Counting Religion in Britain, December 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 39, December 2018 features 20 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 39 December 2018


  • The Times end-of-year religion poll
  • Eurobarometer: valuing religion
  • Understanding religious festivals
  • Christmas carols
  • Religious education in schools
  • Racial bias
  • Perils of perception, 2018
  • Islam and British society
  • Sexual violence


  • Faith schools and school choice
  • Barna’s Pastor Poll
  • Jewish brain drain
  • European Union survey of anti-Semitism


  • Census of population, England and Wales, 2021


  • Marriage law: religious elements in civil marriage
  • Religious education teachers
  • Anglican self-identity
  • Anglican clerical burnout
  • Violence against Anglican clergy


  • Ben Clements: research grant to survey Catholics

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

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

Counting Religion in Britain, November 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 38, November 2018 features 20 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 38 November 2018


  • Trust in clergy and priests
  • Trust in religious leaders and other matters
  • Clergy as lawmakers
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Religion and sex
  • Church social action
  • Christmas traditions
  • Religion in Europe
  • Anti-Semitism


  • Christians making a difference
  • Church of England social action
  • Church of England statistics for mission
  • Church of England digital report
  • Church of England gender pay gap
  • Distance to church
  • Jewish charity


  • National barometer of prejudice


  • Anglican church growth
  • Muslims and education


  • Ceri Peach (1939-2018)

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


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

Counting Religion in Britain, September 2018

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 36, September 2018 features 21 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 36 September 2018


  • God’s gender
  • Miracles
  • Archbishop of Canterbury and politics
  • Parent power
  • Religious education
  • Horoscopes


  • 12 August-4 September 2018: Survation
  • 31 August-1 September 2018: Survation
  • 10-13 September 2018: YouGov
  • 18-19 September 2018: YouGov
  • 19-20 September 2018: ComRes
  • 21-22 September 2018: BMG Research


  • Church in Wales membership


  • Religion of hospital patients


  • Steve Bruce, Researching Religion
  • London desecularization
  • Scottish secularization
  • Bobby Duffy, The Perils of Perception
  • British Social Attitudes Survey, 2017
  • Faith schools
  • Anglicans and Brexit

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


Posted in News from religious organisations, Organisational data, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


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

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



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

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


Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, Historical studies, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Religion and Ethnicity, 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, 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


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