A less Christian future for England and Wales

The breakdown of the census religion counts by age and sex, released 30 January 2023, helps us to picture the religious landscape in the decades ahead. The obvious change is well known, though perhaps not yet fully grasped: the proportion of the population that is Christian is being squeezed from two directions. People of Christian heritage increasingly say that they have no religion, and at the same time, Islam and other minority religions have a growing share.

The graph below shows the percentage of people in the Christian and no religion categories by age, according to the 2021 census in England and Wales. The two lines are in nearly mirror image: Christian losses are mostly gains to no religion. Parents answer the census questions for their children, and as many are not inclined to ascribe a religious affiliation to infants or young children, the Christian line starts very low. By about age 10 children are described as Christian with roughly the same frequency as their parents (who are around age 40). Teenagers start to demonstrate their independence, and so we see a hump in the reported affiliation of children. The Christian share hovers around 30 percent for adults now in their 20s and rises steadily across older generations, approaching (though not quite reaching) 80 percent in the earliest cohorts. Conversely, more than half of people in their 20s have no religion, while among the elderly not quite one in ten are unaffiliated.

The picture for the three largest religious minorities – Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs – is interestingly different. Children are assigned to a religion immediately. Muslims constitute more than 10 percent of every year of age through 18, though the proportion falls rapidly thereafter. There is an additional bulge in the 30s and early 40s, however, which might be the result of refugee inflows or spousal migration in the past decade or two.

It is simple to predict that within a few decades, at least one in six people in England and Wales will belong to a non-Christian religion, even in the absence of further immigration. Muslims will be 11%, Hindus 2%, Sikhs 1%, and other groups (including Buddhists and Jews) a further 2%. In practice migration will continue to boost both Christian and non-Christian numbers. At some point it is likely that some people of non-Christian heritage will say that they have no religion, but for the moment these ethno-religious labels are a persistent component of social identity.

In a previous post, I noted that many people who ticked the Christian box in the 2011 census chose ‘No religion’ ten years later. We can learn more by looking at the no religion shares of the Christian-heritage population (estimated by summing the Christian, no religion and religion not stated categories) in 2011 and 2021. The graph below is focused on people aged 25 and older, who are generally living independently and have reasonably settled identities. Census respondents aged 25+ in 2011 were 35+ in 2021, and we can compare their responses in the two censuses.

The shift towards no religion is distributed remarkably evenly across all years of age. It is slightly more pronounced among younger cohorts, but the intercensal gap is relatively constant. As Sir Bernard Silverman pointed out in his comment on my post last week (and as I mentioned in a BRIN post ten years ago about the 2011 results), however, this comparison almost certainly underestimates the amount of individual switching that occurred. Net migration to the UK has added at least two million people over the past decade, most of whom will have a religious identity. The additional Christians will have depressed the ‘no religion’ proportions shown above for 2021. If the new arrivals were disproportionately young adults, the drift from Christian to no religion in those birth cohorts will be more pronounced than implied by this graph. More precision will have to wait until further data from the census become available.

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Christian decline: How it’s measured and what it means

The 2021 census in England and Wales suggests that self-identified Christians are now less than half the population. Anyone following the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey will regard this development as old news: it has put the Christian share below 50% in every year since 2009, with estimates as low as 38% in 2018 and 2019. The esteem accorded to official statistics, however, helps to explain headlines such as “Christians now a minority in England and Wales for first time” (Daily Telegraph, 29 November 2022).

It is worth remembering the features of each data source. To start with the census:

  • It seeks to reach everyone in the population.
  • It is conducted by the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales and by comparable public agencies in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Completion of the census form is a legal requirement, though the question on religion is voluntary.
  • The question “What is your religion?” could be viewed as implying that everyone has one, though the first option listed is “No religion.”
  • There are tick-boxes for world religions (Christian, Muslim, etc.) rather than specific denominations; there is also the option to choose ‘Other religion’ and write in a response.
  • The question on religion directly followed the one on ethnicity in 2001 and 2021, which might imply that it is about family heritage rather than formal affiliation. In 2011 these topics were separated by questions on language.
  • The form is often completed by one person in the household on behalf of some or all of the individuals in it.

As for the British Social Attitudes survey:

  • It goes to a random sample of individuals aged 18 and above.
  • It is carried out by NatCen, a leading survey company.
  • The question is “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?”
  • The response options include denominational labels, for example Church of England, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian, which might induce people who are not involved with a specific church to select ‘No religion’.

Regarding this last point, BSA respondents can identify themselves simply as ‘Christian – no denomination’, a category that probably includes committed members of evangelical and Pentecostal independent churches on the one hand and nominal Christians on the other. It seems likely that many non-churchgoers who in the past might have accepted ‘Church of England’ as a default label are now opting for the unspecified ‘Christian’ designation instead: the category has grown considerably in recent years, from 3% in 1983 to 13% in 2018. Unfortunately, NatCen now supplies only a summary variable for religion rather than the full breakdown shown in the questionnaire. Among Christians, the only groups identified are Church of England, Catholic and other. It is noteworthy, though, that in 2020 the ‘other Christians’ outnumbered Anglicans and Catholics combined. Once Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists are subtracted, the ‘Christian – no denomination’ share is probably around 17%.

One plausible explanation for the differences in religious affiliation reported by the census and BSA survey is that the census question “What is your religion?” encourages people to choose one, in conjunction with the breadth and vagueness of the undifferentiated Christian category, which can easily be interpreted – particularly in this context – as a quasi-ethnic identity. By contrast, asking about belonging to any particular religion, where the usual answers include specific denominations, may nudge respondents without concrete connections to choose ‘no religion’ instead of a nominal Christian identity.

The fact that the Christian category on the census seems to be more inclusive than the same label used in surveys is only part of the mystery, however. The BSA survey has been running since 1983. Religious affiliation as measured by its question has declined steadily since that time, but the decline is wholly explained by cohort replacement. Elderly self-identified Christians die and are replaced in the population by young people who have no religion. Within each generation, average levels of affiliation are virtually unchanged during adulthood. Around 80% of people born around 1920 had a religion, and that percentage did not change significantly from one year to the next; by contrast, fewer than 30% of people born around 1990 regard themselves as belonging to a religion, and again that level has remained stable. Each successive birth cohort is less religious than the previous one, but the average within each cohort stays fairly constant over time.

Interestingly, the census measure of religious identity has been different. While generational differences are very apparent in the census figures from 2001 and 2011, the declines in Christian identification from one census to the next (2001 to 2011 and then 2011 to 2021) are much too large to be explained by cohort replacement alone. Millions of people who ticked the Christian box in one census chose ‘No religion’ ten years later.

The Christian share of the population in England and Wales is falling fast, as measured by the census: from 72% in 2001 to 59% in 2011 and then 46% in 2021. Using the detailed results on religion from 2011 together with the age distribution in 2021 (published earlier in the autumn), it is possible to estimate what the Christian share of the population would have been if religious identity was a stable characteristic. If change was purely the result of cohort replacement, 54% of the population would still be Christian.

Many people whose religious identity was nominal, weak and volatile were evidently classified as Christian in previous censuses. Quite a few still choose that affiliation – the Christian percentages remain higher than those from the BSA – but a substantial number have decided that ‘no religion’ is a more appropriate label. The term ‘disaffiliation’ might be applied to this shift, but it is hard not to suspect that most of the people concerned were scarcely affiliated in any real sense to begin with. When religion plays little part in one’s life, affiliation may amount to no more than a somewhat arbitrary decision about which box to tick.

Why has there been such stability in the BSA measure of affiliation and such instability in the census measure? The answer is presumably that the BSA question captures people whose religious identity is at least moderately strong and persistent, while the census picked up millions of nominal Christians for whom religion was not really part of their personal or social identity. Many have fallen off the fence into self-declared non-religion. There has been some convergence between the two data sources.

The generational contrasts in the census are now just as large as in the BSA. While we will have to wait for the release of more complete data to be sure, it is likely that around 80% of people aged 85+ will have called themselves Christian in 2021 but perhaps only 30% among those in their early 20s. Indeed, the Christian share will probably be less than 40% in all age groups below 45.

If what we know about religious change is correct, the slide in Christian affiliation will continue for decades into the future. In these circumstances, the role of the Church of England is naturally being questioned. Again, the BSA survey is arguably more helpful than the census, as it encourages respondents to identify with a particular Christian denomination. The age gradient for affiliation is especially steep: among the hundreds of respondents in the 18-24 age group, only three in 2018 and two in 2019 identified themselves as Anglicans. In order to obtain reliable estimates, we can pool the datasets from 2018, 2019 and 2020. One finds that just 4% of people in England under the age of 45 regard themselves as belonging to the Church of England.

As a final remark, our attention has been focused here on self-identification with a religion, and no single measure of religious involvement can tell the whole story of secularization. (Note, by contrast, Clive Field’s use of 21 key performance indicators in his recent book Counting Religion in Britain 1970–2020.) The problem is especially acute when affiliation is treated as binary: present or absent. In the United States, the General Social Survey (GSS) question on religious preference has since 1974 been followed by one that asks “Would you call yourself a strong X or a not very strong X?”, where X is the group chosen. About one in ten respondents volunteer the description “somewhat strong” and are so recorded. The GSS thereby discerns four levels of affiliation: strong, somewhat strong, not very strong, none.

This approach has important advantages. Renouncing any religious identity is a high bar, and relatively few people born before the end of the Second World War reached this threshold of secularity. There was little change before the Baby Boom generation in the proportion of Americans saying they have no religion. By contrast, strong / somewhat strong affiliation weakened for every successive generation from as far back as we can see, to people born more than a century ago. It seems likely that the same would be true of Britain.

If religious decline started earlier than some scholars suggest, it also seems to be continuing past the point when many expected to see a levelling out. (I was co-author of a book chapter published in 2010 entitled ‘The triumph of indifference’, but by the end of that decade I was commenting in British Social Attitudes: the 36th Report on the surprisingly assertive secularity of the unaffiliated.) The debate will continue, not least when more data from the census become available, but theories that link secularization to particular periods or generations seem hard to sustain.

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Counting Religion in Britain, October 2021

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 73, October 2021 features 13 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 73 October 2021


  • UnHerd’s response to Savanta ComRes poll on frequency of churchgoing and prayer
  • YouGov Death Study: some afterlife beliefs
  • Trustworthiness of clergy or priests: Ipsos MORI global study of professional rankings
  • Anti-Semitism in Europe: Ipsos SA survey for the Action and Protection League
  • Coronavirus chronicles: a comeback for Halloween?


  • Coronavirus chronicles: Church of England Statistics for Mission, 2020
  • Results of elections to the Church of England General Synod, 2021
  • Economic and social value of church buildings in the UK
  • UK Jews and climate change: Institute for Jewish Policy Research panel survey
  • Muslim Census survey about Muslim university student finance


  • Religious hate crimes recorded by police forces in England and Wales, 2020/21
  • Offender management statistics as at 30 September 2021


  • Six recent articles in academic journals

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2021

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Counting Religion in Britain, August 2021

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 71, August 2021 features seven new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 71 August 2021


  • Coronavirus chronicles: Covid-19 and the Christian Church
  • Coronavirus chronicles: the Jewish experience of Covid-19


  • Office for National Statistics consultation on 2021 census outputs
  • Religious marriages in England and Wales, 2018
  • Religious hate crimes in Scotland, 2020–21
  • Entries for Religious Studies in June 2021 school examinations in England and Wales


  • Four recent articles in religion journals

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2021

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Religion and the British Social Attitudes 2016 Survey

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

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

Figure 1: Religious affiliation in Britain, 1983-2016

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


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


Figure 2: Religious Attendance in Britain, 1983-2016

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


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


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

Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


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


Table 1: Summary of religion indicators

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

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


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Counting Religion in Britain, January 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 16, January 2017 features 22 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 16 January 2017


Faith Research Centre

The major polling news of the month was the official launch by ComRes, in London on 24 January 2017, of its Faith Research Centre, directed by Katie Harrison and claimed to be ‘the UK’s first dedicated commercial capability with specific expertise in researching religion and belief’.  The Centre’s vision is ‘to help improve the quality of knowledge . . . by providing robust and impartial evidence of current religious identity, belief, practice, and behaviour’. It aims to do so by offering thought leadership programmes and research and consultancy services on faith issues, domestically and across Europe. Two major projects have already been announced: a series of National Faith Surveys, on a five-year rotational basis, in the UK and four other European countries; and Faith in the Workplace, a set of tools and services to help employers. The Centre’s webpage is at:


As a trailer for the launch of the Centre, ComRes conducted an online survey into the religious attitudes of 2,048 adult Britons on 4-5 January 2017, the data tables for which can be found at:

General Public Research – Religion of Britain January 2017

Respondents were initially asked to assess whether Britain was still a Christian country, a concept which has been to the fore in debates about ‘British values’ during recent years. A slight majority (55%) replied in the affirmative, a big reduction on the 80% found in 1968 and 71% in 1989 but broadly in line with other post-Millennium polling. The proportion judging Britain a Christian country varied widely with age, ranging from 31% of 18-24s to 74% of over-65s. It was also high among professing Christians (72%). Just over one-quarter (28%) considered Britain to be a country without any specific religious identity, and this was especially true of 18-24s (41%), religious nones (37%), and non-Christians (36%). The remaining 17% of the whole sample gave another answer or did not know what to think.

Interviewees were then presented with six pairs of statements and asked to select the one from each pair which best represented their own position. Four of the statements concerned understanding of religion(s), with pluralities saying that a good understanding of religion(s) was important for politicians and policy makers in the UK (47%); for tackling global terrorism (44%); and for understanding the world itself (47%). A further question asked about self-understanding of religion(s) in the UK, rated as good by 43% and not so by 41%. However, similar numbers were scathing in their own assessment of religion(s), which 45% regarded as generally a cause of wars and violence and 44% as doing more harm than good. Somewhat remarkably, nones were no more critical than the rest of society, the assenting figure being 45% for each statement.


One-third (32%) of Britons claim to believe in angels, and the same number feel they have a guardian angel watching over them, according to a poll commissioned by the Bible Society and conducted online by ICM Unlimited with 2,037 respondents on 17-18 August 2016. This was a similar proportion to 2010 (31% then believing in angels and 29% in guardian angels). In the 2016 survey, women (39%) were more likely to believe in angels than men (26%) and also to have seen or heard an angel (11% and 8%, respectively). Belief in angels otherwise peaked among over-75s and residents of the South-East (both 39%) and the lowest (DE) social group (41%). Data tables are unpublished but a few results were reported in a Bible Society press release of 13 December 2016 at:


Islamist terrorism

Islamist terrorism is the major external preoccupation of Britons for 2017, 62% of them telling YouGov in an app-based poll on 2 January that the threat posed by it was most on their mind as an expectation for the year. This was closely followed by the negative effects of the presidency of Donald Trump (59%). Economic disruption as a consequence of Brexit was in third place, at 48%. Just 21% were confident that 2017 would see significant progress in defeating Islamic State. Topline results only can be found at:


Banning the burka

International debate about the wearing in public of certain forms of ‘Islamic’ female dress has been raging for a decade or more now and legal bans have already been imposed in certain countries, albeit not (yet) in Britain. Here the appearance of burkinis on holiday beaches was a matter of contention last summer but attention has now reverted back to the wearing of burkas and niqabs. According to an online YouGov poll of 1,609 Britons on 15-16 December 2016, 50% of the adult population would like to see a law passed against the use of full body and face coverings, backing for such a measure being especially strong among over-65s (72%), UKIP supporters (74%), and those who voted for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum (70%). The national figure in favour of a ban is lower than in Germany (69%, seven points more than five months ago) but higher than in the United States (25%), a majority (60%) in the latter country agreeing that people should be allowed to wear what they want, a position taken by just 38% of Britons (but by half of 18-24s, Labour and Liberal Democrat voters and 57% of ‘remainers’ in the EU referendum). The full data table is accessible via the link in the blog at:


‘Muslim’ travel ban

President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days has caused a storm of protest, both in his own country and around the world, including in the UK. Sky Data seems to have been the first organization to test British public opinion on the matter, on behalf of Sky News, among a sample of 1,091 Sky customers contacted via SMS on 30 January 2017. This was obviously a niche – and potentially unrepresentative – audience, even though results were weighted to the profile of the population as a whole. Asked whether they would support a similar ‘Muslim’ travel ban in the UK, 34% of respondents said that they would, rising to 40% of over-55s and 44% of residents in the Midlands and Wales. A plurality, 49%, was opposed to a Trump-style policy being adopted in the UK, with hostility greatest among the under-35s (71%) and Londoners (76%), while 18% expressed no clear view. There was also a plurality, again of 49%, in favour of cancelling the proposed state visit to the UK by President Trump later in the year, with 38% wanting it to go ahead and 12% undecided. The data tables can be found at:


Corruption of religious leaders

UK findings from Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, 2015/16 have recently been released, based upon telephone interviews by Efficience3 with 1,004 adults between 15 December 2015 and 28 January 2016. One of the questions concerned the perceived corruption of national leaders and institutions, including religious leaders. Among UK respondents, 6% assessed all religious leaders corrupt, 8% most of them, 52% some of them, and 27% none of them, with 8% unable to say. The proportion (14%) claiming that most or all religious leaders were corrupt was lower than in many other European and central Asian countries, the regional average being 17% and the range from 2% in Estonia to 39% in Moldova. Within the UK, five groups were seen as being more corrupt than religious leaders, most or all of local government representatives (19%), business executives (21%), government officials (25%), members of the Prime Minister’s office (27%), and MPs (28%). However, religious leaders were seen as more corrupt than judges and magistrates (9%), police (11%), and tax officials (12%). Topline data are available by clicking on the download link at the bottom of the press release at:



Britons are a sceptical lot when it comes to believing the predictions of so-called ‘experts’, according to a YouGov poll of 1,943 adults on 7 January 2017. Weather forecasters (29%) and astronomers (27%) are deemed the most credible, some way ahead of economists (19%). Astrologers have one of the poorest ratings, their predictions trusted by no more than 6% of the population overall, albeit they hold special appeal to 18-24-year-olds (12%) and UKIP voters (10%). Pollsters scored just 1%. Results disaggregated by standard demographics are available at:


Psychic powers

Prompted by recent CIA revelations about scientific tests which apparently ‘proved’ that the Israeli psychic Uri Geller really did have special powers, YouGov asked the 4,645 respondents to an app-based poll on 20 January 2017 whether they believed that some people possess psychic powers. Just over one-quarter (27%) did so, women (36%), Scottish Nationalists (36%), and UKIP voters (40%) being especially convinced. A slim majority (51%) disavowed the existence of psychic powers, men (62%) and 18-24s (66%) being most sceptical. The remaining 22% were undecided. Data have been posted at:



The occurrence of Friday the 13th in the month occasioned at least a couple of polls about triskaidekaphobia and superstition more generally, neither sufficiently reported to enable their credentials to be established, although there was some print and online media coverage (from which this brief account has been compiled). One survey was conducted by the property website Zoopla among 2,839 homeowners, ascertaining that 43% acknowledged being superstitious and 46% having a lucky number (seven being the most popular); 30% also said they would be less likely to buy a property with thirteen in the address and 23% that they would be unwilling to exchange, complete, or even move into a home on Friday the 13th. The other study was undertaken by the hotel chain Travelodge, 74% of its 2,500 respondents reporting they had suffered bad luck on a previous Friday the 13th and 68% they would be making some kind of gesture on the day in order to bring them good luck; 50% expressed belief in the power of lucky numbers and 40% owned up to being superstitious. An associated survey of Travelodge’s 532 UK hotel managers revealed that room 13 was the one customers wished to avoid most, with room 101 and room 666 the second and third least requested; room 7 is the room most in demand.

Holocaust and genocide

More than a quarter (27%) of survivors of the Holocaust and later genocides who live in the UK have experienced discrimination or abuse in this country linked to their religion or ethnicity, according to a survey released by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), marking Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January 2017). This is despite the fact that 72% of survivors said they felt very or fairly welcome when they arrived in the UK. The majority (52%) waited more than twenty years after their arrival before they began to talk about their experiences. Relatives of these survivors are even more likely (38%) to report being victims of faith- or race-based hatred in the UK. The poll was conducted online by YouGov among 208 survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides and 173 of their family members. HMDT’s press release can be found at:



Faith-based charities

New Philanthropy Capital published the final report from its programme of research into faith-based charities on 29 November 2016: Rachel Wharton and Lucy de Las Casas, What a Difference a Faith Makes: Insights on Faith-Based Charities. It draws together the key findings from interim publications and blogs, including an analysis of the statistical importance of faith-based organizations to the charity sector in England and Wales, previously featured by British Religion in Numbers. One-fourth of charities registered with the Charity Commission were found to be faith-based of which two-thirds are Christian. An in-depth survey of 134 faith-based charities was also undertaken. The 33-page report further discusses the main themes which have emerged from the research and makes sundry recommendations. It is available at:

What a difference a faith makes

Evangelical opinions

The Evangelical Alliance (EA) has recently released headline findings from two surveys conducted among its online research panel of evangelical Christians. It should be noted that these were self-selecting (opportunity) samples and may not be representative of the evangelical constituency, still less of churchgoers as a whole.

The first survey was completed by 811 evangelicals between 28 November and 5 December 2016 and was press-released by the EA on 16 December. It concerned attitudes to Christmas, the key messages being that the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, 89% and 99% respectively, intended (a) to volunteer or give money to charitable causes at Christmas and (b) to sing carols or attend a Christmas service. Further information is available at:


The second survey was answered by 1,562 evangelicals and published on 23 December 2016 in the January/February 2017 edition of Idea magazine; dates of fieldwork were not given. The subject matter was belief and unbelief with particular reference to: sharing the gospel with people of other faiths; religious freedom in the UK; secularism; and religious illiteracy in the public square. On the last-named topic, 94% of evangelicals criticized the media and 88% politicians for their lack of understanding of religion. The article is available at:


Faith journeys

What Helps Disciples Grow? is the final report by Simon Foster on a 2014-15 research project for the Saint Peter’s Saltley Trust, a Christian educational charity covering the West Midlands. It is based upon responses to a paper questionnaire completed during services by 1,191 churchgoers in the region drawn from 30 places of worship of different denominations. To what extent this constituted a representative sample is unclear. Respondents were asked how they viewed their own calling, growth, and spirituality and what had helped or hindered their Christian journey over the years. Analysis of the data in partnership with Leslie Francis and David Lankshear suggested that there were four distinct paths of discipleship: group activity, individual experience, public engagement, and church worship. The report, tables (with breaks by gender and age), and questionnaire can be downloaded from:

What Helps Christian Disciples Grow?

Christians against Poverty

Debt-counselling charity Christians against Poverty (CAP) has highlighted the lasting impact of its work, based on the experiences of 214 of its clients surveyed at least twelve months after becoming debt free with CAP’s help, in The Freedom Report: The Importance of Debt Advice in Building Financial Capability and Resilience to Stay Free of Problem Debt. The vast majority of clients (93%) remained free of unmanageable debt, 85% felt in control of their finances, 74% no longer used credit, 62% had passed on to others skills learned through CAP, and 46% even had savings. The 34-page report is available at:


Surveying Sikhs

Jagbir Jhutti-Johal considers methodological issues raised in surveying the Sikh community, with reference to the UK Sikh Survey (2016), in her Religion and the Public Sphere blog at:


Aliyah statistics

In its latest report, written by Daniel Staetsky, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research asked Are Jews Leaving Europe? It focused on migration to Israel from six countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK – which collectively account for 70% of Europe’s Jewish population. Since the Millennium, migration to Israel from the UK, Germany, and Sweden was found to be at a ‘business as usual’ volume whereas in the other three nations, notably in France and Italy, there has been a steep rise in very recent years, to reach historically unprecedented levels. Staetsky deployed statistical modelling in an attempt to identify potential factors which might be driving this pattern, with particular reference to France and the UK, albeit an explicit link to the extent of anti-Semitism could not be proved. Data sources are fully explained in an appendix (pp. 23-6). The report is available at:



British Social Attitudes Surveys

In his latest research note for British Religion in Numbers, Ben Clements presents trend data from British Social Attitudes Surveys to 2015 in respect of current religious affiliation, religion of upbringing, and attendance at religious services. See:

Religion and the British Social Attitudes 2015 Survey

Materiality and religion

Material culture has emerged in recent years as a significant theme in the study of religion, and a specialist journal (Material Religion) has been published since 2005. The three phases of materiality – production, classification, and circulation/use – are further illustrated in Materiality and the Study of Religion: The Stuff of the Sacred, edited by Tim Hutchings and Joanne McKenzie (London: Routledge, 2017, x + 245pp,, ISBN 978-1-4724-7783-5, £95.00, hardback). Its thirteen chapters, with introduction and afterword, offer fresh empirical research and theoretical insights, disproportionately drawn from Britain. Reflecting the nature of the subject, these contributions are of a mainly qualitative bent, the exception being Elisabeth Arweck, ‘Religion Materialised in the Everyday: Young People’s Attitudes towards Material Expressions of Religion’ (pp. 185-202). This draws upon data from the 2011-12 ‘Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity’ project, demonstrating a considerable awareness by young people of the cultural factors at work shaping the everyday deployment, circulation, and reception of religious symbols, clothing, and dietary observances. The book’s webpage is at:


Psychology and religion

Vol. 29, No. 2, 2016 of Journal of Empirical Theology is a theme issue on psychology and religion, guest-edited by Emyr Williams and Mandy Robbins. Two of the six articles are of particular British religious statistical interest, although their findings are not entirely conclusive. The more substantial, in terms of its evidence base, is Andrew Village, ‘Biblical Conservatism and Psychological Type’ (pp. 137-59), a correlation explored through responses given by 3,243 self-selecting readers of the Church Times in 2013, 1,269 of them clergy and 1,974 laity. Meanwhile, in ‘The Relationship between Paranormal Belief and the HEXACO Domains of Personality’ (pp. 212-38), Emyr Williams and Ben Roberts illustrate the effects of introducing honesty/humility as an additional (sixth) measure of personality when appraising belief in the paranormal among a preponderantly female sample of 137 undergraduate students in Wales. Access options to these articles are outlined at:


Church of England liturgies

The words used in Anglican worship have become more accessible over time but there is still scope for making them more so, argues Geoff Bayliss (Rector of Cowley, Oxford), who has appraised the readability of Church of England liturgies by testing them statistically against three standard readability formulae, covering ministry of the word, ministry of the Eucharist, and occasional offices. His summative evaluation is that currently 43% of adults living in England would find 50% of the Church’s liturgical texts difficult to read. Only 34% of these texts fall into the National Literacy Strategy’s Entry Level or Level 1 groupings while 64% are categorized as Level 2, characterized by longer sentences, unfamiliar vocabulary, and a high occurrence of polysyllabic words. Nor is it the case that linguistic complexity is the function of older liturgies such as the Book of Common Prayer; modern versions also exhibit readability problems. Although Bayliss concedes that use of a small core of challenging words may be hard to avoid, he feels many others could be couched in forms which would enhance their readability. The full results of the research are presented in his doctoral thesis, ‘Assessing the Accessibility of the Liturgical Texts of the Church of England: Using Readability Formulae’ (University of Wales DMin, 2016, 314pp.), which can be downloaded from:


An introduction to his findings can be found in his article ‘Speaking More in the Language of the People’ in the Church Times, 23/30 December 2016, p. 16, which is available at:



Rather belatedly, we should note the publication of a special theme issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (Vol. 42, No. 2, 2016, pp. 177-340) devoted to the EURISLAM Project, funded between 2009 and 2012 by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme. EURISLAM was undertaken by a consortium of six European universities, coordinated by the University of Amsterdam, and with the University of Bristol as the British member. The research took place in Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, and The Netherlands, utilizing a combination of media content analysis, telephone interviews, and interviews with representatives of Muslim organizations. In each of the six countries, telephone interviews were conducted with onomastically recruited samples of Muslims of Moroccan, Turkish, former Yugoslavian, and Pakistani descent (798 of them in Britain) and also with a cross-section of the national majority population (387 persons in Britain). The questionnaire explored cultural interactions between Muslim immigrants and receiving societies. The theme issue, The Socio-Cultural Integration of Muslims in Western Europe: Comparative Perspectives, contains nine articles, and is available on a subscriber or pay-per view basis at:


There is also much more information about EURISLAM, including further bibliographic references, many results, and a link to the dataset, on the project website at:


Yearbook of International Religious Demography

The latest global attempt to number religious adherents is Yearbook of International Religious Demography, 2016, edited by Brian Grim, Todd Johnson, Vegard Skrbekk, and Gina Zurlo (Leiden: Brill, 2016, xxiv + 231pp., ISBN 978-9-0043-2173-1, €85, paperback). It draws upon a wide range of sources (described in part 3, pp. 167-78), many of them archived in Brill’s World Religion Database, albeit the 2011 census is the principal source of UK data. Country-by-country totals for each major faith group are tabulated in an appendix (pp. 197-225), with extensive statistical analyses in part 1 (pp. 1-93). From this we learn that, in absolute terms, the UK has the third largest population of Sikhs in the world, the fourth of Jains, the fifth of Zoroastrians, the sixth of Jews and agnostics, and the ninth of non-religionists. Part 2 of the volume comprises seven case studies and methodological essays, none specifically relating to the UK. The book’s webpage is at:



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


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Religion and the British Social Attitudes 2015 Survey

The British Social Attitudes (BSA) 2015 survey dataset was released recently and this post provides a brief analysis of long-running data on religion available from the BSA surveys. It focuses on religious affiliation, religion of upbringing and religious attendance.

Firstly, Figure 1 reports the time-series data on affiliation for the period 1983-2015. Noteworthy features include the long-term decline in the proportion identifying as Church of England (40% in 1983, 19% in 2015), increased identification with non-Christian faiths over recent decades (3% in 1983, 8% in 2015), broad stability in levels of Catholic identification (10% in 1983, 9% in 2015), and the steady upwards climb of the proportion with no affiliation (32% in 1983, 49% in 2015). The proportion of other Christians has increased over time, from 15% in 1983 to 17% in 2015. However, the composition of this group has shifted. The proportion identifying as non-denominational Christians has risen over time, with a decreasing share professing a denominational affiliation – in particular, with the Nonconformist churches.


Figure 1: Religious affiliation in Britain, 1983-2015


Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


Secondly, Figure 2 shows the levels of religious attendance over time. For clarity of presentation, attendance has been divided up into three categories: attends once a month or more often (or frequent attendance); attends less often (infrequent attendance); does not attend. In contrast to the shifting patterns of affiliation across recent decades, attendance shows a picture of somewhat less marked change. The proportion reporting that they never attend religious services (beyond going for the traditional rites of passage) has risen from 56% in 1983 to 65% in 2015. There has been some decline levels of frequent and infrequent attending: attending once a month or more fell from 21% in 1983 to 18% in 2015 (with weekly-attending falling from 13% to 10%); the respective figures for those attending less often are 23% and 17%.


Figure 2: Religious Attendance in Britain, 1983-2015


Source: Author’s analysis of BSA surveys.


Third, Table 1 provides a summary of the three long-running indicators of religion carried in the annual BSA surveys – affiliation, religion of upbringing and attendance. The data on religion of upbringing show that the proportion saying they were raised within the Church of England has fallen from over half (55%) in 1991 (when the question was first asked) to around three-in-ten in 2015. The proportion saying they were raised within a Catholic household is the same in each survey. The proportion raised in some other Christian context has increased (from 22% to 28%). The internal composition of this category has shifted markedly over time. In 1983, the 22% was comprised of 19% who had a particular denominational affiliation and 3% who did not. In 2015, the 28% was made up of 10% with a denomination and 18% with no denominational affiliation. The proportion whose religion of upbringing was a non-Christian faith was 3% in 1983 and 9% in 2015. There has been a marked increase in the proportion saying they were not raised within any religion: from 6% in 1983 to 20% in 2015.


Table 1: Summary of religious indicators, 1983 and 2015

Affiliation 1983 (%) 2015 (%)
Church of England 40 17
Roman Catholic 10 9
Other Christian 17 17
Other religion 2 8
No religious affiliation 31 49
Religion of upbringing 1991 (%) 2015 (%)
Church of England 55 29
Roman Catholic 14 14
Other Christian 22 28
Other religion 3 9
No religion 6 20
Attendance 1983 (%) (2015)
Once a month or more often 21 18
Less often than once a month 22 17
Never attends 56 65

Source: Author’s analysis of the BSA 1983 and 2015 surveys.

Percentages have been rounded and may not sum to 100.


Fourthly, and looking at the religious data in the BSA 2015 survey more detail, Table 2 shows the levels of non-affiliation, not having been raised within a religion and non-attendance at religious services for sex and age group.


Table 2: Indicators of secularity by demographic group

No religious affiliation (%) No religious upbringing(%) Does not attend religious services (%)
Sex Men 55 21 69
  Women 43 19 62
Age group 18-24 63 37 68
  25-34 58 31 66
  35-44 54 24 65
  45-54 51 18 65
  55-64 45 12 68
  65-74 34 7 61
  75+ 24 5 59

Source: Author’s analysis of the BSA 2015 survey.


Having no affiliation is somewhat more common amongst men than women, as is not attending religious services. Across the age groups, there is considerable variation in two of the three indicators of secularity. Younger age groups are much more likely to report that they did not have a religious upbringing and do not have currently have a religious affiliation.  There is much less variation across age groups in terms of the proportion not attending church or some other place of worship. Whereas amongst 18-24 year olds, 63% have no affiliation (compared to 24% of over 75s) and 37% were not raised within a religious faith (compared to just 5% of over 75%s), a majority in both groups said that they do not attend religious services (aged 18-24: 68%; aged 75 and over: 59%).





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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


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:


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:



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:



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:


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:


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: 


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:


% across

Satisfied Dissatisfied

Don’t know

Theresa May as Prime Minister
All voters








No religion




Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition
All voters








No religion




Nigel Farage as interim UKIP leader
All voters








No religion




Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish National Party leader
All voters








No religion




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:




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:


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: 


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.


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:


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:



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:


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:



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:


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:



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:



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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:



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:


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:


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:


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:



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


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