Counting Religion in Britain, February 2018

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


Female suffrage anniversary

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

% down

All Christians Non-Christians




45 51




48 35




50 62




40 23




47 57




44 30


National Health Service

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


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

Religious studies

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

Religious figures

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


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

Hate speech

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

Attitudes to Muslims

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

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


Church-based social action

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

Ministerial reading habits

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

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

Anti-Semitic incidents

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


Marriages in England and Wales, 2015

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


Religion and immigration

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

A 16-page executive summary is also available at:

and a blog post at:

Spiritual development

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

Leslie Francis scales

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, January 2018

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


Religious affiliation

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















Other non-Christian


No religion


Not answered


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

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


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

Trust in the Church

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

Relationships education

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

Illicit encounters

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

YouGov Christmas religion poll – more results

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

Religious broadcasting

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

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

Muslim values

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

Donald Trump and Jerusalem

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


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

Science fiction technologies

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


Spiritual abuse

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

Church and youth (1)

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

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

Church and youth (2)

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

Digital evangelism

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

Christian conferences

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

European Jewish demography hub

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


Religion and modernity

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

Anglican churchmanship

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

Church in Wales primary schools

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

Church of the Nazarene

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

Muslims and abortion

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

Persistence of tolerance

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


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

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

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

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

British Election Study 2017 Face-to-Face Survey

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

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


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

Counting Religion in Britain, December 2017

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


Perils of perception

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

Importance of religion

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

Knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

Christmas carols

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

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

Christmas cards

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

Religion and politics

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

Entrance fees for places of worship

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

Pope Francis

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

Muslim experiences

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

An interactive search tool for the whole dataset is at:

Islamic State (1)

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

Islamic State (2)

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


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

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

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

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


UK Church Statistics

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

Christian charities

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

Unionized clergy

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

Church growth, Anglo-Catholic style

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


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



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

Religious diversity

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

Bertelsmann Foundation Religion Monitor, 2017

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

British Religion in Numbers

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

An advanced search facility is available at:

Educating late Hanoverian Anglican clerg

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


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

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

SN 8294: Community Life Survey, 2016-17

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

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


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

Counting Religion in Britain, November 2017

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


Good life

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

Royal family

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

Protection of churches

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

Trust in clergy

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

Thought for the Day

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

Religious education

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


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

Gender fluidity

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

Sexual orientation and identity

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

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

Schoolchildren and the hijab

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

Islamic State

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


Voting of churchgoers 

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

Church of England cathedral statistics

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

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

Muslim marriages

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

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

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

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


Armed forces diversity statistics

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


European Social Survey

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




Regard self as belonging to a particular religion






Self-assessed religiosity
Not religious (0-4)



Neutral (5)



Religious (6-10)



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



Less often






Private prayer






Less often






Material security and religious practice

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

Church schools and religious diversity

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

Muslim identity

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

Muslim population

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


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


SN 8280: Health Survey for England, 2015

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

SN 8290: Scottish Health Survey, 2016

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

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, October 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 25, October 2017 features 35 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 25 October 2017


Global views on religion

Great Britain has again emerged as one of the least religious nations in the world, this time from the latest report of Ipsos Global @dvisor, for which 17,401 online interviews were conducted with adults aged 16-64 in 23 countries (1,010 of them in Britain) between 24 June and 8 July 2017. On this occasion, six Likert-style religious indicators were included in the survey, the ‘agree’ (strongly and somewhat) responses to which are tabulated below. In Britain, under one-quarter of people claimed their religion defined them as a person (the third lowest score in any of the countries), while 62% agreed that religion did more harm than good (the seventh highest score). The report, in the form of slides featuring topline results for each nation, together with detailed data tables showing breaks by demographics, can be found at:

% agreeing with each statement



Religion does more harm in the world than good



My religion defines me as a person



I am completely comfortable being around people who have different religious beliefs than me



I lose respect for people when I find out that they are not religious



Religious people are better citizens



Religious practices are an important factor in the moral life of my country’s citizens



British and American values

On behalf of UnHerd, ComRes conducted online surveys about values among samples of the adult populations of Great Britain (n = 2,059 on 7-8 August 2017) and the United States (n = 1,011 on 7-9 August 2017). A couple of the questions had a religious dimension. One asked which of ten groups or things on a list was the most dangerous in the world today (multiple options evidently being possible). In Britain, religious leaders scored highly as a risk, ranking as the second most dangerous threat (31%), a considerable way behind terrorists (80%), of course, but just ahead of fake news (26%); in the US, by contrast, religious leaders were placed seventh, on 14%, with fake news in second position (38%), after terrorists (80%). The other question forced respondents to choose between two statements: ‘we need more Christianity in our nation’s life’ or ‘we need less Christianity in our nation’s life’. Surprisingly, perhaps, Britons elected for more Christianity (58%), peaking at 73% among over-55s, whereas a majority of Americans (53%) preferred less Christianity. This finding potentially reopens the debate about the extent to which Britain is or should be a ‘Christian country’ and the role of ‘Christian values’ within it. Data tables can be found at:

Religious narratives

Neil MacGregor, former director of the British Museum, claimed recently that Britain is the first society to operate without shared religious beliefs and rituals at its heart, adding that ‘we are trying to live without an agreed narrative of our communal place in the cosmos and in time’. In an app-based YouGov poll reported on 23 October 2017, 30% said that we are indeed living without an agreed narrative but that this was a good thing, while 24% judged that we are living without an agreed narrative and it was a bad thing. One-third (32%) assessed that our society does have a narrative but were split between those who sensed it was working well (13%) and those who thought it was not (19%). The final 14% were unsure. This seems a difficult topic to explore in a snap poll, and it remains unclear how much significance to attach to the results. The topline statistics only are available at:

Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments inform the role of Christianity in national and personal life, so it was interesting to see YouGov running an online poll of the extent to which these teachings are still perceived as ‘important principles to live by’, among a sample of 1,680 adult Britons on 10-11 October 2017. It transpires that six of the Ten Commandments (the most ‘social’ ones) are seen to have continuing relevance by the majority, not least ‘you shall not commit murder’ (93%), ‘you shall not steal’ (93%), and ‘you shall not bear false witness against other people’ (87%). However, the remaining four (precisely the ones with the most ‘religious’ character) are sitting in the doldrums, especially ‘remember to keep the Sabbath day holy’ (which 73% judge no longer significant), ‘you shall not take the Lord’s name in vain’ (an injunction rejected by 68%), and ‘you shall have no other God before me’ (also irrelevant for 68%). Breaks by religious affiliation reveal that the same pattern of broad acceptance of six of the Ten Commandments and rejection of the other four also holds good for religious nones, although, murder and theft apart, their majorities were a little smaller than average. Professing Christians were somewhat more likely than the norm to see all the Commandments as pertinent to modern life, but even they seemed to doubt the value of Sunday observance, which was important for 29% of Protestants and 44% of Catholics. A news report (incorporating a link to the data table) and reactions to it can be found at:

Difficult decisions

Asked where they looked for help when making major or difficult decisions, friends and family (77%) and online search engines or websites (51%) were by far and away the most favoured of the maximum of two sources which a sample of Britons was able to choose. Relatively few people turned to the supernatural for assistance, just 6% citing prayer, 2% a religious source such as a minister or holy book, and 1% a spiritual but not religious source like a clairvoyant or horoscope. The survey was commissioned by journalist Ruth Gledhill and conducted online by ComRes among 2,076 adults on 4-5 October 2017. Data tables can be found at:


It has been reported in the media that schools across England are abandoning the dating conventions of BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) in favour of the BCE (Before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era) formats. The trend arises from concerns that BC and AD might offend non-Christians. Asked, in an app-based poll by YouGov which was reported on 4 October 2017, whether they thought the move was a good idea or not, 69% of Britons deemed it a bad idea and only 19% a good one, with 12% undecided. The topline result only is at:


This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Abortion Act 1967. In connection with research for a commemorative programme the BBC had commissioned from Raw TV, on 26-29 May 2017 ICM Unlimited carried out an online survey of attitudes to abortion among 2,002 Britons aged 18 and over. Ten questions about abortion were asked, the answers to each of which were analysed by a range of socio-demographic variables, including religious affiliation and differentiating self-identified practising and non-practising members of each faith. Space precludes a full discussion of the findings here, but it is worth noting that, when given a list of 13 possible scenarios which might justify a woman having an abortion, hardly anybody subscribed to the morally absolutist position that abortion is never acceptable under any circumstances: 6% of practising Catholics (notwithstanding the implacable opposition to abortion of the Roman Catholic Church), 3% of practising mainline Protestants, 12% of other practising Christians, 1% of practising non-Christians, 2% of non-practising religious, and 2% of religious nones. On the other hand, there are particular situations, such as abortion on the grounds of the gender of the foetus, in which a majority of members of all religious faiths and none is still agreed that abortion should not be permitted. Data tables are available at:

Gay rights

On behalf of Stonewall, YouGov has investigated discrimination and crime on the basis of sexual orientation which was experienced by 5,375 lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) adult Britons, who were interviewed online between 16 February and 11 April 2017. Replies to each question were disaggregated by religious affiliation. Reflecting their younger than average profile, 66% of LGBTs professed no religion, with 24% being Christians and 9% non-Christians. During the previous year, 28% of those who had attended faith services or otherwise visited places of worship said they had felt discriminated against because of being LGBT. Among the avowedly religious, there were also mixed reactions to the statement ‘my religious community is welcoming to LGB people’, 39% agreeing, 27% disagreeing, and 34% being undecided. Data tables are located at:


Interviewed online by ComRes on behalf of Hospice UK on 7-8 August 2017, 80% of 2,120 British adults thought that hospices either currently provide (55%) or should provide (36%) spiritual care (for example, through chaplaincy). This was a higher proportion than anticipated that hospices did or should offer complementary therapy (77%) or rehabilitation (74%). The spiritual care total increased with age, from 73% of under-25s to 88% of over-65s. Data tables are at:

Ethical champions and the £20 note

News that the Bank of England will be launching a replacement £20 note in 2020 prompted the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) to commission YouGov to ask a sample of 2,128 UK adults on 24-25 September 2017 which of 15 individuals they would suggest should appear on the note as an ‘ethical champion’ (the intention being to remind the public to be ethical in how they spend their money). The current Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby, a campaigner against poverty) was one of the names on the list and received 3% of the overall votes (and no more than 5% in any demographic sub-group), which put him in a respectable joint fifth position. The popular choice, by a mile, was the conservationist David Attenborough, with 40%. Data tables are available at:

Meeting the Pope

Asked to imagine they had been invited to meet the Pope in the Vatican, 51% of 1,615 adult Britons interviewed online by YouGov on 4-5 October 2017 said they would accept the invitation, including a surprisingly high proportion (65%) of under-25s; 38% thought they would decline the invitation, while 11% were undecided. The hypothetical invitation was also extended to visit Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace (73% being disposed to accept), Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street (54%), Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin (38%), and US President Donald Trump at the White House (36%). Full data are available at:


Britons have a reputation for clinging to various superstitions but not, apparently, when money is at stake. So one might deduce from an app-based poll by YouGov released on 27 September 2017. Asked which of two identical flats they would prefer to buy, one on floor 13 and costing £250,000 and the other on floor 12 and costing £255,000, 75% of respondents opted for the cheaper one on floor 13 and just 25% for floor 12. The topline result only is at:


With Halloween just around the corner, BMG Research polled the British public about their intentions to observe the festival in 2017 (56% had none, five points up on 2016) and their attitudes to trick or treating by children (which were divided), but also included a couple of prefatory questions about the paranormal. The sample comprised 1,347 adults aged 18 and over interviewed online on 17-20 October 2017. Asked whether they believed in ghosts, ghouls, spirits, or other types of paranormal activity, a plurality (46%) replied in the negative, 33% in the affirmative, while 21% had not made up their minds. Belief was higher among women than men, younger than older people, and manual than non-manual workers. The believers and the uncertain were then asked whether they had seen or felt the presence of paranormal activity in the past, 40% saying they had, 24% they might have had, and 36% they had not. A blog about the survey, with a link to full data tables, is at:

Scottish religious affiliation

An online survey of 1,010 Scots by ComRes for campaign group Be Reasonable between 21 September and 2 October 2017 included a question about religious affiliation: ‘which of the following, if any, do you consider yourself to be?’ In reply, 51% declared they were Christian (rising to 70% of over-65s) and 7% non-Christian, with 39% professing no religion (peaking at 54% for those aged 25-34) and 2% preferring not to say. The results appear as table 5/1 in the full data report, but it should be noted that religion is not used therein as a variable to analyse the answers to the main questionnaire, which concerned children and families, with particular reference to the vexed issue of smacking. The data report is at:

Middle East

The British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) commissioned Populus to conduct two online surveys of representative samples of Britons about their attitudes towards Israel and related Middle East topics. The first poll was on 6-8 October 2017 with 2,021 adults, the second on 9-10 October 2017 with 2,041 adults; the two questionnaires were slightly different. BICOM has been testing British public opinion in this area since 2010, and its press release on the 2017 enquiries highlighted some modest improvement in perceptions of Israel, in terms of the warmth expressed towards the country and lessening of the willingness to support boycotts of Israeli goods and produce. Even so, there were mixed views about the wisdom of the British government in committing in 1917 to the principle of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine (only 38% judged it to have been right). In 2017, there is significant negativity towards the Jewish state which eventually emerged, Israel receiving a below average mean score (on a feelings thermometer scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being very warm and favourable) of 3.82 and Israelis one of 4.13. The saving grace for the Israeli cause is that mean scores for some of Israel’s neighbours in the Middle East conflict are even lower, especially those for Hamas and Hezbollah, while Islamic State (IS) comes rock bottom, feelings towards it being very cold and unfavourable. Also on the brighter side, a plurality regards Israel as an important ally (49%) and post-Brexit trading partner (37%) of Britain. A majority (51%) does not believe that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic; however, 46% agree it is anti-Semitic to express hatred of Israel and question its right to exist. Both sets of data tables are accessible at:

Islamic State

YouGov has recently run three questions in three separate surveys touching on Islamic State (IS). In an app-based poll reported on 24 October 2017, respondents were asked whether they agreed with the assessment of a Foreign Office minister that the only way of dealing with Britons who had joined IS was, in almost every case, to kill them. A majority of respondents (53%) supported the minister’s views, 35% opposed them, and 12% were unsure. Topline results only have been posted online at:

Another app-based poll, reported on 25 October 2017, enquired whether people should be given the name ‘Jihad’, as one family in the French city of Toulouse had done for their baby (and been challenged by the authorities). The term ‘jihad’ is usually now associated with violent Islamist extremism, although in the original Arabic it can simply mean self-denial or an individual battle against sin. Two-thirds (65%) of adults thought Jihad should not be allowed as a personal name, while 21% were relaxed about it being so, and 13% were undecided. Topline results only are at:

A third app-based poll, conducted on 25 October 2017 with 3,398 adults, asked whether it was appropriate to prosecute, on their return, Britons who had gone out to the Middle East to fight against IS. A plurality (48%) deemed it inappropriate, with 22% favouring prosecution and 30% uncertain. Results, with breaks by standard demographics, are at:

Anti-Semitic remarks

Labour politician and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone continues to be haunted by his 2005 indiscretion in likening a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard, compounded by his subsequent unwillingness to apologize for the comment. The affair resurfaced in a recent online poll by YouGov among 1,526 Britons on 26-27 October 2017, conducted in the wake of revelations about Jared O’Mara’s controversial statements about several groups prior to his election as a Labour MP. YouGov reminded its respondents of sundry politically incorrect incidents involving senior politicians in the past, one of which was the Livingstone outburst (albeit he was not actually named in the question). In two half-samples, 95% and 94% described the analogy with a concentration camp guard as inappropriate, with 63% and 55%, respectively, thinking the matter serious enough to warrant the politician’s resignation. Full data tables are available at:


Churches Together in England

A mixture of qualitative and quantitative research underpinned an external review of Churches Together in England, undertaken by Theos between September 2016 and June 2017, including evidence derived from 63 interviews and 44 questionnaires. It is reported in Natan Mladin, Rachel Fidler, and Ben Ryan, That They All May Be One: Insights into Churches Together in England and Contemporary Ecumenism (London: Theos, 2017, 61pp., ISBN: 978-0-9956543-1-0), which is freely available at:

What is mission?

During the summer of 2017 the Church Mission Society (CMS) conducted a survey about attitudes to mission among a self-selecting sample of British Christians attending Christian events or by means of a questionnaire on its website. Some 2,000 responses have been received to date (the survey is still open, at the time of writing). An article about the initial results appeared in Church of England Newspaper, 20 October 2017, p. 9 with a shorter digest available on the CMS website at:

Church of England mission statistics

The Church of England’s 51-page report on Statistics for Mission, 2016 has a rather familiar ring to it. The long-term and gradual decline in the Church’s constituency continues across a broad range of performance indicators, with few redeeming signs of even absolute (still less relative) growth. The figures for all-age Average Sunday Attendance and Usual Sunday Attendance (the most long-running churchgoing index) always attract a disproportionate amount of interest, both in the Church itself and among the media; in 2016, they fell to, respectively, 780,000 and 739,000 persons. The worshipping community, representing those who come to church once a month or more, numbered 1,139,000 (equivalent to a miniscule 2% of the population), one-fifth of whom were aged under 18. Christmas attendance reached 2,580,000, slightly up on 2015, an improvement which doubtless reflects the fact that Christmas Day fell on a Sunday in 2016 (a coincidence which always boosts congregations). The most striking feature of recent Anglican decline, however, is less to do with churchgoing than participation in the rites of passage, with Church of England infant baptisms in 2016 equating to just 10% of live births and funerals to 28% of deaths. The report, which includes a special one-off section on visitors to churches, is available at:

Church of England parish finances

An 18-page report on Parish Finance Statistics, 2015 has also been published by Church of England Research and Statistics. This reveals that between 2006 and 2015 the income of parishes increased by 24% and expenditure by 23%. Except for 2009-11, income exceeded expenditure each year, with a surplus of £54.4 million in 2015. Planned giving remains the main source of income but it has declined in real terms during recent years. The report is available at:

Church of England digital impact

On a more upbeat note, the Church of England has announced that it is steadily building capacity in cyberspace through its three-year digital transformation project (funded by the broader Renewal and Reform Programme). It claims that each month 1.2 million individuals are being reached on social media and 1.5 million via the Church’s various websites. The Church’s #JoyToTheWorld Christmas campaign in 2016 reached 1.5 million people and its #LiveLent campaign in 2017 2.5 million. These and other headline statistics can be found at:

West Midlands Anglicans

The Saint Peter’s Saltley Trust and Church Urban Fund have collaborated to fund a project and produce a 24-page report on Christians in Practice: Connecting Discipleship and Community Engagement (Saltley Faith & Learning Series, 3), with Simon Foster as lead author. It stems from research undertaken in the Church of England Dioceses of Birmingham and Lichfield, principally through questionnaires completed by 1,082 worshippers in a stratified random sample of 32 Anglican congregations, supplemented by 30 interviews in six churches. Allowing for constraints of time and health, a high level of personal involvement with the community was revealed, both short-term and long-term, formal and informal, past and present, and church-based or not. Respondents also mostly identified a broad connection between their community activities and their faith and felt the latter had been enriched by the former, albeit sharing faith with the community posed challenges to some. The report is at:

Welsh Nonconformity

The present state and missional approaches of evangelical Welsh Nonconformist churches (Baptist, Paedobaptist, Pentecostal, Conservative Evangelical, and New Church/Charismatic) are reviewed by David Ollerton in his A New Mission to Wales: Seeing Churches Prosper across Wales in the Twenty-First Century (Pwllheli: Cyhoeddiadau’r Gair, 2016, 278pp., ISBN: 9781859948187, paperback, £9.99). The data principally derive from a survey undertaken by Waleswide in 2012-15, particularly from questionnaires fully (283) or partially (103) completed in 2012 by 386 of the 588 Nonconformist ministers who were invited to take part. It is suggested that respondents probably came disproportionately from growing congregations. Factoring in that churches without ministerial oversight, as well as churches of other denominations, were not contacted, the questionnaires perhaps paint an over-optimistic picture of the condition of organized Christianity in Wales. They were supplemented by direct interviews (in 2013-14) and regional soundings (in 2015). The analysis in the text and the appendix of charts focuses on the differential effectiveness of six alternative approaches to mission, as revealed by the questionnaires and interviews and in the light of the religious, geographical, ethnic, linguistic/cultural, social, and political contexts of Wales. The research is more fully reported in Ollerton’s ‘Mission in a Welsh Context: Patterns of Nonconformist Mission in Wales and the Challenge of Contextualisation in the Twenty First Century’ (PhD thesis, University of Chester, 2015), which can be freely downloaded from:

Methodist decline

The Methodist Church Statistics for Mission Triennial Report, 2017, presented to the annual Methodist Conference (and featured in the June 2017 edition of Counting Religion in Britain), revealed a picture of ongoing net decline across a range of performance measures. The October meeting of the Methodist Council has now received: (a) the responses to the report made by District discussion groups at the Conference; and (b) a paper offering some corporate reflections on the responses. Districts were asked a series of questions arising from the statistics, including the perceived strengths and challenges of their own District, observations on the figures for another District, and suggestions for a way forward. The two papers can be found at:


Hate crimes

Police forces in England and Wales recorded 5,949 religious hate crimes in 2016/17, 35% more than in 2015/16 and about four times the number in 2011/12 and 2012/13. The increase in 2016/17 was particularly associated with the outcome of the June 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union and the March 2017 terror attack on Westminster Bridge. A report and data tables on the statistics of all forms of hate crime for 2016/17 can be found at:



In his latest book, Secular Beats Spiritual: The Westernization of the Easternization of the West (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, xiii + 199pp., ISBN: 978-0-19-880568-7, hardback, £25), the prolific sociologist of religion Steve Bruce reasserts the secularization thesis through a critique of those who argue that religion has not really declined, it has simply changed in nature and form. His title is ‘a slightly tongue-in-cheek reference’ to Colin Campbell’s 2007 work The Easternization of the West. Bruce investigates, with special reference to Britain, the ‘popularity’ of the New Religious Movements and the New Age cultic milieu which have emerged since the late 1960s. He concludes that their appeal to indigenous populations has been numerically limited and nowhere near enough to fill the void left by the decline in conventional religions, notably Christianity. Moreover, the most enduring innovations have been the least ‘religious’ ones or survived only by becoming more ‘this-worldly’, while the influence of eastern religions and eastern religious themes has been significantly altered in a secular direction. Statistics are drawn upon, where available, and there is a 33-page chapter devoted to the issue of ‘counting the spiritual’, which estimates that less than 1% of people practice ‘novel expressions of religious or spiritual interest’. The book’s webpage is at:

Religion in public life

A new report by Grace Davie, Religion in Public Life: Levelling the Ground (London: Theos, 2017, 96pp., ISBN: 978-0-9956543-2-7), is based upon her Edward Cadbury Lectures delivered in the University of Birmingham in 2016. It examines the role of religion in public life from the perspective of three levels: local (comprising case studies of Exeter and the South-West, the author’s home, and London), national (focusing on the debates surrounding the Church of England’s report on Faith in the City and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses), and global (deriving from Davie’s participation in the International Panel on Social Progress). A conclusion pulls together the cross-cutting themes which run through the report. Use of statistical evidence is relatively light, perhaps appropriately for an essay which is primarily conceived as a contribution to an ongoing conversation in the public square, and is at its strongest in the chapter on London. The report is available at:

Religious none

In the published version of her 2016 Paul Hanly Furfey Lecture, Linda Woodhead summarizes her YouGov-based research into the swift rise and demographic profile of religious nones in Britain and also makes what she describes as her ‘first serious attempt to explain this profound cultural transition’. She stresses that ‘no religion’ has an ambiguous status as at once like and unlike religion, religious nones largely rejecting the dogmatism of religion rather than religion tout court. She identifies the central commitment of ‘no religion’ as ‘each and every human being should be free to decide how best to live his or her own life even if it involves bad choices’. Democratization, cultural and religious diversity, and marketization and consumerization are among the social changes Woodhead believes help account for the growth of no religion. Access options to ‘The Rise of “No Religion”: Towards an Explanation’, Sociology of Religion, Vol. 78, No. 3, Autumn 2017, pp. 247-62 are outlined at:

Proximity effect of cathedrals

The presence of an Anglican or Catholic cathedral or cathedral-like parish or abbey church in an area seems to heighten the chance of individuals living in the vicinity self-identifying as Christian, after social demography is controlled for. So suggest Andrew Village and Judith Muskett in their analysis of religious affiliation data in the 2011 population census for 6,712 English wards situated within 30 km of 105 cathedrals or greater churches: ‘Flagships in a Sea of Unbelief? Christian Affiliation around Big Church Buildings in England’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 32, No. 3, October 2017, pp. 479-93. However, the proximity effect was small, in the order of 1%, and the findings are open to several different interpretations. It is also conceded that census data constitute a ‘rather blunt instrument’ for measuring proximity effect. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Religious experience

The predisposition of certain psychological types to undergo and admit to religious experience is validated in a recent article by Leslie Francis and Andrew Village: ‘Psychological Type and Reported Religious Experience: An Empirical Enquiry among Anglican Clergy and Laity’, Mental Health, Religion, and Culture, Vol. 20, No. 4, 2017, pp. 367-83. Using data from a self-selecting sample of 4,421 practising Anglicans (disproportionately Anglo-Catholic or Broad Church) who responded to an online and postal questionnaire promoted in the Church Times in 2013, the authors revealed the perceiving process to be fundamental to individual differences in openness to religious experiences, which were more likely to be reported by intuitive types than sensing types. Their single-item measure of religious experience, rooted in a sociological tradition, thus accorded with previous research based on multi-item scales, and rooted in the psychological tradition. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Scotland’s Muslims

In Scotland’s Muslims: Society, Politics, and Identity (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017, 304pp., ISBN: 9781474427234, hardback, £80), editor Peter Hopkins brings together a team of leading and emerging scholars from a range of disciplines who have undertaken research with Muslims in Scotland over the last decade. After his own introduction, there are twelve thematic chapters exploring, by means of quantitative and qualitative evidence, Muslim health, education, political participation, gender and migration, sexuality, young people, generational relations, heritage, multiculturalism, media, representation, and integration. The book’s webpage is at:

Youth and the Churches

In Young People and Church since 1900: Engagement and Exclusion (London: Routledge, 2018, ix + 196pp., ISBN: 978-1-4724-8978-4, hardback, £105), Naomi Thompson charts the transition from Sunday schools to Christian youth work in twentieth-century England, with particular reference to the history of the Birmingham Sunday School Union, and with a focus on three time periods: 1900-10, 1955-72, and the present day. This is a mixed methods work, which draws upon interviews, both oral history and contemporary. There is also a certain amount of statistical content, mainly extracted from the annual reports of the National Sunday School Union between 1898 and 1972, which is displayed in the form of graphs and tables. The webpage for the book (which is already available, notwithstanding the imprint year) is at:

First World War

The outbreak of the First World War seems to have led to a surge in the number of sermons preached from Old Testament texts, as ministers turned to the prophets and the history of Israel for inspiration and comfort in Britain’s own hour of danger and need. This is suggested by an analysis of the texts of contemporary sermons published in Christian World Pulpit over 60 years, tabulated on p. 71 of Stuart Bell’s Faith in Conflict: The Impact of the Great War on the Faith of the People of Britain (Solihull: Helion & Company, 2017, 240pp., ISBN: 978-1-911512-67-7, hardback, £25). Between July 1913 and June 1914, 36% of sermons took an Old Testament text, but the proportion rose to 47% in July-December 1914 before falling away throughout the war, standing at 29% in 1918 and 26% in January-June 1919. It climbed again, to 36%, during a challenging period in the Second World War, from July 1940 to June 1941. Otherwise, the book is relatively short on statistical content.


David John Bartholomew (1931-2017)

Emeritus Professor David Bartholomew, the eminent statistician, died at his home on 16 October 2017, aged 86 years. Educated at Bedford Modern School and University College London, he held academic appointments at, successively, the University of Keele, Aberystwyth University, the University of Kent, and the London School of Economics. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1987 and was President of the Royal Statistical Society in 1993-95. An active Methodist (including as a local preacher for over 60 years), Professor Bartholomew was periodically engaged by the Methodist Church to prepare forecasts and analyses of ordained and lay ministry and membership. Among his extensive portfolio of publications were three books blending statistical theory with theology: God of Chance (SCM Press, 1984), Uncertain Belief: Is it Rational to be a Christian? (Clarendon Press, 1996), and God, Chance and Purpose (Cambridge University Press, 2008). A complete list of his writings is available at:

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


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Religion and the British Social Attitudes 2016 Survey

The British Social Attitudes (BSA) 2016 survey dataset has been released via the UKDS. This post updates the long-term religious data available from the BSA surveys.

Figure 1 charts the data on affiliation for the period 1983-2016. Key features include the long-term decline in the proportion identifying as Anglican (which stood at 40% in 1983 and had declined to 15% in 2016), increased identification with non-Christian faiths over recent decades (3% in 1983, 6% in 2016), broad stability in levels of Catholic affiliation (10% in 1983, 9% in 2016), and the increase in the proportion with no affiliation (32% in 1983 and 53% in 2016). The proportion of other Christians has also increased over time, from 15% in 1983 to 17% in 2016. However, the composition of this group has shifted. The proportion identifying as non-denominational Christians has risen over time, with a decreasing share professing a denominational affiliation – in particular, with the Nonconformist churches.

Figure 1: Religious affiliation in Britain, 1983-2016

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


Figure 2 shows levels of religious attendance between 1983 and 2016. Attendance has been divided into three categories: attending once a month or more often (or frequent attendance); attending less often (infrequent attendance); not attending. The proportion reporting that they never attend religious services (beyond going for the traditional rites of passage – baptisms, marriages and funerals) increased from 56% in 1983 to 66% in 2016. There has been some decline in the levels of frequent and infrequent attending: attending once a month or more fell from 21% in 1983 to 18% in 2016. The proportion attending on an infrequent basis declined from 23% in 1983 to 16% in 2016.


Figure 2: Religious Attendance in Britain, 1983-2016

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


Looking at patterns of attendance in more detail, Figure 3 charts, over time, the proportions of Anglicans, Catholics and other Christians attending church on a frequent basis. Clearly, Catholics and other Christian have consistently reported higher levels of regular churchgoing compared to Anglicans. In 1983, 55% of Catholics and 47% of other Christian reported attending church frequently. In 2016, the proportions had fallen to 43% of Catholics and 38% of other Christians. Anglicans actually show something of an increase in regular attendance, based on the full duration of the BSA data. It stood at 18% in 1983 and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, increased to 24% in 2016 (the highest proportion recorded by the BSA), having previously stood at 18% in both 2014 and 2015. Overall, though, those belonging to non-Christian religions show the highest level of regular attendance at services. In nearly all recent surveys, a majority of this group has reported attending on a frequent basis (51% in 2016).


Figure 3: Regular attendance at religious services by Christian tradition, 1983-2016

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


Table 1 provides a summary of religious data from the BSA surveys. The data on religion of upbringing show that the proportion saying they were raised within the Church of England has fallen from 55% in 1991 (when the question was first asked) to 28% in 2016. The proportion saying they were raised within a Catholic household was 14% in both years. The proportion raised within some other Christian tradition increased from 22% to 27%. The proportion raised within a non-Christian religion stood at 3% in 1991 and 6% in 2016. The proportion without a religious upbringing was 6% in 1991 and 25% in 2016.


Table 1: Summary of religion indicators

Affiliation 1983 (%) 2016 (%)
Church of England 40 15
Roman Catholic 10 9
Other Christian 15 17
Other religion 3 6
No religious affiliation 32 53
Religion of upbringing 1991 (%) 2016 (%)
Church of England 55 28
Roman Catholic 14 14
Other Christian 22 27
Other religion 3 6
No religion 6 25
Attendance 1983 (%) 2016 (%)
Once a month or more often 21 18
Less often than once a month 23 16
Never attends 56 66

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA 1983, 1991 and 2016 surveys.


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Counting Religion in Britain, September 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 24, September 2017 features 26 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 24 September 2017


Harmfulness of religion

More than twice as many Britons (68%) feel the world has been damaged by religion as say it has benefited from it (30%), according to a Populus poll for the Legatum Institute think-tank, for which 2,004 adults were interviewed online on 4-6 August 2017. Respondents were shown a list of eight social, cultural, and economic trends and asked to rate their impact on a scale running from minus 100 (denoting severe damage) to plus 100 (great benefit), religion receiving the lowest mean score of all (even worse than immigration). The proportion with a negative view of religion peaked at 79% among UKIP voters. Full data tables are available at:

Saliency of religion

Asked to choose three of twenty facets of life which were of greatest importance to them ‘right now’, only 5% of a sample of 1,003 UK young adults aged 16-22 (Generation Z) selected religion, their top priorities being family (44%), education (32%), money (29%), and friends or boyfriend/girlfriend/partner (25% each). Religion was of most significance to Londoners (10%) and black and minority ethnic young persons (19%, six times the figure for white people). The survey was conducted online by Ipsos MORI for BBC’s Newsbeat programme between 24 August and 4 September 2017. For comparative purposes, a sample of adults aged 23-65 (Generation Y, Generation X, and Baby Boomers) was invited to speculate what they thought the immediate concerns of Generation Z were. Data tables are available at:

Airbrushing religious symbols

German supermarket chain Lidl has incurred some negative publicity recently with the discovery that, throughout Europe, it has airbrushed out the Christian cross at the top of the blue dome of the Anastasi Church on the island of Santorini, images of which feature on its Greek food range, in order to remain ‘religiously neutral’. Three-quarters of Britons interviewed by YouGov in an app-based poll released on 7 September 2017 disapproved of Lidl’s action, with only 13% endorsing it and 12% undecided. Topline results are available at:


The eleventh (2017) edition of SunLife’s Cost of Dying Report contains a range of information about funerals, mostly based upon two UK-wide surveys undertaken by Critical Research in May 2017 among (a) 1,524 adults who were responsible for planning a funeral and administering an estate during the past four years (online interviews) and (b) 100 funeral directors (by telephone). One-quarter of funerals now involve burials and three-quarters cremations, with an increasing number of the latter (10% according to the funeral directors) being direct cremations, generally involving no funeral service whatsoever (albeit a small minority have some sort of post-cremation service). Two-thirds of the funeral directors returned a decrease in religious funerals, one-half of funerals also featuring modern songs, music, or anthems. Just 11% of those who had organized a funeral for a loved-one described the tone of the service as ‘religious’ and no more than 36% even knew whether the deceased would have preferred a religious or non-religious service. The report is at:

Online radicalization

Attitudes to extremist content online and the regulation of the internet more generally have been thoroughly investigated in an online poll by ICM Unlimited among 2,051 adult Britons on 14-18 July 2017, on behalf of Policy Exchange. Results for all questions were disaggregated by religious affiliation, albeit only the sub-samples of professing Christians and religious nones were large enough to yield statistically robust breaks. On many issues, the latter tended to adopt more liberal positions than the former, although this was probably largely a function of their different age profiles. Additionally, a couple of questions were posed which specifically focused on religion. The first asked whether extremist or hate speech at places of worship influenced people to commit terrorist acts; 63% thought it did so a lot, 25% a little, and only 3% not at all. The second question enquired whether it was acceptable in certain situations to publish online content that encourages violence against religious groups; just 13% agreed overall (but including 31% of under-25s and 45% of the 50 Muslims interviewed) while 72% disagreed and 12% were neutral. Data tables can be found at:

Workplace discrimination

The experience during the past five years of specific types of work-related discrimination or disadvantage by 1,003 black and minority ethnic (BME) workers in Britain was measured in an online poll by ICM Unlimited for the Trades Union Congress in January 2017. Breaks for several questions were given by religious affiliation, including for statistically viable sub-samples of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and religious nones. Race/ethnicity or gender were more likely than religion/belief to be cited as the perceived cause of cases of harassment, verbal abuse, physical violence, or unfair treatment. Prejudice against wearing visible markers of religious identity was reported as having increased since the vote in 2016 on the UK’s membership of the European Union, 23% of BME respondents having experienced or witnessed it post-Brexit. Data tables are available at:

Trust in professions

Three-fifths of 2,612 secondary school pupils aged 11-16 in England and Wales trust clergy and priests to tell the truth, and just 14% distrust them, according to the 2017 Ipsos MORI Young People Omnibus, undertaken by self-completion questionnaire between 6 February and 17 May. With a net trust figure of +46%, clergy and priests were ranked fifth of eighteen professional groups for trustworthiness, after doctors (+83%), the police (+71%), judges (+64%), and scientists (+53%). This was about the same net trust figure for clergy and priests as in the 2016 Ipsos MORI Veracity Index for British adults (+43%), albeit the latter expressed both higher levels of trust (69%) and distrust (26%) for clergy and priests to tell the truth, mainly because there were fewer don’t knows than in the school pupil sample. Data tables for the Young People Omnibus are available at:

Viewing the Arab world

The Arab News has published a series of articles on British attitudes to the Arab world, derived from a YouGov poll which it commissioned in partnership with the Council for Arab-British Understanding, for which 2,142 adults were interviewed online on 16-17 August 2017. The full report and data tables have yet to be released, but the articles reveal a few findings which will be of interest to BRIN readers. Although 72% of respondents acknowledged that anti-Muslim hatred is a growing problem in the UK, 55% supported racial profiling of Arabs/Muslims for security reasons (with 24% disapproving). The majority (53%) endorsed the UK’s continued military operations against Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, with 29% opposed and 19% neutral. On the Israel-Palestine question, 53% agreed that the UK should recognize Palestine as a state, and only 32% regarded the Balfour Declaration of 1917 (in favour of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine) as something to be proud of (albeit a plurality of 41% was undecided). At the same time, most (55%) did not feel the UK should take responsibility for sorting out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Arab News coverage can be found at:


Mapping Christians

ComRes has completed a so-called ‘mapping’ study for the Church of England’s Evangelism Task Force, interviewing 8,150 adult Britons online between 17 and 31 March 2017, and identifying that 50% professed to be Christians, 7% non-Christians, and 42% religious nones (peaking at 57% of 18-24s). Christians (n = 4,190, 56% of them Anglican) and former Christians (n = 84) were then asked a series of questions to measure their commitment to the faith. Among Christians, just 28% regarded themselves as ‘an active Christian who follows Jesus’, 63% not, with 9% unsure. More specifically, 40% of Christians claimed to pray at least monthly and 29% never; 19% to attend church at least monthly and 33% never; and 18% to read or listen to the Bible at least monthly and 55% never. Across the whole sample, 6% of adults were categorized by ComRes as ‘practising Christians’, defined as people who satisfied the triple test of reading the Bible and praying at least weekly and attending church at least monthly. Almost certainly, these claims to religious practice were overstated by respondents. Full data tables, extending to 155 pages, can be found at:

Food poverty

The Church Urban Fund has recently released the results of an online poll about food poverty, which it commissioned ComRes to undertake among a sample of 2,048 adult Britons on 4-5 January 2017. The survey covered the incidence of particular financial and food anxieties and deprivations during the previous twelve months, which were generally found to be higher among non-Christians than for Christians or religious nones. Data tables are available at:

Church of England ministry statistics

The Church of England has released the latest annual reports on the number of its clergy and ordinands. The 25-page Ministry Statistics, 2016 shows a total of 19,550 active ordained ministers, 2% fewer than in 2015, 29% of whom are women and 40% stipendiary. The single-slide report on ordinands records 544 entering training in 2017, the highest figure for ten years; this represents an overall increase of 14% on 2015 but 19% more women and 39% more young ordinands. The documents can be accessed via links in the press release at:

Living Ministry

The Church of England’s Ministry Division has published the first results from its Living Ministry project: Liz Graveling and Olga Cara, Mapping the Wellbeing of Church of England Clergy and Ordinands: Panel Survey Wave 1 Report. The project is a longitudinal panel study involving a large-scale quantitative online survey every two years among four cohorts of clergy (those ordained deacon in 2006, 2011, and 2015 and those who commenced training in 2016) together with smaller-scale qualitative research. It will run from 2016 to 2026. There were 761 respondents to wave 1, equivalent to 38% of the cohort population. Overall, levels of wellbeing were found to be positive for each domain (financial and material; physical and mental; relationships; and ministerial). Gender was a less significant factor than age in explaining differences. The report is available at:

Coincidentally, King’s Business School at King’s College London has published a summative report on the Experiences of Ministry project, the forerunner of Living Ministry: Mike Clinton and Tim Ling, Effective Ministerial Presence and What It Looks Like in Practice: Insights from the Experiences of Ministry Project, 2011-17. This earlier project captured the views of 6,000 Church of England clergy through a series of national surveys, as well as conducting in-depth interviews and collecting week-long daily diaries. Like Living Ministry, it also addressed clergy wellbeing, revealing that it compared favourably with other occupational groups. A full-length book on the findings of Experiences of Ministry is promised for 2018. Meanwhile, the summative report is available at:

Church in Wales statistics

At its meeting in Lampeter on 14 September 2017, the Church in Wales Governing Body received the annual report on membership and finances for 2016. The overall picture was more negative than positive, with particular decline from 2015 in Easter communicants (down 6%), baptisms (down 8%), and confirmations (down 21%), as well as a fall (for the fifth year in succession) in planned direct giving (the principal source of parochial income). In terms of membership indicators, growth was confined to Christmas communicants (up 2%), average under-18 worship attendance (up 3%), and average over-18 weekday attendance (up 5%). Congregations at ‘additional services’ also rose (by 4%). There was a continuing surplus of income over expenditure, notwithstanding increased outlay in 2016 as new projects were started, which was said to reflect growing confidence at the grass roots. In the Governing Body’s debate on the report, Revd Richard Wood of Bangor observed his plea in 2016 for the Church to cut out its dead wood had been met with ‘a stony silence’, and he urged it to ‘stop giving time, effort, energy, and money to that which has failed’. The report is available at:

Faith schools

The Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC), which wants all state-funded schools in England and Wales to be open to all children regardless of religion or belief, has updated its digest of research about faith schools and religious selection of pupils. Sources date from 2001 to the present and are arranged in reverse chronological order. They comprise a mixture of official reports, academic studies, investigations by faith bodies, and opinion polls. The digest is preceded by an overview (pp. 2-9) from FAC, which concludes: ‘religious selection is not popular. High-performing schools are popular. And the socio-economic selection brought about by religious selection often leads religiously selective schools to be high-performing schools.’ The 100-page document can be accessed at:

Religious education

The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE), the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC), and RE Today Services have published The State of the Nation: A Report on Religious Education Provision within Secondary Schools in England. It is based on three datasets: an online survey of 790 schools; the Department for Education’s School Workforce Census for 2010-15; and entries for GCSE Religious Studies for 2014-16. The headline-grabbing finding (from the School Workforce Census) is that 28% of schools give no dedicated curriculum time to religious education in Year 11, in contravention of their statutory duties, and affecting 800,000 pupils. Two shorter supplementary reports by NATRE were issued at the same time: GCSE Religious Studies, 2014-2016 and Levels of Provision of Religious Education in Schools where Different Legal Requirements Apply. All three documents can be accessed via the links in the press release at:

The REC has separately published the interim report of the Commission on Religious Education (CORE), entitled Religious Education for All, which offers a comparable overview of provision, drawing upon the written and oral evidence presented to it, including statistics. CORE was initiated by REC but is independent and has recommended that religious education should encompass the teaching of non-religious as well as religious worldviews. Its report can be found at:

Scottish religiosity

An online poll of 1,016 Scottish adults aged 16 and over, conducted by Survation on behalf of the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) between 8 and 12 September 2017, has revealed that just 24% of Scots regard themselves as religious, 72% saying they are not, with 4% declining to answer. This represents a reduction in the number of avowedly religious people in Scotland since 2011, when a study by Progressive/YouGov returned it as 35% (against 56% not religious). Based on this evidence, HSS is questioning the ways in which the population census and other religious surveys are being carried out, arriving at higher figures of Scottish religious adherence. Data tables from the Survation poll can be found at:

Scottish social capital

The contribution of faith communities in Scotland to its national life was celebrated in a debate of a motion tabled by Kate Forbes MSP in the Scottish Parliament on 12 September 2017, commending the achievements of the Serve Scotland coalition of community organizations. The debate was informed by an estimate that voluntary work by Scottish faith groups through social projects produces an economic impact of almost £100 million each year in terms of time and resources. For a transcript of the debate, see:

For a press release from the Evangelical Alliance Scotland summarizing the background data, which derive from the Cinnamon Network, see:


What is claimed to be ‘the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Great Britain’ is reported in Daniel Staetsky, Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain: A Study of Attitudes towards Jews and Israel, published by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR). In partnership with the Community Security Trust, JPR commissioned Ipsos MORI to poll 5,466 Britons aged 16 and over by a combination of face-to-face and online interview between 28 October 2016 and 24 February 2017. The sample included boosts for Muslims, the far-left, and the far-right. Staetsky proposes an ‘elastic view’ of the extent of anti-Semitism in Britain, differentiating the counting of serious anti-Semites on the one hand (who number no more than 5% of the population) from the measurement of the diffusion of anti-Semitic ideas and attitudes (held to some extent by a further 25% of Britons) on the other, the latter not necessarily translating into open dislike of Jews. Hard-core negativity towards Israel was demonstrated by 12% of the population, with an additional 21% exhibiting softer negativity and a total of 56% holding at least one anti-Israel attitude (and 62% at least one anti-Israel and/or one anti-Semitic attitude). As a general rule, anti-Israel sentiments were not found to be anti-Semitic, but the stronger a person’s anti-Israel views, the more likely they were to hold anti-Semitic attitudes. Both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes were substantially higher among Muslims than in society at large. Somewhat counter-intuitively, despite current political discourses, this was not the case for left-wingers with regard to anti-Semitism (although it was for anti-Israelism). The 82-page report, incorporating a 16-page methodological section, is available at:

Jews and home help

Nine-tenths (91%) of 1,028 self-identifying British Jewish adults employ some kind of help around the home, according to a telephone poll by Survation in July 2017 on behalf of World Jewish Relief (WJR). The commonest form of domestic assistance was the cleaner, engaged by 65% of Jews, including 54% who have a cleaner in at least once a week and 20% several times a week. Other widespread types of help during the course of the year were window cleaners (59%), gardeners (51%), and handymen (41%). Least called on were chefs, au pairs, and carers. The majority (57%) of respondents said they would struggle without help in the home, lack of time being the principal reason given, especially by under-35s. Full data tables are not available, but WJR’s press release is at:


Sikh ethnicity and the 2021 census

The Times for 12 September 2017 (p. 19) ran a short news story about a Sikh campaign to secure recognition of ‘Sikh’ as an ethnic, as well as a religious, group at the 2021 census of the UK, noting that 113 MPs had signed a letter to the chief executive of the UK Statistics Authority requesting the change. At the 2011 census, more than 83,000 Sikhs refused to choose one of the listed options in the question on ethnicity, preferring to write in ‘Sikh’ in the space for ‘any other ethnic group’.

The story was followed up in several letters to the editor. On 13 September (p. 28), Malathy Sitaram, a retired schoolteacher from Swindon, wrote to express surprise that some UK Sikhs declined to be recognized as Indians, arguing that Hindu Punjabis and Sikh Punjabis speak the same language and frequently intermarry. In similar vein, on 14 September (p. 32), Randhir Singh Bains wrote from Gants Hill to deny that Sikhs were an ethnic group, as opposed to being Punjabis, and to suggest that the leaders of the campaign to designate Sikhs as such a group were Sikh separatists who wanted to carve a Sikh state out of India. But on 18 September (p. 28), Surinder Singh Bakhshi of Birmingham reminded the readers of The Times of Lord Templeton’s judgement in the House of Lords in the case of Mandla v. Dowell Lee in 1983, that Sikhs were an ethnic group and, indeed, almost a nation.

In the background, the Office for National Statistics ran a census test in Hounslow and Wolverhampton in 2017 on Sikhs as an ethnic group, the interim report on which suggested: ‘There is no indication from the findings that the religious affiliation and ethnic group questions are capturing different Sikh populations. All respondents who stated they were ethnically Sikh also stated their religious affiliation was Sikh.’ The report is available at:

Religious slaughter

The number of animals killed without pre-stunning has risen sharply since 2013, when European Union and UK legislation allowing an exemption from humane slaughter on religious grounds (to meet the requirements of Jews and Muslims) came into force. This is according to an analysis by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) of the Food Standards Agency’s report on animal welfare for the quarter April-June 2017, which revealed that 18% of poultry and 24% of sheep and goats are now slaughtered without pre-stunning. The BVA’s press release, including a link to the Agency’s report, is at:


Science and religion (1)

New data on public attitudes to evolution in the UK and Canada were released by the Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum project at the 2017 British Science Festival in Brighton. The UK fieldwork was conducted online by YouGov on behalf of Newman University among 2,129 adults aged 16 and over between 12 May and 6 June 2017.

The majority (71%) of all UK respondents, and even 62% of those identifying as religious or spiritual, accepted evolutionary (natural selection) or theistic (divinely guided) evolutionary accounts of the origin of species, including humans. Only 9% of the whole sample, and 16% of religious or spiritual, selected the creationist statement that ‘humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current form’. Similarly, just 12% in the UK found it difficult to accept evolutionary science in relation to their personal beliefs, and no more than 19% of the religious or spiritual. Paradoxically, though, a bigger proportion (28%) in the UK agreed with the proposition that ‘animals evolve over time but evolutionary science cannot explain the origin of human beings’, suggesting a degree of confusion on the subject in some minds.

Various other facets of religion were illuminated by the study. Approximately half the UK interviewees were not religiously disposed: 52% professed to be neither religious nor spiritual (atheist, non-religious, agnostic, and freethinker being the commonest self-descriptions, in that order of priority); 50% expressed no real interest in religion or spirituality; and for 54% religion did not play an important part in shaping their identity and worldview. When it came to experts, theologians were perceived as reliable by 38% of the entire population and 49% of the religious or spiritual; they actually ranked bottom out of 15 professions in terms of reliability and were well beaten by evolutionary scientists (72%). A press release, with links to a (rather ‘busy’) summary report and full data tables, can be found at:

Science and religion (2)

The interaction between science and religion was further illuminated in another multinational survey by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Scientific and Medical Network, and funded by the Salvia Foundation. Online interviews were conducted in November-December 2016 with samples of 1,000 science, engineering, medical, or technical research professionals in each of three countries – France, Germany, and the UK. In the UK, 45% of respondents were categorized as religious or spiritual, comprising 13% practising religious, 18% non-practising religious, and 14% self-describing as spiritual but not belonging to a religion; an equivalent number (46%) were atheist or agnostic. The proportion for whom religion or spirituality was important to the way they led their lives was smaller (35%) than the total of professing religious or spiritual, 14% saying very important and 21% fairly important. Religious observance was relatively low, attendance at religious services at least monthly being reported by 13% and prayer at least weekly by 17%. Asked about the relationship between science and religion, 44% of UK scientists thought the two fields were independent and could not be compared; 21% saw science and religion as complementary; and 25% viewed them as mutually exclusive, contradicting each other. The pattern of replies for the relationship between science and spirituality was not dissimilar, albeit the figure for mutually exclusive dropped to 16%. Partial data tables (with breaks within country by gender, age, marital status, and highest educational qualification) are available at:

British religion and the Second World War

Mass Observation, the independent social research organization established in 1937 to investigate the anthropology of everyday life in Britain, consciously set out to create an archive of life on the home front during the Second World War. Religion was not neglected, and its outputs in this area have been surveyed in a recent presentation by Clive Field: ‘British Religion and the Second World War: An Audit of Sources in the Mass Observation Archive’. Although best known for its qualitative and ethnographic research methods, Mass Observation did also deploy statistical techniques, especially to analyse replies from its self-selecting and demographically unrepresentative national panel of observers and from direct and indirect interviews with samples of the general population. The presentation is available at:


SN 8244: Annual Population Survey Three-Year Pooled Dataset, January 2014-December 2016

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 three-year merged dataset for 2014-16 is based on 543,298 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:

SN 8252: British Social Attitudes Survey, 2016

The British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, 2016 was conducted between July and November of that year by NatCen Social Research on behalf of a consortium of Government departments and charitable funders. There were 2,942 respondents, who were interviewed face-to-face and by self-completion questionnaire. The standard background questions about religious affiliation (current and by upbringing) and attendance at religious services were included, which can be used as variables to analyse replies to all elements of the main questionnaire (covering politics, welfare, health, education, transport, official statistics, employment, trade unions, and retirement and pensions). An analysis by religion of the replies to the morality-related questions inserted by NatCen (especially attitudes to voluntary euthanasia, abortion, and capital punishment) is likely to prove rewarding. The only other specifically religious content will be found in the self-completion questionnaires for sub-samples A and C, which were asked about the influence of religious organizations and other bodies on government actions and their role in the provision of public services. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

Just before the release of this dataset at UKDA, NatCen published a press release about the religious affiliation question, showing that a record number of Britons (53%) professed to belong to no religion in 2016, rising to 71% among 18-24-year-olds (contrasting with just 27% of over-75s). The decline in religious affiliation has been relentless since BSA began in 1983, the Church of England having been particularly badly affected, with the Anglican market share now reduced to 15%, half the number in 2000. The press release, with a link to trend data tables, can be found at:

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, August 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 23, August 2017 features 27 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 23 August 2017


Personal values

Asked to select their three most important personal values from a list of twelve options, just 4% of UK citizens chose religion, bottom equal with self-fulfilment, and two points below the European Union (EU) average. The most highly favoured personal values in the UK were respect for human life (48%), peace (43%), and human rights (42%). Data derived from Wave 87.3 of Standard Eurobarometer, the UK fieldwork for which was undertaken by Kantar Public UK between 20 and 28 May 2017 through 1,365 face-to-face interviews. Questions were also posed about the values (including religion) which best represented the EU and the factors (again including religion) creating a feeling of community among EU citizens. Topline results were published in the annex at:

Religion at work

A director in the National Health Service, sacked for speaking out against adoption by same-sex parents, has claimed that political correctness is preventing Christians from holding public posts. The case prompted YouGov to ask, in an app-based survey reported on 1 August 2017, whether people who let their strong religious beliefs influence their attitudes at work should be allowed to hold high executive positions. The majority of Britons (59%) considered that they should not be permitted to do so, with 29% taking the contrary position and 12% uncertain. Topline data only are available at:

Religion and mental health

Religious nones are more likely to have had personal experience of mental health problems (including anxiety and depression) than people of faith, according to an online poll by Populus among 2,038 Britons on 9-10 November 2016, the results of which have recently been released by Mind, the survey sponsor. The disparity, 39% for nones against 29% for both Christians and non-Christians, is perhaps driven by the younger age profile of nones. By contrast, Christians are disproportionately numerous among the over-65s, a cohort whose declared personal experience of mental health problems falls to 18% nationally. Nones also report an above-average incidence of mental health problems among friends and family. Summary figures are shown below, and the raw data are available in table 68 of the dataset at:

Mental health problems (%)


Christians Non-Christians

No religion

Personal experience of problems


29 29


Friends or family experience of problems


36 42


Any experience of problems


56 56


Archbishop of Canterbury and politics

The Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby), who is a member of the House of Lords, recently said that the chances of finalizing a Brexit deal with the European Union before the target date of March 2019 are ‘infinitesimally small’. His intervention annoyed some MPs who suggested that he should stay out of the discussions. But, in an app-based poll reported by YouGov on 2 August 2017, the British public mostly sprang to the Archbishop’s defence. Just 26% of respondents considered he should speak only about religious issues. Two-thirds defended his right to comment on politics, divided between: 49% who said the Archbishop should speak on behalf of the Anglican communion on all matters relevant to it, including Brexit; 2% who judged he should speak on a wide range of issues but excluding Brexit; and 14% who wanted him to restrict his political forays to the House of Lords. The remaining 9% were unsure. Topline data only are available at:

Bridging the Reformation divide

Five centuries after the Reformation, the Catholic-Protestant divide in Western Europe has faded, according to a new multinational survey by the Pew Research Center. With funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, telephone interviews were conducted by GfK with nationally representative samples of 15 Western European countries between April and August 2017, including in Great Britain (where there were 1,841 respondents, 54% of whom were nominally Protestant and 17% Catholic).

The extent of the Catholic-Protestant divide was measured by a series of attitudinal and religiosity indicators, the British results of which are tabulated below. Interestingly, in something of a theological role reversal, far more British Protestants than Catholics now hold to the traditional Catholic position that both faith and good works are necessary to get into heaven. Martin Luther’s teaching on salvation by faith alone is believed by only one-quarter of the Protestants (and one-third of Catholics). Likewise, whereas the majority of Protestants assess that the two communities are more religiously similar than different, a plurality of Catholics still say the opposite, even though there is not that much to separate them in terms of claimed levels of religious observance. However, such perceived differences do not stand in the way of social integration for, almost universally, members of each community know people from the other and are willing to accept them as family members and neighbours. A detailed report and topline for all the countries surveyed is available at:

A comparable, but more detailed, survey on Catholic-Protestant relations was also undertaken in the United States, the report on which can be found at:

% (Great Britain) Protestants Catholics
Both good deeds and faith in God necessary to get into heaven



Faith in God only thing necessary to get into heaven



Religion very or somewhat important in personal life



Private prayer at least weekly



Churchgoing at least monthly



Know a person of the other religion



Willingness to accept persons of the other religion as family members



Willingness to accept persons of the other religion as neighbours



Catholics and Protestants religiously more similar than different



Catholics and Protestants religiously more different than similar



Pew Global Attitudes Survey

Further findings have been released from the Spring 2017 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Survey. British fieldwork was undertaken by Kantar Public UK between 6 March and 3 April 2017, 1,066 adults aged 18 and over being interviewed by telephone.

Asked whether they endorsed several of US President Donald Trump’s policies, 58% of Britons disapproved of proposed tighter restrictions on those entering the US from some majority-Muslim countries, four points below the global median and two points below the European median. Approval was expressed by 35% (compared with 36% in Europe as a whole and 32% in the world), rising to 52% of Britons on the political right (against 11% on the left). Disapproval in Britain of this particular Trump policy was identical to that of US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear weapons agreement but lower than opposition to US withdrawal from major trade agreements (72%), US withdrawal from international climate change agreements (80%), and building a wall on the US-Mexico border (83%). Topline data are available at:

Presented with a list of eight international threats to the UK, 70% of Britons ranked Islamic State (IS) the greatest major threat, increasing to 79% among over-50s. The next major threats to the UK were seen as cyberattacks from other countries (61%) and global climate change (59%). British concerns about IS were lower than in some other Western democracies, including France (88%), Spain (88%), Italy (85%), Greece (79%), Germany (77%), and United States (74%). They were also nine points less than they had been in Britain a year earlier, although it should be noted that the 2017 fieldwork was conducted before the Islamist attacks in Manchester and London in May and June, respectively, which caused numerous fatalities. Topline data are available at:

Communicating with the dead

A psychic has claimed recently that she has communicated with the late Princess Diana. However, just 10% of Britons think that psychics can genuinely communicate with the dead, according to an app-based poll by YouGov on 7 August 2017, for which 3,207 adults were interviewed. The proportion was higher for women than men and for manual workers than non-manuals, but it was highest of all among UKIP voters (17%). Almost three-quarters of the whole sample disbelieved in the ability of psychics to communicate with the dead, divided between 48% who said the psychics were knowingly lying to people and 25% who felt they really believed what they were doing. The remaining 17% of respondents were undecided. Full results by demographics are available at:


Just over one-quarter of British adults (28%) believe in omens, the highest proportions among women (37%) and UKIP voters (38%). One-half do not believe while 22% are undecided. The full results, which derive from an app-based YouGov survey on 31 August 2017 with 4,294 respondents, are at:


Community role of churches

The social role of churches is largely invisible to the general public, according to an online survey by OnePoll of 4,500 UK adults in February 2017 on behalf of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, which has recently released a few results. Three-quarters of respondents could not name any of the activities which took place inside their local church other than religious services held regularly or at festivals. Residents of North-West England were amongst the least knowledgeable and rural dwellers the most. Prompted with a list of community activities offered by churches around the country, 54% were still unaware of those which their own local church provided, the proportion reaching 65% among over-55s and 83% of 18-25-year-olds. The full data have not been published, but Ecclesiastical’s press release (from which this report has been compiled, together with a few additional details in the Church of England Newspaper, 25 August 2017, p. 1), is available at:

Chaplaincy (1)

Theos think tank has published two local studies of chaplaincy, based on quantitative research (via an online survey) between October 2016 and March 2017. The statistics relate to chaplaincies which could be identified and responded to the survey, so the picture in both cases is unlikely to be complete. Copies of Mapping Chaplaincy in Norfolk: A Report and Mapping Chaplaincy in Cornwall: A Report can be found at, respectively:

Chaplaincy (2)

Meanwhile, Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association) have published a third tranche of results from their online poll by YouGov on 28-29 July 2016, demonstrating (it is suggested) wide public demand for the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network which Humanists UK have just launched. Of the 4,085 adults interviewed, 69% agreed that prisons, hospitals, and universities with chaplains on the establishment should also have a dedicated non-religious pastoral support provider, including 73% of religious nones and 66% of persons of faith. In the event of being unhappy, distressed, or concerned at some point in the future, 42% said they would be likely to avail themselves of the services of a non-religious pastoral support provider, compared with 36% who would consult a chaplain. Nones (73%) were particularly unlikely to want to see a chaplain under such hypothetical circumstances, significantly above the national average of 49%, and they were also far less likely than Christians to have done so in the past. Many Christians (39%) and non-Christians (46%) would not be averse to seeing a non-religious pastoral support worker. In creating its new Network, Humanists UK have consciously decided to avoid using the term humanist chaplain since Britons overwhelmingly (83%) equate chaplaincy with Christianity. A summary of this particular section of the poll’s findings, with a link to the full data tables, is available at:

Gender pay gap

In compliance with Government requirements for all large employers, the Church of England has published details of the gender pay gap among the 452 employees of its National Church Institutions (NCIs). Results were separately reported for the Church Commissioners investment team (where a performance-related pay scheme is in operation) and the rest (the overwhelming majority) of NCI staff. In the case of the latter, there was a 41% disparity of men over women for median salary, reflecting the concentration of women in the lowest quartile pay band (where they represented 74% of the staff, dropping to 36% in the uppermost quartile). The report is available at:

Scottish church census, 2016

Headline findings from the 2016 Scottish church census, the fourth in a series since 1984, were featured in the April 2016 edition of Counting Religion in Britain. A book painting a fuller picture of the results has now been published: Peter Brierley, Growth Amidst Decline: What the 2016 Scottish Church Census Revealed (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2017, 215pp., ISBN: 978-0-9957646-0-6, £9.99, paperback). The ten chapters profile churchgoers in 2016 by age, gender, ethnicity, geography, churchmanship, and other characteristics; and analyse church leadership, midweek attendance, the age of churches, and replies to various sponsored questions on the census form. As befits a project commissioned and overseen by a consortium of Scottish Churches, most chapters end with a section ‘so what does all this say?’ There is also a concluding ‘making sense of all this’, aimed at individual congregations. An appendix briefly considers the methodology of the census and presents additional tables, and even more will be included in the forthcoming 2018 edition of UK Church Statistics, also by Brierley. The webpage of Growth Amidst Decline, with details on ordering a copy, is at:


The August 2017 issue of FutureFirst, the bimonthly bulletin of Brierley Consultancy, contains the usual mix of short and long articles about social and religious statistics. The longer pieces of British religious interest this time cover: a slow-down in Pentecostal church growth; an overview of recent research on parents passing on faith to their children; estimates of Scottish churchgoers by age over time; estimates of religious and secular funerals since 1995; and Christmas attendance in the Church of England. Further details are available from A version of the funeral article also appeared as Brierley’s monthly column in Church of England Newspaper, 25 August 2017, p. 10.

Antisemitism Barometer

The Campaign against Antisemitism (CAA) has published results and analysis from online surveys which were conducted in 2016 and 2017 among samples of Britons and British Jews aged 18 and over. Britons were members of YouGov’s 800,000-strong panel, 1,660 being interviewed on 18-19 August 2016 and 1,614 on 2-3 August 2017. The two Jewish samples were self-selecting, recruited by CAA via Jewish seed organizations and online networks, which were then used to initiate a snowballing process. They thus constituted non-probability convenience samples, with 1,857 respondents between 17 August and 18 September 2016 and 2,025 between 19 July and 8 August 2017. Results were weighted according to the profile of the Jewish population in the 2011 census and the 2013 National Jewish Community Survey. Full details of methodology and data tables are contained in the 110-page Antisemitism Barometer, 2017, which is available at:

Britons were presented with a list of seven anti-Semitic stereotypes and asked which they considered definitely or probably true. Just over one-third (36%) agreed with one or more of the statements in 2017, down from 45% in 2015 and 39% in 2016. On this criterion, the most anti-Semitic groups in 2017 were: Roman Catholics (52%), readers of The Sun or The Star newspapers (47%), over-65s (46%), men (42%), and leave voters in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (42%). No individual stereotype was subscribed to by more than 20% of the whole sample (this being that British Jews chase money more than other British people). Just 12% of interviewees had definitely not met a Jewish person but 34% were unsure whether they had or not.

One-third of the Jews in 2017 claimed to have considered leaving the UK during the previous two years on account of anti-Semitism, 21% disagreed that Jews had a long-term future in the country, and 17% felt unwelcome here. Just over one-third (37%) avoided showing visible signs of their Judaism when outside the home. Almost two-thirds (64%) disagreed that the authorities were doing enough to address and punish anti-Semitism, with 42% having no confidence that, if they reported an anti-Semitic hate crime, it would be prosecuted if there was sufficient evidence. Overwhelmingly (83%), Jews deemed that the Labour Party was too tolerant of anti-Semitism in its midst, although Islamist anti-Semitism (ranked first by 48%) was a rather greater concern than that from the far left (ranked first by 29%).

Coverage of the Antisemitism Barometer, 2017 in the Jewish media was quite brief and muted, and various reservations about the Jewish samples and the CAA’s overall approach to researching anti-Semitism were expressed by sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris in a column in the Jewish Chronicle for 25 August 2017 (p. 8), which can be read at:

A blazing row also erupted between the CAA and Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, after the latter posted a video blog (since taken down) lambasting CAA’s survey of Jews as tantamount to scaremongering. The controversy was covered in the online edition of the Jewish News at:


Religion of prisoners

‘Catholic Inmates Outnumber Anglicans for the First Time’, proclaimed the headline in The Times for 14 August 2017 (p. 22), calling into question, the newspaper’s correspondent argued, the privileged role of the Church of England in the prison service, including its monopoly in holding the post of chaplain-general of the service. Underlying this news report was the latest collation of quarterly Offender Management Statistics, one of whose documents tabulated the religious affiliation of the prison population (85,863 persons) as at 30 June 2017. Headline results (excluding the small number of religion unrecorded) are shown below, but the full spreadsheet, with data disaggregated by gender (albeit not age), can be found via the link at:


% June 2017

% change since June 2016





Roman Catholic












Other Christian




Other non-Christian




Visitor attractions

The 62 places of worship included in VisitEngland’s 2016 survey of major visitor attractions did not have an especially good year. Visitor numbers at them were down by 8% on 2015 levels and by 12% for those charging for admission (perhaps in reaction to an average 18% hike in their ticket prices). This compared with an annual increase of 2% for all visitor attractions in England. The fall was driven by some of the larger places of worship, especially in London, notably Westminster Abbey (-28%), where a 2012 Olympic Games boost had worn off. Outside the capital, sharp reductions in visitors were reported by Leicester Cathedral (-29%), after a spike caused by the reinterment there of the remains of King Richard III, and Guildford Cathedral (-30%). Gross revenue at the places of worship likewise fell by 1% against a rise of 7% for all attractions. Visitor Attraction Trends in England, 2016: Full Report, prepared by BDRC Continental on behalf of VisitEngland, is available at:

Scottish marriages, 2016

Scotland’s Population: The Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends, 2016 includes the number of marriages conducted in Scotland in 2016 by manner of solemnization. Of 29,229 marriages in all, 15,066 (51.5%) were civil ceremonies, 5,260 (18.0%) humanist, 3,675 (12.6%) Church of Scotland, and 1,346 (4.6%) Roman Catholic. For the full list, plus trend data, see Tables 7.05-7.07 at:

Religious Studies GCE A Levels

There were 26,086 entries for GCE A Level Religious Studies (RS) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the June 2017 examinations, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). This represented a decrease of 3.5% on the 2016 total compared with a decrease of 1.0% for all subjects and of 1.7% in the 18-year-old population. The number of RS entries had previously risen steadily since the Millennium, there being only 9,532 in 2001. More than seven in ten candidates for RS in 2017 were female, 16 points more than the mean for all subjects. The proportion of RS examinees securing a pass at A* to C grade was 80.8%, against 77.4% for all subjects, although there were fewer than average RS successes at A*. Additionally, there were 19,027 entries for GCE AS Level RS, 50.6% less than in 2016, AS Levels generally rapidly losing ground in consequence of ongoing reform of the examination system. 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 O Levels

The results for GCSE O Level RS were released by the JCQ the week after the A Level data were published. There were 282,193 entries for the full course GCSE in RS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in June 2017, a decrease of 4.7% on 2016 (and the first fall in a decade) compared with an increase of 3.9% in entries for all subjects. A much smaller proportion of candidates for GCSE O Level 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 O Level RS was 71.3%, five points more than the average across all subjects. The short course in GCSE O Level RS (equivalent to half a GCSE) continued its steep decline, with 23.5% fewer candidates in June 2017 than in June 2016, 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:


Religion and voting

The latest blog by Ben Clements on the BRIN website concerns religious affiliation and party choice at the 2017 British general election. It is based on a cross-sectional analysis of the post-election wave (number 13) of the British Election Study (BES) Internet Panel, 2014-18, online fieldwork for which was conducted by YouGov between 9 and 23 June 2017. There was a wide variation in support for the two main political parties among the principal religious groups. For example, the Conservative Party secured the votes of 63% of Jews, 58% of Anglicans, 40% of Catholics, and just 11% of Muslims. The blog, which also includes trend data from previous BES surveys, is at:

In a separate exercise, on behalf of Clive Field (who is preparing a lecture and article on the electoral behaviour of British Methodists between 1832 and 2017), Clements has tabulated the self-reported voting of professing Methodists at the last four general elections, again using the BES Internet Panel. These statistics are shown below:

% down


2010 2015




40 39




31 33


Liberal Democrat


21 13




8 15


By way of footnote to this item, we should flag James Tilley’s ‘We Don’t Do God? Religion and Vote Choice in Britain’ in More Sex, Lies & the Ballot Box: Another 50 Things You Need to Know about Elections, edited by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford (London: Biteback Publishing, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-78590-090-7), pp. 25-9. Using British Social Attitudes Survey data for 1983-2014, Tilley contends that religion is still a good predictor of vote choices, even after controlling for demographic factors and value scales. The denominational patterns which he has detected (Anglicans predisposed to the Conservatives, Catholics to Labour, and so forth) mirror those found in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, electoral preferences being transmitted from one generation to the next. This brief chapter is distilled from a longer article by Tilley in the British Journal of Political Science in 2015, which has already been covered by BRIN.    

Human rights and equality laws

In Politics, Religion, and Ideology, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2017, pp. 73-88, Kingsley Purdam, Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Nazila Ghanea, and Paul Weller continue their reporting of research into religious discrimination based on the replies of 499 religious organizations to a postal and online questionnaire in 2010-11: ‘Religious Organizations and the Impact of Human Rights and Equality Laws in England and Wales’. The core of the article comprises five tables which quantify responses from the larger faith traditions regarding: the perceived helpfulness of equality legislation and policies in reducing unfair treatment of religious people, facilitating the working of religious organizations, and advancing participation of religious people in British society; and support for exemptions from such legislation for religious organizations in relation to religion or belief. The authors found that ‘equality is variously understood and many religious organizations give only limited recognition to certain legally protected characteristics including gender, sexual orientation and also the identities of other religious organizations’. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Religious education and community cohesion

After controlling for contextual, psychological, and religious factors, researchers have found a small but statistically significant association between taking religious education as an examination subject and higher scores on the scale of attitudes towards religious diversity. Fieldwork was conducted in 2011-12 as part of the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project among 3,052 Year 9 and 10 students from state-maintained schools in England, Wales, and London who self-identified as either Christians or religious nones. A full report appears in Leslie Francis, Tania ap Siôn, Ursula McKenna, and Gemma Penny, ‘Does Religious Education as an Examination Subject Work to Promote Community Cohesion? An Empirical Enquiry among 14- to 15-Year-Old Adolescents in England and Wales’, British Journal of Religious Education, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2017, pp. 303-16. Access options to this article are outlined at:

Discrimination in Scotland

One-third of black and minority ethnic residents of Scotland feel they have experienced discrimination in the last two years, and 44% of this sub-group think that it was on the grounds of their religion. The full sample of 508 respondents, interviewed over the telephone by Survation between 12 June and 17 July 2017 on behalf of Nasar Meer of the University of Edinburgh, was asked a series of questions about their experience of and attitudes to discrimination in Scotland. Results were disaggregated by a range of variables including religious affiliation, although it should be noted that, Muslims apart (n = 257), cell sizes for individual faiths were small. Full data tables are available at:

Yearbook of International Religious Demography

The 2017 edition (Vol. 4) of the Yearbook of International Religious Demography has been published by Brill, edited by Brian Grim, Todd Johnson, Vegard Skirbekk, and Gina Zurlo (xxiv + 257pp., ISBN: 978-90-04-34627-7, €85, paperback). Its contents follow the usual format: global and continental religious data in part I (chapters 1-2); case studies and methodology in part II (chapters 3-9); and data sources in part III (chapter 10). Figures for world religions by country are given in an appendix (pp. 221-49). Although none of the case studies focuses on Britain alone, two relate to Europe more generally: Antonius Liedhegener and Anastas Odermatt on religious affiliation and religious plurality, which introduces the SMRE project, the ‘Swiss Metadatabase of Religious Affiliation in Europe’ (chapter 6); and Michaela Potančoková, Marcin Stonawski, and Anna Krysińska on the effect of increased numbers of asylum seekers on Muslim populations in 2010-15 (chapter 7). The book’s webpage is at:

More information about the SMRE project may be found at:

Victorian statistical rhetoric

Miriam Elizabeth Burstein offers an interesting case study of Victorian attitudes to religious statistics in her ‘“In Ten Years there is an Increase of 450 Priests of Antichrist”: Quantification, Anti-Catholicism, and The Bulwark’, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 56, No. 3, July 2017, pp. 580-604. The Bulwark, published continuously by the Scottish Reformation Society since 1851, was arguably the most influential anti-Catholic periodical of the second half of the nineteenth century, a reputation built on its self-proclaimed devotion to ‘facts’ in demonstrating, through its ‘weaponized statistical discourses’, the religious and social threat which Roman Catholicism posed to the nation. Protestants alone, and only Protestants of the proper theological orientation, were deemed by The Bulwark to speak authoritatively in matters of numbers. Some contextual information about more general ecclesiastical views on quantification is also provided by Burstein, including in connection with the 1851 religious census. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Qualifying secularization

Without denying ‘the steep decline in religious practice, belief, and commitment’, Daniel Loss argues for ‘The Institutional Afterlife of Christian England’ and the absence of a secular society during the second half of the twentieth century. He finds this persistent Christianity reflected in enduring links between the mainstream Churches and the government and public bodies on the one hand (especially over education and broadcasting) and in ‘popular interest in Christianity as a cultural resource’ on the other (Grace Davie’s model of ‘vicarious religion’ is invoked). Particular importance is attached to the role of the Church of England, which is characterized as tolerant, progressive, and inclusive, its image one of ‘bland inoffensiveness’ and ‘harmlessness’. As with much scholarly writing on secularization, whether from pessimistic or optimistic schools, the author tends to claim too much for the primary evidence (which, in this instance, peters out in the 1970s). He also fails to deploy sample surveys to demonstrate precisely how, ‘stripped of its denominational distinctiveness, English Christianity increasingly became a matter of cultural identity rather than orthodox belief or practice’. Access options to the article, published in Journal of Modern History (Vol. 89, No. 2, June 2017, pp. 282-313), are outlined at:

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


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Religious Affiliation and Party Choice at the 2017 General Election

This post looks at how religious groups voted in the June 2017 general election. As with previous BRIN posts on this topic, it uses data from the British Election Study. Specifically, it uses the 2017 post-election wave (number 13) of the British Election Study Internet Panel 2014-18. The fieldwork was conducted by YouGov between 9-23 June 2017. The survey has a sample size of 31,196. Theset data and accompanying documentation were obtained from the BES website. The data were weighted and analysed on a cross-sectional basis.

Figure 1 presents the breakdown of the vote at the June general election based on religious affiliation. It shows the proportions voting Conservative, Labour, or for other parties combined. The traditional support of Anglicans for the Conservative Party is reaffirmed (58% voted for the Tories compared to 28% for Labour). The distribution of the vote amongst Catholics further highlights the declining support they have given to Labour at recent general elections, given their historical tendency to vote for that party. In 2017, 42% of the Catholic vote went to Labour, just ahead of the 40% that went to the Conservative Party.

Amongst Methodists, Baptists and those who identified as Church of Scotland, pluralities supported the Conservative Party. Amongst other Christians, support for Labour eclipsed that for the Conservatives (42% versus 38%).

Muslims voted overwhelmingly for Labour, with 85% having preferred for Jeremy Corbyn’s party, and 11% supported the Conservatives. Majorities, albeit somewhat reduced, voted Labour at the 2005-2015 general elections. Amongst Jews, a strong majority expressed support for the Conservative Party (63%), with around a quarter (26%) saying they voted for Labour. This builds on the plurality support for the Conservative Party shown by Jewish voters at the 2005-2015 general elections. Labour also received a plurality of the vote amongst those belonging to other religions (48%) and those with no religious affiliation (47%). Amongst these two groups, the Conservative vote share was, respectively, 33% and 32%.


Figure 1 Voting at the 2017 general election by religious affiliation

Source: Author’s analysis of British Election Study Internet Panel 2014-2018, wave 13.


Putting the recent voting behaviour of Anglicans and Catholics in long-term perspective, Figure 2 and Figure 3 show the party vote shares amongst, respectively, Anglicans and Catholics between 1959 and 2017 (based on data from BES studies). Figure 2 shows the tendency of Anglicans to have expressed greater support for the Conservative Party at most post-war general elections.


Figure 2 Voting at general elections by Anglicans, 1959-2017Source: Author’s analysis of BES surveys.


Figure 3 shows the traditionally strong party-denominational links between the Catholic community and Labour. The higher levels of support amongst Catholics for Labour compared to the Conservatives (the exception is the 1979 election) are apparent, but support amongst has declined at recent elections. Support for the Conservatives has correspondingly increased at those elections.


Figure 3 Voting at general elections by Catholics, 1959-2017

Source: Author’s analysis of BES surveys.


Based on data from the BES and – where available – Scottish General Election Studies, Figure 4 shows that support for Labour has traditionally been considerably higher amongst Catholics in Scotland compared to those in England. However, in 2015, a ‘sea change’ general election in Scotland, there was a substantial drop in support for Labour amongst Catholics in Scotland. For the first time, in 2015, support for Labour amongst Catholics in England was slightly higher than that recorded in Scotland, and this was also the case in the 2017 general election (43% in England and 35% in Scotland). Though support for Labour was declining amongst Catholics in Scotland in the years prior to the 2015 election.


Figure 4 Vote share for Labour amongst Catholics in England and Scotland, 1970-2017

Source: Author’s analysis of BES and SGES surveys.

Fieldhouse, E., J. Green., G. Evans., H. Schmitt, C. van der Eijk, J. Mellon and C. Prosser (2017) British Election Study Internet Panel Wave 13. DOI: 10.15127/1.293723.

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Counting Religion in Britain, July 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 22, July 2017 features 12 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 22 July 2017


Trust in religious figures

Only a minority (22%) of 1,000 adult Britons interviewed online in February 2017 by nfpSynergy claimed to trust the views of senior religious figures when they commented on UK policy, placing them ninth out of fifteen professional groups. The corresponding statistic in 2016 was 19%. A plurality (47%) of the public in 2017 did not trust senior religious figures very much (29%) or at all (18%) while 32% were not sure what to think. The groups most trusted to comment on UK policy were healthcare professionals (66%), scientists (62%), and academics at universities (50%). The study was undertaken as part of the Charity Awareness Monitor and topline results can be downloaded from:

Extremist figures

The Evangelical Alliance recently commissioned ComRes to undertake a survey of British attitudes towards extremism, 2,004 adults being interviewed online on 7-9 July 2017. One of the questions asked respondents whether they regarded seven historical leaders and one contemporary leader as extreme. The list comprised a mix of secular and religious figures. The three individuals who topped the extremism list were secular leaders with a reputation for violent action. Of the remaining five, Jesus Christ was most regarded as extreme, by 28% of the whole sample, peaking at 34% of 18-24s. Three-fifths judged He was not extreme, compared with 72% who said the same about the Dalai Lama, who was viewed as extreme by just 13%. Summary results are tabulated below, with the full findings available at:

Regard as extreme, % across




Pol Pot








Che Guevara








Martin Luther King




Nelson Mandela








Dalai Lama




Welsh religious affiliation

It is not often that BRIN can report on a sample survey confined to Wales, but a question about religious affiliation was included in a recently-released ComRes poll for Be Reasonable (a group campaigning against Welsh Government plans to criminalize parents who smack their children). Online interviews were conducted with 1,019 adults in Wales between 13 and 25 January 2017. Overall, 54% of Welsh respondents professed to be Christian, rising to 71% of persons aged 55-64 and 75% of over-65s. Religious nones amounted to 39% but reached 51% for those aged 25-44, who were most likely to be bringing up children, thereby (presumably) negatively impacting the intergenerational transmission of faith. This was more than double the proportion of nones among over-55s (24%). Non-Christians numbered 6%. For additional demographic breakdown, see table 5/1 at:

Scottish religious affiliation

The number of Scots professing no religion stands at a record level, according to initial findings from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) Survey, for which 1,237 adults were interviewed face-to-face by ScotCen Social Research between July and December 2016. In that year, 58% of the population of Scotland described themselves as having no religion, an increase of 18 points over 1999, when the first SSA was conducted, and surpassing the previous high of 54% in 2013. Among the under-35s, the proportion rose to 74% compared with 34% for the over-65s (albeit still 11 points more than in 1999). In terms of denominations and faiths, the Church of Scotland has lost most ground since 1999, from 35% to 18%, mirroring the scale of loss of market share experienced by the Church of England south of the border, as reflected in British Social Attitudes Surveys. Scottish adherents of Roman Catholicism (10% in 2016), other Christian faiths (11%), and non-Christian faiths (2%) have remained fairly stable over time. ScotCen’s press release and two tables of trend data can be found at:

Islam and British values

A plurality of Britons (44%) continues to believe there is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society, the proportion peaking among over-65s (57%) and Conservatives (62%). Only 29% of the whole population contend that Islam is generally compatible with British values, Liberal Democrat voters being the most optimistic (50%), while 26% of Britons are undecided. Data derive from the latest YouGov@Cambridge tracker, for which 1,637 adults were interviewed online on 15-16 June 2017. Full breaks by demographics are available by clicking on the relevant link in the tracker summary at:

Anti-Semitic attitudes

The Anti-Defamation League has updated its global index of anti-Semitism by commissioning new public opinion research in Great Britain, France, and Germany, 500 adults aged 18 and over being interviewed in each country by telephone between 16 January and 27 February 2017. Anti-Semitism was defined as agreement with at least six of eleven negative stereotypes about Jews. One-tenth of Britons emerged as anti-Semitic on this criterion, compared with 11% in Germany and 14% in France. The British figure was higher than in 2014 (8%) and lower than in 2015 (12%), but it would be unwise to read too much into these trend data, given the relatively small sample sizes. Anti-Semitism in Britain was at its greatest among those who: were negative about their personal financial situation (13%); attended religious services weekly (15%); were unfavourable to Muslims (17%); had never met a Jewish person (18%); were significantly influenced by the actions of Israel in their opinions of Jews (29%); and knew a lot of people who felt negatively about Jews (31%). Individual stereotypes commanding the greatest support in Britain were that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country (held by 32% of the population) and Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust (20%). Four-fifths of Britons believed the treatment of Jews to be excellent or good, although 49% had concerns about violence directed at Jews and 26% detected more anti-Semitic rhetoric in politics recently. A report of the survey, which also included a few questions about attitudes towards Muslims, can be found at:

Perceptions of Israel

The Anti-Defamation League survey demonstrated that anti-Semitic attitudes are often inextricably linked with anti-Israel views. Confirmation of Israel’s relatively poor standing among Britons has also come in a country ratings study by GlobeScan and the University of Maryland for the BBC World Service. Fieldwork was undertaken in 19 nations between 26 December 2016 and 27 April 2017, including in Britain, where telephone interviews with 1,001 adults aged 18 and over were conducted by Populus between 27 January and 19 February 2017. Two-thirds of Britons said that Israel has a mainly negative influence in the world, 16 points more than the global mean, compared with just one-quarter viewing it positively, the same proportion as the global mean. This was a complete reversal of the position in the United States where 59% judged Israel’s influence to be mainly positive and 28% mainly negative. However, British opinions have softened somewhat since the previous study in 2014, when 72% took a mainly negative view of Israel’s influence and 19% a mainly positive one. Topline results for all the 16 countries rated (plus the European Union) can be found at:


Synagogue membership

There were 454 synagogues in the UK in 2016, supposedly the highest number on record, three-quarters of them in Greater London and the adjacent areas of South Hertfordshire and South-West Essex. However, household synagogue memberships have declined by 20% since 1990 and by 4% since 2010 (when the last census of synagogues was conducted). The decrease in memberships since 1990 was steepest among the Central Orthodox (-37%), contrasting with growth of 139% for the Strict Orthodox. An estimated 56% of households across the UK containing at least one Jew held synagogue membership in 2016, albeit the proportion was significantly lower in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The overwhelming majority (96%) of synagogue members lived in England and half belonged to synagogues in just five areas: Barnet, Westminster, Hertsmere, Redbridge, and Stamford Hill. The census was undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research between April and September 2016 on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and full results can be found in the 43-page report by Donatella Casale Mashiah and Jonathan Boyd, Synagogue Membership in the United Kingdom in 2016, which is available at:

Boyd also wrote commentaries on the report for the Jewish News (6 July 2017, p. 4) and The Jewish Chronicle (7 July 2017, p. 41) at, respectively:

Coincidentally, The Jewish Chronicle (21 July 2017, p. 18) published the headline findings from a telephone poll of 783 professing Jews by Survation about the main reasons for belonging to a synagogue. The top reason was to pray, given by 29% overall, including 35% of men, 37% of under-35s, and 39% in the North-West. This was followed by joining a burial society and thus acquiring burial rights (25%), which was especially popular among over-55s (32%). The social aspect was in third place (19% for all respondents and 22% for women). Data tables are not yet available, but the newspaper’s coverage can be read at:

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust’s Antisemitic Incidents, January-June 2017 records 767 such incidents in the UK during this half-year, representing an increase of 30% on the corresponding total (589) for the same period in 2016, which was itself 18% up on January-June 2015. This is the highest figure which the Trust has ever registered for January-June in any year since it first started logging anti-Semitic incidents in 1984. From April 2016 there has now been a run of 15 months with more than 100 incidents each month. No single trigger event can be identified to explain the rise in incidents; rather, the Trust highlights the cumulative effect of various long-term factors. The impact of improved reporting of incidents is acknowledged but is not thought likely to account for the full extent of the increase. Eighty of the incidents involved assaults. Antisemitic Incidents, January-June 2017 is available at:


Civil service

Data on the religion or belief of Civil Service employees as at 31 March 2017 have revealed that 23.1% were Christians, 4.8% non-Christians, 14.1% religious nones, with 58.1% undeclared. Breaks were given by department and responsibility level (pay grade). Spreadsheets for 2017 and 2016 can be found at:

Anti-Semitic crimes

The volunteer-led charity Campaign against Antisemitism has published its second National Antisemitic Crime Audit, based on data for 2016 obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from all 49 police forces in the United Kingdom. The 73-page report (mostly comprising statistical tables) claims this was ‘the worst year on record’ for anti-Semitic crimes, with 1,078 logged, representing an increase of 15% on 2015 and 45% on 2014. About one in ten of these crimes in 2016 involved violence, a reduction on the number in the two preceding years. The proportion of all anti-Semitic crimes resulting in charges was 8% in 2016, down by one-third on 2014 and 2015, with one-half of all police forces not charging a single anti-Semitic crime. The number of crimes resulting in prosecution was just 15 in 2016. The report notes that the accurate recording of data about anti-Semitic crime, both by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, still represents a work in progress. This would suggest some caution in deducing trends at this comparatively early stage of data collection and analysis, a caution which is not always exercised by the authors of the report. The document can be found at:


SN 8202: British Election Study, 2015: Internet Panel, Waves 1-6

The British Election Study is a long-running source of data about electoral behaviour and political attitudes. In recent general elections, an internet panel has supplemented the traditional face-to-face cross-section, and this has the advantage of enabling a very much larger sample to be recruited, incorporating a substantial panel component, with fieldwork taking place in successive waves before and after the general election concerned. The 2015 internet panel survey was undertaken (between 20 February 2014 and 26 May 2015) by YouGov on behalf of an academic team from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham, and Oxford and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. There were approximately 30,000 respondents at each wave, including a national cross-section of around 21,000 electors. Religious affiliation is one of YouGov’s standard demographics, and, as sundry BRIN posts by Ben Clements have already demonstrated, it can be used as a variable for examining answers to the political questions. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

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

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