Counting Religion in Britain, November 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 14, November 2016 features 29 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: no-14-november-2016

OPINION POLLS

Freedom of speech

The case involving Ashers Bakery in Belfast, found guilty of discrimination for declining on religious grounds to bake a cake promoting same-sex marriage, rumbles on and now seems destined for the UK Supreme Court. The ongoing row has prompted the Coalition for Marriage to commission ComRes to rerun a poll which it originally undertook for the Christian Institute in March 2015. On this second occasion 2,000 Britons were interviewed online on 4-6 November 2016 and asked whether business people should be taken to court for refusing to supply goods or services in eight sets of circumstances. On the scenario identical to the Ashers case, 65% of respondents said that the refusal of a Christian bakery to produce a cake supporting same-sex marriage should not be grounds for taking to court, only 16% disagreeing (and no more than 23% of religious nones). Even lower endorsement of court action was registered for the other seven scenarios which included the refusal of: a Muslim printer to print cartoons of the Prophet; an atheist web designer to create a website promoting creationism; a Muslim film company to make a pornographic film; a Christian bakery to make a cake celebrating Satanism; and a Roman Catholic printing company to print advertisements calling for the legalization of abortion. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Coalition-for-Marriage_-Freedom-of-Speech-Polling_-November-2016.pdf

Faith schools

Government has proposed allowing new and existing faith schools to select up to 100% of their places according to religious criteria, thereby ending the 50% cap which has operated for the last nine years. However, a Populus poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition and British Humanist Association, for which 2,054 adults were interviewed online on 14-16 October 2016, has found that 72% of Britons agree that state-funded schools should not be allowed, in their admissions policies, to select or discriminate against prospective pupils on religious grounds. Just 15% of the public disagree with the ComRes statement, with 13% undecided. This strong majority against the application of religious criteria in school admissions varies little across demographic sub-groups, including among religious groups. Full data tables are at:

http://accordcoalition.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/OmFaith-Schools_Q2.pdf

Theresa May’s faith

More than one-quarter (27%) of British adults say they have been alarmed by Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent admission that her faith in God gives her confidence she is doing the right thing, according to one of YouGov’s app-based polls on 30 November 2016. One in five (18%) were reassured by her comment while 49% claimed it had no effect on how they felt about May’s actions. Asked, in a supplementary question, whether they lived their own life according to some kind of defined philosophy or system of beliefs, 29% replied in the affirmative but a clear majority (64%) stated they took life as it comes in terms of making a series of practical choices. Topline results only are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/30/government-regulation-company-management-theresa-m/

Protestant ethic and future of religion

Reminded that economic data show the world’s most prosperous nations are mostly Protestant, 25% of respondents to one of YouGov’s app-based surveys on 3 November 2016 thought there was a direct tie between the economic prosperity of these countries and their Protestantism. However, the majority, 58%, detected no obvious links between the two factors, while 18% were unsure or gave other answers. Asked additionally which faith would be dominant in the world 500 years from now, 24% suggested Islam against 14% for Christianity. But 33% felt that no single faith would be dominant and 17% anticipated that religion would have all but disappeared. Topline results are at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/03/religions-protestantism-and-economic-prosperity-fo/

US presidential election

Donald Trump may have won the US presidential election, but he commands limited appeal among British voters, according to an online YouGov poll on 3-4 October 2016. Of the 1,690 adults interviewed, only 11% overall preferred the Republican Trump to his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton (65%), the remaining 23% being undecided. Among the principal religious groups (cell sizes for the others were too small to be viable), Clinton’s share rose to 70% with religious nones, Anglicans and Catholics being marginally more likely than average to favour Trump, albeit he attracted the support of just 13% and 16%, respectively. The question was asked as part of a more general survey of attitudes to globalization (including immigration and multiculturalism), and the full British data tables, with breaks by religion, can be found via the Great Britain link at:  

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/17/international-survey/

Anti-Semitism in relation to Israel

Next year (2017) marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, whereby the British government committed to using its best endeavours to establish in Palestine a national home for Jewish people, but without detriment to the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in the area. Interviewed online by Populus on 14-16 October 2016, on behalf of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), a plurality (43%) of 2,054 Britons still agrees that, in principle, this was the right position for the government to have taken at that time, but 18% disagree and 39% are neutral or undecided. Much water has flowed under the bridge during the intervening century, not least the establishment of the state of Israel, whose actions in the Middle East have divided British public opinion, especially since the 1980s. A majority (57%) is clear that criticism of Israel does not in itself constitute anti-Semitism, 11% saying the contrary, although a plurality (48%) admits that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is anti-Semitic, 20% dissenting. Islamic State (ISIS) is equally viewed as a threat to the security of Israel (by 81% of Britons) and to that of the UK (93%). Full data tables are at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/polls/

A summary of the findings of the poll, including comparisons with last year’s survey, can be found in BICOM’s press release at:

New BICOM poll finds even stronger opposition to boycotts of Israel

Islam and British values

YouGov@Cambridge, the partnership between pollster YouGov and the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, has added two further data points to its tracker on the compatibility between Islam and British values. Since the start of 2015, cross-sections of Britons have been asked whether they believe Islam is generally compatible with the values of British society or they perceive there is a fundamental clash between the two. Topline results are tabulated below, from which it will be seen that half the population judges there is a fundamental clash between Islam and British values, with a peak of 59% in June and October 2015, with no more than one-fifth to one-quarter deeming the two compatible. In the latest survey (on 9-10 October 2016 among 1,694 adults), demographic sub-groups most inclined to perceive a clash were UKIP supporters (81%), people who voted for the UK to leave the European Union in this year’s referendum (72%), and over-65s (64%). Both topline and disaggregated data can be accessed by following the ‘Tracker: Islam and British Values’ and ‘Latest Documents’ links at:

https://yougov.co.uk/cambridge/

% across

Compatible

Clash Neither

Don’t know

2015
January

23

52 12

13

February

23

52 12

13

March

22

55 10

13

May

19

58 9

14

June

20

59 9

12

July

20

56 10

13

August

20

53 12

15

September

20

58 9

13

October

19

59 10

12

December

25

50 13

13

2016
January

25

51 11

13

February

20

56 12

12

March

22

51 10

17

July

25

49 14

13

October

23

52 12

13

Halloween (1)

US-style Halloween celebrations are on the verge of displacing the UK’s traditional Bonfire (Guy Fawkes) Night activities as the principal autumnal festival, according to BMG Research’s online poll of 1,546 UK adults on 19-24 October 2016. The proportion of respondents indicating that they would be celebrating Halloween (31 October) or Bonfire Night (5 November) in some way was tied at 49% each, with both commemorations especially appealing to under-25s (82% of whom said they were planning to observe Halloween and 75% Bonfire Night). Both days have religious origins (Halloween as All Hallows’ Eve, in remembrance of the souls of the dead, and Bonfire Night marking a failed plot by Roman Catholic conspirators in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament) but have now become thoroughly secularized. Full data tables are at:

http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CONFIDENTIAL-BMG-POLL-OCTOBER-data-tables-311016-1.pdf

Halloween (2)

Intentions (definite or probable) to celebrate Halloween were returned at a much lower 21% in another online poll conducted at the same time, by YouGov among 1,631 Britons on 23-24 October 2016, albeit this was still the highest figure of the seven European countries surveyed. The apparent discrepancy with the BMG Research study is perhaps explained by the fact that the latter offered a list of particular Halloween activities (including watching horror films) from which to choose, whereas YouGov used a more binary-style question about celebrating Halloween. YouGov’s topline figures for all seven nations are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/9n40aplkni/Eurotrack_October_USElection_Website.pdf

Halloween (3)

The results of a second, app-based (and potentially not fully representative) poll were posted by YouGov on 1 November 2016. Interviewees were not asked whether they planned to celebrate Halloween themselves but whether they approved of seven specific Halloween activities. Just 17% approved of none of them, with approval being highest for making pumpkin lanterns (72%), apple bobbing (66%), and Christian observance of All Hallows’ Eve (51%). Responding to a separate question, 53% said that the tradition of souling (the Christian origin of trick-or-treating) should be preserved, 26% disagreeing, and 20% uncertain or giving other answers. Topline figures only are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/01/should-nigel-farage-be-made-lord-halloween/

Cryogenics

Cryogenics have been in the news recently, with the revelation that the body of a 14-year-old girl who had died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen in the hope that she can be ‘woken up’ and cured at some point in the future. In a YouGov poll of 4,389 Britons on 18 November 2016, 22% of adults thought there might be some chance, however small, the girl could indeed be brought back to life, UKIP voters and the under-40s being particularly confident. Nevertheless, a majority (57%) judged this impossible, rising to 65% of Conservatives and over-60s, with a further 21% undecided. Three-quarters of the public indicated they did not wish to be cryogenically frozen after death themselves, just 7% expressing the wish to be so, the biggest proportion (13%) being among those aged 25-39. Full results will be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/da79f270-ad76-11e6-8bd0-005056901c24/question/16a319c0-ad77-11e6-8bd0-005056901c24/social

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Passing on faith

Secularization, especially in a Christian context, is often attributed to diminished religious socialization of children. Traditionally, there were three principal agencies for achieving this: Church, school, and home. Church provision (notably through Sunday schools) has largely collapsed. The school is no longer a major player since the curriculum emphasis has shifted dramatically from Christian instruction to multi-faith religious and moral education. The importance of the home has also diminished because many parents have become secularized and more child-centred approaches have persuaded them of the importance of children being left to make up their own minds in matters of religious belief.

Some confirmation of weakened parental commitment to the transmission of faith to their children is now provided in a survey by ComRes for Theos, for which 1,013 British parents with children aged 18 and under were interviewed online on 24-29 August 2016. Only 38% of the sample claimed to be definite believers in God and 17% to attend a religious service once a month or more, with 40% professing no religion at all. Asked whether it is an important part of being a parent actively to pass on beliefs in God or a higher power to children, just 30% agreed while 60% judged it was for children to come to their own opinion independently of their parents. Three-fifths were indifferent whether their children held the same beliefs about God as they did and no more than two-fifths had even had a conversation with their children on the subject. One-third suggested that technology and social media would have more of an impact on their children’s beliefs than their own input. Not unexpectedly, believers in God, regular attenders at religious services, and non-Christians exhibited higher than average levels of commitment to passing on their faith.

The survey is summarized in the foreword (by Nick Spencer) to a new Theos report by Olwyn Mark exploring generic issues of Passing on Faith at:

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Reports/Passing%20on%20faith%20combined%20(1).pdf

Full data tables are available from ComRes at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Theos_Passing-on-Faith_Data-Tables.pdf

University students

The Student Christian Movement (SCM) has voiced concerns about the spiritual support available for higher education students, following receipt of a 26-page report which it commissioned from David Lankshear of St Mary’s Centre on Students in Higher Education and Christian Churches. This was based on statistical analysis of the responses received from 118 churches (disproportionately United Reformed) to an online survey about their contact with higher education students which was run by SCM during the first half of 2016. The majority of churches (54%) had no higher education students in their congregations and 81% had nobody whose role it was to work with students. Many local church leaders felt that going to university had a negative (29%) or mixed (52%) impact on faith, a message picked up in a major news story about the survey in the Methodist Recorder (11 November 2016, pp. 1-2). The report, which its author views as little more than a pilot study, can be viewed at:

http://www.movement.org.uk/sites/default/files/A%20report%20for%20the%20Student%20Christian%20Movement.pdf

Church of England statistics for mission

The Church of England’s Statistics for Mission, 2015 is an impressive 51-page digest of and commentary on data derived from the latest set of parochial returns, with a full description of methodology and a copy of the schedule. The report exhibits continuing decline of the Church across a broad range of performance indicators, subsuming attendance, membership, and rites of passage, the rate of decrease since 2005 varying between 9% (average adult weekly attendance) and 39% (funerals conducted at crematoria and cemeteries). Membership and attendance levels have fallen over a long period, and from a relatively low baseline, but the diminishing take-up of rites of passage has been a more recent phenomenon, with funerals only significantly impacted since the 1980s. Of course, the net picture masks areas of growth in individual dioceses and parishes, giving hope to some within the Church. Commenting on the statistics, William Nye, the Church’s Secretary General, bullishly said: ‘The Church of England is setting out on a journey of Renewal and Reform, aiming to reverse our numerical decline in attendance so that we become a growing church in every region and for every generation.’ On present evidence, there are few grounds for thinking this will ever be achieved. Statistics for Mission, 2015 is available at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3331683/2015statisticsformission.pdf

Conservative evangelical Anglican churches

Despite the gloomy outlook for the Church of England as a whole, average weekly attendance at more than 300 churches linked to the conservative evangelical Reform movement is said to have been growing at the rate of 3% to 4% during the past five years. Congregations at these churches are also typically larger and younger than the norm: their average attendance is 99 compared to 40 in the Church of England generally, with 18% of worshippers over 70 years of age against 30% in the wider Church. The story is reported by Christian Today at:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/conservative.anglican.churches.buck.trend.of.decline/101241.htm

Fresh Expressions

The Church of England would doubtless find it difficult to acknowledge publicly that churchmanship might impact levels of attendance, but it continues to salute Fresh Expressions of Church (fxC) as an engine of growth. Four new reports on fxC have recently been published by the Church Army’s Research Unit, two of them of a quantitative nature. The more substantial (234 pages) of the pair is by George Lings, The Day of Small Things: An Analysis of Fresh Expressions of Church in 21 Dioceses of the Church of England. This is based on interviews with the leaders (equally likely to be male or female) of 1,109 fxCs started between 1992 and 2014, three-quarters of them in the past ten years. These fxCs are attended by 50,600 worshippers, equivalent to 10% of the average weekly attendance of the dioceses concerned (albeit the average congregation – 50 – is smaller than for a typical parish church). Their religious origins are examined in a second (81-page) report by Claire Dalpra and John Vivian, Who’s There? The Church Backgrounds of Attenders in Anglican Fresh Expressions of Church. This examined a hand-picked sample of 66 fxCs and a control group of 24 parish churches, utilizing a sixfold classification of previous churchgoing by the 1,997 attenders at fxCs and 953 at parish churches. The research revealed that 38% of the former were not existing churchgoers when they began attending fxC (albeit this is a lower proportion than estimated by fxC leaders), and that fxCs had a more even age and gender distribution than parish churches. The reports can be downloaded from:

http://www.churcharmy.org/Groups/244966/Church_Army/Church_Army/Our_work/Research/Fresh_expressions_of/Fresh_expressions_of.aspx

Major Parish Churches

Sustaining Major Parish Churches: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities has been prepared by Purcell on behalf of a partnership comprising Historic England (which funded the research), the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Church of England’s Church Buildings Council, the Greater Churches Network, and Doncaster Minster. It collates and analyses a range of statistical and other data relating to the condition, resourcing, and use of the Church of England’s self-designated ‘Major Parish Churches’, based upon a dataset of 300 such churches, an online survey of a sub-set of them, and a series of case studies. The three-part report can be downloaded from:

https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/sustaining-major-parish-churches/

Jewish schools

A new study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, charts dramatic growth since the 1950s, by respectively 400% and 500%, in the number of Jewish schools and Jewish pupils in the UK. This expansion occurred despite a decline in the Jewish population for much of the period, rather being driven by increased uptake of Jewish schooling among Jews. Whereas only one in five Jewish children attended Jewish schools in the 1970s, today the proportion is 63% (and 100% in strictly Orthodox Jewish families), with 30,900 Jewish children enrolled at 139 Jewish schools in the 2014/15 academic year. The majority (57%) of the pupils attends the 97 strictly Orthodox schools (55 primary, 42 secondary), the remainder the 42 mainstream Jewish schools (33 primary, 9 secondary). These, and many other, fascinating facts and figures are in the 45-page report by Daniel Staetsky and Jonathan Boyd on The Rise and Rise of Jewish Schools in the United Kingdom: Numbers, Trends, and Policy Issues, which can be downloaded from:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/The_rise_and_rise_of_Jewish_schools_in_the_United_Kingdom.pdf

Judaism in the workplace

According to sundry reports in the Jewish and secular press, a survey of 190 Jews conducted in October 2016 as part of the Chief Rabbi’s ShabbatUK initiative found that 41% of respondents considered their faith had been an issue in the workplace during the course of their career. Moreover, 32% felt uncomfortable about asking their employer to leave work early on Fridays in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath, 27% were reluctant to discuss their faith openly in the workplace (although 72% had done so), and 17% avoided wearing a Jewish religious symbol or item of clothing when at work.

UK Sikh Survey

The UK Sikh Survey, 2016 (authored by Dabinderjit Singh, Randeep Singh, and Jas Singh) has been developed by the Sikh Network, which is responsible for co-ordinating dialogue with the Government with regard to the goals set out in the Sikh Manifesto, 2015-2020. Described as ‘the largest and most comprehensive ever survey of UK Sikhs’, its 4,559 respondents were recruited between May and August 2016 through a combination of self-selection and targeting of hard-to-reach groups. Although the sample is said to exhibit a good regional, gender, and age mix, the methodology adopted may mean it is not fully representative of the Sikh community in terms of either demographics or activism. Notwithstanding, the findings in this overview report (more detailed analyses are promised) provide a fascinating insight into the experiences and attitudes of UK Sikhs, to set alongside the annual British Sikh Report (which commenced in 2013 and is already inviting responses to its own 2017 questionnaire). In particular, The UK Sikh Survey, 2016 demonstrated strong support for the Government to do more to help achieve Sikh political agendas. Almost unanimously, Sikhs would welcome a separate Sikh ethnic tick box in the 2021 census; a statutory code of practice for the 5Ks (Sikh articles of faith) and the Sikh turban, in order to prevent discrimination against Sikhs in the workplace and in public; and an independent public enquiry into the UK Government’s actions in relation to the ‘Sikh Genocide’ in India in 1984. The UK Sikh Survey, 2016 is available at:

http://www.thesikhnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/UK-Sikh-Survey-2016-Findings-FINAL.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Religious affiliation in Scotland

Two new sources of religious affiliation statistics for Scotland have become available, from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Surveys Core Questions (SSCQ), 2015 (a unified dataset formed from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, the Scottish Health Survey, and the Scottish Household Survey) and from Glasgow City Council’s Glasgow Household Survey, 2016. Topline results are shown below, together with the Glasgow figures from SSCQ.

An Excel worksheet disaggregating the SSCQ national data by various spatial units and demographic characteristics can be found in Table 4.3 via the link at:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/About/Surveys/SSCQ/SSCQ2015

For Glasgow in 2016, only headline results are currently available, on p. 73 of the Ipsos MORI report on the Glasgow Household Survey at:

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=35362&p=0

% down

Scotland 2015

Glasgow 2015

Glasgow 2016

No religion

46.6

42.6

40

Church of Scotland

27.5

17.1

18

Roman Catholic

14.5

22.5

24

Other Christian

7.3

6.7

4

Muslim

1.7

6.4

6

Other non-Christian

1.6

2.9

5

N =

20,183

1,734

1,023

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Ageing and religion

Ahead of its annual ‘Future of Ageing’ conference, the International Longevity Centre (ILC)–UK unveiled some new analysis from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) dataset for 2004-14. In its press release, ILC–UK advised ‘outreach programmes by religious groups looking to grow their congregations might best be focused on over 60s who have recently started hitting the gym or campaigning with their local political party (of any affiliation)’. This followed the discovery from ELSA that over-60s who join a gym are 4% more likely also to join a religious group, and that those who join a political party are 8% more likely also to join a religious group. It was also found that belonging to a religious group had a small but positive impact on the sense of worth and happiness of older people. Panel members were more likely to join a religious group as they grew older, albeit, in a nod to secularization, fewer belonged to a religious group compared with previous cohorts of the same age (for example, since 2002 6% fewer in their early 60s and 7% less in their late 60s). The press release, which includes an embedded slide show, is available at:

http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/news/news_posts/press_release_new_analysis_shows_those_60_who_join_a_gym_more_likely_to_joi

A Level students

The upward trend in students taking the Advanced Level examination in Religious Studies (RS) is now well established, but relatively little is known about their profile since the reform of A Levels in 2000. Two articles in the current issue (Vol. 37, No. 3, 2016) of Journal of Beliefs and Values shed light on the matter. They both derive from questionnaires completed by students towards the beginning and end of the first year of their study of A Level RS at the same schools.

Leslie Francis, Jeff Astley, and Stephen Parker answer the research questions ‘Who Studies Religion at Advanced Level: Why and to What Effect?’ (pp. 334-46). They use the questionnaires completed by 462 students towards the end of the first year and investigate their demography, motivation, experience, and attitudes. ‘Key findings demonstrated that 78% of students opted for the subject because they enjoyed their earlier experiences of religious studies in school, that 80% of students have become more tolerant of religious diversity, and that only 7% of students feel that studying religion at A level has undermined their personal religious faith while three times that number feel that it has affirmed their religious faith.’

The following article derives from both sets of questionnaires, the first completed by 652 students. Written by Andrew Village and Leslie Francis, it concerns ‘The Development of the Francis Moral Values Scales: A Study among 16- to 18-Year-Old Students Taking Religious Studies at A Level in the UK’ (pp. 347-56). Initially, considerable variation was found in the proportion of students regarding specific moral issues and behaviours as wrong. However, factor analysis applied to their responses to the Likert items permitted the isolation of constructs to form three short scales (for anti-social behaviour, sex and relationships, and substance use) which are recommended as a parsimonious way of assessing general moral values among adolescents.

Access options to these articles are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjbv20/37/3?nav=tocList

Religious discrimination and higher education

The limited evidence base for religious discrimination experienced by UK university students is summarized on pp. 23-6, 46-8, and 84-7 of Changing the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce Examining Violence against Women, Harassment and Hate Crime Affecting University Students (London: Universities UK, 2016). Despite several approaches by Universities UK, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies did not contribute to the work of the taskforce, although Tell MAMA did participate on behalf of Muslims. The report is available at:

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2016/changing-the-culture.pdf

Multiplying churches

Back in 1974-75, David Wasdell of the Urban Church Project modelled Church of England statistics of parochial population and participation to argue for multiplying lay-led congregational units as a way of stimulating church growth, in preference to increasing clergy numbers or combining parishes. His advice was ignored by, and unpalatable to, the ecclesiastical authorities, and his work for the Church was terminated. Now George Lings has applied Wasdell’s methods to the Church’s 2011 statistics and similarly (albeit wordily) replicated ‘A Case for Multiplying the Type and Number of Churches’, Rural Theology, Vol. 14, No. 2, November 2016, pp. 112-33. In the process, he provides a rationale for Fresh Expressions of Church (fxC), which are typically small and often lay-led. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14704994.2016.1234858

Christmas

Given the time of year, and the relative dearth of academic literature on the subject, it seems appropriate to mention a new book by Christopher Deacy, Christmas as Religion: Rethinking Santa, the Secular, and the Sacred (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, xiii + 223pp., ISBN 978-0-19-875456-5, £30.00, hardback). Its significance lies not so much in its quantitative strength (indeed, one struggles to find a single statistic in the entire volume) as its avowed refutation of the secularization thesis by a characterization of Christmas as ‘one of the most unexpected and fecund manifestations of religion in the world today’ (p. 201); ‘it is its very secularity that makes Christmas such a compelling, and transcendent, religious holiday’ (p. vii). The work’s methodological approach is heavily influenced by implicit religion, viewing the secular as a repository of the religious, and the evidential basis disproportionately derives from film and radio (the author’s particular field of expertise). No real attempt is made to address the issue of how, beyond interpretation and assertion, such claims can be measured empirically, including through content analysis, corpus linguistics, or sample surveys. As for the secularization thesis, Deacy ‘mostly ignores a hugely complex debate’, as David Martin has pointed out in his review in Church Times, 25 November 2016, p. xvii. The webpage for Christmas as Religion is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/christmas-as-religion-9780198754565?q=Deacy&lang=en&cc=gb

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 6614: Understanding Society (Wave 6)

The dataset for Wave 6 of Understanding Society (United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study) has just been released. Fieldwork was undertaken by TNS BMRB (in Great Britain) and Millward Brown (in Northern Ireland), and face-to-face interviews were achieved with 42,021 adults aged 16 and over between 8 January 2014 and 11 May 2016, representing a response rate of 65% of panel members. Funded by the ESRC and a consortium of government departments, Understanding Society is a highly complex dataset built from several strands, including the rump of the former British Household Panel Survey and a new Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Boost. The religious content of Wave 6 seems to have been limited to questions on religious affiliation, using a belonging form of wording (seemingly asked only of new entrants to the panel), and on membership of and participation in religious groups or organizations. A full catalogue description, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=6614&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8070: Taking Part, 2015-16

Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure, and Sport is undertaken by TNS BMRB on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport and three of its non-departmental public bodies. For the year 11 cross-section (there is also a longitudinal component), face-to-face interviews were conducted with 10,171 adults aged 16 and over in England between April 2015 and March 2016. The demographic questions included two on religion (‘what is your religion?’ and ‘Are you currently practising your religion?’) which can be used as variables to analyse answers to the topics covered in the main questionnaire. Besides participation in cultural, leisure, and sporting activities, these extended to subjective wellbeing, socialization, volunteering, charitable giving, and community cohesion. A full catalogue description, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8070&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8081: Community Life Survey, 2015-16

This is the fourth annual wave of the Community Life Survey, initiated by the Cabinet Office in 2012-13 to carry forward some of the questions in the discontinued Citizenship Survey. Fieldwork for this wave took place between 1 July 2015 and 30 April 2016, face-to-face interviews being completed by TNS BMRB with 3,027 adults aged 16 and over in England (being a response rate of 61%). 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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8081&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, October 2016

 

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 13, October 2016 features 29 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: no-13-october-2016

OPINION POLLS

Desert island Bibles

The well-known figures featured on Desert Island Discs, the long-running BBC Radio programme, are asked to select eight pieces of music to take with them on a desert island but are additionally offered as accompaniments copies of the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. Asked hypothetically, in the event of being stranded on a desert island, whether they would want to be given a copy of the Bible, only 31% of respondents to a recent poll by ComRes said that they would, falling to 18% in the youngest cohort (aged 18-24) and 10% for those with no religion. Unsurprisingly, the proportion was greatest for professing Christians (49%) but otherwise never reached more than 39% in any demographic sub-group (this for the over-65s and residents of North-West England). The majority (56%) declined to accept the Bible, rising to 83% of religious nones, while 13% were unsure what they would do. The poll was commissioned by the Church and Media Network and conducted online on 7-9 October 2016 among a sample of 2,042 adult Britons. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CMN_Desert-Island-Bible-Poll_Data-Tables.pdf

In former days (the programme was first broadcast in 1942), the guests on Desert Island Discs were not automatically offered the Bible and Shakespeare but had to nominate three books to take with them on a desert island. When Gallup invited a sample of Britons to select their titles in 1954, the Bible easily topped the poll, with 36% of the vote, Shakespeare being pushed into third place (5%) after the works of Dickens (7%).

Catholic Church power

Almost half of Britons think the Catholic Church is among the most powerful institutions in the world, according to a YouGov app-based survey on 18 October 2016. Presented with a list of 11 organizations and asked to select the three they judged most powerful, 57% put the United States Central Intelligence Agency in first position, but the Catholic Church came second (on 49%), beating the United Nations into third place (40%). Islamic State (ISIS) was ranked tenth. Topline results are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/10/18/most-powerful-people-and-institutions-world-and-br/

Exorcism

Prompted by a recent report that young Catholic priests are not interested in becoming exorcists, an app-based survey by YouGov on 21 October 2016 asked Britons whether they believed people or places can be affected by evil spirits and, if so, whether an exorcist could help. One-third (34%) of all respondents said they believed in evil spirits, with 25% thinking exorcism efficacious and 9% not. The majority (58%) expressed belief in neither, while 7% gave other answers. Topline results are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/10/21/posting-childs-reaction-hearing-news-his-mother-ha/

Supernatural

One-half of Britons claim to have experienced paranormal activity in their home, according to a recent pre-Halloween survey commissioned by insurance broker Towergate. One-third say they have been frightened by the supernatural in their own home at night, and one-fifth admit to having called someone (generally a parent or partner) in the middle of the night to seek comfort or support in such circumstances. One person in six reports that they have seen a ghostly figure at home and one in eight that they have moved out of a former home because they were afraid it was haunted. Fear of the supernatural is an even greater deterrent to buying properties in certain locations, with 65% unwilling to purchase near an undertaker’s premises, 62% near a graveyard, and 60% near a sinister-looking church. Many would expect a substantial discount on the asking-price to be offered to tempt them to buy allegedly haunted accommodation, although 45% insist no reduction would be sufficient to overcome their anxieties. As yet, no details of the research (including about methodology) have appeared on Towergate’s website, and the preceding account has been compiled from coverage in the online edition of the Daily Express at:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/724495/Haunted-British-homes-paranormal-activity-research

Gay cake row

A Christian family bakery (Ashers) in Northern Ireland has recently lost its appeal against a conviction that found it guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake supporting same-sex marriage on the grounds that it would have been at odds with the family’s religious beliefs. On the eve of the appeal court’s judgment, on 24 October 2016, YouGov asked 5,490 Britons online whether it had been acceptable for the bakery to have refused the order. A plurality (46%) judged the defendants to have behaved acceptably, including 61% of Conservative and 65% of UKIP voters, and 58% of over-60s. Two-fifths deemed the bakery’s action unacceptable, with 18-24s especially condemnatory (60%). The remaining 14% of the sample were undecided. Full results can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/b97bd1a0-99c7-11e6-9434-005056901c24/question/bd5477f0-99c7-11e6-9434-005056901c24/toplines

Churches and the LGB community

Britons are somewhat divided about whether most Christian churches in the UK are welcoming to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Jayne Ozanne (a campaigner on LGB issues), for which 1,669 adults were interviewed online on 11-12 October 2016. A plurality (37%) was unsure what to say. One-third considered most churches were not welcoming to LGBs, the proportion reaching two-fifths among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, Roman Catholics, and religious nones. Three in ten electors judged the churches were welcoming to LGBs, the most optimistic sub-groups being Conservative supporters (38%), over-65s (40%), Christians as a whole (45%), and Anglicans (47%). Respondents were also asked a somewhat ambiguous lead-in question about whether the Church of England does or does not exist for everyone who wants to go to church, 47% thinking the former and 17% the latter. Full data tables are available at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ofq14j098u/JayneOZanneResults_161012_CofE_Website.pdf

Satisfaction with party leaders

BMG Research’s latest political party leader approval ratings were unusually disaggregated by religious affiliation. Summary results from the online interviews with 2,026 UK adults between 19 and 23 September 2016 are tabulated below, for all voters, professing Christians, and religious nones (too few non-Christians were included in the sample to be viable). The strongest finding to emerge is that a majority of Christians are satisfied with Theresa May’s performance as Prime Minister (54%) and dissatisfied with Jeremy Corbyn’s as Leader of the Opposition (57%). Religious nones, by contrast, exhibit a markedly below average approval rating for May and a slightly above average one for Corbyn. An age effect may partly explain these divergences, Christians having a relatively elderly and nones a younger profile. Religious differences were less pronounced in the case of Nigel Farage (whose performance very few could assess, in any case) and Nicola Sturgeon (although there was a nine-point dissatisfaction gap between Christians and nones). Data tables can be found at:

http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CONFIDENTIAL-BMG-POLL-Leadership-Approval-September-results-251016.pdf

% across

Satisfied Dissatisfied

Don’t know

Theresa May as Prime Minister
All voters

43

24

33

Christians

54

19

27

No religion

32

28

40

Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition
All voters

22

48

30

Christians

18

57

25

No religion

25

38

37

Nigel Farage as interim UKIP leader
All voters

11

17

72

Christians

14

15

72

No religion

7

18

75

Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish National Party leader
All voters

32

32

37

Christians

31

37

32

No religion

31

28

42

London attractions

A slight majority (58%) of Londoners claim to have visited St Paul’s Cathedral, placing it ninth in a list of 20 leading attractions in the capital, while 48% say they have been to Westminster Abbey (in sixteenth position). However, young Londoners (aged 18-24) are significantly less likely than the over-65s to have visited either of these two religious landmarks, 38% less in the case of the cathedral and 37% less for the abbey. The survey was conducted online by YouGov and is reported at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/10/04/natural-history-museum-tops-londoners-list-attract/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Legacies

A press briefing by Christian Legacy (a partnership of various Christian charities) in the run-up to Christian Legacy Week (17-23 October 2016) provided a miscellany of information about the state of the Christian legacy market in the UK. It revealed that Christian women are more likely to have included a charitable gift in their will than Christian men, 65% versus 35%. Christians overall are likely to spread their gifts across almost twice as many charities as non-Christians. Of all charitable legacies made in the past three years, 16% have been given to Christian charities or places of worship, with legacies accounting for 3% of the income of these charities. The briefing has yet to appear on the Christian Legacy website, but some previous ‘latest statistics’ can be found at:

http://www.christianlegacy.org.uk/about-christian-legacy/stats-and-facts

Christian Resources Exhibitions

The Christian Resources Exhibition held at Maidstone on 12-13 October 2016 seems set to be the last. Earlier this year, Bible Society – which acquired Christian Resources Exhibitions (CRE) in 2007 – announced that it was putting the enterprise up for sale. However, it has now admitted that no buyer has been found. CRE was founded by Christian businessman Gospatric Home in 1985 and incorporated as a private limited company in 1990. It has comprised an annual event (latterly known as CRE International) held in the South-East (most recently in London) in the late spring together with one or two smaller exhibitions each year at changing other venues. CRE was officially ranked as the country’s 47th largest consumer exhibition in 2007. Visitor numbers for the 1990s were published in UK Christian Handbook, Religious Trends, No. 2, 2000/01, p. 5.8, with around 10,000 attending CRE International, a figure still reached as late as 2011-12. However, there appears to have been some decline since, with 8,000 returned for the four-day event in 2015 and no figure seemingly published for 2016. CRE’s last reported annual turnover was £700,000 in 2005, since when the company has been dormant.

Baptist Assembly

The Baptist Assembly is the yearly gathering of delegates from the English and Welsh regional associations which constitute Baptists Together (Baptist Union of Great Britain).  It combines the transaction of the formal business of the Union (including its annual general meeting) with elements of a Christian conference. The future of the Assembly has been under review for some time, in the light of falling numbers and financial pressures, and different styles and formats have been trialled in recent years. To facilitate longer-term planning, an online survey was conducted after the one-day Assembly at Oxford in May 2016, and this was completed by a self-selecting sample of 1,000 Baptists, of whom 74% had attended Assembly at some point in the past and 53% were ministers. A preliminary report on the results of the survey, focusing especially on preferences for the length, timing, and financing of future Assemblies, has been published at: 

http://www.baptist.org.uk/Publisher/File.aspx?ID=180013

Catholic Directory

The Universe Media Group has announced its intention to relaunch the print edition of the Catholic Directory of England and Wales in November 2017, four years after its discontinuation, since when an online only edition has been made available. According to the latest editor’s newsletter (No. 4, 2016), this 2018 edition of the Catholic Directory will be comprehensively overhauled in terms of design and content, with several new sections introduced. However, no explicit mention is made of any plans to bring back the former statistical section, which was the sole national public domain source of current data about the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Convent schools

The significant historical contribution of convent schools to the education of Catholic and other pupils in England and Wales is celebrated in Tales out of School: Recollections of Ex-Convent Girls, edited by Anthony Spencer, Pat Pinsent, and Emma Shackle (Taunton: Russell-Spencer, 2016, [4] + v + 243p., ISBN 978-1-905270-74-3, paperback, £12.00 + £1.74 p&p, available from Russell-Spencer, Stone House, Hele, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 1AJ). The core of the book consists of the reminiscences of 40 women who attended convent schools between the 1930s and 1970s, submitted in response to Spencer’s appeal in The Tablet in 2012. Summative evaluation of the material and convent schools generally is provided by the editors, each of whom has written an essay from a particular perspective. Spencer’s chapter (pp. 197-215) is sociologically-focused and statistically informed by the research of the Newman Demographic Survey (NDS), which he directed. The volume as a whole is an initiative of the Pastoral Research Centre Trust, successor body to the NDS.

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Hate crimes

Home Office Statistical Bulletin 11/16, by Hannah Corcoran and Kevin Smith, reports on Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2015/16, as recorded by the police. There were 62,518 offences in which one or more hate crime strands were deemed to be a motivating factor, of which 4,400 (7%) were categorized as religious hate crimes, 34% more than in 2014/15 (almost double the 19% average rise for all forms of hate crime), although the increase may partly reflect improved notification and documentation of incidents. A good deal of the data and analysis combines, unhelpfully from our perspective, racially and religiously motivated offences, including in Annex A which examines the trends in hate crime before and after the referendum on 23 June 2016 on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The report and associated data tables can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2015-to-2016

Religion of prisoners

A snapshot of the prison population of England and Wales as at 30 September 2016 has revealed that 48.6% of prisoners professed to be Christian, 20.5% non-Christian, and 30.8% to have no religion. The number of Christians was 2.0% down on the figure for 30 September 2015 while religious nones increased by 0.8% during the year. There was also a 2.3% rise in Muslim prisoners over the twelve months; they now account for 15.1% of all prisoners. The overwhelming majority (95.3%) of prisoners without religion is male, although there are actually proportionately fewer nones among men (30.7%) than women (32.5%). Full details can be found in table 1.5 of the spreadsheet ‘Prison Population, 30 September 2016’ at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/offender-management-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2016

Anti-Semitism

Antisemitism in the UK is the tenth report of the 2016-17 session of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. It considers alternative definitions of anti-Semitism (pp. 8-15) and reviews the evidence base for its prevalence in the UK – among the general public (pp. 16-26), on university campuses (pp. 33-7), and in political discourse and parties (pp. 38-49, with special reference to the Labour Party) – as well as the response of Government and the justice system (pp. 27-32). An annex (pp. 58-61) presents details of police-recorded anti-Semitic crimes. The statistical evidence is neatly summarized in a ‘key facts’ section (pp. 3-4), which incorporates links to the original sources. Most of these have already featured on the British Religion in Numbers website, but mention should be made of one which has not, a survey in May 2016 of 2,026 Labour Party members who joined after the 2015 General Election, carried out on behalf of the ESRC Party Members Project. The Committee concludes, inter alia, that, although the UK remains one of the least anti-Semitic countries in Europe, recent trends in incidents and attitudes show it to be moving ‘in the wrong direction’ (p. 51). Its report is available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/136/136.pdf

Results concerning anti-Semitism and the Labour Party from the ESRC Party Members Project will be found in its submission to the Labour Party’s own enquiry chaired by the now Baroness Chakrabarti at:

https://esrcpartymembersprojectorg.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/balewebbpolettisubmission4chakrabarti3rdjune2016-1.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion

Volume 27 (2016) of Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion is sub-divided into a miscellany of five articles and a special section of seven contributions on prayer guest-edited by Kevin Ladd. Each section contains one article of United Kingdom quantitative interest. The miscellany includes Leslie Francis, Patrick Laycock, and Gemma Penny, ‘Distinguishing between Spirituality and Religion: Accessing the Worldview Correlates of 13- to 15-Year-Old Students in England and Wales’ (pp. 43-67), based on 2,728 respondents to the Young People’s Values Survey, and employing discriminant function analysis to isolate the specific combinations of attitudes and values which distinguished young people who described themselves as religious but not spiritual from those who saw themselves as spiritual but not religious. Among the papers in the prayer section is Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny, ‘Prayer, Personality, and Purpose in Life: An Empirical Enquiry among Adolescents in the UK’ (pp. 192-209), drawing upon questionnaires completed by 10,792 participants in the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity project (see, also, next item), and demonstrating that prayer frequency adds additional prediction of enhanced levels of purpose in life after taking all other variables into account. The volume’s webpage can be found at:

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/books/9789004322035?showtab=chapters

Religious diversity

The 16 chapters in Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity, edited by Elisabeth Arweck (London: Routledge, 2017, xi + 303 pp., ISBN 978-1-4724-4430-1, £95.00, hardback) substantially report the findings of the AHRC/ESRC-funded project of the same name which was undertaken at the University of Warwick’s Religions and Education Research Unit in 2009-12. The research involved both qualitative and quantitative strands, each represented by six contributions in the book, the qualitative essays written by Arweck or Julia Ipgrave and the quantitative ones by Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny together with another co-author in five instances. For the quantitative strand, questionnaires were completed in 2011-12 by 11,725 13- to 15-year-old students attending state-maintained schools with and without a religious character in five geographical areas (London, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). The results for each area are analysed in a separate chapter, positioned as a response to a research question suggested by previous scholarly research and debate in that particular area. The final section of the volume is given over to three international case studies, from Canada, the United States, and Germany. The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.routledge.com/Young-Peoples-Attitudes-to-Religious-Diversity/Arweck/p/book/9781472444301

Secularization

Clive Field was recently invited to speak about ‘Measuring Secularization in Britain’ as one of the series of Sunday evening talks on ‘Religion and Conflict’ at Somerville College Chapel, Oxford. His presentation slides have been made available at:

Presentations

Non-religion

If, as is often claimed, no religion is the fastest-growing religion in the western world, then the study of non-religion can equally be observed to be the fastest-growing area in religious scholarship. One of the latest monographs in the field is Phil Zuckerman, Luke Galen, and Frank Pasquale, The Nonreligious: Understanding Secular People and Societies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, v + 327 pp., ISBN 978-0-19-992494-1, £16.99, paperback). The volume provides a guide to the English-language social scientific literature about non-religion, as listed in its substantial bibliography (pp. 261-309). Although the focus of the book is international, the arrangement is largely thematic, so there is no systematic discussion of the situation, nor collation of the statistical evidence, for particular countries. There are some scattered references to the United Kingdom, the most substantive of which is on pp. 75-6. The title’s webpage is at:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-nonreligious-9780199924943?q=Zuckerman&lang=en&cc=gb

Ministry and history

The extent, nature, and practical implications of the engagement of Christian ministers with both general and religious history are explored by John Tomlinson in ‘Ministry and History: A Survey of Over 300 Religious Practitioners’, Theology and Ministry, Vol. 4, 2016, pp. 2.1-15. Data derive from a postal questionnaire completed in 2013-15 by 49% of 610 ordained clergy and ministers in five denominations working in parts of the East and West Midlands. The article is available on an open access basis at:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/theologyandministry/TheologyandMinistry4_2.pdf

Anglican identities

Abby Day has edited an interesting interdisciplinary collection of 14 chapters on global Anglicanism: Contemporary Issues in the Worldwide Anglican Communion: Powers and Pieties (Farnham: Ashgate, 2016, xviii + 270 pp., ISBN 978-1-4724-4413-4, £65.00, hardback). Although there is a fair amount of specifically Britain-related content, the volume’s approach is overwhelmingly qualitative. Indeed, it is highly revealing (and not a little unusual) that its editor has prevailed upon the authors of the only substantial quantitative research article to write up their findings in a narrative rather than numerical form. This essay is by Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny, ‘Belonging without Practising: Exploring the Religious, Social, and Personal Significance of Anglican Identities among Adolescent Males’ (pp. 55-71). The chapter profiles the worldviews (across 10 themes) of two groups of 13- to 15-year-old students from secondary schools in England and Wales, 1,800 religiously unaffiliated and 1,488 professing Anglicans (further sub-divided by frequency of churchgoing into four sub-groups). The book’s webpage is at:

https://www.routledge.com/Contemporary-Issues-in-the-Worldwide-Anglican-Communion-Powers-and-Pieties/Day/p/book/9781472444134

Methodism and social inclusion

Despite its avowed preferential option for the poor, there is no evidence that the Methodist Church in Britain is targeting its resources towards the most deprived communities, according to new research by Michael Hirst. He has analysed cross-sectional and longitudinal data for the distribution of Methodist personnel (ministers, members, and connexional lay appointees), churches, and schools against a widely accepted 38-item index of neighbourhood deprivation for both Lower Layer Super Output Areas and Middle Layer Super Output Areas in England. He found that the immediate surroundings of most Methodist churches typify areas in the middle of the deprivation spectrum while few Methodist schools serve areas of significant deprivation. Moreover, ministers and lay appointees live predominantly in the least deprived neighbourhoods and increasingly so. Hirst’s ‘Poverty, Place, and Presence: Positioning Methodism in England, 2001 to 2011’ is published in the open access journal Theology and Ministry, Vol. 4, 2016, pp. 4.1-25 at:

https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/theologyandministry/TheologyandMinistry4_4.pdf

British and Australian Quakers

A comparison of the beliefs and practices of British and Australian Quakers is offered by Peter Williams and Jennifer Hampton in ‘Results from the First National Survey of Quaker Belief and Practice in Australia and Comparison with the 2013 British Survey’, Quaker Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, June 2016, pp. 95-119. The 2014 Australian study replicated 42 questions from the 2013 British enquiry (whose results were reported by Hampton in Quaker Studies, Vol. 19, 2014-15, pp. 7-136). Answers to half of these questions were remarkably similar in both surveys, but Australian respondents were found to be more likely than their British peers to describe prayer and their activities in meetings for worship as meditation; to describe the Quaker business method as finding a consensus; to believe Quakers can be helped by hearing about the religious experiences of other groups; and to be involved with other social or religious organizations or issues. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/pdf/10.3828/quaker.2016.21.1.7

Catholic churchgoing

Ben Clements illuminates ‘Weekly Churchgoing amongst Roman Catholics in Britain: Long-Term Trends and Contemporary Analysis’ for the online first edition of Journal of Beliefs and Values. In the first half of the paper, four recurrent sources (British Election Studies, British Social Attitudes Surveys, European Values Studies, and European Social Surveys) are used to document a clear over-time decline in self-reported weekly church attendance by Catholic adults. In the second half, an online survey of British Catholics by YouGov in 2010 is analysed to isolate the socio-demographic correlates of regular churchgoing, weekly attenders being shown to be disproportionately older, of higher socio-economic status, and to have children in the household. Somewhat contrary to generic expectation, however, the effects of gender and ethnicity were not found to be significant. The investigation did not extend to an examination of trends in actual Mass-going by Catholics, which has been recorded by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales for more than half a century and also in the ecumenical English Church Censuses between 1979 and 2005. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1237422

Islamophobia

A cross-national study, undertaken in 15 European countries (including the United Kingdom) belonging to the Dublin System (which coordinates asylum policy in Europe), has revealed a marked anti-Muslim bias (and a corresponding pro-Christian bias) in attitudes to hypothetical asylum seekers. Data were collected by Respondi from internet panels in February-March 2016, a total of 18,030 adults being questioned online, among them 1,201 in the United Kingdom. Using a seven-point scale, where 1 denoted sending the applicant back to their country of origin and 7 granting permission to stay, each respondent was asked to rate the profiles of five pairs of asylum seekers according to nine different attributes, one of which was their religion (Christian, Muslim, or agnostic). Results are reported in an 11-page article and 121 pages of supplementary materials (mainly figures and regression tables) published in the First Release edition of Science on 22 September 2016: Kirk Bansak, Jens Hainmueller, and Dominik Hangartner, ‘How Economic, Humanitarian, and Religious Concerns Shape European Attitudes toward Asylum Seekers’. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/09/22/science.aag2147

Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Volume 7 (Leiden: Brill, 2016, xx + 620 pp., ISSN 1877-1432, €179.00, hardback) has been compiled by a team of five editors led by Oliver Scharbrodt. It comprises an introductory essay by Jonathan Laurence (pp. 1-10) and 44 country overviews, including one on the United Kingdom by Asma Mustafa (pp. 607-20). Commencing with this volume, statistical and demographic data have been relegated to an appendix for each chapter, which, in the case of the United Kingdom (pp. 616-17), is mainly drawn from the 2011 population census. The text of each country report otherwise focuses on developments affecting Islam and Muslims during 2014. The British Religion in Numbers source database records 53 relevant surveys for 2014, including those relating to the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair in Birmingham schools and the rise of Islamic State, but none of these is mentioned by Mustafa whose contribution runs to only half the length allotted to Belgium. The volume’s webpage is at:

http://www.brill.com/products/book/yearbook-muslims-europe-volume-7

Muslim labour market penalty

In the latest paper in his series based on UK Labour Force data for 2002-13, Nabil Khattab uses descriptive and multivariate analysis to illuminate ‘The Ethno-Religious Wage Gap within the British Salariat Class: How Severe is the Penalty?’ Although he discovered substantial differences in gross hourly pay between different ethno-religious groups, he contends that they cannot be attributed to pure ethnic or religious discrimination. Nor did he find evidence for an overarching ‘Muslim penalty’, as suggested by some other scholars, notwithstanding two Muslim groups (Muslim-Bangladeshi and Muslim-Pakistani) experienced greater disadvantage than many of the ten other ethno-religious groups included in the study. The article was published in the August 2016 issue of Sociology (Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 813-24), and the full text is freely available at:

http://soc.sagepub.com/content/50/4/813

Halal meat

Animals slaughtered for Muslim consumption must meet specific requirements laid down in the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. In particular, animals must be alive at the point of ritual cut, with many Muslims traditionally believing pre-stunning prior to slaughter to be non-reversible and contrary to Halal principles. To assess current views, Awal Fuseini, Steve Wotton, Phil Hadley, and Toby Knowles surveyed 66 Islamic scholars and a non-random and disproportionately male sample of 314 consumers of Halal meat in the UK between October 2015 and March 2016. The study was funded by the Halal Food Foundation. The majority of both scholars (95%) and consumers (53%) agreed that, if an animal is stunned and then slaughtered by a Muslim and the method of stunning does not result in death, cause physical injury, or obstruct bleed-out, then the meat could be considered Halal-compliant. ‘The Perception and Acceptability of Pre-Slaughter and Post-Slaughter Stunning for Halal Production: The Views of UK Islamic Scholars and Halal Consumers’ is published in Meat Science, Vol. 123, January 2017, pp. 143-50. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174016303151

 

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

 

Posted in church attendance, Historical studies, Measuring religion, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Counting Religion in Britain, September 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 12, September 2016 features 26 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: no-12-september-2016

OPINION POLLS

Religious affiliation

Lord Ashcroft’s latest large-scale political poll, conducted online among 8,011 voters between 11 and 22 August 2016, included his customary question about professed ‘membership’ of religious groups. As the following table indicates, the proportion identifying with no religion has increased steadily in similarly-sized Ashcroft surveys for the second half of each year since 2011, by almost five points over this quinquennium. There has been a corresponding reduction in self-identifying Christians, who seem destined to lose their overall majority share within a matter of years. Indeed, religious nones are already in the ascendant among under-35s and supporters of green and nationalist political parties. Full breaks by demographics are contained in table 65 at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/The-New-Blueprint-Full-data-tables-Sept-2016.pdf

% down

2011

2012 2013 2014 2015

2016

Christian

56.0

54.2 52.6 53.2 51.2

51.4

Non-Christian

6.4

7.3 7.4 6.5 6.5

6.1

None

35.8

36.3 37.7 37.9 40.1

40.5

Prefer not to say

1.8

2.2 2.3 2.3 2.1

2.0

Importance of religion

Asked in a YouGov Daily app-based survey on 14 August 2016 about the importance they attached to their religion, 47% of Britons replied that they had no religious beliefs. Of the remainder, 13% said religion was very important to them, 16% somewhat important, and 21% not very important. Topline results are published at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/14/funding-farmers-lose-memory-personal-importance-re/

Obsessions

Just 4% of Britons admitted to being obsessed about religion, according to another YouGov Daily app-based survey on 28 September 2016. Given a list of ten things to be obsessed about, 44% said they were obsessed about none of them. Money (29%), food (26%), and politics (18%) topped the list of obsessions, with religion coming in joint last position with the arts. Topline results are published at: 

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/09/28/david-cameron-and-theresa-may-claims-and-counter-c/

Human extinction

Almost half of Britons (49%) anticipate that the human race will die out at some stage, according to YouGov, which interviewed a sample of 1,581 adults online on 11-12 September 2016. The remainder did not believe it would expire or were unsure what to think. Asked to pick up to three from a list of 12 possible causes of human extinction, the top-rated choices were a nuclear bomb (38%), climate change (31%), a pandemic (27%), and a meteor or asteroid (26%). But 8% considered that a religious apocalypse could bring human life to an end, rising to 18% of UKIP voters and 12% of 18-24s. Still more, 27%, agreed that the government should be developing contingency plans against a religious apocalypse, varying by demographic sub-groups between 22% and 36%. Full data tables can be accessed via the link in the blog post at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/09/26/end-isnt-nigh/

Burkas and burkinis

Debate about Islamic women’s dress, notably the wearing of burkas and/or burkinis in public, reignited in several European countries during the summer. In Britain, according to an online poll by YouGov on 24-25 August 2016, a majority (57%) of the sample of 1,668 adults was in favour of a law banning the wearing of the burka, three points less than in 2012, with 25% opposed to a prohibition and 18% undecided. Endorsement of a ban was highest among Conservatives (66%), persons aged 50-64 (68%), over-65s (78%), people who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union (78%), and UKIP supporters (84%). Only among 18-24s and those who had voted to remain in the European Union did opponents outnumber proponents, albeit they never constituted a majority. The distribution of female opinion was broadly the same as the national average. However, when it came to the burkini, just a plurality of 46% agreed with a legal ban, with 30% against (including almost half of 18-24s and ‘remainers’) and 24% unsure. The lower level of support for prohibition of the burkini may be related to the fact that, unlike the burka (as popularly defined), it does not cover the face. Detailed results can be accessed via YouGov’s blog post on the survey at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/31/majority-public-backs-burka-ban/

Attitudes to the burkini were further explored in another YouGov poll, for which 4,052 Britons were interviewed online on 31 August 2016. The question this time was not whether the burkini should be legal in the UK but, following controversy in France, whether it is acceptable to wear one at the beach. A small majority (51%) thought it was acceptable, but 35% disagreed (including 61% of UKIP voters and 46% of over-60s), with 14% uncertain. Data are posted at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/2fc0ca50-6f66-11e6-87b8-005056900101

Circumcision

In 2013 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution about violation of the physical integrity of children which, inter alia, expressed concern about the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons. The matter was aired in one of YouGov Daily’s app-based surveys on 5 August 2016, respondents being asked whether infant male circumcision should be banned or not. Four options were given, multiple answers being permitted. In reply, two-fifths of Britons said that it should be banned with a further one-quarter wanting it discouraged. Support for circumcision on religious grounds stood at 14%, the same proportion as thinking the practice should be encouraged for health reasons. Topline results are published at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/05/circumcision/

Anti-Semitism (1)

Concerns that anti-Semitism has not been rooted out of the Labour Party will not go away. The latest revelation is that 87% of a sample of 1,864 British Jewish adults felt that the Labour Party is too tolerant of anti-Semitism among its MPs, members, and supporters. Significant numbers of Jews also said the same about the Green Party (49%), the United Kingdom Independence Party (43%), the Scottish National Party (40%), and the Liberal Democrat Party (37%). Only the Conservative Party (13%) is perceived as having a good track record at combating anti-Semitism in its midst. The survey was commissioned by the Campaign against Antisemitism, and full results will be released in October 2016 as part of the Campaign’s Antisemitism Barometer. Meanwhile, its press release can be found at:

https://antisemitism.uk/caa-launches-manifesto-for-fighting-antisemitism-as-poll-reveals-extent-of-antisemitism-crisis/

Anti-Semitism (2)

One-third of 3,660 Britons interviewed online by YouGov on 27 September 2016 agreed (either strongly or somewhat) that anti-Semitism has become so deeply entrenched in our thought and culture that it is often ignored and dismissed. The proportion thinking so was highest among the over-60s (42%) and lowest for UKIP voters (26%). Dissentients numbered 37% while 30% of respondents did not know what to think. Demographic breakdowns of results are at:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/ec63a420-8497-11e6-b0e1-005056900101

Lucky charms

Avid television viewers of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games may have noticed many athletes carrying lucky charms or performing little routines to bring them luck. Respondents to one of YouGov Daily’s app-based surveys of Britons on 17 August 2016 were asked whether they thought these charms and routines actually helped athletes to do well. Only 9% said they had no effect whatsoever, as many as 86% perceiving a psychological benefit in helping the athletes’ state of mind. A further 4% agreed with this suggestion but also believed that lucky charms and routines can genuinely bring about good luck. Topline results are published at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/17/state-schools-and-oxbridge-luck-charms-gdp-and-len/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Funeral music

Even funerals are no longer immune from secularization. Not only is the proportion of them conducted by religious celebrants fast diminishing, but religion is disappearing from their content. Co-operative Funeralcare’s latest biennial survey of funeral music confirms the trend, 54% of its funeral directors stating that hymns are the funeral music genre declining fastest in popularity. In a survey of over 30,000 funerals conducted by the group, seven of the top ten pieces of funeral music in 2016 were secular, the chart being headed by Frank Sinatra’s My Wat. Although the other three were hymns, they had all slipped since the 2014 rating: The Lord is My Shepherd from second to fifth position, Abide with Me from third to ninth, and All Things Bright and Beautiful from sixth to seventh. Outside the top ten, the next most requested hymns were How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, and The Old Rugged Cross. Co-operative Funeralcare’s press release is at:

http://www.co-operativefuneralcare.co.uk/arranging-a-funeral/organising-the-day/funeral-music/Survey/2016/

Christians and the supernatural

Two-thirds of practising Christians in the UK claim to have personally experienced the supernatural, more than half of them during the past year and one-quarter in the previous week. This is according to a study conducted by Christian Research in July 2016 among 1,409 self-selecting members of its online Resonate panel, disproportionately Protestant, male, and over 55 years of age. Most of the claimed experiences involved answered prayer and healing. Two-thirds of the sample thought that paranormal or evil forces could be behind the supernatural as well as the divine, and a similar proportion agreed that an over-emphasis on ‘miracles’ gave Christianity a bad name. The survey was commissioned to coincide with the launch of a new book written by the co-pastors of Soul Survivor Watford: Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft, Everyday Supernatural: Living a Spirit-Led Life without Being Weird (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2016, 239pp., ISBN 978-0-7814-1499-9, $16.99, paperback). However, it should be noted that no results appear in the book itself. The foregoing account is largely based on the coverage by Premier Christian Radio and the Church Times at, respectively:

https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Two-thirds-of-UK-Christians-have-experienced-the-supernatural

and

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/2-september/news/uk/christians-supernatural-experiences-surveyed

Contemporary evangelicals

The Evangelical Alliance is celebrating its 170th anniversary. As part of the commemoration, it has conducted another wave in its 21st Century Evangelicals project. Almost 1,500 members of its self-selecting research panel were interviewed online. Some headline findings from the study are published in an article in the September-October 2016 issue of the Alliance’s IDEA Magazine (pp. 14-15). Overwhelmingly, evangelicals said they were committed to sharing the gospel with their personal networks and to passing on the Christian faith to the next generation. However, 62% also believed British evangelicalism would increasingly depend upon the contribution of black and minority ethnic Christians, with 71% looking to growing immigration and the arrival of asylum seekers as a further opportunity to evangelize. Asked about future priorities for the Alliance, the protection of religious liberty topped the list. The article is freely available online at:

http://www.eauk.org/idea/upload/idea_magazine_septoct2016_webversion.pdf

Church Growth in East London

In Church Growth in East London: A Grassroots View, recently published by the Centre for Theology & Community, Beth Green, Angus Ritchie, and Tim Thorlby summarize insights into church growth derived from interviews with 13 church leaders in East London between March and May 2014. Eight of the places of worship visited were Anglican, and the rest from other traditions (one Baptist, one Pentecostal, one Roman Catholic, and two non-denominational). Nine of the 13 had black majority congregations. Seven reported numerical growth during the previous five years. Church-planting and immigration were identified as the two distinctive factors which have helped growth. The 52-page report, including reflections by the Bishop of Chelmsford (Stephen Cottrell) and recommendations for future action, can be found at:

http://www.theology-centre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Church-Growth-digital.pdf

Church bell-ringing

The centuries-old tradition of church bell-ringing may be under threat because of a shortage of new recruits. This is according to a survey, by BBC local radio, of 180 delegates to the 2016 annual conference of the Central Conference of Church Bell Ringers. Three-quarters of the delegates said that it had become harder during the past ten years to attract new members of any age, and an even higher proportion claimed that it was difficult to recruit young people under 21. More than half (54%) agreed that declining church attendance had exacerbated the problem. At the same time, three-fifths of delegates thought the actual demand for bell-ringing had increased in the previous decade. The BBC’s press release about the survey is at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37257729

Church of England parochial finance

A 28-page report on the Church of England’s parish finance statistics for 2014 has revealed a £41 million or 4% surplus of income (£989 million) over expenditure (£948 million). Viewed as absolute figures, total income has increased by 30% since 2004 and income from planned giving (as opposed to the collection plate and other means) by as much as 53%, even though the number of planned givers has fallen steadily since 2007, in line with declining church attendance. In real terms, however, adjusting for inflation, overall income has dropped by 5% since 2004 and planned giving by 8% since 2009, while expenditure has remained fairly steady. Data are reported nationally for each year from 2004 to 2014 and by diocese for 2014 alone. Parish Finance Statistics, 2014 can be found at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2853794/2014financestatistics.pdf

Church of England ministry

Two new reports from the Church of England exemplify the challenges which it faces with regard to the future availability of stipendiary and other clergy. The 18-page Ministry Statistics in Focus: Stipendiary Clergy Projections, 2015-2035 has been prepared by Research and Statistics and derives from the Church Commissioners’ payroll system. It shows that, if the number of ordinands and average retirement age remain unchanged (the status quo model), then the pool of stipendiary clergy will decline steadily, from 7,400 in 2016 to 6,300 in 2035. Of the three other projection models explored, only achievement of the ambitious Renewal and Reform target of a 50% increase in ordinations by 2023, and its maintenance thereafter, would ensure stability in stipendiary clergy numbers at around 7,600 full-time equivalents. The second report, Ordained Vocations Statistics, 1949-2014, runs to 22 pages and has been compiled by the Ministry Division. It charts the annual number of recommended candidates for the various forms of Anglican ministry (not just stipendiary) and, since 1988, their demographic characteristics (gender, age, and ethnicity). There is a particular focus on the years 2010-14 and there are also brief case studies of three dioceses. Both reports can be accessed via:  

https://churchsupporthub.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Cover-note-for-stats-reports-FINAL-LINKS.pdf

Church of England cathedrals

Cathedral Statistics, 2015 have recently been released by Church of England Research and Statistics. The 18-page annual publication contains the usual range of information about numbers of worshippers, communicants, occasional offices, attenders at other activities, volunteers, visitors, names on the community roll, and musical life in the 42 English cathedrals, often with trend data back to 2005. Unsurprisingly, the largest metric was for visitors, 9,490,000 (albeit 7% down from the recent high in 2013) plus a further 1,040,000 at Westminster Abbey. The report can be found at:  

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2859050/2015_cathedral_statistics.pdf

Church in Wales statistics

The annual report on Church in Wales membership and finance for 2015 generally depicted ongoing decline. Of 12 indicators of participation in parish life, only two showed an absolute increase between 2014 and 2015: confirmations (+7%) and funerals (+1%). By contrast, there was a 6% decrease in the number of weddings and a 5% reduction in Sunday attendance by both adults and young people and in Pentecost communicants. Average Sunday congregations have now fallen below 1% of the Welsh population. The Church’s Governing Body, at its recent meeting in Lampeter, had originally been asked merely to ‘take note of’ the report but it was in no mood simply to do that and passed a resolution that it did so ‘with a heavy heart’ and with a request for an urgent investigation into the factors underlying church growth in the minority of parishes which were experiencing it. The membership and finance report is available at:

http://cinw.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Ag19-MembershipFinance_en.pdf

The Governing Body’s debate on the report received full-page coverage in the Church Times (23 September 2016, p. 13) at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/23-september/news/uk/declining-figures-noted-with-a-heavy-heart

Jewish students

The Union of Jewish Students, which represents 8,500 Jewish students in the United Kingdom and Ireland, has provided The Jewish Chronicle with the 2016 distribution of Jewish university students, summarized by the newspaper in its issue of 23 September 2016 (p. 88). Three universities (Birmingham, Leeds, and Nottingham) have more than 1,000 Jewish students. Five have more than 500: Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, and University College London. Nine have more than 100, 10 more than 50, and 29 fewer than 50.

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Scottish Household Survey, 2015

The proportion of Scots claiming to belong to no religion has increased from two-fifths to one-half within the space of just six years, according to the latest data from the Scottish Household Survey, for which a random sample of almost 10,000 adults is interviewed annually by a consortium led by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Scottish Government. The growth in religious nones has largely been at the expense of allegiance to the Church of Scotland, whose market share has declined from one-third to one-quarter since 2009. Adherents of the Roman Catholic and other Christian Churches and of non-Christian faiths have shown reasonable stability (see table, below). Non-Christians, however, are far more likely than affiliates of other religious to record that they have been subject to discrimination or harassment within the past three years, although this is not necessarily on religious grounds. Scotland’s People Annual Report: Results from the 2015 Scottish Household Survey is available, alongside associated data tables, at:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/7673/0

% down

2009

2011 2013

2015

None

40

42 46

50

Church of Scotland

34

32 28

25

Roman Catholic

15

16 15

14

Other Christian

8

8 8

8

Non-Christian

3

3 3

3

Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, 2015

The Scottish Government has also published the 103-page report Scottish Social Attitudes, 2015: Attitudes to Discrimination and Positive Action. It is based on the fourth in a series of special discrimination modules of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey which the Scottish Government has sponsored since 2002, for which 1,288 Scottish residents aged 18 and over were interviewed by ScotCen Social Research between July 2015 and January 2016. They were questioned about discrimination and positive action in relation to age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, and religion. Religion-related issues are discussed throughout the report but there is also a separate chapter (pp. 53-9) on religious dress and symbols. In general, discriminatory attitudes were found to have declined since the last module in 2010, including on the part of those with a religious affiliation. Nevertheless, varying degrees of negativity continued to be exhibited towards Muslims:

  • 65% thought a bank should definitely or probably be able to insist a Muslim woman employee remove the veil while at work (69% in 2010)
  • 41% agreed that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Scotland (50% in 2010)
  • 41% did not know anybody who was a Muslim (46% in 2010)
  • 20% would be unhappy if a close relative married or formed a long-term relationship with a Muslim (23% in 2010)
  • 18% thought a bank should definitely or probably be able to insist a Muslim woman employee remove the headscarf while at work (23% in 2010)
  • 13% considered a Muslim would be unsuitable as a primary school teacher (15% in 2010)

The report can be downloaded from:

http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00506463.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Secularization in Britain and America (1)

Half a century has passed since Bryan Wilson (1926-2004) published his Religion in Secular Society: A Sociological Comment as part of ‘The New Thinker’s Library’, a series from C. A. Watts, which was a small London firm associated with the rationalist movement. The sociology of religion was still in its infancy in Britain at that time, but Wilson offered a pithy assessment of the secularization pattern in England, including an opening chapter summarizing the quantitative evidence, as well as a comparative treatment of religion in America. Reprinted by Penguin in 1969, his book quickly established itself as the key international text for the modern theory or paradigm of secularization.

Now Steve Bruce, who has assumed Wilson’s mantle as the leading exponent of secularization, has edited Religion in Secular Society: Fifty Years On (Oxford University Press, 2016, xix + 258pp., ISBN 978-0-19-878837-9, £27.50, hardback). It reproduces the full text of the 1969 edition of Wilson’s work, together with an introduction and two appendices by Bruce. The introduction (pp. vii-xix) provides a short biography of Wilson and a commentary on the style and argument of Religion in Secular Society. The first appendix (pp. 231-40) summarizes and evaluates the most common or important criticisms of Wilson’s thesis, while the second (pp. 241-58) outlines the major changes in the nature and status of religion in the United Kingdom (with a goodly use of statistics) and United States during the past 50 years. Bruce concludes that: ‘By and large, the record of changes in “religion in secular society” since 1966 fits Wilson’s secularization model better than it fits the alternatives.’ The book’s webpage is at: 

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/religion-in-secular-society-9780198788379?q=Religion%20in%20secular%20society&lang=en&cc=gb

Secularization in Britain and America (2)

Most scholarship has asserted that the United States is an exception to the secularization model in Western societies, on account of its much higher levels of religiosity. But, focusing on trends rather than levels, David Voas and Mark Chaves argue in a recent article in American Journal of Sociology (Vol. 121, No. 5, March 2016, pp. 1517-56) that the United States should no longer be regarded as a counter-example to secularization. This is for two reasons: (a) American religiosity is now known to have been declining for decades and (b) this decline has been produced by the same generational patterns as characterize religious declension elsewhere in the West, with each successive cohort less religious than the preceding one. This intergenerational effect is documented by the authors through analysis of population census data for Australia (1971-2011) and New Zealand (1986-2013) and cross-sectional survey data for the United States (1972-2014), Canada (1985-2012), and Britain (1983-2013). The British findings (discussed on pp. 1530-4) derive from the British Social Attitudes Surveys, three-survey moving averages demonstrating that religious affiliation has reduced from one cohort to the next for years of birth going back to the beginning of the twentieth century, especially in the early post-war decades. Access options for ‘Is the United States a Counterexample to the Secularization Thesis?’ are outlined at:

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/684202

Theistic belief

Research in the empirical psychology of religion is increasingly characterized by the deployment of attitude scales. In 2012 Jeff Astley, Leslie Francis, and Mandy Robbins proposed the use of the seven-item Astley-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Theistic Belief as a means of operationalizing measurement of attitudes across the major theistic faith traditions. The psychometric properties of this scale have now been further examined among three sub-samples (cumulative N = 10,678) drawn from the 2011-12 Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity project, for which year 9 and 10 pupils (aged 13-15) attending state-maintained secondary schools throughout the United Kingdom completed questionnaires. The data supported the internal consistency reliability and construct validity of the instrument with all three groups and thus confirmed its suitability for application in subsequent research. The full report can be found in Leslie Francis and Christopher Alan Lewis, ‘Internal Consistency Reliability and Construct Validity of the Astley-Francis Scale of Attitude toward Theistic Faith among Religiously Unaffiliated, Christian, and Muslim Youth in the UK’, Mental Health, Religion, and Culture, Vol. 19, No. 5, 2016, pp. 484-92. Access options to the article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13674676.2016.1206871

Science and religion

Berry Billingsley explored the attitudes toward science and religion of 670 pupils aged 14-17 from eight English secondary schools for a paper read at the recent annual conference of the British Educational Research Association. The results showed that for many respondents science was an insufficient explanation of what it means to be a person, with 54% believing humans have souls, 52% that life has an ultimate purpose, and 45% in God. The paper was briefly reported by TES at:

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/troubled-souls-a-higher-purpose-new-study-shows-how-pupils-view

NEW DATASET AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 8012: Scottish Election Study, 2011

The Scottish Parliament Election Study, 2011 was conducted online by YouGov on behalf of the Universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, and Essex and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council. A panel of 2,046 Scottish electors was interviewed both pre- and post-election, between 25 April 2011 and 24 April 2012. The questionnaire covered a range of political and related topics, the answers to which can be analysed by two religious variables: religious affiliation (using a belonging form of question) and frequency of attendance at religious services. A catalogue description for the dataset can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8012&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

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Counting Religion in Britain, August 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 11, August 2016 features 25 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 11 August 2016

OPINION POLLS

Weddings in church

Only 11% of Britons now claim to attend religious services at least monthly (the conventional definition of ‘regularly’ these days), and 65% admit they never or practically never attend. Nevertheless, a slight majority (52%) still considers it is acceptable to have a church wedding even if you are not a regular churchgoer or not religious, against 31% who deem it unacceptable and 17% who do not know what to think. Discounting those in a civil partnership (too few for the results to be meaningful), the demographic sub-group least likely to judge a church wedding acceptable in these circumstances are people living as married (44%), with divorced persons (37%) most likely to consider it inappropriate. The questions were asked by YouGov as part of an online survey of 1,692 adults on 8-9 August 2016 on the subject of wedding customs, and full data tables are available via the link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/10/majority-wedding-traditions-are-still-popular-dont/

In practice, of course, only a minority of individuals marrying now opt for a religious ceremony. In England and Wales in 2013, the last year reported, the proportion was 28%, the lowest figure since the commencement of civil registration in the early Victorian era.

Religious conversion

The overwhelming majority of Britons (85%) would not be prepared to convert to a religion, if asked to do so by a long-term romantic partner, the proportion consistently exceeding four-fifths in all demographic sub-groups. This was a far greater number than expressed unwillingness to agree to any of a partner’s 11 other requests, only opposition to becoming a vegan (76%) and cutting off contact with a friend (71%) coming close. Just over one-tenth (11%) were unsure how they would respond to being asked by their partner to convert to a religion, while 5% said they had already done so or would be prepared to do so, peaking at 7% of adults aged 18-24 years. The survey was conducted by YouGov among an online sample of 1,652 persons on 28-29 July 2016, and the data table can be accessed via a link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/01/id-do-anything-love-i-wont-do/

Economic migrants

Religion is not a factor which Britons deem important when considering whether an economic migrant should be allowed into the UK, according to a poll by YouGov on 24-25 August 2016, for which 1,668 adults were interviewed online. In fact, it came bottom of a list of 14 characteristics, just 31% saying the religion of economic migrants was significant and 59% not. The demographic sub-groups most likely to think religion was an issue to be taken into account were people who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the referendum on 23 June (44%), over-65s (45%), and UKIP voters (60%). Overall, Britons attached greatest weight as economic immigration criteria to having a criminal record, proficiency in English, level of education, and possession of skills in an area where the UK has a skills shortage. The data tables can be accessed via a link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/26/one-five-say-uk-should-not-admit-single-migrant-tu/

Jews and DIY

Do-it-yourself (DIY) is not normally something associated with British Jews. Indeed, they have a bit of a reputation within their community for not doing it, but 47% of them (and 58% of men) claimed to have engaged in some form of DIY during the past month, in a survey commissioned by World Jewish Relief. One-third had even carried out some DIY during the past week, although they seem to be fighting a losing battle since 53% still have DIY jobs outstanding at home. Changing a light bulb and hanging pictures were the commonest tasks undertaken, but painting, changing fuses, assembling furniture, and fixing toilets also featured prominently. Two-fifths of Jews had never attempted any DIY or had not done so during the past year, lack of knowledge, time, and motivation being the main reasons. The sample of 1,002 self-identifying British Jews were members of Survation’s Jewish panel and were interviewed, mostly by telephone, on 27-29 June 2016 (although the results have only just been released). Data tables can be found at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Final-WJR-Poll-270616SPRCCH-1c0d0h2-DIY.pdf

Islamic State (1)

A majority of Britons (57%) approves of the use of military force to get rid of Islamic State (IS), according to a YouGov/Eurotrack poll on 21-22 July 2016 for which 1,673 adults were interviewed online. Men (65%), over-60s (66%), Conservatives (69%), and UKIP supporters (74%) were most in favour. A further 13% thought only non-violent means should be used to eliminate IS, while 11% opted to accept the existence of IS but to try to isolate it, the remaining 19% being don’t knows or giving other answers. A plurality (43%) considered the British government should be doing more to combat Islamic extremism, against 32% who judged it was doing as much as it reasonably could, 10 points up on the figure in December 2010. The data table can be accessed via a link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/04/terrorist-attack-britain-expected-84-people/

Islamic State (2)

Subsequent to the preceding poll, footage emerged of members of the SAS (British special forces) fighting IS in Syria. In one of its instant app-based surveys, on 10 August 2016, YouGov ascertained that 55% of the British public endorsed the deployment of the SAS in Syria without a vote in Parliament, 30% disapproving and 15% being unsure. However, this sample of Britons was split on the commitment of additional British ground troops in Syria to fight IS, 39% being in favour, 38% against, and 22% undecided. These topline findings are reported at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/08/10/sas-fighting-isis-british-troops-syria-hinkley-poi/

Islamic State (3)

In a further release of data from its Spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey, the Pew Research Center revealed that 71% of the 1,460 Britons interviewed supported the US-led military campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria. Nevertheless, when it came to a broader strategy to defeat terrorism around the world, 57% feared that relying too much on military force would create hatred leading to more terrorism, compared with 34% thinking overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the sub-group endorsing the use of overwhelming military force against terrorists in general was also disproportionately more likely (82%) to back the campaign against IS. Pew’s press statement is at:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/22/europeans-back-anti-isis-campaign-but-have-doubts-about-use-of-force-in-fighting-terror/ft_16-08-17_terrorismglobal_isisfight/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Faith schools

Faith schools in general, and non-Christian and Catholic schools in particular, have an unusually low proportion of poor pupils in England compared to what would be expected from their catchment areas. The comparison was made between the number of children eligible for free school meals and levels of economic child deprivation in the area, both official statistics. These data have been extensively mined in the recent past by key stakeholders in the debate about faith schools, either to defend their record of social inclusion (especially on the part of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales) or to criticize them for exacerbating inequalities. This latest research was conducted by education data analysis organization SchoolDash and published in its blog (with faith school statistics in figures 4, 8, and 11) at:

https://www.schooldash.com/blog.html#20160802

Church leaders and football

August is traditionally the ‘silly season’ for the media, when ‘real’ news is hard to find, and Christian media organization Premier is apparently no exception. According to a report in the Church of England Newspaper for 19 August 2016 (p. 3), it has surveyed 200 Christian leaders in the UK and ascertained that one in seven admit to skipping a church service in order to watch their football team play and one in five to praying for it to win. Respondents were also asked which Premier League team they supported, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United topping the list, in that order.

Anglican church growth

It is the number of clergy in a benefice, rather than the number of churches, which is associated with the likelihood of church growth or decline in the Church of England (measured in terms of attendance), according to an unpublished report by Fiona Tweedie and summarized in the Church Times for 5 August 2016 (p. 6) at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/5-august/news/uk/church-growth-is-linked-to-more-clergy

Jewish statistics

The Jewish Chronicle has become the second UK religious newspaper to launch a regular column focusing on religious statistics. Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and a previous occasional contributor to the newspaper, launched his monthly ‘View from the Data’ in the issue of 10 June 2016 with a piece on defining Jewish identity. This has been followed by articles on JPR’s report on intermarriage and Jews (8 July 2016) and Pew Research Center’s measurement of anti-Semitic attitudes in Britain since 2004 (5 August 2016). The latter, entitled ‘We May Be Better Off in the UK’, noted that ‘the vast majority of Brits actually view Jews in an overwhelmingly favourable light’, with Britain shown by Pew to be ‘one of the least antisemitic societies in the world’. This most recent column can be found at:

http://www.thejc.com/node/161537

The first religious newspaper to publish a regular column on religious statistics was the Church of England Newspaper, to which Peter Brierley has been contributing on a monthly basis for several years.

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust’s latest report on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK covers the period January-June 2016, during which 557 were logged, a rise of 11% over the equivalent six months in 2015 and the second highest total for the first half of any year since the Trust began to collect statistics. Three-fifths of incidents occurred in April-June when anti-Semitism (particularly in relation to the Labour Party) and racism and extremism more generally were to the foreground in public debate and the media. However, there was no spike immediately following the Brexit vote in the European Union referendum of 23 June, as was seen with other forms of hate crime. Four-fifths of incidents were recorded in the main Jewish centres of Greater London and Greater Manchester, although the number in the latter area actually fell. The report is available at:

https://cst.org.uk/public/data/file/4/f/Incidents_Report_-_Jan-June_2016.pdf

Scottish Jewry

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has published a 34-page report on the results of a small-scale investigation into Scottish Jewry which it conducted in 2015, with financial assistance from the Scottish Government: Fiona Frank, Ephraim Borowski, and Leah Granat, What’s Changed about Being Jewish in Scotland – 2015 Project Findings. The questionnaire (reproduced in appendix 2) was completed by a self-selecting and demographically rather skewed sample of 119 Jews in Scotland, 46 of whom had also responded to a similar survey in 2012. Additionally, 195 people attended focus groups in connection with the study. The principal impression to emerge from the survey was that living in Scotland has become a more negative experience for many Jews, in terms of a sense of insecurity and alienation born of societal anti-Semitism largely rooted in the Middle East situation (and specifically the conflict in Gaza in the summer of 2014). The report can be read at:

http://www.scojec.org/resources/files/bjis2.pdf

Jews and the Labour Party

After conducting a ballot of its members, in which 59% voted, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has nominated Owen Smith for leader of the Labour Party in the current Labour leadership election. Smith secured a resounding 92% of JLM votes against just 4% for Jeremy Corbyn, the Party’s present leader, a further 4% making no nomination. This result is perhaps unsurprising, given that Corbyn has not entirely succeeded in dissociating either the Party or himself from accusations of condoning anti-Semitism. The JLM, which has been affiliated to the Labour Party since 1920, reported the ballot on its website at:

http://www.jlm.org.uk/labourleadership

Islamophobic tweets

Demos has recently published a report on Islamophobia on Twitter, March to July 2016, written by Carl Miller, Josh Smith, and Jack Dale from the think-tank’s Centre for the Analysis of Social Media. It focuses especially on the 215,000 tweets sent in English and from around the world in July 2016, and which were identified (from automated content analysis) as being of an Islamophobic nature. In addition to analysis of the global dataset, the report contains a section on Islamophobic tweets sent from the UK during the months of May, June, and July 2016, the daily average being 468 in July compared with 380 in May and 351 in June. There was a particularly large spike in Islamophobic tweets in the UK between 11 and 17 July, coinciding with the Islamist atrocity in Nice and the attempted military coup in Turkey. The report, which also includes a reasonably full description of methodology, can be found at:

http://www.demos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Islamophobia-on-Twitter_-March-to-July-2016-.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Employment opportunities for Muslims

Employment Opportunities for Muslims in the UK, the second report for Session 2016-17 of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, is partially based on quantitative evidence, abstracted from official and other sources. It shows that Muslims still suffer the greatest economic disadvantage of any group in society. For example, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, Muslim unemployment rates for persons aged 16-64 in 2015 were more than twice the national average (13% compared to 5%), while 41% of Muslims were economically inactive against 22% of the whole population in this age range. The disadvantage was greater still for female Muslims, 58% of whom were economically inactive, with 65% of economically inactive Muslims being women, albeit there has been some improvement since 2011. More generally, the Committee highlighted a lack of detailed data and research on faith and race discrimination and disadvantage, urging the Government to take steps to address this deficiency. The report, including links to the published evidence, is available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmwomeq/89/89.pdf

Ritual slaughter of animals

The Times of 13 August 2016 reported that the new monthly survey of abattoirs to be undertaken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) would not routinely record the number of animals killed without being stunned first. This legal exemption from pre-stunning is granted to meet the ritual slaughter requirements of Jews and Muslims, to the consternation of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which has long campaigned to end it on animal welfare grounds. The BVA had been hoping that the FSA would regularly report on animals killed in this way but the FSA claimed this would impose too onerous an information-gathering burden on abattoirs. Instead, the FSA proposes to collect statistics on religious slaughter periodically but has not set a date for doing so next (the last exercise being in 2013).

In a letter to The Times published on 16 August 2016, the FSA’s chairman (Heather Hancock) sought to clarify its position. She wrote: ‘Our new system for gathering animal welfare data will capture information on a more continuous basis than the former animal welfare survey. This data will show the number of establishments in England and Wales using non-stun slaughter or a combination of stun and non-stun slaughter. This routine data will be regularly supplemented with additional information on the numbers of animals that are slaughtered by these methods.’ According to a report in the newspaper on the same day, the FSA’s clarification has been welcomed by the BVA, which believes that more animals are killed without being stunned than is strictly necessary to meet the needs of Jews and Muslims.

Religious Studies GCE A Levels

There were 27,032 entries for GCE A Level Religious Studies (RS) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the June 2016 examinations, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). This represented an increase of 4.9% on the 2015 total compared with a decrease of 1.7% for all subjects. The number of RS entries has risen steadily since the Millennium, there being only 9,532 in 2001. Seven in ten candidates for RS in 2016 were female, 15 points more than the mean for all subjects. The proportion of RS examinees securing a pass at A* to C grade was 80%, against 78% for all subjects, although there were fewer than average RS successes at A*. Additionally, there were 38,493 entries for GCE AS Level RS, 3.9% less than in 2015, AS Levels generally losing ground. Full tables for both A and AS Level, showing breaks by gender and grade within home nation, are available at:

http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels/2016/a-as-and-aea-results

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 296,010 entries for the full course GCSE in RS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in June 2016, an increase of 0.1% on 2015 compared with a decrease of 0.7% in entries for all subjects. A much smaller proportion of candidates for GCSE O Level RS were female (54%) 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 72%, 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 17% fewer candidates in June 2016 than in June 2015, in line with the progressive disappearance of short courses generally. Full tables are available at:

http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/gcses/2016

Scottish marriages

Details of the mode of solemnization of marriages in Scotland in 2015 are contained in Vital Events Reference Tables, which has been published recently. Of the 29,691 marriages, 14% were celebrated in the Church of Scotland, 5% in the Roman Catholic Church, and 18% in other places of worship, while 52% were civil and 11% humanist weddings. Until 1968 the majority of Scottish marriages were solemnized in the Church of Scotland. Further information, including some historical trend data, can be found at:

http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/vital-events-reference-tables/2015

ACADEMIC STUDIES

British Social Attitudes Survey

The long-term decline in religious affiliation may have momentarily bottomed out, according to the latest findings from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, released by NatCen. Of the 4,328 adult Britons interviewed between 4 July and 2 November 2015, 43% professed to be Christian (17% Anglican, 9% Catholic, and 17% other Christian), 8% non-Christian, and 48% to have no religion. The totals for Christians and nones were, respectively, one point up and one point down on the 2014 figures, the historic BSA peak for no religion being 51% in 2009. However, the proportion of nones in 2015 was much higher (62%) among the under-25s and 58% for those aged 25-34. It will be recalled that BSA uses a ‘belonging’ form of question which produces significantly lower levels of religious affiliation than other formulations, for example the question asked in the official census of population. NatCen’s press release, including toplines for religious affiliation back to 1983, is available at:

http://www.natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2016/august/british-social-attitudes-religious-decline-comes-to-a-halt/

Prior to NatCen’s release, the results had been previewed in the Sunday Telegraph, which optimistically entitled the report in its print edition ‘Christian Faith on Rise despite “Age Time Bomb”’. Notwithstanding, comments which the newspaper had sought from sociologists of religion Linda Woodhead and Abby Day made it clear that the long-term trajectory was still downward. As Day explained, the current plateau is ‘the pause at the edge of the cliff’, with decline bound to resume as older and more religious generations die off. The longer, online version of the Sunday Telegraph’s article can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/07/decline-of-religion-in-britain-comes-to-a-halt–major-study-sugg/

After the NatCen release, the story was inevitably widely reported as a positive development in the Christian print and online media. It was even the lead article on the front page of the Church of England Newspaper for 12 August 2016 and the subject of a lengthy editorial in the Methodist Recorder for 19 August 2016 (p. 6). However, the reporting was generally reasonably balanced, sticking close to the NatCen script. The Church Times (12 August 2016, p. 3), for example, had the foresight to speak to Linda Woodhead, who highlighted that the three-year moving averages indicated the trend was clearly toward diminished religious affiliation. But the Roman Catholic weekly The Tablet (13 August 2016, p. 24) could not resist pointing out that the 1% increase in professing Christians was due to the 1% rise in self-identifying Catholics.

Religious prejudice and discrimination

The incidence of religious prejudice and its relationship to unlawful discrimination and hate crime are explored in chapter 6 (pp. 71-82) of Dominic Abrams, Hannah Swift, and Lynsey Mahmood, Prejudice and Unlawful Behaviour: Exploring Levers for Change (Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report 101, ISBN 978-1-84206-677-5). The report, by a team from the Centre for the Study of Group Process at the University of Kent, is based on a review of academic and grey literature published in Britain between 2005 and 2015, and covers both general religious prejudice and particular manifestations (anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and sectarianism in Scotland). It is available to download from:

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/research-report-101-prejudice-and-unlawful-behaviour.pdf

Secularization narratives

Although not especially statistical in content, a recent article by Jeremy Morris sheds light on the attraction of secularization narratives to Anglican commentators in the 1950s and 1960s: ‘Enemy Within? The Appeal of the Discipline of Sociology to Religious Professionals in Post-War Britain’, Journal of Religion in Europe, Vol. 9, Nos 2-3, 2016, pp. 177-200. It does not mention the deployment of empirical sociology by other denominations in Britain, notably in the Roman Catholic Church (through the Newman Demographic Survey) and the Methodist Church. The article, which forms part of a special issue on pastoral sociology in Western Europe from 1940 to 1970, can be accessed at:

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/18748929-00902004

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 5050: English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) is conducted by NatCen Social Research on behalf of a consortium of academic bodies and government departments. Launched in 2002, ELSA investigates ageing and quality of life issues among a panel (periodically refreshed) of adults aged 50 and over living in private households in England. The latest (25th) edition of the dataset, released in August 2016, comprises waves 0-7 of the survey. For wave 7, undertaken between June 2014 and May 2015, data were collected on 9,670 individuals by means of face-to-face interview, self-completion questionnaire, and clinical and physical measurements. The self-completion questionnaire for wave 7 featured various questions about religion, covering religious affiliation, membership of church or other religious groups, activity in organized religion, attendance at religious services within the past year, importance of religious faith, importance of religion in daily life, prayer or meditation, and religion as a source of meaning and purpose in life. The catalogue description for the dataset is at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=5050&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 8037: Youth Social Action Survey, 2015

The Youth Social Action Survey is sponsored by the Cabinet Office and aims to determine the proportion of young people involved in social action (to help others or the environment) in the UK. It is planned to repeat the study each year for 2014-20. Fieldwork for this second wave was conducted by Ipsos MORI on 2-19 September 2015 by means of face-to-face interviews with 2,021 10-20 year-olds. The questionnaire included one item about religious affiliation using a ‘belonging’ form of wording. Topline analysis revealed that young people professing some religion were more likely to have participated in meaningful social action during the previous twelve months than those without (45% versus 39%). The catalogue description for the dataset is at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8037&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

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Counting Religion in Britain, July 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 10, July 2016 features 14 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 10 July 2016

OPINION POLLS

Hope not Hate post-Brexit poll

On behalf of Hope not Hate, Populus conducted an extensive online survey among 4,032 adults in England between 30 June and 4 July 2016, principally to test the social impact of the vote to leave the European Union in the referendum on 23 June. Results were disaggregated by a range of demographics, including religious affiliation, albeit they are only statistically meaningful for Christians, non-Christians, and religious nones. Tables 247-352 present the data for the module on the European Union, showing how particular groups voted, and why; what they thought of the Remain and Leave campaigns; and how they perceived Brexit would impact the nation. The voting figures (summarized below) confirm what we already know from previous studies, that Christians were disproportionately leavers and non-Christians remainers.

% down

All

Christians Non-Christians

Nones

Remain

38

33 51

42

Leave

45

50 35

41

Did not vote

17

17 14

17

The poll also replicated questions exploring attitudes to religious groups which had been included in Hope not Hate’s pre-Brexit poll, undertaken on 1-8 February 2016. This is interesting, given the frequent claims that the Brexit vote has increased public hostility toward immigrants and other outsiders. In fact, even for Muslims, who have the most negative ratings of all five religions featured in the study, the number of adults suggesting they created major problems in both the UK and the world actually fell in the period between the pre- and post-Brexit fieldwork. There were also modest reductions in those with negative views toward other religions, held by only tiny minorities.

% choosing 4-5 on 5-point scale

Pre-Brexit

Post-Brexit

Groups creating problems in UK
Jews

6

6

Muslims

45

36

Christians

9

9

Hindus

6

5

Sikhs

6

5

Groups creating problems in world
Jews

16

13

Muslims

59

52

Christians

17

15

Hindus

9

7

Sikhs

8

6

All the data tables from this poll can be found, in two separate files, at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/polls/

Perceptions of Muslims (1)

Another pre-Brexit study also revealed that a significant minority of Britons (28%) continued to entertain an unfavourable opinion of Muslims in the country. This was nine points more than in 2015, albeit at a similar level as 2009 and 2014. Unfavourable attitudes to Muslims were especially likely to be held by those on the ideological right (33%) rather than left-leaners (18%) and peaked at 54% among UKIP supporters. People regarding Muslims unfavourably were twice as inclined as those viewing them in a favourable light to perceive refugees as a major threat and as heightening the risk of terrorism. Just under one-fifth of Britons (17%) agreed that most or many Muslims in the country already back Islamic State. Notwithstanding, negativity toward Muslims remained far lower in Britain than in nine other European countries surveyed, the proportion surpassing two-thirds in Greece, Poland, Italy, and Hungary.

With regard to integration, a majority of Britons (54%) still considered most Muslims in the country want to be distinct from the wider society, although this was ten points fewer than in 2006, in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings the previous summer. The proportion rose to 65% on the ideological right and 80% of UKIP voters. Overall, 31% thought Muslims wanted to adopt national customs and way of life, a steady improvement from the 19% recorded in Britain in 2005, but below the 43% currently achieved in France and Sweden. All the findings are contained in the latest release of data from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, for which 1,460 Britons aged 18 and over were interviewed by TNS BMRB by telephone between 4 April and 1 May 2016. Other questions covered attitudes to Jews and the importance of being Christian to national identity. The report is available at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/07/11/europeans-fear-wave-of-refugees-will-mean-more-terrorism-fewer-jobs/

Perceptions of Muslims (2)

In his column in The Sun on 18 July 2016, Kelvin MacKenzie questioned whether it had been appropriate for Channel 4 News to co-present its report on the recent and deadly Islamist truck attack in Nice with a Muslim journalist (Fatima Manji) wearing a hijab. His article prompted a flood of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. The pollster YouGov took up the matter on 21 July when it ran one of its instant app-based surveys. Just 29% of respondents thought MacKenzie had been right to make his remark against 64% who deemed him in the wrong. About half (48%) also argued that The Sun should not have printed the remark. Topline results are available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/07/21/too-old-highest-office-kevin-mackenzie-and-comment/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Bible stories

The Bible Society has recently published The Nation’s Favourite Bible Stories (ISBN 978-0-5640-4407-8, 144pp., paperback, £7.99), reproducing 70 of them. The 70 emerged from an online survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Society among a sample of 2,051 Britons aged 18 and over on 22-23 April 2015. Respondents to this poll were asked to list, unprompted, their top three Bible stories or passages. ComRes subsequently tested the top 20 unprompted mentions with a separate online sample of 2,252 UK adults between 4 and 6 September 2015. The final top 10, in order of popularity, were:

1.     The birth of Jesus

2.     Noah’s ark

3.     The Good Samaritan

4.     The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus

5.     The Exodus

6.     David and Goliath

7.     The Ten Commandments

8.     Jesus feeding the five thousand

9.     Jesus turning water into wine

10.  The Sermon on the Mount

Jewish marriages

The latest report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) is David Graham’s Jews in Couples: Marriage, Intermarriage, Cohabitation, and Divorce in Britain, derived from the 2001 and 2011 censuses of population (including many tables specially commissioned by JPR from the Office for National Statistics) and the JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey. Three-fifths of adult Jews live as couples, more than for any other religious or ethnic group, in part due to their older than average age profile. The majority of couples (89%) is married but 11% cohabit. Among married Jews, 78% are in endogamous marriages (i.e., they are married to another Jew) but 22% are in exogamous relationships, generally wed to a Christian or religious none. Marital endogamy for Jews has declined in Britain since at least the late 1960s but the rate of decrease has tailed off recently, being only 2% between the two censuses; moreover, marital endogamy here is still much higher than for Jews in the United States. On the other hand, intermarried Jews have fewer dependent children than their in-married counterparts. Among the rapidly growing contingent of cohabitees, the proportion of exogamous partnerships reaches 68%, negatively impacting Jewish fertility. Exogamous Jews, whether married or not, exhibit far weaker levels of Jewish attachment and engagement than endogamous Jews. Exogamy also increases the chances of a Jewish marriage ending in divorce, although the divorce rate among Jews is lower than in society as a whole. Jews in Couples is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR_2016.Jews_in_couples.Marriage_intermarriage_cohabitation_and_divroce_in_Britain.July_2016.pdf

FutureFirst

The lead article in the August 2016 issue of FutureFirst, the bimonthly subscription magazine of Brierley Consultancy, is contributed by Phil Topham and considers recent statistics of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (based on a report discussed in the May 2016 edition of Counting Religion in Britain). The remaining content is written by Peter Brierley, including two articles inspired by British Social Attitudes Survey religion data, an analysis of rural churches in East Anglia, and a piece on the growing number of active retired clergy in the Church of England (who will soon exceed stipendiary clergy). Brierley Consultancy can be contacted at:

http://peter@brierleyres.com

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Religious hate crimes

The Crown Prosecution Service completed 737 prosecutions for religiously aggravated offences in England and Wales in 2015/16, a 10% increase on the previous year. The total represented 5% of all hate crime prosecutions in 2015/16. Of these religion-related prosecutions, 79% resulted in convictions (five points less than in 2013/14 and 2014/15 and four points less than the average for all hate crimes in 2015/16) and the remainder were unsuccessful, mostly because of acquittal after trial or of victim issues. Just over two-thirds of convictions involved guilty pleas. The Religiously Aggravated and Antisemitic Crime Action Plan was developed and implemented during 2015/16, and the Hate Crime Assurance Scheme was extended to cover racially and religiously aggravated cases, so it is possible that prosecutions may increase in future years. Further details are contained in Hate Crime Report, 2014/15 and 2015/16, which is available at:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/cps_hate_crime_report_2016.pdf

Sex crimes

There have been 725 reported sex crimes in places of worship in the UK during the past three years, according to data obtained from police forces by The Mail on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act. The number has risen by one-fifth during the past twelve months, partly, it is believed, as a result of the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’. Half of the cases (368) involved child abuse. Although most cases related to churches, some occurred at mosques and gurdwaras. One expert, Graham Wilmer, of The Lantern Project (which supports child sex abuse victims), suggested that, given the well-documented tendency to underreport crime, the true number of cases could be up to ten times the reported figure. See the newspaper’s coverage at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3705042/Five-new-sex-offences-week-Reports-abuse-UK-churches-mosques-Sikh-temples-risen-20-cent-past-year-half-involve-children.html

Religion of prisoners

Prison Population Statistics by Grahame Allen and Noel Dempsey (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper No. SN/SG/04334) includes tables summarizing the religious profession of prisoners in England and Wales (Table 7, annually from 2002 to 2016) and Scotland (Table 14, for 2005, 2010, and 2013 only). Of the 85,441 prisoners in England and Wales in March 2016, 49% were Christian (nine points fewer than in 2002), 15% were Muslim (seven points up on 14 years before), and 31% were religious nones (unchanged from 2002). In Scotland in June 2013 (the latest date available), 54% of the 7,883 prisoners were Christian, 3% Muslim, and 42% nones (albeit 57% for female prisoners alone). Muslims are overrepresented in the prison population in both England and Wales and Scotland. Prison Population Statistics can be downloaded from:

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN04334/SN04334.pdf

Meanwhile, the British Religion in Numbers website has recently updated its own coverage of the religion of prisoners in England and Wales, its series (now extending from 1975 to 2015) being available at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/religion-in-prison-1991-2015/

ACADEMIC STUDIES

State of the Church of England

Two of the country’s leading writers on religious affairs, journalist Andrew Brown and sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead, have teamed up to write That Was the Church, that Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (London: Bloomsbury, 2016, [8] + 255pp., ISBN 978-1-4729-2164-2, £16.99, hardback, also available in ePDF and ePub editions). It tells the story of how, since the 1980s, the Church of England has not merely declined in a numerical sense (a process which had obviously started long before) but has progressively disappeared from the centre of public life and become alienated from (and unaccountable to) its host society. While, it is suggested, the Church has largely stood still over these three decades (with the notable exception of the ordination of women, achieved under duress), becoming more inward-looking and immersed in ‘managerial voodoo’, the nation has been transformed, generally embracing social liberalism and, in some measure, spirituality as an alternative to religion (which has become a ‘toxic’ brand). The limited trust and allegiance which the English now exhibit toward their Established Church is depicted as in stark contrast to the higher levels of support enjoyed by ‘its closest historical cousins’, the Scandinavian state Churches.

Since the work seems primarily addressed to a general readership, rather than an exclusively academic audience, the argument is not unreasonably built up primarily through description and analysis of key episodes and personalities in the life of the Church, often enlivened by the direct personal experiences of the authors. Some of the judgments on individuals may seem harsh and are likely to ruffle a few feathers, not least among allies of two former (and still living) Archbishops of Canterbury, George Carey and Rowan Williams, who come in for a fair amount of overt or implied criticism. Indeed, That Was the Church, that Was is already proving controversial (the first edition was withdrawn following legal challenge) and has received several unflattering reviews. Some British Religion in Numbers users may also be disappointed by the comparatively limited use made of statistics to substantiate the central claim that the Church of England ‘lost’ the English people during the period in question. Although some reference is made in the text and, more especially, the endnotes to Church and sample survey data, including research commissioned by Woodhead in recent years, their treatment is far from systematic. A possible solution might have been the inclusion of a short appendix where the relevant quantitative evidence could have been assembled for scrutiny. The publisher’s webpage for the volume can be found at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/that-was-the-church-that-was-9781472921642/

Religious nones

In a recent post on the LSE’s Religion and the Public Sphere blog, Ben Clements collates evidence from sample surveys and opinion polls to illuminate the growth of no religionism in Britain since the Second World War and the extent to which it is driven by avowed atheism or agnosticism. He highlights variability in the findings arising from fluctuations in methodology and question-wording. The post can be found at:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2016/07/26/who-are-the-religious-nones-in-britain-atheists-agnostics-or-something-else/

Historical Quaker statistics

A reasonably full history and analysis of national-level statistics relating to the Religious Society of Friends in Britain is offered by James William Croan Chadkirk, ‘Patterns of Membership and Participation among British Quakers, 1823-2012’ (MPhil thesis, University of Birmingham, 2015, xx + 261 + xxxivpp., with 72 figures and 55 tables). It covers three broad areas: membership (both before and after the inauguration of the ‘Tabular Statement’ in 1861); attendance at meetings for worship (commencing with the Government’s 1851 religious census and with an especially good overview of the national Quaker censuses in 1904, 1909, and 1914); and various ad hoc studies conducted in recent years, including the longitudinal ‘Present and Prevented’ surveys undertaken by Chadkirk and Ben Pink Dandelion in 2006, 2008, and 2010 (considered at length in chapters 5 and 10). There is no substantive discussion of the British Quaker Survey, 2014 but some preliminary findings are given in footnotes. The conclusion draws brief quantitative comparisons with the experience of other Churches and denominations but emphasizes the distinctiveness of Quakerism and rejects generalized secularization theory as an explanation of Quaker decline. The thesis can be downloaded from: 

http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5787/1/Chadkirk15MPhil.pdf

Religion and higher education

James Lewis, Sean Currie, and Michael Oman-Reagan have utilized the population censuses of Australia (2006), New Zealand (2006), Canada (2011), and England and Wales (2011) to establish a positive relationship between higher educational attainment and affiliation to new religious movements (NRMs). They also contend that, apart from New Zealand, irreligion and higher education are similarly correlated. In the case of England and Wales, as the authors note, data on NRMs were only available for those individuals who ticked ‘other’ religion and chose to write in their specific religion on the census schedule. ‘The Religion of the Educated Classes Revisited: New Religions, the Nonreligious, and Educational Levels’ is published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 55, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 91-104, and access options are outlined at:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jssr.12246/abstract

Collective worship in schools

Imran Mogra surveyed 125 primary school trainee teachers (preponderantly female) at an English university to investigate their knowledge and understanding of, and attitudes toward, collective worship in schools. A large majority of the students thought such worship should be retained and that it makes a significant contribution to the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, emotional, and intellectual development of pupils. ‘Perceptions of the Value of Collective Worship amongst Trainee Teachers in England’ is published in Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol. 37, no. 2, 2016, pp. 172-85, and access options are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1185227

 

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

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

Counting Religion in Britain, June 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 9, June 2016 features 24 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 9 June 2016

OPINION POLLS – BREXIT

The referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union (EU), held on 23 June, was unquestionably the single most important event of the month, and its outcome (a vote to leave the EU) is likely to have far-reaching consequences. Although religion barely surfaced in the heated public and political debates which preceded the referendum, religious elements were occasionally featured in some of the pre- and post-referendum opinion polling.

Pre-referendum: voting intentions of religious groups

ORB International’s online poll for The Independent, conducted among 2,052 British electors on 8-9 June 2016, seems to have been the last pre-referendum survey to have recorded the prospective referendum voting intentions of the principal religious groups. In line with previous polls, it demonstrated the wish of a majority of Christians to leave the EU, as tabulated below. The statistics have been calculated from the full data available at:

http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/orbindependent-friday-10th-june-final-data-tables.pdf

% across

Remain

Leave

All

47

53

Christians

43

57

Non-Christians

52

48

No religion

51

49

Pre-referendum: voting intentions of practising Christians

In contrast with the views of professing Christians, noted above, 54% of 1,200 practising (churchgoing) Christians (laity and church leaders) in membership of Christian Research’s online Resonate panel indicated an intention to vote to remain in the EU at the referendum, in a survey launched on 9 June 2016. This was four points up on the figure from a similar Resonate poll in March. Just over one-quarter (28%) were planning to vote to leave. Awareness of the recent open letter on the referendum by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, which argued that leaving the EU would threaten peace in Europe, was limited, nearly half the respondents not having heard about it at all. Other topics covered in the June Resonate omnibus were attitudes to the National Health Service and the Investigatory Powers Bill. A press release about the survey is at:

http://www.christian-research.org/reports/privacy-nhs-and-the-referendum/

Pre-referendum: voting intentions and science

Assaad Razzouk, the Lebanese-British energy entrepreneur, commissioned ComRes to undertake, between 29 May and 5 June 2016, a telephone poll of two sub-samples of 809 adults intending to vote to remain in or leave the EU, exploring their attitudes to science. One of the statements to which respondents were invited to react was ‘people who question the theory of evolution have a point’. Answers are tabulated below, revealing that Britons who were more sceptical about the EU also found it more difficult to accept the theory of evolution. Data tables can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/assaad-razzouk-eu-referendum-and-science-poll/

% across

Agree

Disagree

Remainers

36

59

Leavers

46

47

Pre-referendum: intervention of religious figures

During the course of the referendum campaign, several prominent religious leaders and groups made their views known on whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The majority of these religious opinion formers argued in favour of remaining. However, the British public was not inclined to attach much weight to their counsel, according to a YouGov poll for the Today programme on BBC Radio, undertaken on 13-14 June 2016 among an online sample of 1,656 adults. Asked which of 13 types of people they trusted for their statements on remaining or leaving, senior religious figures ranked eighth, albeit only 15% trusted what they said about the EU and no more than 24% in any demographic sub-group (those intending to vote remain). Three-fifths distrusted senior religious figures on the EU, peaking at 71% among men. The only consolation for religious leaders was that electors exhibited net distrust in all the types of people on the list, save academics, who notched up a net trust score of 6%. A topline summary is shown below.

% across

Trust

Distrust

Academics

43

37

Economists

38

39

People from well-known businesses

37

43

People from well-known charities

37

40

People from the Bank of England

36

45

People from international organizations

32

46

Think tanks

28

44

Senior religious figures

15

61

Political leaders of other countries

14

67

Politicians from Britain

13

72

Well-known actors and entertainers

12

61

Well-known sports people

10

64

Newspaper journalists

10

74

Data tables can be found at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/x4iynd1mn7/TodayResults_160614_EUReferendum_W.pdf

Post-referendum: actual voting of religious groups

Lord Ashcroft polled 12,369 electors after they had voted in the referendum, 11,369 of them interviewed online and 1,000 by telephone. The reported voting of the major religious groups is tabulated below, from which it will be seen that, in line with voting intentions in pre-referendum surveys, Christians inclined to be leavers and non-Christians and religious nones to be remainers. Age probably largely accounts for this pattern since in general older people were most likely to have voted to leave the EU and younger people to remain; Christians have a disproportionately elderly profile and non-Christians (particularly Muslims) and nones a disproportionately younger profile. Details of voting by religion can be found on p. 10 and of the demographics of religious belonging (including when respondents made their minds up about how to vote in the referendum) on pp. 56-9 of the full computer tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/How-the-UK-voted-Full-tables-1.pdf

% across

Remain

Leave

All

48

52

Christians

42

58

Muslims

70

30

Other non-Christians

53

47

No religion

55

45

Post-referendum: actual voting of Jews

Almost twice as many Jews voted to remain in the EU as elected to leave, 59% versus 31%, according to a telephone poll of 1,002 members of a pre-recruited panel of self-identified British Jews interviewed by Survation for the Jewish Chronicle on 27-29 June 2016. A further 9% did not vote or refused to say how they had voted. Jews aged 55 and over (38%) or who supported the Conservative Party (39%) were among those most inclined to leave, and respondents aged 35-54 (67%) were among those most disposed to stay. Unsurprisingly, given this voting pattern, only 28% of Jews expressed satisfaction with the result of the referendum, 60% being unhappy, while 39% claimed to feel less safe in the light of the outcome and 57% to being pessimistic about the future. Asked who should be the next Prime Minister, following David Cameron’s resignation, a plurality (39%) of Jews plumped for Theresa May. The Jewish Chronicle’s coverage of the poll, with a link to the full data tables, can be found at:

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/159839/brexit-vote-triggers-fears-over-security

OPINION POLLS – OTHER TOPICS

Charitable giving

Religious causes received 13% of charitable donations in 2015, the same as children and young people’s causes, but three points behind medical research. However, religious causes notched up the highest average donation (£49) of all types of charity, as well as the highest median donation (£16). Over-65s were almost three times as likely to report donating to religious causes as 16-24s (17 per cent versus 6%). Data derive from the Charities Aid Foundation report UK Giving, 2015: An Overview of Charitable Giving in the UK during 2015, which is based upon face-to-face interviews conducted by GfK NOP with 4,160 UK adults aged 16 and over in February, May, August, and November 2015. It can be found at:

https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/personal-giving/caf_ukgiving2015_1891a_web_230516.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Religious education and faith schools

YouGov has recently (and very belatedly) posted on its website the data tables for an online poll it conducted among 2,198 UK adults on 14-15 September 2015. It was commissioned by Ideate Research in discussion with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in advance of a major debate on faith and education staged as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on 21 October 2015. Some headline findings were included in a press release from AHRC on that date, which attracted very little media coverage, but this is apparently the first time that detailed results have entered the public domain. The survey found that 77% of the population considered that religious education (RE) should be a compulsory (45%) or optional (32%) part of the national curriculum, with only 17% dissenting; paradoxically, notwithstanding their relatively low religiosity, 18-24s were keenest (53%) on compulsory RE. As the table below indicates, views about faith schools were decidedly more mixed, especially in the case of Islamic schools, which almost half the sample wished to see prohibited. When it came to changes affecting UK society over the next half-century, very few (8%) thought religious leaders would be best able to lead such changes, with just 7% suggesting they would be best equipped to help the general public understand the changes.

Attitudes to … (% down)

Christian schools

Islamic schools

Jewish schools

Should be allowed and receive state funding

44

12

16

Should be allowed but not receive state funding

32

34

43

Should not be allowed in UK

16

44

28

Data tables are at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/v50s4c7q5d/YG-Archive-10616-IdeateResearch.pdf

Freedom of speech

A newly-published ComRes poll commissioned by the Conservative Woman, for which 2,050 adults were interviewed online on 7-9 May 2016, revealed Britons to be somewhat ambivalent about legislative limitations on freedom of speech designed to protect people’s rights not to be offended by what others say. Two of the eight statements the sample was invited to respond to had a religious dimension. One asked whether it was right to have laws against ‘hate speech’ even if it might mean, for example, that Christian preachers could be arrested for repeating something in the Bible. In reply, almost twice as many contended that it was not right to have such laws as agreed that it was, 47% versus 26%, with a majority of men, over-55s, and residents of Northern England and the West Midlands opposed to such restrictions and no more than 31% in any demographic sub-group in favour of them. In similar vein, three-fifths (61%) of interviewees disagreed with the suggestion that persons who criticize Islam should be punished by hate speech laws, the proportion rising to seven in ten among men and over-55s; just 15% agreed with the proposition, and no more than 28% in any sub-group. Full data tables are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ComRes_Freedom-of-Speech-Poll_tables.pdf

Trust in religious leaders

Young people generally do not trust religious leaders or other authority figures, according to an online poll of 1,351 Britons aged 18-30 conducted by YouGov for Hope not Hate on 6-13 May 2016. Three-fifths of respondents said that they did not trust religious leaders very much (29%) or at all (31%), with just 22% registering a great deal (3%) or a fair amount (19%) of trust, the positive rating standing highest among non-whites (30%), part-time workers (30%), and Scots (31%). The only two of the eight groups asked about which were trusted by a majority were teachers or academics and other young persons. Summary findings are tabulated below, and full data tables can be found at:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ej63u31ku2/HopeNotHateResults_YoungPeople_160513_website.pdf

% across

Trust

Distrust

A teacher/academic

72

13

A young person like yourself

50

31

A trade union leader/official

31

45

A religious leader

22

60

A TV or sports star

16

66

A leader of multinational company

16

65

The media

13

73

A politician

10

76

Islamic State

Islamic State is the top of eight international concerns in Britain, with 79 per cent of the public regarding it as a major threat to our country and a further 16 per cent as a minor threat. This is according to the latest report from the Pew Global Attitudes Project, for which 1,460 Britons aged 18 and over were interviewed by TNS BMRB by telephone between 4 April and 1 May 2016. The full ranking of concerns, with comparisons for France and Germany (where, alongside Italy and Spain, Islamic State was seen as an even greater threat than in Britain), is tabulated below, while Pew’s report on the survey can be found at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/06/13/europeans-face-the-world-divided/

% regarding as a major threat

Britain

France

Germany

Islamic State

79

91

85

Global climate change

58

73

65

Cyberattacks from other countries

55

68

66

Large number of refugees

52

45

31

Global economic instability

48

73

39

China’s emergence as a world power

31

43

28

Tensions with Russia

28

34

31

United States power and influence

24

28

25

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Faith-based charities

New Philanthropy Capital’s ongoing programme of research into faith-based charities has resulted in a further brief report: David Bull, Lucy de Las Casas, and Rachel Wharton, Faith Matters: Understanding the Size, Income, and Focus of Faith-Based Charities. The 43,352 faith-based charities in England and Wales represent 27% of all charities and receive 23% (£16.3 billion) of the charity sector’s income. However, four-fifths of the income of faith-based charities is concentrated in just 1,719 organizations. Despite the inroads of secularization, proportionately more faith-based than non-faith-based charities have been registered with the Charity Commission during the past 10 years, 34% versus 25%. Relative to their non-faith-based counterparts, faith-based charities are especially active in the fields of overseas aid, human rights, and anti-poverty. The report can be found at:

http://www.thinknpc.org/publications/faith-matters/

Church of England ministry statistics

The Church of England has published Ministry Statistics, 2012 to 2015, showing national trends in numbers of stipendiary and self-supporting clergy, and their age, gender, and ethnic profiles. Detailed diocesan-level tables are also available in a separate Excel file. The data primarily derive from a new clergy payroll system, introduced in 2012, supplemented by Crockford’s Clerical Directory. This means that there is not strict methodological comparability with earlier statistics. Although overall totals of ordained ministers have remained stable since 2012, at just over 20,000, there has been a decline of 4% in stipendiary clergy over the four-year period, with the steady increase in female ministers not offsetting the steady decline in their male counterparts. As at 31 December 2015, 26% of stipendiary clergy were women, including 7 diocesan or suffragan bishops, 26 archdeacons, and 6 cathedral deans. One-quarter of stipendiary parochial clergy were aged 60 and over, ranging by diocese from 9% to 41%. Full details can be found at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics/ministry-statistics.aspx

Leadership of large Anglican churches

At the end of 2015, of the 112 Church of England churches with a Usual Sunday Attendance of at least 350, only three were led by women. In a recent paper, Liz Graveling explores why, more than two decades after women were admitted to the priesthood, so few are reaching these positions. Her research has involved statistical analysis of the current leadership of large churches and semi-structured interviews with 22 ordained ministers, mainly Evangelicals. Factors contributing to the gender imbalance are found to be: career progression time-lag; discrimination; social processes; incompatible social roles and working conditions; and organizational structures and dynamics. Graveling’s 25-page paper on ‘Vocational Pathways: Clergy Leading Large Churches’ is available at:

http://www.ministrydevelopment.org.uk/UserFiles/File/TRIG/Vocational_pathways_large_churches.pdf

Baptist statistics

The Baptist Union of Great Britain has recently launched a church statistics page on its website. It is currently limited to returns of membership and attendance for 2015, but the intention is to add information for past years in due course. In 2015 there were 126,144 members of the 2,028 churches in England and Wales belonging either to the Union or another Baptist Association, with 2,724 baptisms (equivalent to 2% of membership). Average attendance at the main weekly service, scaled up for missing data, numbered 159,360, sub-divided between 14% children, 7% young people, 8% young adults, 40% other adults, and 30% seniors. Full details, including geographical breakdowns, can be found at:

http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/471032/Church_Statistics.aspx

Quaker statistics

The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain has published an annual Tabular Statement of membership since 1862, based on information provided by area meetings and collated by the Recording Clerk. Membership at the end of December 2015 stood at 13,401, just 126 less than in 2014, and representing the smallest decrease for two decades. This contrasted with sharper 12-month declines in attenders (minus 5%) and of children not in membership (down 14%). For the first time in 2015, the gender breakdown of adults included the option to identify as other than a man or woman; 1 member and 44 attenders (36 of them in Scotland) were recorded as such. Also new for 2015 was the production of statistics at local meeting level, available as supplementary online tables. The Tabular Statement, which contains a significant amount of historical data (in some cases going back to 1935), can be accessed via the link at:

https://www.quaker.org.uk/news-and-events/ym/documents-1

Islamophobia (1)

The European Network against Racism (ENAR) has published Forgotten Women: The Impact of Islamophobia on Muslim Women in the United Kingdom, researched between December 2014 and January 2016 by Bharath Ganesh and Iman Abou Atta (both of Faith Matters), with support from the European Union, the Open Society Foundations, and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. The 75-page report mostly draws upon pre-existing official statistics, polling data, legislation, case law, and secondary literature to illustrate the inequalities and discrimination which affect Muslim women in the UK, especially as regards employment opportunities and experience of hate crimes. There is a particular dependence upon Faith Matters’ own Tell MAMA database of Islamophobic incidents, which is not yet universally recognized as an authoritative source. On the whole, the analysis seems to add little to previous overviews covering similar ground, although it perhaps has some value in a comparative context, since it forms one of a series of seven simultaneous national reports (the others examining Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Sweden). The document, with a four-page fact sheet on the UK, which serves as an extended executive summary, can be downloaded from:

http://www.enar-eu.org/Forgotten-Women-the-impact-of-Islamophobia-on-Muslim-women

Islamophobia (2)

Meanwhile, Tell MAMA has published its 60-page annual report for 2015, entitled The Geography of Anti-Muslim Hatred. A record number (437) ‘offline’ or in person anti-Muslim incidents were recorded by the organization during the year, 50% involving abusive behaviour and 17% assault. Three-fifths of the victims were women and three-quarters of the perpetrators were men (predominantly white). Tell MAMA received fewer (364) notifications of online incidents than in previous years, which it attributes to better policing by social media platforms of hate speech, abuse, and trolling. The report is available at:

http://tellmamauk.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/tell_mama_2015_annual_report.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Religion and well-being

A meta-analysis of 139 English-language academic studies exploring links between religion and well-being is offered by Nick Spencer, Gillian Madden, Clare Purtill, and Joseph Ewing, Religion and Well-Being: Assessing the Evidence (London: Theos, 2016, 91pp., ISBN 978-0-9931969-4-2). The overwhelming majority of these studies are international, and disproportionately American, reflecting the relatively late beginning of measurement of well-being in the UK, especially in the form of official statistics. Using five conceptions of religion and four of well-being, the authors detect a variable but mostly positive correlation between the two. The book can be freely downloaded from:

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Reports/Religion%20and%20well-being%207%20combined.pdf

Spencer has also written a blog about the report for the LSE’s newly-launched Religion and the Public Sphere website. This can be read at:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2016/06/28/is-religion-good-for-you-analysing-three-decades-worth-of-academic-research-on-the-relationship-between-religion-and-well-being/

British Social Attitudes, 2015

The book-length report on the 33rd British Social Attitudes Survey, based on interviews with a random probability sample of 4,328 Britons aged 18 and over by NatCen between August and November 2015, was published this month. The dataset has not yet been released nor has the questionnaire. Although none of the chapters in the report focuses on religion, the technical appendix (p. 123) does reveal the weighted results of the question on religious belonging, with 48% self-identifying as religious nones, 17% as Anglicans, 9% as Roman Catholics, 17% as other Christians, and 8% as non-Christians. The report is available at:

http://bsa.natcen.ac.uk/latest-report/british-social-attitudes-33/introduction.aspx

Psychological profiles of Anglican congregants

The subject of psychological type and temperament profiles of Anglican congregations in England has been re-examined by Leslie Francis, Howard Wright, and Mandy Robbins through a study of 196 attenders at three services at one particular church, situated against the normative profile generated by 3,302 worshippers at 140 churches reported in International Journal of Practical Theology in 2011. The authors conclude that individual churches are able to offer diverse provisions which result in congregations with distinctively different psychological profiles. ‘Temperament Theory and Congregation Studies: Different Types for Different Services?’ is published in Practical Theology, Vol. 9, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 29-45, and access options are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1756073X.2016.1149679

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7975: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2012 – SN 7977: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2013 – SN 7978: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2014 – SN 7979: National Survey of Bereaved People, 2015

The National Survey of Bereaved People, alternatively known as VOICES: Views of Informal Carers, Evaluation of Services, is an annual survey (begun in 2011) designed to measure the quality of end-of-life care, especially during the last three months of life. It is undertaken in England by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Department of Health by means of a postal questionnaire completed by the persons who registered a random sample of deaths. There were 22,635 respondents in 2012, 22,661 in 2013, 21,403 in 2014, and 21,320 in 2015, each of whom provided an assessment of the care received by the deceased (including spiritual support during the final two days), together with background details about the deceased (including religious allegiance). Catalogue descriptions and documentation can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7975&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7977&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7978&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7979&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7995: Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2014

The report on this dataset was considered in Counting Religion in Britain, No. 8, May 2016. The dataset itself has now been deposited with the UK Data Service, and a catalogue description and documentation can be found at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7995&type=Data%20catalogue

PEOPLE NEWS

Bill Pickering (1922-2016)

William Stuart Frederick Pickering, pioneer British sociologist of religion and Anglican clergyman, died on 23 May 2016, aged 94. He taught successively at King’s College London (1955-56); St John’s College, University of Manitoba (1956-66); and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1966-87), from where he retired to Cambridge. He is perhaps best known nowadays for his writings on Émile Durkheim and for establishing the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies at the University of Oxford, as well as the journal Durkheimian Studies and the Durkheim Press. However, some of his earliest work was in the empirical sociology of religion. His 1958 doctoral thesis, ‘The Place of Religion in the Social Structure of Two English Industrial Towns (Rawmarsh, Yorkshire and Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire)’, remains a ground-breaking study of the British religious landscape in the 1950s, employing a range of archival, census, and life history approaches. Sadly, little from this was ever published, mainly as essays in Vocation de la sociologie religieuse (1958) and Archives de Sociologie des Religions (1961). He also analysed the statistical background to the Anglican-Methodist Conversations (1961), patterns of post-war churchgoing (1972), and the endurance of rites of passage (1974). An important monograph, Theological Colleges: A Sociological Appraisal, written in the 1970s and based on a survey of British colleges in 1968-69, never made it into print.

 

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

Posted in church attendance, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Organisational data, People news, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stephen Bullivant on contemporary Catholicism

It was a great pleasure to see the launch of Stephen Bullivant’s report, ‘Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales‘, at the House of Commons on 24 May 2016. I first heard of Stephen’s interest in a data-driven approach to the question of Catholic vitality in 2013, when the British Academy issued a call for currently practising academics to expand their skillset by learning quantitative methods. Stephen was successful both in being awarded a British Academy Quantitative Skills Acquisition Award and also in thereafter becoming a quantitatively-proficient sociologist with quite alarming ease.

It’s wonderful to see Stephen’s progress as a quantitative sociologist, having begun his academic life in philosophy and theology, and a tribute both to the BA scheme and his own commitment to enriching both conceptual and empirical frameworks for understanding contemporary religiosity. He visited the BRIN team at Manchester, and attended some classes and pointers, but ultimately needed little formal training. So it’s very encouraging to see the resulting contributions to both academic and public debate in this fashion.

Having read the report with great interest, we next need to probe further the drivers of change in contemporary Catholicism. The report presents an array of estimates of the Catholic community in Britain, and one of the clearest findings is that, while those raised Catholic are more likely to ‘stick’ than those raised Anglican, a very large proportion of those raised Catholic still leave the faith. So, why has lapsation occurred?

CC-Bullivant-Figure-3

 

 

 

 

 

A good deal of work shows that the drift away from religion in Western societies is generational in nature: those born in the 1930s who stayed religious tended to see that about half their children born in the 1950s and 60s retained religion, and in turn they saw about half their children retain religion. We also have witnessed fairly high rates of immigration from quite religious societies, which has provided a countervailing trend. And there are some people whose families have been secular for generations. So in that regard, many people in Britain have a religious background, with links to faith communities via parents and grandparents; a significant but small minority is highly religious; and another significant minority is highly secular.

But what of the Catholic community in particular? For some separate research Stephen and I are hoping to take forward, the Nuffield Foundation funded some work to digitise and re-analyse a random sample survey of young people in the 1950s, where young Catholics, mostly Irish but sometimes Polish, Italian, or Afro-Caribbean, were well-represented. This was large enough to allow detailed analysis of religiosity and lapsation among a critical social generation.

From this we have found that for young English people as a whole, attending church less often over the course of their adolescence was predicted by:

  • Being in work rather than in school;
  • Being married; and
  • Having more to do on a Sunday.

We also see that those who reported no religious affiliation were more likely to be members of political associations, which suggests that some exchanged religious identities for political identities.

Among Catholics, however, of those who attended church less often in their later teens and early 20s than they had in childhood, very little predicted lapsation except not being a member of a social club or other association. Perhaps lapsation can be understood by the rise of the consumer society, and personal independence, through work or marriage. Some of it therefore may be down to value shifts, from values stressing conformity to those stressing personal choice.

Catholics were, however, less likely to drop their attendance compared with Anglicans and others, backing up Stephen’s finding that religious retention is relatively good. We don’t know why there is this difference yet. My suspicion is that doctrine is not the major factor – and that it is that it is something to do with the family and community environment, and moral socialisation in the family rather than the appeal of church services themselves, or doctrinal questions. Catholics were more recent immigrants in the 1950s and 60s, and there was community and parental pressure to attend.

We do see generational change in the young ethnic minority British too, in the present day – in the wider Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. Those who are second generation British rather than first show slight shifts in communal practice such as mosque attendance, and clearer shifts in private prayer.

The strong showing which Stephen reports here of ethnic minority Catholics in terms of attendance is not a surprise – we know from a great deal of US work, and some British work, that religious communities are important for immigrants and people of immigrant origin because, as termed by Hirschman, they provide refuge, respect, and resources.

These are just some questions which we could probe further. Others relate to the importance of education for religiosity. The sociologist Sarah King-Hele analysed the BSA for 1983-2008 and distinguished different social generations, from those born in the 1910s to those born in the 1970s. She found as follows:

  • Most changes in attendance could be explained by generational change rather than the wider climate making those already practising less religious.
  • The average proportion of Catholic weekly attenders dropped from 57% among the 1910s cohort to just 16% among the 1970s cohort in the 2000s. So for Catholics of my generation weekly attendance is an aberration.
  • Higher levels of weekly attendance is linked to having children in the household of primary school age, and being married.
  • Levels of strong belief in God among Catholics declined (47%-35%) in Britain over the 1983-2008 period. However, most explanatory variables didn’t really predict anything – apart from having primary school aged children, which predicted stronger belief
  • Education strongly predicts attendance, which raises the question of class. Further analysis of the BSA could perhaps identify whether Catholicism in Britain has become more middle-class since 1983. The shift of some social and moral communities from having a working class to middle class basis is a change found elsewhere in society.

All in all, Bullivant’s paper is of great interest and his longer-term research programme extremely promising. There has been a great deal of scholarly interest in British Islam, and the experience of people of visible ethnic minority background. We can learn a lot, however, about earlier waves of immigration and how religion – including Catholicism – worked to help people become established as British citizens. To paraphrase the American moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt, religion both binds and blinds. Our task as social scientists is to understand the drivers and consequences of both.

 

 

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The European Social Survey 2014: Political Attitudes of Religious Groups in Britain

This short BRIN post is the second one looking at religious data in Britain based on analysis of the European Social Survey (ESS), a cross-national survey which has so far involved seven waves conducted every two years since 2002. The first BRIN post is available here:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/2016/the-european-social-survey-and-religion-in-britain/

This second post looks at the attitudes of religious groups on a selection of political issues, using the most recent ESS survey from 2014. In each wave, the UK adult population has been sampled, but the analysis here is restricted to those living in Britain (and so excluding the small subset of respondents in Northern Ireland). The ESS country datasets for the UK can be downloaded (along with accompanying documentation) from the ESS website:

http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/

 

Party Support

The ESS has regularly asked two questions which gauge support for political parties. Firstly, a question asking whether respondents feel close to a party and, if they do, which one. Secondly, a question asking about which party they supported in the most recent national election (if the respondent said they had voted).

Responses to these two questions in the 2014 ESS are displayed in Figure 1 (feel close to a party) and Figure 2 (party supported at most recent national election), based on five categories of religious affiliation (CofE / Anglican, Roman Catholic, other Christian, other religion, no religion).

On both measures – voting behaviour in the 2010 general election and general closeness to a party – the traditional party-denominational linkage between Anglicans and the Conservative Party is upheld. Anglicans are more likely to feel close to the Conservatives than to Labour or any other party; while around half said they voted Tory in the 2010 general election.

 

Figure 1: Party feel close to, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig1Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

 

All other groups are more likely to feel close to Labour than to the Conservatives; with this difference most pronounced for those affiliated to non-Christian religions. Similarly, all groups (except for Anglicans) reported that they were more likely to have backed Labour in 2010, with the divide again most pronounced for those from non-Christian religions. Those within group were around three times as likely to feel close to Labour compared to the Conservatives and three times as likely to have voted for Labour than the Conservatives in 2010.

It is worth noting that, for each religious group, the most common response when asked is to not feel close to any party (highest at nearly three-fifths of those from a non-Christian religion).

 

Figure 2: Party voted for at most recent national election, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig2Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

 

Left-Right Ideology

To gauge left-right ideological position, the ESS surveys have asked respondents to locate themselves on a scale ranging from 0 to 10, where 0 represents most left-wing and 10 represents most right-wing. The average score for each group on this scale is shown in Figure 3. It is evident that Anglicans position themselves more to the right than the other groups, with a mean score of 5.5, ahead of other Christians with an average of 5.2. The other three groups have somewhat lower averages of 4.8 or 4.9.

Of all the groups, then, Anglicans are most likely to express support for the Conservative Party and are more right-wing in their ideological positioning.

 

Figure 3: Mean scores on left-right self-placement scale, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig3Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note: 0-10 scale, where 0=most left-wing and 10=most right-wing.

 

Attitudes towards Gays and Lesbians

The ESS surveys have asked a question about gays and lesbians being able to live life as they wish. Respondents’ views are gauged by a Likert scale running from strongly agree through to strongly disagree. Here, the strongly agree and agree categories, and the disagree and strongly disagree categories, have been combined. Figure 4 reports the responses for the religious groups. For all groups a majority agrees with the statement – highest at 92% of those with no religion and lowest at 57% of those from some other religion. Very small proportions disagree, although this rises to a fifth of those belonging to some other religion (and which outweighs the proportion with a neutral viewpoint).

 

Figure 4: Attitudes towards gays and lesbians being free to live life as they wish, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig4Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

 

European Integration

Respondents’ opinion on European integration are measured by means of a self-placement scale asking about unification. On this scale, a score of 1 indicates that unification has already gone too far and a score of 10 indicates unification should go further. The mean scores are shown in Figure 5. All group scores are below the scale mid-point, but they are somewhat higher for Catholics (4.4) and those belonging to some other religion (4.6). Anglicans registered the lowest mean score (at 3.2).

Figure 5: Mean scores on a European unification self-placement scale, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig5Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note: 0-10 scale, where 0=unification has already gone too far and 10=unification should go further.

 

Immigration

Finally, the ESS has asked a series of questions on immigration – responses to three of which are shown in Figure 6. It reports the mean scores by religious group for three self-placement scales where respondents have been asked: whether immigration is generally good or bad for the country’s economy; whether the country’s cultural life is generally undermined or enriched by immigration; and whether immigrants make the country a better or worse place to live. The scales ranged from 0 to 10, with higher values representing more more positive evaluations.

Across all three questions, more positive assessments of the effects of immigration come from Catholics and those from non-Christian religions. Less favourable evaluations are evident on the part of Anglicans and those with no religion.

Figure 6: Mean scores on immigration self-placement scales, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig6Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note: 0-10 scales, where higher scores represent more positive evaluations of the effects of immigration and immigrants.

 

The 2014 ESS also included a special module of questions asking about various aspects of immigration. Responses to two such questions with a religious theme are displayed in Figure 7, which also used self-placement scales ranging from 0 to 10.  Again, mean scores are presented for each religious group. Firstly, in response to a question asking how important it is for someone to have a Christian background when deciding on whether an immigrant can come and live in this country. A score of 0 equals extremely unimportant and a score of 10 equals extremely important. Secondly, in response to a question asking whether, in general, religious beliefs and practices are undermined or enriched by immigrants coming to live in this country. A score of 0 represents a view that beliefs and practices are undermined; a score of 10 that they are enriched.

Anglicans were more likely to think that having a Christian background was an important factor when making decisions to admit immigrants (at 4.1, but clearly below the midpoint of the scale). Those from other religions were least likely (at 2.0), followed by those with no religion (2.2). Those belonging to non-Christian religions were the most positive in their assessment of the impact of immigration on religious beliefs and practices (5.9); Anglicans were least positive, with a mean score of 4.0.

 

Figure 7: Mean scores on immigration self-placement scales, by religious affiliation

ESS 2014-Fig7Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014. Weighted data. GB sample only.

Note:

[1] Christian background: 0-10 scale, where a score of 0 equals extremely unimportant and a score of 10 equals extremely important

[2] Religious beliefs and practices: 0-10 scale, where a score of 0 represents a view that beliefs and practices are undermined; a score of 10 that they are enriched

 

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The European Social Survey: Religion in Britain

This BRIN post looks at religious data pertaining to Britain from  the European Social Survey (ESS), a cross-national survey which has so far involved seven waves conducted every two years since 2002. In each wave, the UK adult population has been sampled. The most recent survey wave was conducted in 2014 – the UK country dataset has recently been released and can be downloaded (along with accompanying documentation) from the ESS website: http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/data/.

The religious data presented here are based on analysis of the 2002 and 2014 surveys, in order to provide an over-time comparison. While each of the samples covers the UK, the small proportion of cases resident in Norther Ireland have been omitted, so that the focus it on those in living in Britain.

Four religious indicators are used here: affiliation; attendance, prayer, and personal religiosity. The analysis first examines each religious indicator in turn before looking at how different measures of religious engagement (attendance, prayer and religiosity) are associated with belonging to a particular faith or denomination. For attendance and prayer, the full set of response options provided in the ESS surveys have been collapsed into more parsimonious sets of categories. Question wordings are given underneath each table. All tables present the results from analysis of weighted data.

 

Religious indicators

Table 1 presents the data on religion affiliation from the 2002 and 2014 surveys. Over time, the total proportion professing some form of Christian affiliation has been broadly stable (2002: 43%; 2014: 42%). However, as an identical set of response categories was not used for Christian traditions in both surveys, this limits the observations that can be made. The proportion claiming no religious affiliation is almost identical over time (2002: 52%; 2014: 53%). The proportion recorded in 2014 is a little higher than that recorded in the 2014 British Social Attitudes survey. There has been an increase in the proportion belonging to some other religion (from 5% to 7%).

 

Table 1: Religious affiliation

2002 (%)   2014 (%)
TOTAL CHRISTIAN 43 TOTAL CHRISTIAN 42
   Protestant 33     Anglican 24
   Catholic 8     Catholic 10
   Other Christian 2     Other Christian 8
OTHER RELIGION 5 OTHER RELIGION 7
NO RELIGION 52 NO RELIGION 53

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Questions: ‘Do you consider yourself as belonging to any particular religion or denomination?’ and ‘Which one?’

Note:  Some of the categories included under ‘CHRISTIAN’ are not equivalent between the 2002 and 2014 surveys.

 

Table 2 is based on responses to a question only asked of those who said they had no religious affiliation. It gauges whether they have ever belonged to a religious faith or denomination. In both surveys around three-in-ten indicate that they have (though it is slightly higher in 2014). In both years, then, a large majority of those with no current affiliation also stated that they have never had an affiliation in the past.

 

 

Table 2: Ever belonged to a particular religion or denomination (only asked of those with no affiliation)

2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Yes 28 32
No 72 69

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Have you ever considered yourself as belonging to any particular religion or denomination?’

 

Table 3 presents data for the first of three measures of religious engagement – attendance at religious services (beyond going on special occasions). The picture is one of continuity over time – just under a fifth report that they attend services on a frequent basis (that is, once a month or more often); around three-in-ten attend less often; and about half said that they never attend services.

 

Table 3: Religious attendance

  2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Once a month or more 18 19
Less than once a month 32 30
Never 51 51

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Apart from special occasions such as weddings and funerals, about how often do you attend religious services nowadays?’

 

Table 4 shows the responses to a question asking about prayer. It shows an increase over time in the proportion saying that they never pray, from 44% in 2002 to 50% in 2014, with small decreases in the proportions saying that either they pray at least once a week or less often.

 

Table 4: Prayer

  2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Once a week or more 31 29
Less often 25 22
Never 44 50

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Apart from when you are at religious services, how often, if at all, do you pray?’

 

Moving beyond measures of religious practice, Table 5 shows responses to a question asking respondents to self-assess how religious they are. They are asked to locate themselves on a scale running from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates not at all religious and 10 indicates very religious. In Table 5, respondents have been categorised as to whether they have a low (scored 0-3), medium (scored 4-6) or high (scored 7-10) level of religiosity, as well as showing the overall mean score for the full scale. There has been some degree of change over time: the proportion with a low level of religiosity has increased from 40% to 48%. The proportion with a medium or high levels of religiosity have both fallen over time. In 2014, just under half have a low level of religiosity, 30% have a medium level (down from 36%) and 21% report having a high level (down from 24%). The average value underscores this movement towards lower levels of religiosity, decreasing from 5.0 to 3.8.

 

Table 5: Self-assessed religiosity

  2002 (%) 2014 (%)
Low (0 to 3) 40 48
Medium (4-6) 36 30
High (7-10) 24 21
Mean score 5.0 3.8

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2002 and 2014.

Question: ‘Regardless of whether you belong to a particular religion, how religious would you say you are?’

 

Religious engagement by affiliation

Table 6 takes the analysis of the religious data in the 2014 ESS survey a step further by looking at how the indicators of religious engagement are associated with the measure of religious affiliation. In other words, does religious engagement vary across different religious traditions? Table 6 provides a breakdown of attendance, prayer and self-assessed religiosity for Anglicans, Catholics, other Christians and those who belong to other religions. Data are not reported for those who do not have an affiliation.

A common finding across the three indicators of religious engagement is that Anglicans are less likely to be engaged. Anglicans are much less likely to say that they attend religious services on a regular basis (once a month or more); much less likely to report that they pray once a week or more; and are less likely to have a high level of personal religiosity.

Around a half of Catholics, other Christians and those affiliated to non-Christian religions say they attend services once a month or more. A clear majority in each group other than Anglicans also report praying once a week or more often. While 31% of Anglicans are categorised as having a high level of religiosity, this is considerable lower than the proportions for the other groups: Catholics: 47%; other Christians: 45%; other religion: 54%. Looked at another way, Anglicans’ mean score on the religiosity scale is 5.25; the average scores for the other groups are somewhat higher (highest at 6.53 for those belonging to other religions).

Finally, a summary measure of religious engagement was created based on the three indicators used already: attendance, prayer and self-assessed religiosity. Those respondents who met the following criteria of (i) attending services once a month or more, (ii) praying once a week or more and (iii) having a high level of religiosity were classed as having a high level of religious engagement. The proportion that is highly engaged – on this summary measure – within each affiliation category is shown in the bottom row of Table 6.

Within each religious group only a relatively small proportion can be identified as highly engaged on all three measures. The summary measure encapsulates what was found for each indicator when analysed in turn. That is, Anglicans somewhat stand apart from the other religious groups. Only 15% of Anglicans are classed as highly religiously engaged based on the summary measure, compared to around twice as many Catholics (33%), other Christians (31%) and those within non-Christian faiths (30%).

 

Table 6: Religious engagement by affiliation

Anglican (%) Catholic (%) Other Christian (%) Other religion (%)
Attendance
Once a month or more 25 47 48 49
Less than once a month 43 34 33 36
Never 33 20 19 15
Prayer
Once a week or more 38 61 55 68
Less often 32 22 23 21
Never 31 17 22 11
Religiosity
Low (0-3) 23 15 14 10
Medium (4-6) 46 38 41 36
High (7 to 10) 31 47 45 54
Mean score 5.3 6.0 6.2 6.5
         
Proportion with a high level of religious engagement* 15 33 31 30

*Based on a combined measure of: (i) attends once a month or more; (ii) prays more than once a week; and (iii) has a high level of self-assessed religiosity.

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014.

 

Religious engagement by sociodemographic group

As a final step, Table 7 shows the incidence of different religious indicators across sociodemographic groups (based on sex, ethnicity and age). Specifically, within each group, Table 7 reports the proportion with a religious affiliation, the proportion attending services once a month or more, the proportion praying once a week or more, the proportion with a high level of religiosity, and the proportion categorised as highly religious engaged (based on the summary measure discussed already).

There are some consistent features in the data. Across all indicators, women are always more religious than men: that is, they are more likely to have some form of affiliation, more likely to practice their religion, and more likely to see themselves as being very religious.  Based on the combined measure of religious engagement, 13% of women are highly religiously engaged, as against a tenth of men.

Those who belong to a minority ethnic group are much more likely to be religiously engaged those who do not. With the exception of identifying with a religion, those who belong to a minority ethnic group are more than twice as likely to be religiously-engaged. Based on the summary measure (shown in the final column), 31% of those belonging to a minority ethnic group are classed as highly religiously engaged, compared to 9% of those who do not belong to a minority ethnic group.

In terms of the evidence across age groups, those aged 65 and over are most likely to be religiously-engaged, and this finding is consistent across indicators. Those in the youngest age group are consistently least likely to be religiously engaged. Based on the summary index, those aged 65 and older are twice as likely to be highly religiously engaged compared than those aged 15-29.

 

Table 7: Religious engagement by sociodemographic group

  Has a religious affiliation (%) Attends services: Once a month or more (%) Prays: Once a week or more (%) High level of religiosity (%) Religiosity: Mean score High level of religious engagement* (%)
Men 44 17 24 18 3.4 10
Women 50 21 33 24 4.1 13
Belongs to a minority ethnic group 67 38 56 45 5.4 31
Does not belong to a minority ethnic group 45 16 25 19 3.6 9
Aged 15-29 33 11 18 13 2.8 8
Aged 30-49 41 19 26 20 3.4 11
Aged 50-64 49 17 28 21 3.9 11
Aged 65+ 64 24 39 28 4.6 16

*Based on a combined measure of: (i) attends once a month or more; (ii) prays more than once a week; and (iii) has a high level of self-assessed religiosity.

Source: Author’s analysis of ESS 2014.

 

Summary

Across time, the picture is generally one of stability in terms of affiliation and attendance. There was some decline in self-assessed levels of religiosity; and a rise in the proportion who do not pray.

The examination of variation in levels of religious engagement across religious groups (defined by affiliation) and across sociodemographic groups tended to reaffirm the ‘conventional wisdom’ on which segments of wider society tend to be more (or less religious). Across faith traditions, Anglicans are least religiously engaged based on the measures used here, either separately or in combination. Sociodemographically, levels of religious engagement are higher amongst women, those aged 65 and older, and particularly so within those belonging to minority ethnic groups.

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Counting Religion in Britain, May 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 8, May 2016 features 31 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 8 May 2016

OPINION POLLS

Anti-Semitism (1): Attitudes of Jews toward the Labour Party

The recent row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party seems to have further damaged its standing with the Jewish electorate. A majority (63%) of British Jews regard the Labour Party as anti-Semitic, and 66% assess its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as doing a bad job in addressing the issue. Whereas 15% of Jews voted Labour at the 2015 general election, and 32% of those who did not have considered voting Labour at some time in the past 10 years, only 7% would vote Labour now. The Jewish community remains overwhelmingly (67%) Conservative in its political allegiance, although it has only really been so since the Second World War. In part, this perhaps reflects the very low perception of anti-Semitism in that party (6%), a similar perception applying to the Liberal Democrats but not to UKIP (which 46% of Jews view as anti-Semitic). Notwithstanding the current publicity being given to anti-Semitism, 82% of Jews say they feel very or quite safe in Britain. Data derive from a survey of 1,008 members of Survation’s pre-recruited panel of self-identifying Jews in Britain, interviewed mainly by telephone on 3-4 May 2016.

The poll was commissioned by the Jewish Chronicle which published its own analysis of the results in its edition for 6 May 2016 at:

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/157746/labour-support-among-british-jews-collapses-85-cent

Full data tables, including breaks by demographics, are available at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-Tables-JC-Poll-030516SPCH-1c0d0h8.pdf

Results for a question on the voting intentions of Jews in the forthcoming referendum on European Union membership were separately reported in the Jewish Chronicle for 13 May 2016, 49% being in the ‘remain’ camp, 34% in the ‘leave’ camp, and 17% undecided. These data tables are at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-Tables-JC-EU-Poll-030516SPCH-1c0d0h8.pdf

Anti-Semitism (2): Attitudes of Labour Party members

A bare majority (52%) of 1,031 Labour Party members interviewed online by YouGov for The Times on 9-11 May 2016 acknowledged that the Party has a problem with anti-Semitism, 38% being in denial. Moreover, 47% thought it no worse a problem in the Labour Party than in any other political party, while 35% blamed the press and opponents of Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for exploiting the issue in order to attack him (a further 49% accused them of manufacturing the problem for the same reason). Likewise, although 59% approved of the suspension from the Party of Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, only one-quarter judged the remarks leading to his suspension to be anti-Semitic and wanted him to be expelled from the Party. Data tables can be accessed via the link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/17/labour-members-increasingly-bullish-on-corbyn/

Anti-Semitism (3): Attitudes of the electorate

Asked about the extent of prejudice against Jews in the UK, 29% of 1,694 Britons replied that there is a great deal or a fair amount in an online poll by YouGov for Tim Bale on 2-3 May 2016. This was five points more than in a previous survey in December 2014. Not very much prejudice was reported by 43%, none at all by 5%, with the remaining 23% unable to say. Some anti-Semitism on the part of respondents themselves was in evidence, 7% agreeing with the long-standing trope that ‘Jews have too much influence in this country’, rising to 14 per cent among UKIP supporters and 10% for men and Scottish residents. A similar overall proportion (6%) acknowledged that they would be less likely to vote for a political party led by a Jew and also disagreed with the proposition that ‘a British Jew would make an equally acceptable Prime Minister as a member of any other faith’; the number was again double among UKIP voters. Almost one-third of the sample claimed to have Jewish friends, acquaintances, or work colleagues, which is a surprisingly high ratio, given that there are relatively few Jews in the country and that they are spatially concentrated.

Bale had an article about the survey in the online edition of the Daily Telegraph for 5 May 2016, which can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/05/labour-voters-dont-have-a-problem-with-jewish-people-but-london/

The full data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/prmzmd3z1w/TimBaleResults_160503_Anti-Semitism_W.pdf

Perceptions of Islam

A significant degree of negativity toward both Islam and Muslims has again surfaced in a poll conducted by ComRes for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (UK) among a sample of 2,012 adult Britons interviewed online on 22-24 April 2016. Topline findings are tabulated below, in the order in which questions were asked, except for the omission of questions about understandings of the Caliphate (a central preoccupation of the sponsor), which are too complex to summarize here. It will be seen that a majority of respondents denied that Islam is compatible with British values, while a plurality disagreed it promoted peace in the UK and believed it is a negative force in the country. Only a minority acknowledged having a good grasp of Islamic traditions and beliefs, but there was little appetite to learn more or to see Islam taught more in schools. At the same time, there was acceptance that British Muslims are seriously and unfairly disadvantaged by misconceptions of Islam. The public’s long-standing desire for a separation of religion and politics was reaffirmed. Detailed computer tables, giving breaks by a range of demographics (including religious affiliation and possession of Muslim family, friends, or acquaintances), are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Ahmadi-Muslims_Perceptions-of-the-Caliphate.pdf

% across

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

Islam promotes peace in UK

32

46

22

Possess good understanding of Islamic traditions/beliefs

32

57

10

Possess Muslim family/friends/acquaintances

41

54

5

Get most of knowledge about Islam from media

55

37

8

Islam is compatible with British values

28

56

17

Islam promotes acts of violence in UK

33

51

16

Islam is a violent religion

28

57

14

Most people in UK have negative view of Islam

72

15

13

Islam is a negative force in UK

43

40

17

Would like to know more about Islamic traditions

36

49

15

More should be taught about Islam in UK schools

38

47

15

Misconceptions of Islam negatively impact quality of life of British Muslims

67

18

15

Misconceptions of Islam negatively impact quality of life of all Britons

60

24

16

Extremist views/actions conducted in Islam’s name by Muslim minority unfairly impact perceptions of Muslims

78

12

11

No place in UK politics for religious influence of any kind

62

23

15

UK Muslims do not have unifying figurehead

45

17

38

Admiration for global religious figures

Of the three international religious leaders included in YouGov’s latest 30-nation ranking of most admired living figures, the Dalai Lama took a larger share of the vote than the Pope in 19 countries, including the United Kingdom, the Dalai Lama performing especially strongly in Australia, France, Germany, and Norway. The Pope out-performed the Dalai Lama in nine countries, most impressively in the Philippines, while in Argentina and New Zealand the two leaders were tied. Internationally, the Pope has fallen seven places since last year’s rankings, suggesting his influence may be on the wane. The veteran evangelist Billy Graham, mostly out of the limelight these days, predictably trailed the other two religious leaders, except in Egypt (where he came first of the three) and in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States (where he came second). In the United Kingdom, which Graham has missioned on several occasions, his percentage share of admiration was below the global mean, whereas for Pope Francis it was slightly above. Of course, in virtually all countries the lists were dominated by secular names. Statistics for religious figures alone are tabulated below. Topline results for all figures for all participating nations, together with an explanation of methodology, can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/07/wma-2016/

% share of admiration

Pope Francis

Dalai Lama

Billy Graham

Global mean

3.0

4.3

1.6

Argentina

7.0

7.0

1.0

Australia

4.8

11.4

2.1

Brazil

1.9

8.4

2.0

Canada

7.8

5.8

2.4

China

0.4

NA

0.2

Denmark

1.7

9.9

0.4

Egypt

0.7

0.6

0.9

Finland

2.3

7.0

0.8

France

7.7

10.0

0.1

Germany

1.3

10.0

0.3

Hong Kong

4.2

2.6

0.7

India

2.2

2.9

0.9

Indonesia

1.8

2.8

0.8

Malaysia

1.4

2.0

0.8

Mexico

3.7

9.1

0.8

Morocco

0.2

0.7

0.2

New Zealand

5.6

5.6

2.7

Norway

7.7

10.0

0.1

Pakistan

0.1

0.4

0.0

Philippines

20.7

2.8

1.7

Russia

1.1

2.8

0.1

Saudi Arabia

0.6

0.5

0.3

Singapore

3.4

2.5

1.7

South Africa

2.0

5.4

3.2

Spain

2.2

7.4

0.4

Sweden

2.0

8.7

0.3

Thailand

1.8

4.5

0.2

United Arab Emirates

4.1

2.0

0.9

United Kingdom

3.5

4.1

1.1

United States

8.2

3.7

5.2

Trust in religious leaders

In a separate YouGov study for YouGov@Cambridge, three-fifths of 1,742 Britons interviewed on 13-14 March 2016 said they had limited (32%) or no trust (28%) in religious leaders in general to tell the truth, peaking at 73% among those judging the current political system to be broken. Just 30% expressed a great deal or fair amount of trust in religious leaders, with marked contrasts between 18-24s (20%) and over-65s (43%) and between those thinking the political system works well (43%) and that it is broken (22%). Comparisons with a somewhat eclectic list of other groups are shown in the table, below. 

% degree of trust to tell truth

Great deal/fair amount

Not much

Not at all

Friends

89 7

0

Family members

89

6

1

Academics

64

22

5

People you meet in general

50

36

6

UK military leaders

40

32

17

Religious leaders

30

32

28

Trade union leaders

24

37

27

Journalists

18

45

32

People who run large companies

17

47

27

UK government ministers

15

38

38

Senior European Union officials

13

36

40

Senior US government officials

12

38

38

The same survey explored several other matters of religious interest. Asked about the role of a ‘higher force’ (such as God, fate, or destiny) in their own lives, 5% assessed that everything which happened to them was caused by this force, 8% that most of what happened was so caused, and 22% that some of what happened was so caused. That made 35% according some role to a higher force against 38% denying it had any influence at all, the remaining 27% being undecided between the options on offer. Men (45%) and 18-24s (48%) were most likely to refute the intervention of a higher force in their lives. Membership of church or religious organizations during the past five years was reported by 8% of respondents overall, rising to 13% of over-65s and 14% of Scots. Given a list of possible conspiracy theories, the suggestion that official accounts of the Holocaust are a lie, with the number of Jews killed being exaggerated, was strenuously refuted – merely 2% agreed with the proposition (albeit 5% of UKIP voters).

Data tables for the poll can be accessed via the link at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/27/conspiracies/

Dying

Britons claim to feel far more comfortable about discussing religion with their family and friends (80%) than they do sex (50%), according to the latest poll by ComRes for the Dying Matters Coalition, for which 2,085 adults were interviewed online on 15-17 April 2016. There is also greater willingness to discuss religion than either dying (64%) or money (78%), albeit slightly more reticence than about politics (82%) or immigration (85%). Just 17% say they would feel uncomfortable talking about religion, and no more than 19% among any demographic sub-group (the Welsh being most reluctant). However, when it comes to factors potentially ensuring a ‘good death’, ‘having your religious/spiritual needs met’ is rated as the least important of the six options, with a mean score of 5.29 on a six-point scale, the list topped by ‘being pain free’ on 2.44. Addressing religious and spiritual needs is judged the single most important factor by only 5% of respondents overall, and no more than 6% in any sub-group. Data tables are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/NCPC_Public-polling-2016_Data-tables.pdf

Places of worship and community

Places of worship are accorded a very low priority by the public in shaping a local community, according to a recent survey commissioned by TSB Bank, for which OnePoll surveyed 4,000 UK adults online between 20 January and 18 March 2016. Indeed, asked which of 22 facilities and services were most essential, a place of worship came in penultimate position, attracting just 12% support, marginally ahead of a youth club on 10%. The list was headed by a post office (74%) and a bank (73%). Even fewer, 9% of men and 8% of women, said that the existence of easily accessible places of worship was a factor they liked about their current home. Full data tables from the poll are not in the public domain, but headline findings appear in a report from TSB at:

http://www.tsb.co.uk/news-releases/tsb-home-reports.pdf

Brexit

This will be the last edition of Counting Religion in Britain before United Kingdom voters decide on 23 June 2016 whether they wish the country to remain a member of the European Union (EU) or not. So, it seems appropriate to review the latest evidence about referendum voting intentions by religion. It comes from Lord Ashcroft’s online survey of 5,009 adult Britons interviewed between 13 and 18 May 2016. Respondents were not asked how they proposed to answer the actual question on the referendum ballot paper but about their inclination to vote, on a feeling thermometer running from 0 to 100, where 0-49 denoted a leaning towards remaining in the EU, 51-100 a leaning towards leaving, and 50 represented undecided. As the table below indicates, a majority of voters (52%) inclined towards the leave position, 14 points more than opted to remain. However, among Christians the gap in favour of leaving widened to 22%. A plurality of both non-Christians (49%) and religious nones (48%) was also in favour of leaving, albeit the margin over the remainers was very small (3% and 6%, respectively). See, further, page 92 of the data tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Euro_Poll_May16.pdf

% across

Remain

Undecided

Leave

All voters

38

10

52

Christian

34

9

56

Non-Christian

46

5

49

No religion

42

11

48

Voting intentions of Jews in the referendum, according to a different survey, are mentioned in the final paragraph of the first item in this edition, ‘Anti-Semitism (1)’, above. For Sikh views on the EU, see ‘British Sikh Report’, below.

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

English church census, 2016

Plans for another ecumenical census of church attendance in England, the first since 2005, have been abandoned, according to news reports in the Church Times and on the Churches Together in England website. The census was to have taken place in October, with a pilot scheduled for June. The plans had been devised by a steering group which has been meeting since autumn 2015 under the chairpersonship of the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker. But they had to be aborted after several major denominations, including most recently the Church of England itself, indicated their unwillingness to sign up to the administrative resource implications. News stories about the cancellation of the census can be found at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/13-may/news/uk/church-census-2016-cancelled-after-c-of-e-drops-out

http://www.cte.org.uk/Articles/468006/Home/News/Latest_news_articles/Proposed_Church_Census.aspx

http://www.cte.org.uk/Groups/273292/Home/Resources/Proposed_2016_Church/Proposed_2016_Church.aspx

Sermons

The overwhelming majority (88%) of 1,800 UK churchgoers and church leaders interviewed online by Christian Research in early May disagreed with the suggestion that preaching a sermon in church is outdated. However, sermons in excess of half an hour in length appealed to only 10% of the sample, more so to men (14%) than women (6%) and to those aged 25-34 (19%) than over-65s (9%). In reality, 15% of sermons were reported as exceeding 30 minutes, the most common length (44%) being from 10 to 20 minutes. Regarding priorities for content, most emphasis (44%) was placed on biblical exposition, by men (49%) more than women (39%). Practical application was second in significance (40%), albeit preferred by more women (44%) than men (36%). Neither sex attached much importance to humour or anecdote in sermons. Four-fifths of worshippers did not mind whether the preacher was male or female, but one-fifth favoured a man in the pulpit. The research was commissioned by the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in the run-up to CRE International at the ExCeL Centre in London on 17-20 May, which featured a Sermon of the Year competition. As with virtually all Christian Research polling via its Resonate panel, few data have entered the public domain, but CRE has a press release at:

https://www.creonline.co.uk/news/preachers-told-give-us-content-over-comedy-please/

Church Commissioners annual report

The Church Commissioners, who support the mission and ministry of the Church of England from the proceeds of a diverse investment of £7 billion, have published their annual report and financial statements for 2015, entitled Investing in the Church’s Growth. The overall return on this investment last year was in excess of 8%, not far short of the annual average of almost 10% over the past 30 years, and well ahead of inflation. The Commissioners’ total expenditure in 2015 was £218.5 million, amounting to 15% of all spending across the Church, with their biggest single outlay (56%) being on clergy pensions (for service prior to 1998). Media coverage has focused disproportionately on the fact that Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, is shown among the Commissioners’ 20 most valuable equity assets, despite frequent accusations against Google that it fails to pay its fair share of UK tax. The report is available for download at:

https://churchofengland.org/media/2492846/churchcommissionersar2015.pdf

Fresh Expressions of church in the Diocese of Sheffield

An analysis of 56 Fresh Expressions of church (fxC) started in the Diocese of Sheffield between 1992 and 2014 has been prepared by George Lings and published by the Church Army’s Research Unit. Nearly all (47) of these fxCs are still in existence, adding 13% to the average weekly attendance in the diocese’s parish churches. Of the 2,450 fxC attenders, 35% are existing Christians, 27% dechurched, and 39% non-churched. The report is available at:

http://www.sheffield.anglican.org/UserFiles/File///CARU_Research_report_19_Sheffield_Diocese.pdf

Church of Scotland statistics

Church of Scotland statistics for the year-ending 31 December 2015, which were reported to the General Assembly meeting in Edinburgh this month, revealed a continuing decline. There were 14,788 fewer members in 2015 than 2014, a decrease of 4%, this being the net figure of 6,330 admissions and 21,118 removals from the rolls. Half the removals were as a result of deaths, which were nine times as numerous as new members received on profession of faith. The Church conducted 21,235 funerals during the course of the year, equivalent to 37% of all deaths in Scotland. There were only 3,591 baptisms, a far cry from the peak of 51,767 in 1962. Indeed, media coverage of the General Assembly highlighted the intention to give serious consideration to online baptisms (for example, via Skype or over the phone), which are already popular in America, to stem the fall. The headline statistics can be found in Appendix X of the General Assembly’s Order of Proceedings at:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/32879/Order_of_Proceedings.pdf

Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches

The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) has released a summary report on its 2014-15 ‘data survey’, which was initially prepared for consideration by its Leaders’ Conference in November 2015. The FIEC was founded in 1922 as an umbrella organization for non-denominational and unattached churches and missions. It currently represents 559 ‘church gatherings’ in Great Britain and is continuing to grow. The ‘data survey’ revealed that 39,000 individuals (31,000 adults and 8,000 young people under 18) attend FIEC churches on a typical Sunday morning, an increase of 10% since a similar survey in 2003. The number worshipping at least monthly (and thus considered to be regular attenders) is, at 46,000, almost one-fifth more. Church membership stood at 27,000 in 2014-15, equivalent to 59% of regular adult attenders compared with 64% in 2003. Most (54%) of FIEC churches have fewer than 35 members, the smaller the church, the more likely it is to be in numerical decline. The proportion of Sunday attendances in the morning has risen from 58% in 1989 to 70% today, while the number of churches holding evening services has fallen over the same period, from 93% to 77%. The ratio of young people in FIEC congregations has reduced from 32% to 20% since 1989, with 13% of churches having no young people in the pews and 53% reporting no baptisms in the past year. One in seven attenders is aged 75 or over. A further data survey is planned towards the end of 2016. The summary report for 2014-15 can be found at:

https://fiec.org.uk/docs/FIEC_How_are_we_looking.pdf

British Sikh Report

British Sikh Report, 2016 is the fourth annual edition of a survey overseen by a group of Sikh professionals, and conducted (mainly online) in late 2015 and early 2016 among a self-selecting (and thus potentially unrepresentative) sample of 1,416 adult Sikhs in the United Kingdom. Britain’s place in the world was a special theme of this year’s study. On membership of the European Union (EU), 57% of British Sikhs were in favour of remaining (mostly subject to reform of the EU, the survey being conducted before the British government’s agreement with the EU in February 2016), 12% wanted to leave the EU, with 31% undecided. However, 54% disagreed with allowing an unlimited number of EU migrants into the country, and 67% wanted their access to benefits to be limited. On immigration generally, although 59% agreed that migrants made a positive contribution to society, 67% feared that public services could not cope with the current level of net influx, and 53% that diversity and cohesion would be adversely affected by it. Only 32% supported Britain taking in more refugees (with 39% opposed), albeit 51% approved of greater help being given to refugees already in Europe. Other topics covered were ethno-religious self-identity, relevance of caste, observance of the Panj Kakkars, charitable giving and volunteering, attitudes to British military involvement in Syria and the retention of a nuclear deterrent, and demographics (including employment status and highest educational attainment). Gurbachan Singh Jandu contributes an article on ‘Britain’s Sikhs in 2016: A Community with Society in Mind’ (pp. 5-12). British Sikh Report, 2016 is available to download at:

http://www.britishsikhreport.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/British-Sikh-Report-2016.pdf

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

2021 census

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that it intends to include a question on religious affiliation in the 2021 population census of England and Wales, using the same wording as in 2011, to ensure continuity in reporting with both 2001 and 2011 results. A primary driver for so doing is to enable organizations to meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010, which defines religion as a protected characteristic. Following public consultation, ONS is declining to extend the question, noting: ‘While data users proposed that additional information about philosophical belief should also be collected, testing ahead of the 2011 Census demonstrated that including philosophical beliefs within the question changed how respondents thought about religion. This led to them providing answers on religious belief rather than affiliation. It is therefore not intended to expand the scope of the religion question to include this aspect of the protected characteristic.’ The statement appears in section 3.9 of The 2021 Census: Assessment of Initial User Requirements on Content for England and Wales – Response to Consultation, which is available (in English and Welsh) at:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/census/censustransformationprogramme/consultations/the2021censusinitialviewoncontentforenglandandwales

Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2014

Scottish Surveys Core Questions combines into a single dataset the answers to identical questions asked of an aggregate 21,000 respondents in the annual Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, the Scottish Health Survey, and the Scottish Household Survey. The report and tables for 2014, the third year of the series, have just been published by the Scottish Government, with religion as one of the 19 core questions. Overall, 44% of the Scottish population had no religion, 52% was Christian (29% Church of Scotland, 15% Roman Catholic, 8% other denominations), and 3% non-Christian. Religious affiliation was used as a variable for analysing the incidence of general health, long-term limiting health conditions, smoking, mental wellbeing, unpaid care, local crime rates, and confidence in the police. The apparent statistical significance of some religious correlates was weakened when results were standardized by age, reflecting the disproportionately elderly profile of Church of Scotland affiliates and the younger profile of nones and Muslims. However, even after age standardization was applied, the greatest prevalence of smoking was still found among Catholics and nones. More details at:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/05/7615/downloads

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Protestant and Catholic differences

‘Protestant and Catholic Distinctions in Secularization’ are examined by Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, with particular reference to the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, pp. 165-80. The underlying data derive from cross-sectional national surveys for the period 1985-2012, including 86,000 respondents to British Social Attitudes Surveys. In all three countries, there has been a steep decline in Protestant affiliation over time, but the remaining Protestants have generally seen heightened rates of religious practice (measured by attendance at religious services and prayer) when compared with remaining Catholics. With regard to orthodox religious beliefs, both remaining Protestants and remaining Catholics exhibit increasing levels of believing. For the incidence of religious behaviour and believing, Protestants now surpass Catholics in the United States and Canada and are said to be on track to do so in Britain. The societal implications of the ‘religious core’, at once diminished yet strengthened, are briefly assessed. Access options to the article, and to supplementary tables available online, are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2016.1152660

Catholic disaffiliation

British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys, in this case for 1991-2011 (and especially 2007-11), have also been mined by Stephen Bullivant in his study of ‘Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain: A Quantitative Overview’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, pp. 181-97. Disaffiliates are defined as those who were brought up as Catholics but no longer identify as such, either because they regard themselves as belonging to some other religion (switchers) or to none at all (leavers). A much smaller proportion of Catholics (38%) was found to have disaffiliated than was the case with other mainstream denominations, some of the lowest retention rates being among Baptists and Methodists, only 36% and 34% of whom (respectively) stayed loyal to their faith of upbringing. Nevertheless, Catholic disaffiliations increased over time, from 25% for pre-1945 cohorts to 40% for post-1945 cohorts (a possible Vatican II effect, Bullivant suggests), and dwarfed, in the ratio of ten to one, converts to Catholicism. Men raised as Catholics were one and a half times more likely than women to disaffiliate. Moreover, a large contingent of the overall 62% of Catholics retaining their cradle identity rarely or never practised their religion, while a significant minority were even atheists or agnostics. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2016.1152664

A somewhat broader and more up-to-date account of results from this research, focusing on England and Wales and drawing upon BSA surveys for 2012-14, can be found in Bullivant’s Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales: A Statistical Report Based on Recent British Social Attitudes Survey Data (Catholic Research Forum Reports, No. 1, London: Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society, St Mary’s University Twickenham, 2016, 18pp.). Its four chapters explore: religion in England and Wales; the Catholic population; retention and conversion; and church attendance. Catholic data are disaggregated by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. Extrapolating from BSA, Bullivant suggests that the Catholic community of England and Wales numbers (professedly) 3,800,000 against 6,200,000 brought up as Catholics. This report is freely available to download at:

http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/benedict-xvi/contemporary-catholicism.htm

Catholics and faith schools

‘Attitudes Towards Faith-Based Schooling amongst Roman Catholics in Britain’ are explored by Ben Clements in an online first article in British Journal of Religious Education. The underlying data derive from a survey of 1,062 adult Catholics in Britain by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates in 2013. Some support is found for the ‘solidarity of the religious’ thesis, with the more orthodox Catholics (in terms of their religious practice and beliefs) showing a greater propensity to endorse publicly-funded faith school provision for Christians and non-Christians alike. The effects of moral attitudes and socio-demographic variables (except for ethnicity) were weaker and less consistent. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01416200.2015.1128393

Urban and rural Anglican dioceses

Owen Edwards has proposed a new model for defining rural, mixed, and urban Anglican dioceses in England and Wales, based upon 10 statistical factors, in comparison with an earlier (2001) model devised by David Lankshear. ‘Classifying “Rural” and “Urban” Dioceses of the Church of England and the Church in Wales: Introducing the Ten-Factor Model’ is published in Rural Theology, Vol. 14, No. 1, May 2016, pp. 53-65, and access options to the article are explained at:

http://tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14704994.2016.1154729

Polarized Jews

Jews are likely to hold more divergent and stronger views than non-Jews across a wide variety of social issues. This is according to a comparison of a 1995 study of British Jewish opinion, undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys for 1993-94, both of which permitted respondents to choose between moderate or more extreme positions in answer to 14 identically-worded questions. No subsequent survey of the British Jewish community appears to have deliberately replicated BSA questions in this way. In all but one of the 14 cases, the Jewish sample exhibited a wider spread of attitudes than BSA interviewees, which was statistically significant in 11 instances. Competing non-religious (socio-demographic and language norm) explanations for the variance are considered and dismissed. This greater polarization of Jewish opinion conforms to Jewish folklore, religious narratives, and tropes of Jewish humour. An open access version of Stephen Miller, ‘Are Jews More Polarised in Their Social Attitudes than Non-Jews?  Empirical Evidence from the 1995 JPR Study’, Jewish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 57, Nos 1 and 2, 2015, pp. 70-6 is available at:

http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/12694/1/2%20Miller.pdf

Digital methodologies

Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion are explored in a new book edited by Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Suha Shakkour (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, xxvi + 227pp., ISBN 978-1-4725-7115-1, £21.99, paperback). It comprises 15 fairly short chapters by 25 contributors (10 of them from the United Kingdom) which tease out the methodological lessons to be learned from online research which they have conducted, identifying key tips for future practitioners. There is also a useful bibliography of relevant primary and secondary literature (pp. 197-223). The empirical findings of the research are only incidentally reported. Digital methodologies employed, besides the fairly obvious use of online surveys, include Facebook, YouTube, videoconferencing, apps, crowdsourcing, and gaming. They can be helpful in targeting minority and otherwise hard-to-reach populations, particularly in non-Christian communities, which are the subject of several of these essays (for example, Jasjit Singh’s contribution on the religious engagement of young Sikhs). However, in statistical terms, digital research, although relatively inexpensive, often struggles to achieve representative samples and thus to generate scientifically robust data. This even applies to online surveys, which frequently rely upon self-selecting respondents. The book’s webpage can be found at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/digital-methodologies-in-the-sociology-of-religion-9781472571151/

Implicit religion and adolescents

Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny have examined the late Edward Bailey’s notion of the persistence of implicit religion among a sample of 8,619 adolescents aged 13-15 in England and Wales who participated in the Teenage Religion and Values Survey and who had no formal religious affiliation (nones) nor practice (never attended religious services). Implicit religion was operationalized as attachment to traditional Christian rites of passage (religious baptism, marriage, and funeral). Marriage in church was sought by 43%, a church funeral by 42%, and baptism of children by 21%. It was found that young people who remained attached to these rites displayed higher levels of psychological wellbeing than those who were not attached, suggesting, the authors contend, that implicit religion serves similar psychological functions as explicit religion. ‘Implicit Religion and Psychological Wellbeing: A Study among Adolescents without Formal Religious Affiliation or Practice’ is published in Implicit Religion, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2016, pp. 61-78, and access options are explained at:

https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/IR/article/view/30009

Journalists and religion

The United Kingdom’s 64,000 professional journalists are not an especially religious lot, even less so than the population as a whole. This is according to a new report from the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Neil Thurman, Alessio Cornia, and Jessica Kunert, Journalists in the UK. A random sample of journalists drawn from the Gorkana Media Database was invited to complete an online survey in December 2015, of whom 715 responded. The majority (61%) said that they had no religion, 74% that religious belief was of little (22%) or no importance (52%) to them, and 76% that religious considerations had little (28%) or no influence (48%) on their work. Moreover, as many as 45% expressed little (27%) or no trust (18%) in religious leaders, only 11% having a great deal or complete trust in them. The relatively low religiosity of journalists may be at least partially explained by the fact that they are disproportionately white and university-educated. The report is available at:

http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Journalists%20in%20the%20UK.pdf

George Whitefield’s voice

Christian history is full of examples of evangelists who have preached to large crowds in the open air without any amplification of their voice. Historians have often doubted whether these crowds were quite as large as estimated at the time and, in any case, whether the preacher would actually have been audible. Now matters have been put to the test in respect of George Whitefield, the great transatlantic preacher of the eighteenth century, who is said to have attracted as many as 80,000 people on a single occasion. Braxton Boren, a graduate in both physics and music technology, has used contemporary experimental and topographical data combined with modern simulation techniques to calculate the maximum intelligible range of Whitefield’s field preaching in Philadelphia and London. He concludes that, based on Whitefield’s vocal level, he could have reached a crowd of 50,000 under ideal acoustic conditions and still half as many even when noise levels were higher or crowd density lower. Braxton’s ‘Whitefield’s Voice’ is published in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 167-89.

British Religion in Numbers

The annual update of the British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) source database has just taken place (it was deliberately delayed to allow the BRIN website to be migrated to a new platform, and, as part of that, for the database itself to be moved from MySQL to WordPress software). New entries have been created for 158 British religious statistical sources (disproportionately sample surveys), of which 121 date from 2015, 27 from 2014, and 10 from previous years. This brings the total of sources described in the database to 2,552. The 2015 sources include many important surveys, a very large number relating to Muslims, Islam, or Islamism (notably Islamic State), with a smaller cluster of polls exploring Jewish opinion and the attitudes of Britons toward Jews and anti-Semitism. Sources can be browsed at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/source-list/

An advanced search facility is available at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/search/

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7894: What about YOUth? Survey, 2014

The ‘What about YOUth?’ survey was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and conducted by Ipsos MORI through a combination of self-completion postal and online questionnaires between 23 September 2014 and 9 January 2015. It investigated the health and wellbeing of a random sample of 15-year-olds in England, which can be analysed by a raft of background variables, one of which was religious affiliation. The substantial size of the dataset (120,115 interviews, representing a response rate of 40%) makes it of particular interest. A catalogue description, with links to technical and other information, is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7894&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7963: Scottish Household Survey, 2013 and SN 7964: Scottish Household Survey, 2014

The Scottish Household Survey, initiated in 1999, is undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government by a polling consortium led by Ipsos MORI. Information is collected about the composition, characteristics, attitudes, and behaviour of private households and individuals in Scotland; and about the physical condition of their homes. For the 2013 survey (January 2013-February 2014) data were gathered on 10,650 households and 9,920 adults; for 2014 (January 2014-March 2015) on, respectively, 10,630 and 9,800. The specifically religious content of the questionnaire for both years covered: religion belonged to; experience of discrimination or harassment on religious, sectarian, or other grounds; and incidence of volunteering for religious and other groups. Catalogue descriptions for the datasets are available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7963&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7964&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7972: British Election Study, 2015 – Face-to-Face Post-Election Survey

The series of British Election Studies originated in 1963, and the post-election survey for 2015 (there was also an internet panel) was based on face-to-face interviews with a probability sample of 2,987 British electors, 1,567 of whom also filled out a self-completion module. Fieldwork was conducted by GfK NOP between 8 May and 13 September 2015, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council allocated to a research team at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and Nottingham. Respondents were asked whether they regarded themselves as belonging to any religion and, if so, how often they attended religious services other than for rites of passage. These are important background variables for analysing the answers to the recurrent and non-recurrent questions on political and related topics. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7972&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

 

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