14 November 2017, with 21% disapproving and 7% unsure. Topline results only are at:

Sexual orientation and identity

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) has released the results from the ILGA-RIWI Global Attitudes Survey on Sexual, Gender, and Sex Minorities, 2017, conducted in partnership with Viacom, Logo, and SAGE. Data were gathered, by means of opt-in online interviews, from 116,000 adults aged 18 and over in 75 countries plus Hong Kong and Taiwan. By virtue of the patented Random Domain Intercept Technology employed by RIWI, which targets web users bypassing search engines (see pp. 13-14 of the global report for a description of methodology), these do not comprise nationally representative samples. There were 6,483 respondents from the UK, although not everybody answered all the questions (partly because of the use of a combination of fixed and rotating modules).

Two statements with Likert-style answers specifically addressed religion. The first related to sexual orientation: ‘it is possible to respect my religion and be accepting of people who are romantically or sexually attracted to people of the same sex’, with which 58% in the UK agreed and 15% disagreed, 27% being neutral. The second statement concerned gender identity: ‘it is possible to respect my religion and be accepting of people who dress, act, or identify as one sex although they were born as another’, with which 59% in the UK agreed and 12% disagreed, 29% being neutral. The global report and country-specific data (in Word and Excel formats) can be downloaded from:

Schoolchildren and the hijab

Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in England, has recently recommended its inspectors to question Muslim primary school girls if they are found to be wearing a hijab, in order to ascertain whether they have been forced to do so. In response to a YouGov app-based poll whose results were posted on 21 November 2017, a plurality (47%) of Britons thought the school inspectors should not be interviewing hijab-wearing Muslim primary school girls in this way. Two-fifths considered they should be interviewed while 14% were uncertain. The topline findings only are available at:

Islamic State

When they met in Vietnam recently, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin resolved to defeat Islamic State in Syria. However, a plurality of Britons (43%) thinks they will fail in this goal, with 42% having confidence they will succeed and 15% unsure. The poll was conducted by Yougov’s app and reported on 13 November 2017 at:


Voting of churchgoers 

Christian Research has posted a summary of its online poll of 1,512 UK practising Christians (church leaders and churchgoers) conducted, during week-commencing 29 May 2017, in the immediate run-up to the 2017 general election. Respondents were drawn from the Resonate panel, which is self-selecting, and were disproportionately male, Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist. The overwhelming majority (96%) of practising Christians said they intended to vote in the election. Just 10% stated they always voted for the same political party. With only days to go, 24% had still not decided how to cast their vote. Of those who had already made up their minds, 37% opted for the Conservatives, 32% for Labour, and 22% for the Liberal Democrats (the last figure significantly above the national average, reflecting the legacy of Free Church electoral habits). Managing the National Health Service was the most important policy factor in determining voter preference, followed by Brexit and ensuring the benefits of economic growth were felt by all. The post is available at:

Church of England cathedral statistics

The 44–page Cathedral Statistics, 2016 reports on attendance at services (Sunday, midweek, and festival), rites of passage, visitors (9,030,000 plus 1,100,000 at Westminster Abbey), educational outreach, events, volunteers, choristers, and musicians. Ten years of trend data are included. The report is available on the recently revamped Church of England website at:

In accordance with current fashion, the new Church website is mobile-friendly and shifts the emphasis in content away from words to images and sounds. To that end, a lot of documentation on the old website appears to have been dropped. Fortunately, the Research and Statistics pages have not been too adversely affected, but it would seem logical to complete the online back-file of Church Statistics and perhaps even to add digitized editions of the forerunner Statistical Supplement to the Church of England Yearbook. The Research and Statistics pages do serve an important archival function. They can be found at:

Muslim marriages

A survey commissioned in connection with Channel 4’s The Truth about Muslim Marriage programme, broadcast on 21 November 2017, has revealed that 60% of Muslim women married in Britain (and 80% of those under 25) are not in legally recognized marriages. This is because they have not had a civil marriage ceremony alongside their traditional Islamic (Nikah) religious wedding. Many (28%) of these women who were just married religiously were unaware of the fact that, as a consequence, they did not have the same rights and protections afforded to couples marrying in the eyes of the law. Of the 66% who understood their marriage had no legal standing, half had no plans to enter into a civil wedding. The situation arises in part because only one in ten mosques in England and Wales is licensed for the solemnization of marriages and just 31% of Muslim women married in the UK had done so in a mosque.

The study also explored attitudes to polygamy, finding that 89% of the women did not wish to be in a polygamous relationship and that 37% of the 11% who were in such a relationship had not agreed to it.

The interviews, with 923 Muslim women married in Britain, were conducted, face-to-face or over the telephone, by female Muslim community researchers in 14 British cities in two waves between December 2016 and July 2017. Respondents were recruited by snowballing techniques and thus do not necessarily constitute a representative sample. Channel 4’s press release is at:

Additional survey documentation, including the questionnaire for the second wave and a fuller description of methodology, is available on the website of True Vision Aire, the production company which made the programme, at:


Armed forces diversity statistics

The Government has published the UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics as at 1 October 2017. In respect of religion, they reveal that 72% of the Regular Forces and 74% of the so-called Future Reserves 2020 self-identified as Christian on that date with, respectively, 25% and 24% professing no religion, together with relatively small numbers of non-Christians. The proportion of religious nones in the Regular Forces continues to be highest in the Royal Navy (31%) and lowest in the Army (22%). The report and tables are at:


European Social Survey

The first set of data from Round 8 of the European Social Survey has been released, including those for the UK, where 1,959 adults were interviewed face-to-face by NatCen Social Research between 1 September 2016 and 20 March 2017. This academically-led study, which has been conducted every two years since 2002, always includes a short module on religion, asking about religious affiliation, self-assessed religiosity (on a scale running from 0 = not at all religious to 10 = very religious), attendance at religious services other than rites of passage, and private prayer. The weighted results for Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) in 2002 and 2016 are shown in compressed form below, the biggest change being the 11-point increase in those self-identifying as non-religious. The figures have been calculated from the Centre for Comparative European Survey Data website at:




Regard self as belonging to a particular religion






Self-assessed religiosity
Not religious (0-4)



Neutral (5)



Religious (6-10)



Attendance at religious services apart from rites of passage
Monthly or more



Less often






Private prayer






Less often






Material security and religious practice

In a recent article in Journal of Religion in Europe (Vol. 10, No. 3, 2017, pp. 328-49), Ingrid Storm tests three hypotheses linking material security (as measured by household income) with attendance at religious services at least monthly. Using the British Household Panel Survey and UK Household Longitudinal Study datasets for 1991-2012, she found that increased income was weakly associated with declining religious attendance but that reductions in income did not significantly impact attendance. However, the data did suggest that religious attendance improved and maintained life satisfaction in the face of economic loss. Access options to the article, ‘Does Security Increase Secularity? Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey on the Relationship between Income and Religious Service Attendance’, are outlined at:

Church schools and religious diversity

Further findings from the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project in 2011-12 are presented by Leslie Francis, Andrew Village, Ursula McKenna, and Gemma Penny in ‘Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Religious Clothing and Symbols in School: Exploring the Impact of Church Schools in a Religiously Diverse Society’, in Religion and Civil Human Rights in Empirical Perspective, edited by Hans-Georg Ziebertz and Carl Sterkens (Cham: Springer, 2018), pp. 157-75. A sub-sample of 2,385 students aged 13-15 from schools in England, Wales, and London who identified as Christian or of no religion was used. The authors conclude that, after controlling for gender and individual differences in personality and religiosity, ‘schools with a religious character are a source neither for good nor for ill in terms of shaping student attitudes either toward freedom of religious clothing and symbols in school or toward religious diversity more generally assessed’. The chapter can be purchased from:

Muslim identity

Data from the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project also form the basis of Leslie Francis and Ursula McKenna, ‘The Religious and Social Correlates of Muslim Identity: An Empirical Enquiry into Religification among Male Adolescents in the UK’, Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 43, No. 5, 2017, pp. 550-65. The authors compared the responses of 158 male students aged 13-15 who identified as Muslim with those of 1,932 male students with no religious affiliation, finding (not unexpectedly) that the former had a distinctive profile in terms of both religiosity (measured across eight themes) and social values (six themes concerning wellbeing and attitudes to cultural and religious diversity). The correlations are presented in 14 tables with commentary. Opportunities for further research into Muslim identity are identified in the form of improved sampling and an elaborated survey instrument. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Muslim population

The number of Muslims in the UK is projected to grow from an estimated 4,130,000 in 2016 to between 6,560,000 and 13,480,000 in 2050, or from 6.3% to between 9.7% and 17.2% of the population. So suggests the Pew Research Center in its latest report, entitled Europe’s Growing Muslim Population. To arrive at these projections, Pew modelled three scenarios for net Muslim migration (the biggest single factor affecting the size of the Muslim community), depending upon whether it was zero, medium, or high.  The UK is currently the top destination in Europe for regular (non-refugee) Muslim migrants. Natural increase was also factored into the calculations, reflecting the fact that Muslims are disproportionately young and still have a higher fertility rate than non-Muslims in the UK (one more child on average). The report is available at:


Although racial boundaries between whites, blacks, and Asians have blurred in recent years, Muslims are widely singled out for negative attention by both white people and non-Muslim ethnic minorities in Britain, including a large number who do not express hostility to other ethnic groups. This is according to Ingrid Storm, Maria Sobolewska, and Robert Ford, ‘Is Ethnic Prejudice Declining in Britain? Change in Social Distance Attitudes among Ethnic Majority and Minority Britons’, British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 69, No. 3, September 2017, pp. 410-34. Their evidence concerning attitudes to Muslims derives from a measure of interpersonal social distance, specifically acceptance of an in-law from Muslim versus other ethnic backgrounds, contained in the 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey (for whites) and the 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Survey. Access options to the article are outlined at:


SN 8280: Health Survey for England, 2015

The Health Survey for England, 2015 is the twenty-fifth in a series of annual studies designed to monitor trends in the nation’s health. It is commissioned by NHS Digital and conducted by NatCen Social Research and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. It is undertaken through a combination of face-to-face interview, self-completion questionnaire, and clinical and other measurements. A number of core health-related topics are explored each year with additional topics investigated on a more occasional basis (including several in 2015). A question ‘what is your religion or belief?’ was one of the background variables included in the self-completion booklets given to the 13,748 adults and children interviewed in 2015, with reply options of no religion, Roman Catholic, other Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and any other religion. This permits analysis of the religious correlates of particular health conditions and attitudes. For a full description of the dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

SN 8290: Scottish Health Survey, 2016

The Scottish Health Survey, 2016 is the twelfth in a series initiated in 1995. It was conducted by ScotCen Social Research on behalf of the Scottish Government, 4,323 adults aged 16 and over living in private households throughout Scotland being interviewed face-to-face between January 2016 and January 2017. A belonging form of question about religious affiliation was asked of all respondents, which can be used as a variable for analysing answers to all other questions, whether health-related or not. A catalogue description of the dataset, with links to documentation, is available at:

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017


Posted in church attendance, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment