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

 

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

Church of England Health Check and Other News

Church of England health check

Further to our post of 31 January 2014, we now note the appearance of the second and third instalments of the ‘Church Health Check’ series being run in the Church Times. In the issue for 7 February 2014 (pp. 21-8) there were various essays by academics and insiders focusing on the leadership and structure of the Church of England. Those which had a particularly quantitative dimension were by:

  • Professor Linda Woodhead who examined (pp. 21-2) the Church’s statistics of ministry for 2012, concluding that ‘there are no longer enough troupers left to keep the show on the road, and the show will have to change’ – see further the BRIN post of 24 October 2013 at http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2013/from-st-george-to-prince-george/
  • Professor Leslie Francis who summarized (pp. 26-7) his research into psychological type profiling of Anglican bishops, to determine whether the Church has the right sort of episcopate – see the BRIN post of 30 November 2013 at http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2013/st-andrews-day-and-other-news/
  • Professor David Voas who reported (pp. 26-7) on the importance of clergy leadership qualities to church growth, noting ‘there are strong associations between growth and personality type, but none between growth and attendance on leadership courses’ – see the BRIN post of 18 January 2014 at http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2014/anglican-church-growth-and-other-news/

The same issue of the Church Times also contained (p. 2) two shorter reports quoting further findings from the newspaper’s 2013 readership survey, which attracted 4,620 self-selecting respondents. They revealed that 73% expressed confidence in the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury (7% disagreeing), but just 23% had confidence in the General Synod (37% disagreeing and 41% undecided), and 37% in the Archbishops’ Council. Sub-nationally, 69% (71% among laity) had confidence in their local clergy and 63% in their diocesan bishop. On matters of sexual morality, Anglo-Catholics and Broad Anglicans were shown to be more liberally disposed than Evangelicals, suggesting that the Church of England’s internal strife over homosexuality is far from over. Among Evangelicals, 63% disapproved of ordaining practising homosexuals as priests and 65% as bishops, while 75% were opposed to same-sex marriage in church and 51% to the blessing of such relationships. There was more sign of consensus on another historically contested issue (but now with just one final hurdle to clear in July’s General Synod following this week’s debate), that of women bishops, with support running at 76% for Anglo-Catholics, 77% for Evangelicals, and 93% for Broad Anglicans. These two reports are freely available online at:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/7-february/news/uk/poll-lack-of-trust-in-synod

The third instalment of the ‘Church Health Check’ can be found in the current issue of the Church Times (14 February 2014, pp. 21-7) and is devoted to the social impact of the Church of England. This has a rather limited quantitative element. However, the lead article by Professor Linda Woodhead (pp. 21-2) draws upon her 2013 Westminster Faith Debates surveys to illustrate how people still connect to the Church in ways apart from regular attendance at public worship, while also noting that take-up of all three church-based rites of passage has diminished. Some of the Opinion Research Business polling for the Church of England over the last decade or so is also relevant in this context, a couple of examples of which can be viewed through the Research and Statistics link webpage (which, incidentally, is in desperate need of an overhaul and update to consolidate the archival material) at:

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

The same issue of the Church Times (p. 3) carries further results from the 2013 readership survey, revealing that 67% of this sub-set of Anglicans are currently involved in some form of unpaid community work (volunteering), with 35% active in two or more fields. Education (19%), local community action (18%), cultural activities (18%), children’s work (12%), and social welfare services (10%) were most frequently mentioned by the self-selecting sample. Volunteering by these clergy and lay churchgoer respondents is said to be at least twice as great as by the population at large, as recorded in Government surveys. See further:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/14-february/news/uk/if-you-need-help,-turn-to-a-churchgoer

Finally, the issue of 14 February 2014 contains a full page (p. 17) printing nine letters from readers in response to the first two instalments of ‘Church Health Check’.

Catholics polled on family life – the sequel

On 8 November 2013 BRIN reported on the Roman Catholic Church’s global consultation of the views of the faithful on family life, including vexed issues such as contraception and same-sex relationships, in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, to be held in the Vatican on 5-19 October 2014. The consultation, by means of a 40-question survey instrument, attracted significant attention, not to say controversy, inside and outside the Catholic Church. It was criticized in some quarters for its inadequate methodology and theologically opaque content, although the Vatican was at pains to point out that it was not an opinion poll and that the Church’s teaching is not determined by majority popular vote.

Notwithstanding, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales took the lead in putting the questionnaire online and received a healthy response (albeit small in relation to the size of the Catholic population). According to the Catholic Herald (7 February 2014, p. 2) and The Tablet (8 February 2014, p. 28), the Conference received some 16,500 completed questionnaires. The bulk of these (12,266) were filled in online, mainly by laity (80%), with 69% being married and 38% parents. One-fifth of respondents were in ‘positions of responsibility within the Church’, including priests, teachers, and pastoral assistants, while 24% were aged under 45 years and 30% 65 and over. The figures exclude 1,163 responses from 57 other countries, which were forwarded to the relevant Church authorities.

In deference to the Vatican, the Conference has declined to publish its report on the results of the English and Welsh consultation in advance of the Extraordinary Synod (as have the bishops in the United States, Canada, and Australia), despite the fact that both the German and the Swiss Bishops’ Conferences have already published their respective national reports, containing a strong message on the need for ‘reform’. It would be surprising if any different message emerged from England and Wales, given that polling of Catholics in Britain during recent years has demonstrated a wide gulf between opinions in the pews and the Magisterium of the Church. Newly-released polling of 12,000 Catholics worldwide (excluding Britain) by Univision (the television network serving Hispanic America) has revealed similar disaffection, with the partial exception of Africa, as have national surveys by Catholic media and institutions in France, Belgium, and The Netherlands. There is a helpful summary of some of this international research in The Tablet for 15 February 2014 (p. 30).

2011 census: Church of Scotland parish profiles

Overseen by Revd Fiona Tweedie, the Statistics for Mission Group of the Church of Scotland has now completed the task of preparing parish profiles of selected data from the 2011 census of population for Scotland. The profiles, which take the form of attractive 12-page PDF documents comprising charts and tables, include details of religious affiliation. They are available to download through the ChurchFinder on the Church of Scotland website (using the ‘Parish statistics’ link from the table of search results) at:

http://cos.churchofscotland.org.uk/church_finder/

Invisible church

Speaking of the Church of Scotland, Steve Aisthorpe (the Kirk’s Mission Development Worker, North) has recently written an interesting 26-page preliminary report on Investigating the Invisible Church: A Survey of Christians who Do Not Attend Church. It is based on a survey of a random sample of 5,523 people in the Highlands and Islands contacted by telephone in the autumn of 2013, 2,698 of whom gave a short interview. Of these 934 identified themselves as Christians who do not attend church and agreed to take part in a more detailed study, and 430 (46%) eventually completed and returned the online and postal questionnaire, comprising almost 80 items. Critical Research oversaw the recruitment of participants, data entry, and statistical analysis, while funding came from the Church of Scotland’s Mission and Discipleship Council and three other partners. The report is at:

https://www.resourcingmission.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/Investigating%20the%20invisible%20church.pdf

The headline finding from the study was that 44% of the population of the Highlands and Islands, representing some 133,000 individuals, are professing Christians who are not currently engaged with a local congregation, although only 15% had never attended church regularly in the past and 23% had attended for more than 20 years (with a further 27% for more than 10 years). Inevitably, a good proportion of these are ‘cultural Christians’, but a surprisingly large number (50%) scored highly (more than 30 out of 50) on the Hoge Intrinsic Religiosity Scale, which aims to measure the extent to which faith underpins everyday life. Disillusioned respondents may have been with the Church, and their reasons for church-leaving were explored in detail, but 72% were not disappointed with God, with 50% regarding themselves as part of a worldwide Christian community and 41% as on a spiritual quest beyond religious institutions. There was no simplistic partition into ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’ here.

The areas explored in the quantitative phase emerged from a previous qualitative phase in 2012-13, in which 30 Christians not attending a local church were interviewed in depth. The report on this qualitative phase (dated July 2013) is also available at:

https://www.resourcingmission.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/Faith_journeys_beyond_the_congregations.pdf

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust (CST)’s 32-page Antisemitic Incidents Report, 2013 was published on 6 February 2014. It revealed that the number of such incidents recorded in the United Kingdom in 2013 was, at 529, 18% lower than in 2012 and only just over half the post-1984 high of 931 incidents in 2009. CST believes the fall in anti-Semitism since 2012 to be genuine and to reflect the lack of anti-Jewish ‘trigger events’ in 2013, such as had caused two temporary spikes in 2012. However, CST still reckons there is ‘significant underreporting’ of anti-Semitic incidents both to itself and the police, and that the true figure is considerably higher. Of the 529 recorded incidents in 2013, over three-quarters took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester, with 69 categorized as violent assaults, although none constituted ‘extreme violence’ (amounting to grievous bodily harm or a threat to life). The most common category, with 368 incidents, was of abusive behaviour, including verbal abuse, albeit these were 23% down on 2012. One-quarter of all incidents were assessed as having far right, anti-Israel, or Islamist motivations. In the minority of cases where a physical description of the perpetrator could be obtained, 62% were white and 25% South Asian. The report, including a profile of incidents by category and month for each year from 2003 to 2013, can be read at:

http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Incidents%20Report%202013.pdf

Values profile of Britain

The January 2014 issue of Modern Believing (Vol. 55, No. 1) is a special theme issue, devoted to ‘What British People Really Think’, and guest-edited by Professor Linda Woodhead. Using data from a variety of sources, but especially from her January and June 2013 YouGov polls for the Westminster Faith Debates, it depicts what the British think about abortion (pp. 7-14); women bishops (pp. 15-26); same-sex marriage (pp. 27-38); euthanasia (pp. 39-48); God, religion, and authority (pp. 49-58); and society, politics, and religious institutions (pp. 59-67). There is also an introduction (pp. 1-5) and conclusion (‘A Values Profile of Britain’, pp. 69-74) by Woodhead. Non-subscribers to the journal, and non-members of subscribing institutions, may struggle to access these articles. The new publisher (Liverpool University Press) does not appear to be offering the option to buy a print copy of this special issue only, while downloads cost an eye-watering £25 per (shortish) article via the following link:

http://liverpool.metapress.com/content/n37414k210jp/?p=a25311fb53864bfe817f0c15f25adc56&pi=0

POSTSCRIPT [18 February 2014] BRIN has now ascertained that single copies of this entire issue can be purchased for £15.00, more cost-effective than the article download option. To order a copy, contact Liverpool@turpin-distribution.com

Faith under fire

Do soldiers turn to God when they are on the front line? Some provisional answers to this question are apparently contained in a postgraduate thesis submitted to the Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies by Revd Peter King, who was chaplain to the Queen’s Royal Hussars during a bloody tour to Helmand province between October 2011 and April 2012, during which 23 British soldiers were killed and dozens more severely wounded. The research was featured in The Sunday Times, 9 February 2014, Main Section, p. 20 in an article by the newspaper’s defence correspondent, Mark Hookham. King surveyed more than 200 men in his 400-strong battle group, finding that 80% professed some religion and 63% reported that they were more likely to frequent religious services while on operations than when in barracks. An Easter service held by King in a cookhouse in Afghanistan had been attended by about 100 men, of whom one-quarter received Holy Communion. Almost half (46%) of the soldiers interviewed by King said they had prayed in Afghanistan, and the same proportion carried or wore a symbol of faith. An awareness of the presence of God had been felt by 17%, and a few even described a religious experience at the front.

POSTSCRIPT [7 April 2014]: The research has now been published as Peter King, ‘Faith in a Foxhole? Researching Combatant Religiosity amongst British Soldiers on Contemporary Operations’, Defence Academy Yearbook, 2013, pp. 2-10, freely available online at:

http://www.da.mod.uk/publications/library/miscellaneous/58520%20DA%20Yearbook%202013.pdf/view

 

 

Posted in church attendance, News from religious organisations, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in the Press, Religious Census, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discrimination, Identity, and Other News

The eight stories in today’s post feature a range of topics, but religious discrimination and religious identity especially stand out. It should be noted that the latest statistical bulletin for the Government’s Integrated Household Survey, covering the calendar year 2012 and published on 3 October 2013, did not report on the religious identity question.

Religious discrimination (1)

Perceived discrimination against Muslims has increased during the past three years, but they are still not the group most discriminated against in British society; that unenviable position is thought to be occupied by people with mental health problems, followed by gypsies, transsexuals, and immigrants. This is according to a YouGov poll published on 2 October 2013 and undertaken online on 29-30 September among a sample of 1,717 adult Britons. Interviewees were shown a list of groups and asked how much discrimination they thought each suffered in Britain today, the percentages replying ‘a lot’ or ‘some’ being combined in the table below, with comparisons for January 2011 (where available). Twelve of the 15 groups covered in both surveys were believed to have suffered more discrimination over the three years, only Christians and white persons experiencing a reduction, with no change for atheists (who were the group considered to be least discriminated against). Perceived discrimination against Muslims is now 32% more than against Christians, compared with a gap of 22% in 2011. Discrimination against Jews is believed to be up by one-third.

 

01/2011

09/2013

Asians

44

47

Atheists

10

10

Blacks

41

48

Christians

28

25

Disabled

NA

57

Elderly

45

50

Gays/lesbians

43

50

Ginger haired

25

26

Gypsies/travellers

60

62

Immigrants

54

58

Jews

26

34

Mentally ill

NA

67

Muslims

50

57

Transsexuals

53

60

Whites

32

30

Women

29

34

Working class

31

32

The data table for the survey can be found at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/jzh49t1gqk/YG-Archive-discrimination-results-300913.pdf

Religious discrimination (2)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recently published Identity, Expression, and Self-Respect, Briefing Paper No. 9 in its Measurement Framework series, with some accompanying data in Excel format. The paper considers five indicators in detail, the first of which is freedom to practice one’s religion or belief, which is quantified from the 2010 Citizenship Survey (CS) for England and Wales and from HM Inspectorate of Prisons statistics. In the CS 93% of adults overall felt able to practice their religion freely, but somewhat fewer among the under-45s, several ethnic minorities, and Muslims and Sikhs (for detail, see pp. 17-18 and the table accompanying measure El1.1). Breaks by religion are also sometimes shown in connection with the secondary analysis of data for the other four indicators. The briefing paper and tables are at:

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects/our-measurement-framework/-briefing-papers-and-data/identity-expression-and-self-respect/

Under a veil

The recent public and media debate about whether Muslim women should be permitted to wear the full face-veil or niqab started in connection with specific cases involving courtrooms and colleges. In canvassing popular opinion on the matter, ComRes therefore decided to take the prohibition of the veil in courts, schools, and colleges as ‘a given’, and to ask respondents whether female Muslims should otherwise be free to wear the veil. One-half (including 61% of over-65s and Conservatives, and 79% of UKIP supporters) thought the veil should not be worn even outside courts, schools, and colleges, and just 32% that it should be. The poll was undertaken by telephone for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror on 18 and 19 September 2013, among 2,003 Britons aged 18 and over, and the data can be found on pp. 113-16 of the tables posted at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/SM_IoS_Political_Poll_September_2013.pdf

Religious identity (1)

Details of the religious self-identification of the UK’s regular armed forces personnel as at 1 April 2013 were published by the Ministry of Defence on 26 September 2013 in Table 2.01.09 of the 2013 edition of Statistical Series 2 – Personnel Bulletin 2.01. Although the proportion professing no religion has risen steadily, from 9.5% in 2007 to 16.4% today, the overwhelming majority of our service personnel continue to subscribe to some faith, and invariably (81.7% in 2013) to Christianity. Profession of no religion is highest in the Navy (22.3%) and lowest in the Army (13.5%), with 18.7% in the Royal Air Force. Non-Christians are under-represented in relation to society as a whole, which is probably mainly a reflection of the ethnic profile of the armed services. The full table is at:

http://www.dasa.mod.uk/publications/personnel/military/tri-service-personnel-bulletin/2013/2013.pdf

Religious identity (2)

In our coverage of the 2011 Scottish religion census on 28 September 2013, reference was made to potential comparisons with national sample surveys of religious self-identification in Scotland. By way of example, we show below a ten-year percentage comparison from the Scottish Household Survey (SHS), which employs a larger than average sample. The 2012 data are extracted from p. 13 of the 2012 edition of Scotland’s People (published on 28 August 2013), those for 2001-02 from the dataset accessible via the UK Data Service (applying the random adult sample weights). Although the question asked is identical to that in the census (‘what religion, religious denomination, or body do you belong to?’), these statistics refer to adults only and are thus not directly comparable to the initial census results (which are for all ages). The SHS figures also omit non-responses (because the dataset for 2012 is not yet available). The general direction of travel, of course, is similar to the changes seen in the census between 2001 and 2011, with a big increase in the number of Scots professing no religion and a large decrease in support for the Church of Scotland.

 

2001-02

2012

No religion

27.8

43.1

Church of Scotland

47.4

29.7

Roman Catholic

15.1

16.0

Other Christian

7.7

7.9

Non-Christian

2.1

3.4

Scottish marriages

Section 7 of Vital Events Reference Tables, 2012 [for Scotland], published by the General Register Office for Scotland on 27 August 2013, contains three tables dealing with Scottish marriages which will be of interest to BRIN readers:

  • Table 7.5 lists the number of marriages solemnized by celebrants from 50 different religious and belief traditions for each year between 2002 and 2012. The key stories are the steep fall in marriages conducted by the Church of Scotland (down by 50% over this period) and the Methodist Church (down by 70%) and the rapid growth in ceremonies conducted by the Humanist Society Scotland since they were legalized in 2005; by 2012 they had overtaken Roman Catholic marriages and were closing fast on the Church of Scotland.
  • Table 7.6 lists the number of civil and religious marriages (the latter disaggregated by Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, and other religions) for each year between 1961 and 2012 and each quinquennium between 1946-50 and 2006-10. Whereas civil marriages represented only 17% of the total in 1946-50, by 2006-10 the figure stood at 52%.
  • Table 7.7 lists marriages by ‘denomination’ for 2012, when 51% were civil, 18% Church of Scotland, 10% Humanist Society Scotland, and 6% Roman Catholic.

The tables can be found at:

http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/general/ref-tables/2012/section-7-marriages-and-civil-partnerships.html

Time use

Since the earliest days of sample surveys, it has been evident that interviewees have a tendency to overstate their recalled religious activities. This is no more so than in the case of churchgoing where claimed attendance can exceed by a factor of two the totals arrived at by actual censuses of public worship. Steve Bruce and Tony Glendinning of the University of Aberdeen have sought to illustrate the point by repurposing diary data from English respondents (aged 16 and over) to the UK Time Use Survey, 2000-01, which was conducted by the Office for National Statistics. Participants, who were drawn from a random sample of households, were required to record their main and secondary activities for each 10-minute period on the day in question, which included Sundays (3,317 individuals appear to have completed Sunday diaries). Bruce and Glendinning’s methodology and findings are contained in a four-page report on The Extent of Religious Activity in England, which is being disseminated by Brierley Consultancy, an abridged version of which appears in the October 2013 issue of FutureFirst (contact peter@brierleyres.com to obtain copies of either or both versions). The authors conclude as follows:

‘There is little religion of any form practised, public or private. Less than 11% of adults in England engage in any religious activity whatsoever (including personal prayers and meditation and consuming mass media religious programming) of any duration at any point during a typical week. Only 8.25% of adults engage in any episodes of communal practice in the company of others. Less than 7% attend church on a Sunday. Read the other way round – 7% going to church on Sunday, 8% doing some communal religion and 11% doing any religion at all – these data offer little support for the claim that the decline of conventional churchgoing has been offset by an increase in alternative religious activities.’ Of course, it must be remembered that the survey embodied a snapshot of religious activity on the day the diary was completed, and that those who do not engage in such activity on one Sunday may do so on another.

Fossil free churches

This item is not a politically incorrect reference to the age or traditionalism of churchgoers but to a new campaign by Operation Noah (an ecumenical Christian climate change charity) to encourage churches (particularly the Church of England) to disinvest in companies seeking expansion in fossil fuel reserves. The campaign, and its accompanying report (Bright Now: Towards Fossil Free Churches), was launched on 20 September 2013 and underpinned by data from Christian Research’s Resonate panel, 1,520 churchgoers replying to its August 2013 omnibus. Although more than nine out of ten churchgoers agree that churches should invest their money ethically, the majority does not see climate change as a key issue relative to other priorities (such as women bishops). In the case of Anglicans, 63% want the Church of England to take the lead in addressing man-made climate change, yet only one-quarter supports the Church disinvesting in companies extracting fossil fuels. As with most Resonate polls, full data are not in the public domain, but Operation Noah’s press release can be read at:

http://www.operationnoah.org/node/569

 

 

 

 

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Faith Schools and Other News

Seven religious statistical stories feature in today’s post, including five newly-released YouGov polls, four touching on aspects of religious prejudice, and leading with a major study of attitudes to faith schools.

Faith schools

In our post of 2 September 2013, we referred to new research into faith schools commissioned by Professor Linda Woodhead in connection with the Westminster Faith Debates. It was undertaken on her behalf by YouGov, 4,018 Britons aged 18 and over being interviewed online between 5 and 13 June 2013. That research was published on 19 September, in the form of a press release on the Religion and Society website and the data tables on the YouGov website. Some fascinating results emerged, which, as the press release indicated, will offer ‘little comfort for either those who defend or those who oppose faith schools’. Findings include the following:

  • Only 32% believe the Government should fund faith schools generally, 18-24s being most supportive (43%), with 45% opposed, peaking at 57% in Scotland (where the existence of Catholic schools has often been a matter of controversy), and 23% undecided
  • Government funding of any type of faith school fails to find majority support, but opposition is notably lowest for Anglican schools (38%) and greatest for Islamic schools (60%) – hostility to Hindu and Jewish schools (59% and 55% respectively) is also high, but falls to 43% for Christian schools other than Anglican
  • Only 24% would choose a faith school for their own child, the proportion not exceeding 30% in any demographic sub-group, with 59% being unlikely to do so (peaking at 77% in Scotland)
  • Academic standards (77%), location (58%), and discipline record (41%) are the major factors in choice of school – just 5% attach importance to grounding of a pupil in a faith tradition and 3% to transmission of belief about God, and no more than 23% cite ethical values
  • A plurality (49%) finds it acceptable that faith schools should have admission policies which give preference to children and families who profess or practice the religion with which the school is associated (with 38% deeming it unacceptable, ranging from 31% of women to 51% of Scots)
  • Just 23% (never exceeding 28% in any demographic sub-group) agree that all faith schools should have to admit a proportion of pupils from a different religion or none at all, while 11% think it better for faith schools to admit pupils only of the same faith and 30% that schools should determine their own admissions policies

Analysing the factors which determine favourability to faith schools, Woodhead found strength of belief in God to be the most significant. When it came to attitudes to non-Christian faith schools, an insular (as opposed to a cosmopolitan) outlook was a key influence. In general, while there was some age effect, gender, social grade, and voting intentions appeared to make little difference to opinion.

The press release can be found at:

http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/news/show/new_poll_reveals_what_people_really_think_about_faith_schools

and the data tables (with breaks confined to gender, age, social grade, region and voting intention) at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/4n6d3tnayp/YG-Archive-University-of-Lancaster-Faith-Matters-Debate-results-180613-faith-schools.pdf

Y-word in football

Yid is slang for a Jew, deriving from Yiddish. On 9 September 2013 the Football Association (FA), which is ‘cracking down’ on undesirable behaviour in football, issued a governance statement about what it described as the ‘y-word’, concluding that ‘the use of the term “Yid” is likely to be considered offensive by the reasonable observer’ and encouraging football fans ‘to avoid using it in any situation’. The statement was clearly directed at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (the ‘Spurs’) which historically had many Jewish supporters. In consequence, its fans often still describe themselves as ‘Yids’ or as belonging to ‘the Yid Army’, and the team’s opponents, in turn, call Spurs supporters ‘Yids’. The FA’s statement has led to controversy and debate, in which even the Prime Minister has become involved.

To test public opinion on the topic, YouGov questioned 1,878 British adults aged 18 and over online on 18 and 19 September 2013. Although three-fifths of those interested in football felt that it was acceptable for Tottenham fans to use the y-word in describing themselves, fewer (46%) of the sample as a whole agreed (with 26% disagreeing and 28% undecided). One-quarter contended that such self-description encouraged anti-Jewish abuse, albeit one-fifth argued the contrary, suggesting that anti-Jewish abuse was actually discouraged by reclaiming the y-word as a positive. A plurality (41%) deemed it unacceptable for Spurs’ opponents to call Tottenham fans ‘Yids’, but people interested in football were more inclined to tolerate use of the word in this context (47%) than Britons overall (34%). Roughly half of both the public and those interested in football seemed to approve of the FA’s intervention in the matter, but 34% thought there were other (implicitly more important) issues for the FA to focus on, UKIP voters (56%) particularly subscribing to this view. Data tables were published on 20 September at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ms6ofjga9s/YG-Archive-‘Yid-Army’-results-190913.pdf

By way of footnote, some BRIN readers may be interested to know that a forthcoming exhibition tells the story of Jews and football in Britain. Entitled Four Four Jew: Football, Fans, and Faith, it runs at the Jewish Museum in London from 10 October 2013 to 23 February 2014.

Banning the burka (1)

Recent high-profile cases, involving courts and a college, have reignited the controversy surrounding Islamic women’s dress, the debate having now spilled over into other arenas such as hospitals. The specific point at issue has been the desirability of permitting the wearing of the full face veil or niqab in public, but The Sun commissioned YouGov to run a poll about the burka (a whole-body garment) more generally, 1,792 Britons aged 18 and over being interviewed online on 16 and 17 September 2013. Three-fifths (61%) supported a total ban on the burka in Britain, 5% less than in April 2011, while 32% were opposed to such a prohibition and 8% undecided. The strongest backing for a ban came from UKIP voters (93%), the over-60s (76%), and Conservatives (71%), with the 18-24s (55%), Liberal Democrats (46%), and Scots (42%) most hostile. Opposition to a ban effectively increased when the question was asked in a more roundabout way, 38% agreeing with the proposition that people should be allowed to wear whatever clothing they want in public, including the burka, 54% being in disagreement. At the same time, many respondents wanted officials and employers to have discretion to ban the burka in specific locations: 86% at security checkpoints, 83% in courtrooms (for defendants), 79% in courtrooms (for witnesses), 68% in schools and colleges, and 63% in universities and the workplace. Full data tables were published on 18 September 2013 at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/7kfoc0tfiq/YG-Archive-Pol-Sun-results-170913-the-Burhka.pdf

Banning the burka (2)

YouGov’s polling for The Sunday Times, conducted online on 19-20 September 2013 and published on 22 September, was more nuanced, differentiating between the burka, the niqab, and the hijab (a headscarf which does not cover the face). Whereas two-thirds of the 1,956 respondents supported a ban in Britain on both the burka and the niqab, with fewer than one-quarter disagreeing, only 25% opposed the wearing of the hijab (with 65% against its prohibition). Rather more (76%) wanted schools to be allowed to ban their students from wearing burkas or niqabs, and 81% wanted hospitals to be permitted to ban their staff from wearing the garments. Referring to the recent court case involving a female defendant with a veil, just 6% thought she should be allowed to wear it throughout the entire trial; 54% favoured removal of the veil in court at all times and a further 35% while the woman was giving evidence. The usual demographic variations can be seen in the answers to all these questions, with UKIP and Conservative voters and the over-60s least sympathetic to Islamic dress, and the under-40s (especially), Londoners, and Scots disproportionately more tolerant. The data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/4ua4utkfr8/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-200913.pdf

Churchgoers and evolution

A non-random and disproportionately northern ‘convenience sample’ of 1,100 attenders at 132 Protestant churches, who completed questionnaires in 2009, is used by Andrew Village and Sylvia Baker to examine ‘Rejection of Darwinian Evolution among Churchgoers in England: The Effects of Psychological Type’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 52, No. 3, September 2013, pp. 557-72. The principal conclusions are set out in the abstract: ‘The main predictors of rejecting evolution were denominational affiliation and attendance. Individuals from Pentecostal or evangelical denominations were twice as likely to reject evolution compared with those from Anglican or Methodist churches. In all denominations, higher attendance was associated with greater rejection of evolution. Education in general, and theological education in particular, had some effect on reducing rejection, but this was not dependent on having specifically scientific or biological educational qualifications. Psychological type preferences for sensing over intuition and for thinking over feeling also predicted greater rejection, after allowing for the association of type preferences and general religiosity.’ For options to access the article, go to:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jssr.12049/abstract

Ecumenism in Scotland

A report on ecumenical activity at congregational level has been prepared by the Church of Scotland’s Committee on Ecumenical Relations and the Ministries Council, based on research carried out in February-March 2013. A questionnaire was sent to all the Kirk’s parishes of which 823 (over half) replied online or by post, a significant minority of which recorded the absence of any other denomination in the parish. Where there was a presence, Roman Catholic, Scottish Episcopal and Baptist churches and independent fellowships were thickest on the ground. However, in practice working relationships were closest (in terms of frequent ecumenical contacts) with the United Reformed Church, followed by the Scottish Episcopal Church, Congregational Federation, and Salvation Army. The commonest inter-denominational activities involving Church of Scotland parishes were the World Day of Prayer, Holy Week services, Christian Aid Week, and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services. Only a minority of parishes belonged to a local Churches Together Group/Council of Churches (43%) or to an ecumenical ministers’ meeting (48%), but it could have been that none existed locally in some cases. The ‘deepest’ forms of collaboration were inevitably limited, just 6% of congregations sharing their building with another denomination, 3% being in a covenanted partnership with a congregation from another denomination, and 1% having involved an ecumenical partner in the appointment of a minister. More Church of Scotland parishes (70%) detailed hindrances to ecumenical working than identified benefits (60%). Further information about the research can be obtained from Very Rev Dr Sheilagh Kesting at SKESTING@COFSCOTLAND.ORG.UK

Ghosts and UFOs

A majority of Britons (52%) believe that some people have experienced ghosts but fewer (38%) think that some individuals have witnessed UFOs with an extra-terrestrial origin. This is according to a YouGov poll conducted online among a sample of 2,286 adult Britons aged 18 and over between 28 and 30 August 2013, on behalf of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) and published by ASSAP on 17 September 2013 (following a preview in the Sunday Telegraph for 15 September, p. 3). Disregarding inevitable variations in question-wording, belief in ghosts appears to have risen over time (see the tabulation of previous data at http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/#ChangingBelief), and it is especially prevalent among women (62% in the ASSAP survey), the separated/divorced (64%), and residents of the East Midlands (66%). Belief in UFOs is highest in the North-East (50%). Disbelievers in ghosts number 34% and in UFOs 45%, peaking among full-time students at 50% and 61% respectively, with 14% and 17% of adults unsure. The data tables are at:

http://assap.ac.uk/newsite/Docs/Ghost%20UFO%20Survey%202013.pdf

 

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Muslim Distinctiveness and Other News

Today’s round-up of eight religious statistical news stories leads on the first substantive output from an important and academic-led four-year-old sample survey of British Muslims.

Muslim distinctiveness

The distinctiveness of British Muslims is explored in a short but highly significant article by Valerie Lewis and Ridhi Kashyap, ‘Are Muslims a Distinctive Minority? An Empirical Analysis of Religiosity, Social Attitudes, and Islam’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 52, No. 3, September 2013, pp. 617-26. Data derive from face-to-face interviews by Ipsos MORI with a sample of 480 British Muslims between January and May 2009; and from face-to-face interviews by NatCen with samples of Britons of other religious persuasions (n = 2,457) and none (n = 1,903) from the contemporaneous British Social Attitudes Survey. Muslims were found to be more religious than other Britons in terms of beliefs, practices (public and private), and salience. They were also more socially conservative on a range of topics: gender roles in the home, divorce, premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. In terms of premarital sex and homosexuality, an independent effect of Islam was documented; on other social issues Muslim attitudes tended to resemble those of other religious people. Indeed, more generally, multivariate analysis revealed that much of the difference on socio-moral opinions was due to socio-economic disadvantage and high religiosity, both factors which – Lewis and Kashyap argue – predict social conservatism among all Britons and not just Muslims. The distinctiveness of Muslims, therefore, may not be as great as it superficially seems. It should be noted that no weights were applied to the Muslim data, and that there are several caveats from the authors concerning the representative nature of the Muslim sample (including a high rate of non-response). For access options for this article, go to:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jssr.12044/abstract

Civic core

Two-thirds of all charitable activity (charitable donations and volunteering) in this country is attributable to just 9% of its citizens (the ‘civic core’). This is according to a report published by the Charities Aid Foundation on 13 September 2013 and entitled Britain’s Civic Core: Who are the People Powering Britain’s Charities? A further 67% of individuals account for the remaining 34% of charitable activity (the so-called ‘middle ground’), while 24% of the population undertake little or no charitable activity (‘zero givers’). Members of the ‘civic core’ have the greatest interest (37%) in supporting religious organizations (including places of worship), with ‘zero givers’ showing the least (10%); among the ‘middle ground’ the proportion is 20%. This trend reflects the fact that the ‘civic core’ is disproportionately composed of women, the over-65s, and people from professional/managerial backgrounds – precisely those groups most inclined to be involved with organized religion. The data derive from an online survey of 2,027 Britons aged 18 and over conducted by ComRes on 31 July and 1 August 2013, and the report is available at:

https://www.cafonline.org/PDF/CAF_Britains_Civic_Core_Sept13.pdf

Full data tables for the poll were released by ComRes on 16 September. Table 21 provides breaks for interest in religious organizations by gender, age, social grade, employment sector, region, ethnicity, and the monetary value of volunteering and charitable donations. Table 64 gives details about volunteering for religious organizations during the past year among the sub-group of respondents who have given practical help to a social cause. Table 89 records self-assigned ‘membership’ of religious groups (56% Christian, 8% non-Christian, 34% none). Unfortunately, religious affiliation is not used in this set of tables as a variable to analyse answers to all the other questions about charitable disposition and activity. The data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/CAF_People_Power_9_August_2013_Sig.pdf

Confessions

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales reported on 2 September 2013 that the number of confessions (Sacrament of Reconciliation) is rising at many of its cathedrals. Twenty-two cathedrals were contacted by telephone or email on 21 August, of which 20 replied. Overall, 65% (i.e. 13 cathedrals) noted an increase in confessions, mostly attributing it to a ‘papal effect’ (either the visit to Britain of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, the inauguration of Pope Francis I in 2013, or both), while the remaining 35% (7 cathedrals) said confessions were ‘steady’ or ‘normal’. Actual statistics of those confessing were not cited by the Church, and it is possible that they constitute a relatively small proportion of professing Catholics. The Church’s press release is at:

http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/Home/News/Back-to-Church

The story was picked up by all the UK’s Catholic newspapers and by the Church Times, including a particularly upbeat report and leader in the Catholic Herald. Responding to the latter, in a letter to the editor published in the Catholic Herald for 13 September 2013 (p. 13), Anthony Hofler of Wolverhampton was in little doubt from his own experience that confession is falling out of fashion among Catholics, except, relatively, at Christmas and Easter. Undaunted, the front page of the same edition of the Catholic Herald highlighted responses by 32 priests to a survey about a three-year-long initiative in the Diocese of Lancaster to boost the uptake of confessions, apparently also with encouraging results. Significantly, again, no hard data were cited in this report, and none currently appear on the websites of the diocese or the diocesan newspaper, Catholic Voice.

With regard to the ‘papal bounce’, as already noted by BRIN in our post of 28 January 2012, average weekly Mass attendance was actually lower after the papal visit in 2010 than before. And, in gearing up for its Home Mission Sunday (which took place on 15 September 2013), the Church itself conceded there are ‘four million baptised Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass’ in England and Wales.

Fracking

Recent public divisions about fracking within the Church of England and other Christian groups are evidenced in new research briefly reported in the latest issue of Christian Research’s monthly ezine, Research Brief, which was emailed to subscribers on 6 September 2013:

CRACKS APPEAR IN FRACKING ARGUMENT

‘Our Resonate August omnibus, completed by 1.520 Resonate panellists, revealed that two-thirds of practising Christians regard it as valid that the church should derive income from mineral rights on property it owns (marginally higher support amongst church leaders). More than 2 in 5 regular churchgoers felt that the church should be able to profit from shale gas reserves located under land it owns, 1 in 3 were uncertain and 1 in 4 objected (to some degree). Interestingly, men (significantly so) and Londoners agreed more strongly than others. The results see-sawed the other way, 1 in 3 opposed and 1 in 5 in favour, if the land was dwelt on.’

University students’ religion

On 27 April 2013 BRIN provided preliminary coverage of research into English university students and Christianity, undertaken by a team led by Mathew Guest of Durham University, with funding from the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme. A major aim of the project, which collected data via online questionnaires completed by 4,341 undergraduates in 2010-11 and via in-depth interviews, was to test empirically the widespread assumption that higher education is a force for secularization. Full details of the findings were published on 12 September 2013 in Mathew Guest, Kristin Aune, Sonya Sharma and Rob Warner, Christianity and the University Experience: Understanding Student Faith (Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 9781780937847, paperback, £19.99 – also available in hardback and ebook editions). The volume was reviewed by Gerald Pillay in Times Higher Education on 12 September 2013. Guest has also contributed a substantial article about the research – entitled ‘What Really Happens at University?’ – to Church Times, 13 September 2013, pp. 27-8.

Scottish religious affiliation

The results from the religion question in the 2011 census of population for Scotland are still not available (they are expected to be included in release 2A of the census data on 26 September 2013). Meanwhile, we can note the religious affiliation question from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS), conducted by ScotCen Social Research among 1,229 residents of Scotland aged 18 and over between July and November 2012. The marginals on the UK Data Service Nesstar site show that a majority of Scots (52%) now regard themselves as belonging to no religion, compared with 40% when SSAS commenced in 1999. A further 22% regard themselves as Church of Scotland (35% in 1999), 11% as Catholics (15%), 12% as other Christians (10%), and 2% as non-Christians (1%). This ‘belonging’ form of question-wording is known to maximize the number of religious ‘nones’, and a similar formulation is used in the Scottish census (‘what religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?’). Claimed attendance at religious services (other than rites of passage) in the 2012 SSAS was 19% at least monthly, including 12% weekly or more often. These figures are down on 1999 levels (27% and 17% respectively) but are probably still aspirational to a considerable degree. The latest Scottish church attendance census, conducted by Christian Research on 12 May 2002, revealed a weekly participation rate of 11%, with no deduction for ‘twicing’.

Churchgoing in the Presbytery of Dunfermline

As noted in the previous entry, there has been no Scottish church attendance census since 2002. Nor does the Church of Scotland – as the ‘national church’ – routinely collect attendance data (in the way that the Church of England has since 1968). So there is added interest to annual churchgoing counts organized in the Church of Scotland’s Presbytery of Dunfermline since 2009, the latest on 17 and 24 March 2013. Through the kindness of Allan Vint, summary data for the Presbytery’s 24 congregations have been made available to BRIN. Total attendance in 2013 was 2,493, 4% down on the 2012 total and 14% on 2009. Attendees comprised 34% men and 66% women; 9% children, 3% teenagers, and 88% adults (with an average adult age of 63, up by four years since 2009).

Baby names

Biblical forenames remain fashionable for Jewish boys, according to a list compiled by the Jewish Baby Directory website. Analysing around 1,000 birth announcements in the Jewish Chronicle, Samuel was found to be first equal in the list of boys’ names for the Jewish year September 2012 to September 2013, with Jacob and Joshua joint third, Joseph joint fifth, and Benjamin, Ethan, Nathan and Noah in joint eleventh position. The attraction of female biblical names was less strong, with Leah in fourth place, Rachel in ninth, and Rebecca in eleventh equal. Previously popular biblical names for girls, such as Sarah and Naomi, failed to make it to the top twenty. The rankings are at:

http://www.jewishbabydirectory.com/top-baby-names-of-5773-september-2012-present/

 

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Same-Sex Relationships and the Ministry

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted on Monday to continue dialogue on same-sex relationships and the ministry following consideration of the report on the subject by a Special Commission appointed in 2009.

After several hours of debate, the Kirk’s commissioners voted by 351 to 294 to adopt deliverance 7B, which means a move towards the acceptance for training, induction and ordination for the ministry of those in same-sex relationships.

The Assembly also voted, by 393 to 252, to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex relationships who had been ordained before 2009 to be inducted into pastoral charges.

Homosexuality in the ministry has been, and remains, a hugely contentious issue in the Church of Scotland (as it is, of course, in the Church of England).

The extent of division of opinion in Scotland became readily apparent from a consultation conducted by the Special Commission at two levels of the courts of the Church: Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions. Formal ballot papers were used for this purpose. It should be noted that there was no survey of rank-and-file members of the Church.

1,237 responses were received from Kirk Sessions, representing 86% of congregations. The total membership of these Sessions was 34,438, of whom 22,342 (65%) took part in the discussion meetings.

Responses were submitted by all 43 Presbyteries within Scotland and by the Presbyteries of England and Europe. The total membership of these 45 Presbyteries was 4,309, of whom 2,624 (61%) participated in the discussion meetings.

The statistical outcomes of the consultation are summarized in section 2 of the report of the Special Commission, with a four-way analysis of the answers for each of the questions on the ballot paper: by individual members of Kirk Sessions, Kirk Sessions as a whole, individual members of Presbyteries, and Presbyteries as a whole. A commentary on the findings then follows in section 3. The document is available at:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/5757/ga11_specssrm.pdf

The Special Commission has also published the full figures from the consultation for both Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions (in the latter case, anonymized within Presbytery). These Excel files will be found at:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/excel_doc/0020/5861/ga11_speccomm_presbytery_stats.xls

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/excel_doc/0019/5860/ga11_speccomm_kirksession_stats.xls

The questions posed were generally lengthy and complex, and it is not really possible to do justice to the data here.

Suffice it to say, however, that, while only a fairly small proportion of respondents (9% of members of Kirk Sessions and 11% of Presbyteries) both regarded homosexual orientation as a disorder and homosexual behaviour as sinful, many of those who accepted homosexuality as a given disapproved of homosexual behaviour in practice.

Moreover, 56% of members of Kirk Sessions and 58% of Presbyteries opposed the ordination as minister of a person in a same-sex relationship. 45% and 48% respectively were hostile to such a person exercising some other leadership role in the Church.

About one-fifth of both groups of members of these church courts said they might leave the Church of Scotland if the General Assembly allowed people in committed same-sex relationships to be ordained. 15% in each said they would secede if such people were appointed to other leadership positions.

At the same time, the Church of Scotland really is between a rock and a hard place, since 8% of members of Kirk Sessions and 6% of Presbyteries indicated that they would leave if the General Assembly forbade the ordination of individuals in committed same-sex relationships.

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Scottish Kirk Statistics, 2010

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the supreme court of the Kirk, is meeting in Edinburgh from 21 to 27 May.

On the agenda is the report of the Legal Questions Committee, which includes (at appendices J-L) the statistical returns for the Church as at 31 December 2010. Disaggregated to presbytery level, they are freely available at:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/data/assets/pdf_file/0006/6000/ga11_legalq_app.pdf

Unsurprisingly, the data reveal that the Church of Scotland is continuing to experience numerical decline, in common with most other mainstream Christian denominations in Great Britain.

This is true in respect of very short-term change, between 2009 and 2010, and of medium-term change, over the decade 2001-10 (comparative congregational figures are given for each year back to 1999 and ministerial ones from 2005).

For example, there were 25% fewer communicants (the principal criterion of membership of the Church) in 2010 than in 2001, with an even larger decrease (of 44%) in total admissions (by profession, certificate or resolution) to the roll of communicants.

Communicants in 2010 stood at 445,646, a far cry from the 1,319,574 of 1956, the peak year following the amalgamation of the Church of Scotland and part of the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929.

There were 18,709 fewer communicants in 2010 than in 2009, according to the comparative table in appendix K (although elsewhere the decrease is variously stated as 14,046 and 14,681), a loss of 4% in the space of twelve months.

Especially worthy of note is that the number of deaths (11,454) far exceeded the 1,928 admitted by profession during the year, the latter figure being not much more than half the total in 1999.

Besides communicants, there were 69,158 children and young people aged 17 and under and 17,684 persons aged 18 and over but not communicants who were involved in congregational life in 2010.

Overall, therefore, the Church’s constituency amounted to 532,488 individuals, about 10% of the Scottish population (which is still rather better than the Church of England’s reach in England).

As for the rites of passage, there were 5,787 baptisms in 2010, 37% less than in 2001. Of these, 7% were of adults. There were 5,048 weddings in 2010 and 28,046 funerals.

Assuming that all Church of Scotland communicants who died in 2010 had a funeral service according to the rites of the Kirk, then three-fifths of all funerals conducted by ministers of the Church must have been of non-communicants.   

This would suggest a high degree of Church of Scotland nominalism, which is borne out by opinion polls of religious affiliation in Scotland.

There were 1,441 congregations in 2010, 7% fewer than in 2001. There were 1,134 ministerial charges, of which 17% were vacant (somewhat worse than the 14% in 2005). Just 15 ministerial students completed courses in 2010. Of the 939 home ministers in 2010, 23% were women, 4% more than in 2005.

There were 36,519 church elders in 2010, up from 36,215 in 2009, but 16% fewer than in 2001. Whereas 49% of elders were women, females accounted for 66% of the 9,609 office-bearers other than elders.

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Religious Affiliation by Birth Decade

Religious Affiliation in England by Five-Year Birth Period

Religious Affiliation in Scotland by Birth Decade

Affiliation in Wales by Birth Decade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My former colleague Rod Ling did some excellent work creating a single data file integrating the religion questions from all of the British Social Attitudes surveys from 1983 to 2008. Looking at the pooled sample, I wanted to see how religious affiliation varies by birth decade in England, Scotland and Wales, and how the affiliation of younger birth cohorts compares with that of older birth cohorts.

My concern was that there would not be a big enough sample size for the oldest cohort (born 1900-1910) and the youngest (born in the 1980s) to break them down reliably by broad religious affiliation (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Non-denominational Christian, Free Churches, Other Christian, Other Religion and No Religion). For that reason I have looked at percentage affiliated by birth decade for Scotland and Wales (where sample sizes are smaller) and percentage affiliated by five-year birth period for England.

The patterns are interesting – we can see that an increasing proportion of the younger birth cohorts are ‘none’, other religion or non-denominational Christian. In some cases non-denominational Christian describes those who are members of independent churches; in other cases those who identify as ‘Christian’ as a cultural or ethnic marker without affiliating to any particular group or institution.

Among those born between 1900 and 1909 in the combined English samples, 55% identify as Anglican and 16% as ‘no religion’. By comparison, among those born between 1980 and 1989 in the combined English samples collected over the course of the BSA surveys, 9% identify as Anglican and 58% identify as ‘no religion’. For the combined Scottish samples from the 1983-2008 surveys, among those born between 1900 and 1909, 56% identify as Church of Scotland and 16% as ‘no religion’. Among those born between 1980 and 1989, 12% identify as Church of Scotland and 63% as ‘no religion’. Overall, it appears that the increase in ‘nones’ among younger birth cohorts is largely at the expense of the established churches.

While the charts are beguiling, be aware that the x-axis points are period categories rather than indicating a continuum: properly, the changes in proportions should be shown in steps (as illustrated below), rather than a trend existing between 1970-1979 and 1980-1989. But overall I think it’s fair enough to illustrate composition change between cohorts in this way (because the differences in the bars are not easy to read); please comment below if you think not!

Religious Affiliation in Scotland - Bar Area Chart

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Dunfermline Presbytery Community Survey

Other than statistics regularly collected by the various Christian denominations, there is only limited national data about religion in Scotland in very recent years. One has to go back to sources such as the 2001 civil census, the religion module in the 2001 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, and the census of churchgoing by Christian Research in 2002.

It is, therefore, good to note some more contemporaneous, albeit more localized, evidence in the shape of a 37-page report on the Church of Scotland Dunfermline Presbytery Community Survey, undertaken earlier this year by Rev Allan Vint, the Presbytery’s Mission Development Officer. This is available to download at:

http://www.dunfermlinepresbytery.org.uk/documents/surveyreportjuly2010.pdf

The survey was primarily designed for internal Kirk purposes, to give the Dunfermline Presbytery ‘insight’ into the factors which underlie the seemingly relentless decline in Church of Scotland membership and attendance, and ‘discernment and wisdom’ to help develop future missiological strategy. Vint has previously carried out two censuses of attendance in the Presbytery.

The community survey was conducted on a limited budget and through a hybrid methodology, which will raise some doubts about the representativeness of the three achieved samples of adults, primary school pupils and young people who completed an online or paper questionnaire.

The questions asked covered: spare-time activities, religious affiliation, attributes of a Christian, level of Christian commitment, belief in God, image of God, perception of Jesus Christ, idea of heaven, religious experience, churchgoing and reasons for it, attitudes to church services, and previous Sunday school attendance.

Particular difficulties were encountered by the researcher in reaching teenagers (who constitute a mere 3% of the Presbytery’s worshippers). Only 131 young people replied to the survey. Anybody requiring information about the attitudes to religion and the Church of Scots aged 12-17 would be advised to gain access to the Ipsos MORI study conducted for the Church of Scotland in 2008 (see http://www.brin.ac.uk/sources/1011).    

Perhaps the most interesting section of the Dunfermline report relates to the replies from 358 adults. This highlights some notable differences between sub-samples of regular (monthly or more) and irregular or non-attenders at church (of whom 69% identified as Christian, although only 11% regarded themselves as strongly committed to the faith and no more than 50% believed in God).

Especially striking differences emerged with regard to the definition of a Christian. Whereas 89% of regular churchgoers prioritized knowing Jesus as personal saviour, just 31% of irregular or non-attenders attached importance to this. The latter were far more likely than the former (63% versus 34%) to see faith in terms of leading a good life. They also attached much less significance to belief in God, belief in the truth of the Bible, being baptized and attending services. This – in effect – interchangeability of religion with ethics has been a long-standing feature of popular beliefs.

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