Good Death and Other News

 

Good death

Time was when religion was the cardinal attribute of a ‘good death’. But no more, it seems, according to a ComRes survey for the National Council for Palliative Care published on 18 May 2015, for which 2,016 adult Britons were interviewed online on 29-30 April. Asked to rank six factors in terms of importance for ensuring a ‘good death’, only 5% put ‘having your religious/spiritual needs met’ in first position while 60% placed it last, the mean score being 5.27 out of six. The next score was 3.68 for being involved in decisions about end-of-life care, and the lowest of all (and thus the most popular option) was 2.33 for being pain free. Indeed, for 33% the top priority was being pain free, for 17% being with family and friends, and for 13% retaining one’s dignity. There were comparatively few variations by demographics, apart from in London where having religious/spiritual needs met was the most important factor for 11%, although even here 47% rated it least significant. Data tables are available at: 

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/National-Council-for-Palliative-Care_Public-opinion-on-death-and-dying.pdf

Geographical knowledge

They may be among the most iconic landmarks in the country, but a significant minority of Brits are unable to recognize Canterbury Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral as being in the UK. This is according to a poll of 2,000 adults conducted on behalf of Mercure Hotels and published on 22 May 2015. Shown pictures of a number of famous locations, and given multiple choice answers, 65% correctly identified St Paul’s Cathedral but 28% confused it with The Vatican and 6% thought it was somewhere else. Canterbury Cathedral was recognized by 82% but 15% claimed it was Notre Dame in Paris, with 2% suggesting other places. A similar lack of knowledge was displayed for more secular landmarks. No data tables are available, and this summary is taken from the report at:   

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3091436/Great-Stupid-Britain-New-survey-finds-Brits-think-Brighton-Pavilion-Taj-Mahal-Mr-Darcy-s-Pemberley-real-stately-home-St-Paul-s-Vatican.html

Meanwhile …

St Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, has been voted the nation’s favourite building in a survey for UKTV published on 21 May 2015, for which 2,000 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online by OnePoll during April. St Paul’s Cathedral attracted a vote of 38%, with Stonehenge and the Houses of Parliament in second and third places (with 30% and 26%, respectively). Other ecclesiastical buildings to make the top 20 were Westminster Abbey (eighth, 14%), Durham Cathedral (eleventh, 8%), and King’s College Chapel, Cambridge (fourteenth, 8%). St Paul’s Cathedral also topped the poll for being the most impressive feat of design in the country, being voted for by 68%, almost double the figure for Westminster Abbey (38%). No data tables have been released, but UKTV’s press release can be found at: 

http://corporate.uktv.co.uk/news/article/nations-favourite-buildings-revealed/

Faith-based social action

The latest attempt to quantify faith-based social action was published by the Cinnamon Network on 20 May 2015: Cinnamon Faith Action Audit National Report. It derives from an online survey of 4,440 local churches and other faith groups in 57 locations throughout the UK in February 2015, of which 2,110 responded saying they were actively working to support their local community; 94% of them were Christian. These 2,110 groups were mobilizing 139,600 volunteers and 9,177 paid staff to benefit 3,494,634 individuals in 2014 through 16,068 projects with a total financial value of £235 million (including a calculation of volunteer hours at the living wage level). Scaled up for the 60,761 faith groups in the UK, faith-based social action is estimated by the Cinnamon Network to be worth over £3 billion per annum and to support over 47 million beneficiaries. However, it should be noted that the sample was recruited through the invitation of local champions and may not be statistically representative. The report is available at:  

http://www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Final-National-Report.pdf

Ethnic minorities and the general election

Black and minority ethnic (BME) Britons have traditionally favoured the Labour Party, but one-third voted for the Conservatives in the 2015 general election (held on 7 May), according to a Survation poll for British Future conducted among an online sample of 2,067 BMEs between 8 and 15 May 2015. Voting by religious groups (for the 79% of the sample who voted) is tabulated below, from which it will be seen that the Conservatives especially appealed to Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh electors, Labour to Muslims, and the smaller parties to Buddhists and the non-religious. British Future’s press release of 25 May 2015 is available at: 

http://www.britishfuture.org/articles/ethnic-minority-votes-up-for-grabs/

Full data tables can be found at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BFBME-Tables-25-05-15.pdf 

% across

Conservative

Labour

Other parties

All BMEs

33

52

15

Christian

31

56

13

Muslim

25

64

11

Buddhist

54

25

21

Hindu

49

41

10

Sikh

49

41

10

Not religious

26

50

24

Young people and Muslims

There is significant negativity toward Muslims on the part of young people, according to findings from a study of 5,945 10-16-year-olds at 60 English schools in 2012-14 and published by Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) on 19 May 2015. This is associated with an exaggerated notion of the size of the Muslim presence in England, the average estimate by pupils being 36% of the population, seven times the real figure. Questionnaires had been sent to schools ahead of visits by the SRTRC team, and, although the sample is not claimed as being representative, the ethnic and religious profile is said to broadly match the 2011 census.  

Summary data have been published by The Guardian at: 

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/may/19/most-children-think-immigrants-are-stealing-jobs-schools-study-shows

They reveal that: 

  • 42% acknowledge there are poor relations between Muslims and non-Muslims
  • 41% view forced marriages as being common in Islam
  • 31% agree that Muslims are taking over England
  • 29% think Muslim women are oppressed
  • 26% believe Islam encourages terrorism and extremism
  • 19% disagree that Muslims make a positive contribution to English society
  • 14% disagree that Islam is a peaceful religion

Slightly different figures are quoted in the SRTRC press release at: 

http://www.srtrc.org/news/news-and-events?news=5776

Islamic State

There has been limited British polling of attitudes to Islamic State (IS) thus far this year, doubtless because of pollsters’ preoccupation with the general election campaign but also perhaps because of a perception that IS has suffered some setbacks (until very recently, that is). However, a YouGov survey published on 22 May 2015, and conducted online among 1,494 Britons on 18-19 May, has found that 50% of all adults (and 63% of over-60s) assess that IS has become more powerful over the past six months and only 5% less, with 32% detecting its position as stable. Although only 33% are aware for certain that the RAF is currently taking part in air strikes against IS, 59% approve of such RAF participation and 55% would like to see it scaled up (men particularly so, 67%). Full data tables, minus breaks by voting intention (which seem to have all but disappeared from pollsters’ websites following their poor performance in the general election, now the subject of independent audit), are available via the link in the blog post at: 

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/05/23/public-back-raf-air-strikes-worry-isis-winning/

Anti-Semitism

On 13 May 2015 the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) published an important 32-page policy paper summarizing some (but by no means all) recent research into British anti-Semitism and outlining the principles of a future research strategy in this area: Jonathan Boyd and L. Daniel Staetsky, Could it Happen Here? What Existing Data Tell Us about Contemporary Antisemitism in the UK. The paper covers: a) the attitudes of non-Jews toward Jews, principally on the basis of surveys undertaken by the Pew Global Attitudes Project and the Anti-Defamation League and of anti-Semitic incidents recorded by the Community Security Trust (CST); b) Jewish responses to anti-Semitism, taken from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) studies and the JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey; and c) an analysis of the perpetrators of anti-Semitism, mainly from CST and FRA data. The report is available for download at: 

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2015.Policy_Debate_-_Contemporary_Antisemitism.pdf

To quote JPR: ‘The report demonstrates that existing data present a complex and multi-faceted picture of reality, proving some existing hypotheses beyond any reasonable doubt, but challenging others. It further maintains that research data on antisemitism in the UK vary in quality, and many of the outputs seem to generate far more heat than light. It argues that much more work needs to be done in coordinating research efforts, maximising the value of existing datasets, focusing on the areas of greatest concern, and ensuring that any data collected and analysed are strongly concentrated on the most important issues: understanding the threat, assessing whether it is growing, declining or stable, and providing genuine policy insights for international, national and Jewish communal leaders, as well as Jews more generally.’ Significantly, there is no mention here of non-Jewish (including academic) audiences for research data in this field. 

Reflections on religious surveys

Abdul-Azim Ahmed reflects on the utility (and pitfalls) of sample surveys on religion and belief in a post on the On Religion blog on 5 May 2015 at: 

http://www.onreligion.co.uk/7-out-of-10-people-are-sick-of-surveys/

 

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The 2015 General Election: Religious Affiliation and Party Vote Share Across Constituencies

As the weekend round-up of religious news on BRIN flagged up, the British Election Study (BES) 2015 has released the first version of the 2015 general election results dataset. This dataset (and the accompanying documentation) can be obtained here. Across parliamentary constituencies, the dataset includes the vote share for each party at the 2015 general election. It also includes religious affiliation data from the most recent English and Welsh census and and Scottish census (2011). The religious affiliation data are available in separate variables measuring the proportion in each of the following categories: Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, other religion, no religion, not stated. Using this dataset we can perform some basic analysis of this aggregate level data – that is, across constituencies – to look at the association between religious affiliation and party vote share at the general election.

The results are reported in the table below. This reports the correlation coefficients for the bivariate associations between three of the religious affiliation indicators (% Christian, % Muslim, % No religion) and four party vote share categories (% Con, % Lab, % Lib Dem and % UKIP). These coefficients indicate the direction and strength of the association between two variables. They can range in value from -1 to +1. A positive value indicates that as one variable increases in value, the other variable also increases in value. A negative value indicates that as the value of one variable goes up, the value of the other variable goes down. The larger the (positive or negative) value, the stronger is the association between the two variables.

When undertaking and reporting this sort of analysis, two points are particularly important to bear in mind. First, as Denver et al (2012), pp. 36-37) make clear, correlation coefficients cannot tell us whether variation in one variable (here, level of religious affiliation) causes the variation in another variable (here, party vote share). They can only show the extent to which two variables are associated – that is, whether they increase or decrease in value together (they are positively correlated); or whether as one increases in value, the other decreases in value (they are negatively correlated)). Secondly, as Denver et al (2012) also caution, given that we are looking at aggregate-level data (based on information pertaining to the constituency-level) we cannot conclude from these data that the same association is present amongst individuals within constituencies (to presume this to be this case would be an ‘ecological fallacy’).

 

Religious affiliation and party vote share at the 2015 general election: Bivariate correlations

Party vote share

Religious affiliation

% Conservative

%

Labour

%

Lib Dem

%

UKIP

% Christian

.33

-.27

-.03 (n/s)

.43

% Muslim

-.29

.50

-.10

-.23

% No religion

-.16

-.29

.16

-.14

Number of constituencies

632

631

631

614

Source: British Election Study 2015 Constituency Results.

Note: ‘(n/s)’ indicates a coefficient that is not statistically significant. All other coefficients are statistically significant.

 

All of the correlation coefficients are statistically significant, with the exception of the association between Christian affiliation and Lib Dem vote share, but their magnitudes clear vary. The correlation coefficients for Christian affiliation indicate that it is positively-associated with Conservative and UKIP vote share and negatively-associated with Labour vote share. The correlation coefficients for Muslim affiliation show negative associations with the vote shares of Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP, but a positive association with Labour vote share. For no religion, at the constituency level there are negative associations with the vote shares of Conservative, Labour and UKIP and a positive association with Lib Dem vote share. As the magnitudes of the coefficients show, the strongest association is between Muslim affiliation and Labour vote share,  and – interestingly – followed by that between Christian affiliation and UKIP vote share (and thus higher than that obtained for Christian affiliation and Conservative vote share).

Finally, it should be noted that variation in other constituency-level indicators – such as socio-economic circumstances or ethnic group composition - is often associated with variation in party vote share.

An analysis of religious affiliation and vote choice at the general election at the individual-level will be posted when suitable BES post-election data become available.

References

British Election Study 2015 Constituency Results.

Denver, D., Carman, C. and Johns, R (2012), Elections and Voters in Britain. 3rd edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 36-37.

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General Election Voting and Other News

 

How religious groups actually voted

BRIN has covered several surveys which sought to ascertain how members of faith groups intended to vote in the UK general election of 7 May 2015. Thanks to Lord Ashcroft, we now have some information about what the three major groups (Christian, non-Christian, no religion) actually did, both as regards voting behaviour and the factors influencing it. Between 5 and 7 May 2015 Ashcroft interviewed, by a combination of online and telephone, 12,253 Britons who claimed to have voted (and it should be remembered that one-third of the country did not cast their vote on 7 May), of whom 31% had done so by post beforehand and 68% in person on the day. A selection of findings is tabulated below, with the full data available at: 

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Post-vote-poll-GE-2015-150507-Full-tables.pdf

In terms of voting at the 2015 general election, the data confirm the findings of other research, that: 

  • Christians are disproportionately Conservative
  • Non-Christians are disproportionately Labour
  • No religionists disproportionately favour the smaller parties 
% down

All

Christian

Non-Christian

No religion

Party voted for in 2015

 

 

 

 

Conservative

34

41

28

24

Labour

31

28

43

34

UKIP

14

16

8

13

LibDem

9

8

8

11

Other

12

9

14

18

When voting decision was made

 

 

 

 

On polling day

11

10

13

12

Within previous week

22

20

23

23

Within previous month

18

17

19

18

Longer ago

50

53

45

46

Single most important reason for vote

 

 

 

 

Trusted motives/value of party

38

36

34

42

Preferred promises made by party

18

18

18

18

Always voted for party

10

12

10

8

Party leader would make better Prime Minister

10

11

12

7

Best local candidate regardless of party

9

9

12

9

Voted tactically to stop another party

9

8

9

11

Senior party members make competent government

5

6

4

5

Party voted for in 2010

 

 

 

 

Conservative

39

46

33

28

Labour

26

25

33

28

UKIP

4

4

3

3

LibDem

24

21

24

31

Other

8

5

6

10

Most important issues for country

 

 

 

 

Improving NHS

55

55

57

56

Growing economy/creating jobs

51

51

46

53

Controlling immigration

41

48

32

32

Cutting deficit

30

33

24

28

Tackling cost of living

25

21

30

30

Reforming welfare

20

22

17

18

Defending Britain’s interests in Europe

18

21

15

14

Improving schools

13

11

16

15

Protecting environment

9

5

11

13

Dealing with crime

6

6

9

5

Most important issues for self/family

 

 

 

 

Improving NHS

58

58

56

57

Tackling cost of living

44

42

45

47

Growing economy/creating jobs

42

41

38

43

Controlling immigration

29

34

23

23

Cutting deficit

20

22

17

18

Improving schools

17

16

20

18

Defending Britain’s interests in Europe

13

16

9

10

Reforming welfare

12

14

10

10

Protecting environment

12

9

15

16

Dealing with crime

10

10

15

9

Would make better Prime Minister

 

 

 

 

David Cameron

50

57

40

40

Ed Miliband

33

28

43

40

Feeling benefits of economic recovery

 

 

 

 

Already

26

29

21

23

Not yet but expect to at some point

37

38

40

34

No and do not expect to

37

33

38

44

Austerity/cuts in government expenditure

 

 

 

 

Still needed over next five years

46

51

38

40

Needed in past but not over next five years

30

31

29

28

Never really needed

24

18

33

32

British Election Study constituency results file

Thanks to Ben Clements for pointing out that on 15 May 2015 the British Election Study (BES) 2015 team released the first version of the 2015 general election results file. This comprises, for each constituency, voting from both the 2015 and 2010 general elections alongside a range of contextual information, including religious affiliation data from the 2011 population census. See the BES press release at: 

http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/2015-general-election-results-data-released-by-the-bes/#.VVYrfelFDX6

Demise of the Methodist MP

The Methodist Recorder (15 May 2015, p. 1) thinks there are no Methodist MPs following the 2015 general election, Sir Alan Beith, Meg Munn, and Sir Andrew Stunell all having stood down when the last Parliament was dissolved. The newspaper regrets the disappearance of the long tradition of Methodist involvement in the House of Commons. A century ago, following the 1906 Liberal landslide, there were as many as 49 Methodist MPs, 37 of them Liberals.   

Catholics and voting

The Tablet (16 May 2015, pp. 47, 51) has partially released the topline findings of an online poll of the voting intentions of 1,260 self-identifying British Catholics which it commissioned YouGov to undertake in the run-up to the general election on 7 May 2015. The weekly’s coverage particularly focused on the situation in Scotland, where 48% of Catholics indicated their support for the Scottish National Party and only 38% for the Scottish Labour Party, which has traditionally been very dependent on the Catholic vote. In Britain as a whole a plurality of 41% of Catholics intended to support Labour (12% less than in an Ipsos MORI survey for The Tablet before the 2005 general election), 31% the Conservatives, and 13% the United Kingdom Independence Party. Neither The Tablet nor YouGov have released the full data tables as yet, but one of the weekly’s articles is freely available online at: 

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/2075/0/catholics-desert-labour-in-scotland-exclusive-tablet-poll-reveals-

Catholics and climate change

The encyclical on the environment and human ecology due to be promulgated by Pope Francis this summer could have a far greater influence over the lives and lifestyle of English and Welsh Catholics than any other areas of pontifical direction in recent decades, according to one reading of YouGov research for aid agency CAFOD which was reported by Catholic and some secular media last week. A sample of 1,049 Catholics was interviewed online, 80% of whom said they felt a duty to care for God’s creation, with 72% expressing concern about the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest people, and 64% claiming they had paid at least some attention to the climate debate. Seven in ten anticipated the Catholic community would heed any papal message on climate change, albeit only 33% thought themselves likely to alter their own behaviour as a result (against 54% thinking it unlikely). Frustratingly, neither CAFOD nor YouGov have yet released the full data for this survey, which has forced BRIN to rely upon news stories in the Catholic Times and The Tablet as its sources, the latter being available at: 

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/2036/0/one-in-three-catholics-says-francis-document-on-climate-change-will-inspire-them-to-live-a-greener-lifestyle-

Religious leaders

Religious leaders exercise relatively little influence over the British population, according to a YouGov poll for The Tablet among a sample of 3,211 adults interviewed online between 30 March and 1 April 2015. Only 19% acknowledged that they had been influenced by one or more religious leaders (even by one they had personally known) during the course of their lifetime. The proportion did not exceed one-quarter in any demographic sub-group apart from Catholics (41%) and non-Christians (33%) while predictably falling to as low as 7% for the religious nones. Asked which of seven religious leaders (including the current and former Popes) had made the best contribution to moral and religious life in Britain, 72% of the whole sample replied none of them or that they did not know, the present Archbishop of Canterbury receiving the best individual score (8%). Just 28% said that they took notice when religious leaders made public comments on political or economic matters and even fewer (23%) when they spoke about issues of personal morality (peaking at 41% among Catholics). At the same time, favourability ratings for a few international religious leaders were fairly high, notably for the Dalai Lama (57%), Desmond Tutu (46%), and Pope Francis (40%). This apparent paradox of low influence and some residual popularity is explored in Linda Woodhead’s article accompanying the survey, published in The Tablet, 16 May 2015, pp. 6, 8. Full data tables are available at:  

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ktmkf5g7qy/TheTablet_Results_150401_religious_leaders_Website.pdf

Religious extremism

Almost one in five UK residents considers religious extremism to be one of the most important challenges to the security of EU citizens at present, according to the newly-published report on Europeans’ Attitudes towards Security, based on Special Eurobarometer 432, for which 1,302 UK adults were interviewed face-to-face by TNS UK between 21 and 30 March 2015. Respondents were presented with a list of 15 security challenges from which they could select a maximum of three. The UK’s 19% figure for religious extremism was on a par with the EU average of 20% but it had risen considerably from 10% in June 2011. The report is at: 

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_432_en.pdf

Britain uncovered poll

In our post of 26 April 2015 we noted some of the headline findings from an online poll pf UK adults by Opinium Research on behalf of The Observer on 13-16 February, especially as regards five specific questions on religion. Opinium released the full data tables on 13 May, extending to 967 pages, and these include, not just breaks by demographics for the religion questions, but breaks by religious affiliation for all the other (secular) questions. The tables can be found at: 

http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/sites/ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/files/op5186_tables_-_banner1_-_published.pdf

To illustrate the correlates of religious affiliation, we tabulate below the results for some questions about the incidence of lying on various types of form (‘yes’ answers only shown): 

Admitted lying (%)

All

Anglican

Catholic

Other Christian

Non-Christian

Agnostic or atheist

Job application form

18

15

26

14

18

20

Insurance form

9

9

19

8

10

7

Tax form

10

11

22

9

13

6

Mortgage application

8

8

20

7

11

5

Sub-sample sizes are rather small, but it is interesting that the group most consistently prone to admit being economical with the truth are not agnostics or atheists but Roman Catholics. Matters were somewhat different when it came to what to do about finding a wallet containing £200, the proportion saying they would keep it being similar for Catholics (30%) as for agnostics and atheists (29%), against 25% for the population as a whole. 

New Churches in the North East

BRIN is indebted to David Goodhew for the following update: The ‘New Churches in the North East’ Project, funded by a Leech Fellowship, is close to completion. At a conference at St Johns College, Durham on 17 April 2015 draft findings were presented. The research team estimate that 120 new churches have been founded in the North East of England since 1980. Of these, around 40 are based in minority ethnic communities. The new churches represent a major new feature on the religious landscape of the North East. Their existence indicates that the regions of England are seeing some of the new church activity that has been noted in London in the work of Peter Brierley and Andrew Rogers. The prominence of black and minority ethnic communities amongst the new churches shows that the North East (and the North East church) is significantly more diverse than is often assumed. The final report for the project will be issued in September 2015. For more information about the project, go to:

http://community.dur.ac.uk/churchgrowth.research/research/new-churches-in-the-north-east

Self-supporting ministers 

A survey of 296 self-supporting ministers in four Church of England dioceses (Bristol, Gloucester, Lichfield, and Worcester) has revealed significant sources of frustration among them, including the fact that nearly half feel they are seen as ‘second-class’ by their stipendiary colleagues. Full results are not yet available online, but a summary of the research can be found in the Church Times at: 

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/15-may/news/uk/ssms-survey-finds-joy-tempered-by-frustrations

 

 

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Religion and Political Attitudes: The British Election Study 2015, Internet Panel – Wave 4

This post provides a summary of findings relating to religion and political attitudes, based on a selection of questions taken from Wave 4 of the BES 2015 internet panel study (fieldwork was conducted online between 6-13 March 2015). The analysis is based on the beta version of the survey dataset (which can be obtained here), using the core sample from Wave 4. The questions looked at encompass party support, ideology and policy debates. Each table presented below looks at attitudes on the basis of religious affiliation using a parsimonious set of categories (Anglican, Catholic, other Christian, other religion, no religion). A previous analysis of religion and attitudes based on data from Wave One of the BES 2015 study is available here. 

Party Support

Table 1 provides a breakdown of party identification by affiliation. A question on party identification has featured in the BES surveys since their inception in 1963. Note the greater propensity for Anglicans to report that they identify with the Conservative Party, in keeping with their traditional loyalty to this party at the polls; Catholics are more likely to identify with Labour, again in accordance with traditional patterns of denominational voting. Other Christians are more evenly split between the Conservative and Labour parties, as are those with no affiliation. The other religion group shows a greater propensity to support Labour.

Table 1: Current party identification by religious affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Con

39.3

27.6

26.2

19.5

23.0

Lab

30.8

40.2

29.4

33.9

28.4

Lib Dem

7.8

6.4

11.5

9.7

10.3

UKIP

4.8

3.9

3.5

3.6

3.6

Other party

1.3

5.9

11.5

7.5

7.9

None

12.4

12.0

14.6

18.5

21.8

Don’t know

3.5

4.0

3.4

7.3

4.9

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Note: Percentages sum down the columns.

Using another way of gauging party support, Table 2 shows the average scores based on a series of scales measuring like or dislike (scores for four parties are shown here). Higher scores equate to more likeability. In keeping with the pattern from Table 1, Anglicans have the highest likeability score for the Conservative Party, while Catholics and other religions show the highest likability scores for Labour. Other Christians register identical scores for the Conservatives and Labour. Those with no affiliation show a clear preference for Labour over the Conservatives. The Lib Dems and UKIP generally receive lower likeability scores, though Anglicans are more favourable to the latter compared to other groups.

Table 2: Like-dislike for political parties, by religious affiliation (mean scores)

 

Anglican

Catholic

Other Christian

Other religion

No religion

Con

4.84

4.03

4.15

3.89

3.55

Lab

4.27

4.94

4.15

4.80

4.50

Lib Dem

3.13

3.21

3.37

3.32

3.36

UKIP

3.81

3.24

2.91

2.83

2.69

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Note: 0 to 10 scale, where 0=strongly dislike and 10=strongly like.

Ideology and Policy

Table 3 reports the mean scores from two scales measuring ideological self-placement, one for left-right position and the other for redistribution. Note that higher scores indicate, respectively, a more right-wing position and a stance that the government should be less concerned with redistribution. Anglicans have the highest scores on the left-right and redistribution scale – they are relatively more right-wing and less in favour of redistribution. Those with no affiliation have the least right-wing score. Catholics, other Christians and those with no religion have very similar scores for the redistribution scale, all slightly higher than that registered for other religions.

Table 3: Ideological self-placement, by religious affiliation (mean scores)

Anglican 

Catholic 

Other Christian 

Other religion 

No religion 

Left- right scale

5.75

5.16

5.19

4.97

4.65

Redistribution scale

4.78

4.34

4.32

4.19

4.30

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Note: Scales range from 0 to 10.

Left-right: 0=left; 10=right.

Redistribution: 0=government should try to make incomes equal; 10=government should be less concerned about equal incomes.

Table 4 shows the proportions agreeing with a series of statements used to measures left-right attitudes. These statements are long-running items in the BES and British Social Attitudes surveys (and the full wordings are shown underneath Table 4). In each case, the ‘left-wing’ response is reported. Most of the statements elicit large majorities in agreement, lowest for the question on redistribution. However, the responses do not tend to show much variation in levels of agreement across groups.

Table 4: Left-right questions: Percent agreeing, by religious affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Redistribute income

47.1

51.2

50.7

55.3

52.5

Big business

75.5

77.4

75.0

73.9

75.4

Fair share

71.2

75.8

71.0

68.5

70.9

One law

68.9

74.6

69.2

66.0

70.5

Management and workers

68.8

69.3

67.8

63.7

65.4

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Note: Combines ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ responses.

Questions:

Government should redistribute income from the better-off to those who are less well off.

Big business benefits owners at the expense of workers.

Ordinary working people do not get their fair share of the nation’s wealth.

There is one law for the rich and one for the poor.

Management will always try to get the better of employees if it gets the chance.

Attitudes differ more on the basis of affiliation in relation to questions concerning libertarian-authoritarian orientations (again a long-running feature of the BES and BSA surveys). Levels of agreement with five statements are reported in Table 5 (the wording is again provided underneath), and are generally high across questions. Anglicans are most in favour of the death penalty (with support lowest amongst other religions and those with no religion). Those with no religion are least likely to support the use of censorship and, along with the other religion group, are somewhat less authoritarian in their views on traditional values, obeying authority and the use of tougher sentences.

Table 5: Libertarian-authoritarian questions: Percent agreeing, by religious affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Traditional values

82.1

75.8

72.3

65.1

62.6

Death penalty

65.7

53.7

54.7

49.9

50.8

Obey authority

86.0

84.0

80.4

64.8

69.3

Censorship

65.1

56.7

63.0

47.0

39.8

Stiffer sentences

83.4

80.1

75.9

63.0

67.7

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Note: Combines ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ responses.

Questions:

Young people today don’t have enough respect for traditional British values.

For some crimes, the death penalty is the most appropriate sentence.

Schools should teach children to obey authority.

Censorship of films and magazines is necessary to uphold moral standards.

People who break the law should be given stiffer sentences.

Table 6 shows the full set of responses to two questions on welfare, a policy area which recently – and in earlier decades – has seen faith leaders publicly critical of government policy, stoking debate about the exercise of religious authority in the political process. Table 6 shows that a clear majority in each group agrees that too many people like to rely on government handouts (lowest for the other religion group). Always a minority view, disagreement is lowest amongst Anglicans and highest amongst those with no affiliation.

Table 6: Too many people these days like to rely on government handouts, by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Strongly agree or agree

72.1

67.6

66.4

56.0

60.1

Neither

13.8

12.9

15.8

19.1

16.2

Disagree or strongly disagree

12.3

16.7

14.8

16.5

20.9

Don’t know

1.8

2.8

2.9

8.4

2.7

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Finally, turning to equality issues, Table 7 shows the proportions saying that equal opportunities for ethnic minorities, women or gays and lesbians have gone (much) too far. This view is much more likely to be held in relation to ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians. The proportions with this opinion are much lower for equal opportunities for women. Those with no religion are least likely to think that equal opportunities have gone too far for gays and lesbians, while those belonging to other religions are least likely say this in relation to ethnic minorities.

Table 7: Attitudes towards equal opportunities: Percent saying gone too far, by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Ethnic minorities

48.2

42.8

43.8

27.8

35.0

Women

12.9

13.8

14.9

16.5

11.2

Gays and lesbians

36.2

29.8

40.5

32.5

19.9

Source: BES 2015 Internet Panel Study – Wave 4, core sample.

Note: Combines ‘gone too far’ and ‘gone much too far’ responses.

A future BRIN post will look at how religious groups voted in the 2015 general election, when suitable post-election data from the BES 2015 become available.

Reference

Fieldhouse, E., J. Green., G. Evans., H. Schmitt, and C. van der Eijk (2014) Preliminary British Election Study Internet Panel Wave 4.

Further reading

Clements, B. (2015), Religion and Public Opinion in Britain: Continuity and Change. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Religion and the General Election

 

With the 2015 general election only four days away, on 7 May, a round-up of recent research on religion and politics in Britain seems appropriate. Here we report on several new stories and remind BRIN readers of other pertinent research which we have covered in posts during the past few weeks.

Density of religious groups

Several attempts have been made to assess the potential impact of the ‘religious vote’ by examining the density of religious groups in individual parliamentary constituencies, as recorded in the 2011 population census, and comparing it with constituency-level voting patterns at the 2010 general election, especially in the light of the size of the majority obtained by the successful candidate five years ago. 

General

A multi-group analysis is offered in a new 28-page briefing paper published by the Henry Jackson Society on 30 April 2015: Alan Mendoza, Religious Diversity in British Parliamentary Constituencies. In a series of maps and tables it charts the density of nine major religions groups (Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, other religion, no religion, and religion not stated) in each of Britain’s 632 parliamentary constituencies (Northern Ireland is not covered), set alongside political data from the 2010 general election. The religious and political composition of 193 marginal seats is particularly investigated. It is concluded that the five principal minority religions are likely to have a greater impact on the electoral outcome of marginal seats than in constituencies overall. For example, in 47% of marginals the number of Muslims is greater than the margin of victory in 2010, the equivalent figures for Hindus being 21% of marginals, for Sikhs 13%, for Buddhists 8%, and for Jews 6%. In all, there are 93 marginals where the number of one or more of the five main minority religions outweighs the margin of victory. However, it is argued that the impact will be lessened by the fact that religious minorities will probably not vote in a uniform way, with religion being only one determinant of their political behaviour, a topic to which the Henry Jackson Society promises to return in future. The report can be downloaded from: 

http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2015/04/30/religious-diversity-in-british-parliamentary-constituencies/

Jews

On 29 April 2015, the day before the Henry Jackson Society’s briefing, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research published Where Jewish Votes May Matter Most: The Institute for Jewish Policy Research Guide to the 2015 General Election in the UK by Jonathan Boyd. Although Jews form less than half a per cent of the population of the whole country, they tend to be spatially clustered. In his report Boyd profiles the 20 English and Welsh constituencies with the largest number of Jews, showing that there are just five where Jews comprise more than 10% of the electorate and six in which Jews are the largest religious minority. He argues that it is only mathematically possible in eight to ten constituencies for Jews to be able to overturn the existing majority (assuming no change in non-Jewish voting), and in four of these cases it would require a level of uniformity in Jewish voting patterns that is, statistically, improbable. He concludes that the two constituencies in which Jews are most likely to play a key role at the general election are Hendon (Conservative in 2010) and Hampstead and Kilburn (Labour in 2010) where a combination of the size of the Jewish population and the tiny majorities of the outgoing MPs creates a situation where how Jews decide to vote could be critical. The particularly large Jewish communities in Finchley and Golders Green, Bury South, and Harrow East could also be influential, Boyd suggests, since, in all three instances, Jews exceed the size of the 2010 electoral majority. The 23-page report can be downloaded from: 

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.Where_Jewish_votes_may_matter_most.Guide_to_2015_General_Election.pdf

Muslims

The Muslim News seems to have somewhat updated its analysis of parliamentary seats where Muslims may be influential, which BRIN originally covered in our post of 5 February 2015. The newspaper claims that the Muslim vote could be important in as many as 40 constituencies in England, 39 of them held by Labour or priority Labour targets. Of the 40, 25 are classed as marginal seats, which are profiled in detail, and 15 as safe seats. In all, there are said to be 80 constituencies where Muslims exceed 10% of the residents. For more information, and a link to the methodology employed, see:

http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/blog/seats-where-muslims-are-influential/

Voting of religious groups

There has long been a debate about whether a ‘religious vote’ still exists in Britain. Here we present some recent evidence about the correlation of religion and intended voting. However, it should be remembered that correlation does not equate with causation, and that underlying differential demographics of religious groups doubtless contribute to the results described. Eliza Filby (author of the book God & Mrs Thatcher) has a new essay on the religious vote on the Standpoint magazine blog. She concludes that such a vote continues to matter but asks for how much longer? See:      

http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/features-may-2015-eliza-filby-is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-religious-vote?

General

The British Election Study (BES) 2015, a consortium of the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and Nottingham, will ultimately be a vital source of information about the interaction of religion and politics. The BES 2015 internet panel, now in its fourth wave, is likely to be especially revealing. BRIN expects to report on this more fully in the future, but readers might recall the preliminary analysis of wave 1 (February-March 2014) data on religion and voting which Ben Clements published on the BRIN website on 17 October 2014 at: 

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2014/the-british-election-study-2015-religious-affiliation-and-attitudes/

Meanwhile, the most current data on voting intentions by religious groups derive from two online polls conducted by Populus (n = 2,048, 17-19 April 2015) and ORB International (n = 2,051, 22-23 April 2015). Summary figures are tabulated below, for the four main political parties only, also excluding those who said they would not vote, declined to answer, or did not know. It will be seen that Christians are disproportionately Conservative and UKIP supporters, non-Christians disproportionately Labour, with almost two-fifths of no religionists favouring smaller parties or not declaring their hand. Full data tables are available at, respectively: 

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/FT-Economy-Qs-200415.pdf

http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/omopinion-poll.pdf

% down

Populus

ORB

Christians

 

 

Conservative

32

31

Labour

23

24

LibDem

7

5

UKIP

14

18

Non-Christians

 

 

Conservative

16

29

Labour

51

43

LibDem

8

4

UKIP

4

4

No religion

 

 

Conservative

16

17

Labour

28

28

LibDem

7

7

UKIP

10

10

All electors

 

 

Conservative

25

25

Labour

26

27

LibDem

7

5

UKIP

12

14

Anglicans

An online poll by YouGov of 5,552 self-identifying Anglicans between 1 and 28 March 2015 recorded their current voting intention (excluding don’t knows and would not votes, and taking into account likelihood to vote) as: Conservative 48% (national average 34%), Labour 27% (national average 34%), Liberal Democrats 6% (national average 7%), UKIP 16% (national average 14%), and other parties 3% (national average 11%). Anglicans thus remain disproportionately Conservative. Data table at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/7wu1rrot0u/Final_Church_Times_Religious_Voting_Intention_Website.pdf

Roman Catholics

According to the same YouGov poll, which also interviewed 1,574 self-identifying Catholics, they remain disproportionately Labour, the pattern of voting intentions being: Conservative 31%, Labour 42%, Liberal Democrats 4%, UKIP 12%, and other parties 10%.  

Jews

A Survation telephone poll of 566 self-identifying British Jews on 2-7 April 2015 revealed that a substantial majority (69%) was Conservative, with 22% Labour, and no more than 9% for all other parties. Their pro-Conservative stance doubtless reflected their relatively affluent status, but it also appears to have been determined by perspectives on Israel and the Middle East, a policy area where the Conservative Party in general and David Cameron in particular have a clear edge over Labour. For a fuller report, see the BRIN post of 12 April 2015 at: 

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2015/religion-and-public-affairs/

Muslims

Conventionally-sized polls include too few Muslims to be statistically reliable. However, occasionally large-scale political surveys are conducted or created by aggregation which include a respectable number of Muslims. Two such examples were the online polls from Populus on 4-27 February 2015 and Lord Ashcroft on 20-27 February 2015 which included, respectively, 331 and 170 Muslim electors. In both studies three-fifths of Muslims favoured Labour (partly a function of class-based voting) and fewer than one in ten the Conservatives, with the Liberal Democrats on 3%. BRIN’s post of 8 March 2015 contains further details and links at: 

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2015/religious-voting-intentions-and-other-news/

Churches as polling places

Of the UK’s 31,855 polling places 5,967 (or 19%) are located in church buildings, according to research released by the National Churches Trust (NCT) on 29 April 2015. The proportion varies by sub-nation and region, ranging from 25% in Greater London down to 12% in Scotland and Northern Ireland (with 20% in Wales and 19% in England as a whole). Constituency-level variations are even greater; for instance, in Sheffield Hallam (seat of Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats) two-fifths of polling places are in church buildings. Figures are based on information collected from local authorities during the last UK-wide election, for the European Parliament in May 2014. A number of non-Christian places of worship also serve as polling places but the NCT did not analyse these. The NCT’s press release is at: 

http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/news/church-buildings-play-vital-role-2015-general-election

 

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Britain Uncovered and Other News

 

Britain uncovered

The recent ‘Britain Uncovered’ poll commissioned by The Observer from Opinium Research, among an online sample of 1,019 adults, included several questions of religious interest. The proportion associating with any religion was 61%, albeit significantly lower among those self-defining as left-wing (49%) as right-wing (71%), with 17% identifying as agnostics and 21% as atheists. However, only 29% of those associating with a religion said that they actively practised it, for example by attending services, equivalent to 18% of the entire population. Of the whole sample, 61% agreed, and just 15% disagreed, that religion is a negative influence in the world rather than a force for good. Two-thirds (65%) acknowledged that Islamophobia is common in Britain, and 48% definitely and 31% probably believed that, in the light of Islamist extremism, British Muslims should make a special effort to state their allegiance to the country. Full data tables from the survey are not yet online; the following details have been abstracted from the summary at: 

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/19/britain-uncovered-survey-attitudes-beliefs-britons-2015

Religion of parliamentary candidates

A poll by Whitehouse Consulting of 225 parliamentary candidates for marginal seats in the forthcoming general election has revealed that 42% did not identify as members of any religious faith, with 34% claiming to be atheists (including half of Labour Party and Green Party candidates). Just 16% identified themselves as belonging to the Church of England, albeit this rose to 41% of Conservative and 27% of UKIP candidates. Overall, belief in a deity ran at 37%. A press release about the poll was issued on 17 April 2015 at:

http://www.whitehouseconsulting.co.uk/survey-shows-marginal-seat-candidates-will-be-white-male-and-only-somewhat-religious/

Religiosity and voting

In our post of 12 April 2015, we highlighted findings from an analysis of religious affiliation and voting intention undertaken by YouGov for the Church Times on the basis of online interviews with 36,579 electors between 1 and 28 March 2015. The study confirmed that professing Anglicans are disproportionately likely to favour the Conservative Party and Roman Catholics the Labour Party. Further investigation of the same dataset by self-assessed religiosity has now revealed that, excluding the 13% who did not know how they would vote and the 6% who said they would not vote at all, the Conservatives are more likely than average to attract people who describe themselves as religious and the smaller parties those who regard themselves as non-religious. The results are tabulated below:

% down

All

Religious

Non-religious

Conservative

34

42

29

Labour

34

31

34

Liberal Democrat

7

6

8

UKIP

14

14

15

Other parties

11

7

13

Further statistics are available at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/7wu1rrot0u/Final_Church_Times_Religious_Voting_Intention_Website.pdf

Would you buy a used car from … ?

The public standing, including the perceived trustworthiness, of clergy and priests has taken a bit of a tumble during recent decades. So much so that only one in four of the 300 people questioned by Gorkana Surveys for the vehicle data firm HPI said that they would most trust a vicar to sell them a used car in the private market. The good news, however, is that no other profession fared any better, even motor mechanics getting only a 19% vote of confidence. A blog about the survey was published by HPI on 20 April 2015 at: 

https://blog.hpicheck.com/2015/04/20/trusting-sellers/#more-1797

Clergy dyads

Fresh light is shed on the incidence and patterns of ministry of clergy married to clergy in the Church of England in a new article by Susie Collingridge, ‘Patterns of Ministry of Clergy Married to Clergy in the Church of England’, Journal of Anglican Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, May 2015, pp. 68-91. Using the online edition of Crockford’s Clerical Directory in early 2013 as her source, she identified the number of such clergy as 26% greater than previous estimates, at 1,160, of whom 994 were active in the ministry, equivalent to 5% of all active Anglican clergy. However, she also found that a higher than normal proportion of clergy married to clergy (20%) were in non-parochial roles such as chaplains, and that it was very rare in clergy marriages for wives to hold more senior positions than their husbands. The article can be accessed via institutional subscription or pay-per-view at: 

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9652924&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S1740355314000205

Gender equality in the Church in Wales

The meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Llandrindod Wells on 15-16 April 2015 considered a Report of the Working Group Appointed by the Standing Committee to Review Representation of Women in the Church in Wales, 2015. Having analysed statistics of gender balance among candidates for the ministry, current clergy, holders of senior clerical posts, clergy presiding at cathedral services, members of diocesan boards of finance, and members of provincial committees, the report concluded that: 

  • There is great difference between dioceses in the representation of women
  • There are few senior appointments held by women and women are not even occupying the posts which would be expected to act as the first stage in achieving a senior post
  • Equality of representation on committees has not been achieved and early progress has not been maintained
  • A number of the Cathedrals do not have women either as part of the ministry team or on their Chapters

The report can be found at: 

http://cinw.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/10-RepresentationWomen.pdf

Edward Bailey (1935-2015) 

Revd Professor Edward Ian Bailey, who initiated the formal study of implicit religion (the concept of ‘secular faith’) in 1968, died on 22 April 2015. An Anglican clergyman (notably as Rector of Winterbourne in the Diocese of Bristol from 1970 to 2006), he was also convenor of the annual Denton Hall Conferences on Implicit Religion from 1978, founding director of the Centre for the Study of Implicit Religion and Contemporary Spirituality, a member of the executive committee of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality, and visiting professor at three British universities. Although his own research and books were not particularly characterized by quantitative methods, he was encouraging of those who deployed statistical approaches, not least by publishing their articles in the journal Implicit Religion, which he established in 1998 and edited until his death.

1851 religious census of Warwickshire

On 30 March 1851 the Government organized, as part of the decennial census of population, a census of the accommodation and attendance at all places of worship in the British Isles. The experiment was never repeated and only summaries of the returns were ever published at the time. However, the original schedules have survived at The National Archives for most parts of England and Wales, and these have been the subject of many scholarly editions during the past four decades. The returns for Warwickshire are the latest to be published: The 1851 Census of Religious Worship: Church, Chapel, and Meeting Place in Mid Nineteenth-Century Warwickshire, edited by Keith Geary (Publications of the Dugdale Society, Vol. XLVII, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Society, 2014, xii + 350pp., ISBN 9780852200971, £30.00 + £3.00 postage and packing, hardback). The main body of the text (pp. 85- 323) comprises an annotated transcript of the 590 returns for the county, arranged by registration districts and sub-districts. This is preceded by a substantial introduction (pp. 1-74) which briefly sketches the historical and topographical background before providing a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of and commentary on the Warwickshire data. There are indexes by persons, places, and subjects (including denominations), plus maps and a bibliography.

 

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Religiosity and Other News

 

Self-assessed religiosity

In our post of 11 January 2015, we reported on the British results from the WIN/Gallup International End of Year 2014 poll, focusing on a question about trust in religious professionals, but also noting findings on two other religion-related topics, one of them self-assessed religiosity. On 13 April 2015 WIN/Gallup International and ORB International, which undertook the British fieldwork, posted online the full religiosity data and an associated religiosity index for the 64,000 respondents from 65 countries participating in the global poll. These can be downloaded from: 

http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=are-you-a-religious-person-poll-results-from-65-countries

Britain came 59th out of 65 nations in terms of the proportion of the population self-rating as a religious person, with just 30%, under half the global mean (63%) and well behind Thailand at the head of the index (94%). The six countries less religious than Britain were Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sweden, Japan, and China. Two-thirds of Britons either described themselves as not a religious person (53%) or a convinced atheist (13%), with 4% undecided. The results for selected countries, arranged by region, are shown below. 

% across

Religious person

Not religious person

Convinced atheist

Global mean

63

22

11

Europe

 

 

 

Austria

39

44

10

Belgium

44

30

18

Czech Republic

23

45

30

Denmark

42

40

12

Finland

56

32

10

France

40

35

18

Germany

34

42

17

Great Britain

30

53

13

Greece

71

15

6

Ireland

45

41

10

Italy

74

18

6

Netherlands

26

51

15

Poland

86

10

2

Portugal

60

28

9

Russia

70

18

5

Spain

37

35

20

Sweden

19

59

17

Switzerland

38

46

12

North America

 

 

 

Canada

40

41

12

USA

56

33

6

Asia

 

 

 

China

7

29

61

India

76

21

2

Japan

13

31

31

Korea

44

49

6

Pakistan

88

10

1

The number of Britons self-rating as religious seems first to have been measured (by Opinion Research Centre) in January-February 1968, when it stood at 58%. It was 36% when recorded by YouGov earlier this month. The question has been asked many times in between, albeit with variant wording, leading to some volatility in results. However, there has been a clear pattern of decline in religiosity since the 1990s, with, during the first half of the present decade, between 55% and 75% viewing themselves as irreligious. This is a much higher proportion of adults than professed no religion in the 2011 census of Britain (25%) or in the 2012 Integrated Household Survey (30%) or who doubted or denied the existence of God or a higher power in two YouGov polls of 2013 (35%).   

Personal well-being

Christians tend to experience the highest levels of personal well-being in the UK and Muslims and religious ‘nones’ the lowest. This is suggested by an analysis of aggregated data for adults aged 16 and over from the Annual Population Survey for April 2011-March 2014 which was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 27 March 2015 as How Does Personal Well-Being Vary by Sex, Disability, Ethnicity, and Religion? Respondents were asked to assess, on a scale running from 0 to 10, overall ‘how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’; ‘to what extent do you feel that the things you do in your life are worthwhile?’; ‘how happy did you feel yesterday?’; and ‘how anxious did you feel yesterday?’ Means for each of these four measures are tabulated below, while the report, with links to data tables, can be read at:  

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_400162.pdf

Mean scores out of 10

Life satisfaction

Life worthwhile

Happiness yesterday

Anxiety yesterday

All adults

7.46

7.70

7.33

3.03

No religion

7.34

7.51

7.15

2.98

Christian

7.54

7.81

7.43

3.01

Buddhist

7.31

7.57

7.39

3.23

Hindu

7.48

7.66

7.46

3.26

Jewish

7.44

7.81

7.31

3.29

Muslim

7.27

7.52

7.20

3.28

Sikh

7.39

7.67

7.32

3.23

Other

7.25

7.62

7.25

3.27

ONS does not attempt to explore the root cause of these religious differences in any detail, except to note that variations between and within equality groups generally can be attributed to various factors, including socio-economic characteristics and self-reported state of health. The relatively older age profile of Christians and younger profile of Muslims and ‘nones’ is likely to account for some of the difference, as is the relative deprivation of Muslims. 

Muslims and non-Muslims

In our last post, on 12 April 2015, we reported on a telephone survey of Muslim opinion conducted by Survation for Sky News, noting that a parallel online poll of 1,001 non-Muslim Britons aged 18 and over had also been conducted for comparative purposes, the data tables for which were not then available. The tables for the latter study have now been released and can be found, together with the Muslim data, via links in a blog at: 

http://survation.com/british-muslims-is-the-divide-increasing/

A comparison of Muslim and non-Muslim views is shown below, revealing a gulf on all issues, and very wide on some. This exemplified that 44% of non-Muslims admitted to being more suspicious of Muslims than they had been a few years back, rising to 49% of men and over-55s.  

% down

Muslims

Non-Muslims

Values of Islam

 

 

Compatible with British values

71

22

Incompatible with British values

16

52

British Muslims doing enough to integrate

 

 

Agree

64

18

Disagree

21

57

Muslims should condemn terrorism carried out in name of Islam

 

 

Agree

51

67

Disagree

40

17

Sympathy with UK Muslims fighting in Syria

 

 

A lot/some

28

14

None

61

77

Police/MI5 contributing to radicalization of young Muslims

 

 

Agree

39

16

Disagree

29

50

Further recent exploration of anti-Muslim sentiment is contained in Ingrid Storm’s post on the Democratic Audit UK blog on 17 April 2015. Using data from the 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey, she shows that Muslims continue to be less accepted than other religious or ethnic minorities in Britain. She suggests that ‘negative media portrayals of Muslims and associations with Islamist terrorism amplify prejudice against this group among all parts of the population.’ See: 

http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=12510

Anglican church growth

Revd Dr Mark Hart, Rector of Plemstall and Guilden Sutton in the Diocese of Chester, has just (13 April 2015) published ‘From Delusion to Reality: An Evaluation of From Anecdote to Evidence’, the Church of England’s influential report (January 2014) on its church growth research programme (2011-13) which is now being used to drive ‘Reform and Renewal’ in the Church. A mathematician and engineer by background, Hart carefully reviews From Anecdote to Evidence in the light of the original research by Professor David Voas and Laura Watts of the University of Essex. Hart concludes that ‘From Anecdote to Evidence systematically misrepresents or misinterprets the underlying report by David Voas and Laura Watts, thereby exaggerating the usefulness of the findings for numerical growth’.  

More specifically, Hart highlights eight major weaknesses in From Anecdote to Evidence, the first being its over-dependence upon self-reported assessments of growth, which are inflated and biased, rather than using statistical data from parish returns. On the basis of his critique, he calls into question both the From Evidence to Action initiative designed to encourage parishes to implement the findings presented in From Anecdote to Evidence, as well as the decision to borrow at least £100 million from the future, using Church Commissioners’ funds, in order to advance the ‘Reform and Renewal’ agenda for the Church, doubting that this will give an adequate return on investment either in terms of finance or church growth. Hart’s 18-page paper is extensively covered in the Church Times for 17 April 2015 (main report on p. 5, leader comment on p. 12) and can be downloaded in full from: 

http://revmarkhart.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/from-delusion-to-reality.html

Upcoming events

The Church of England’s annual ‘Faith in Research’ conference is to be held at Novotel, Birmingham on 14 May 2015. The theme this year is ‘Everyone Counts’, the title of a congregational survey carried out in a sample of Anglican parishes in 2014, and about whose results Sarah Barter-Godfrey will be talking. Other plenary speakers include Professor Leslie Francis on psychological type and the Church of England, and Tom Sefton and Bethany Eckley on church-based social action. There are also parallel sessions on ministry, mission, occasional offices, and church growth. More details at: 

https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics/faith-in-research-conferences.aspx

‘Rethinking Modern British Studies’ is an international conference hosted by the University of Birmingham on 1-3 July 2015. Its extensive programme includes several panel sessions on religious themes, including one on the last day on ‘Public Opinion, Polling and Cultural and Religious Change in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Britain’, with papers by Marcus Collins (on measuring permissiveness), Clive Field (on indicators of religiosity), and Ben Clements (on the religious beliefs and social attitudes of Catholics). More details at: 

https://mbsbham.wordpress.com/programme-rethinking-modern-british-studies/

Professor Linda Woodhead is running a residential course on ‘Britain’s Religious Crisis’ at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden on 3-5 July 2015. Drawing on her own empirical research, she intends to: highlight the growing values gap between religion and society; chart the rapid rise of religious ‘nones’ and the ‘seculigious’; review the battles for the soul of traditional religion and the role of politics and the media; and suggest how to resolve the crisis and move forward. More details at:  

https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/events/events-courses-list/britains-religious-crisis

 

 

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Religion and Public Affairs

 

Britons on Christianity in the public square

Five times as many people (73% versus 15%) think that Britain has become less of a Christian country over the past five years than dissent from the proposition, according to a ComRes poll for Christian Concern conducted among an online sample of 2,057 Britons aged 18 and over on 31 March and 1 April 2015, and published on 5 April. Notwithstanding, a plurality (47%) still considers that Britain’s Christian heritage continues to bring benefits to the country today compared with 32% who say the opposite, and a majority (55%) welcomes the fact that Easter is marked primarily as a Christian festival against 33% who view it as little more than two Bank Holidays together. There is also majority support for the rights of Christians in the workplace, with 52% believing they should be able to refuse to act against their conscience without being penalized by their employer, 66% wanting legal protection for the wearing of Christian symbols such as the cross in the workplace, and 72% deeming it wrong that health care workers should be threatened with the sack for offering to pray with patients. Unsurprisingly, Christians are much more well-disposed than religious ‘nones’ to an ongoing public profile for Christianity, albeit a minority is not, while many of the ‘nones’ also defend Christian freedoms. In terms of age, the over-65s display the most conservative views about the place of Christianity, with 18-24s adopting a more liberal position. Data tables are at:    

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Christian_Concern___Easter_Poll___April_2015.pdf

Britons on assisted dying

The British public is overwhelmingly in favour of legalizing assisted dying within defined parameters, and there is very little difference between the views of Christians overall and the national average. This is according to the results of one of the largest ever surveys on the subject, undertaken online by Populus on behalf of campaign group Dignity in Dying on 11-19 March 2015, and released in full on 7 April. The major findings are summarized below, with detailed data tables available at: 

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Dignity-in-Dying-Poll-March-2015-WEBSITE-DATATABLES.pdf 

% across

All

Christians

Non-Christians

Nones

Attitude to assisted dying becoming law

 

 

 

 

Support

82

80

68

88

Oppose

12

14

26

6

Attitude to own MP backing such a law

 

 

 

 

More positive to them

53

49

47

61

More negative to them

10

11

23

5

MPs voting on legalizing assisted dying

 

 

 

 

Should take account of constituents’ views

67

69

60

68

Should vote according to own opinion

21

22

24

20

House of Commons should allocate time after general election for full debate on assisted dying

 

 

 

 

Agree

79

80

64

81

Disagree

11

12

23

8

Would assist terminally ill loved one to die even if it meant breaking the law

 

 

 

 

Would assist

44

43

37

49

Would not assist

29

32

39

23

Unfortunately, the attitudes of followers of individual Christian denominations were not recorded, but it seems likely that, as in other studies where they have been, Roman Catholics would have been most opposed to legalizing assisted dying. In this Populus poll non-Christians were more than twice as opposed on several of the key questions asked, albeit the majority even of them endorsed assisted dying. The most supportive religious group of all were the ‘nones’, but not by a big margin. Lord Falconer of Thoroton has signalled his intention to bring back his bill to legalize assisted dying as soon as the new Parliament assembles after the general election; the bill ran out of time in the old Parliament. 

Britons on Scientology

The Church of Scientology, founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, has been in the media spotlight again recently, principally as a result of its negative portrayal in Alex Gibney’s controversial new documentary Going Clear. This has prompted YouGov to test the British public’s awareness of and attitudes to the movement in an online poll of 1,906 adults on 3-4 April 2015. Knowledge is minimal, with 75% professing to know nothing or very little, 23% something, and just 2% a lot. This did not prevent 61% dismissing Scientology’s claims to being a real religion, only 8% thinking it is, rising to 14% among 18-24s and those with some knowledge of it; the remaining 31% were unable to express an opinion. Moreover, 45% found the beliefs of Scientology less credible than those of Christianity, peaking at 62% with those who knew something about it. The achievement of spiritual enlightenment is one of Scientology’s core beliefs, which a plurality of 38% considered to be probably attainable, with 30% disagreeing and 32% uncertain, although it is debatable how much this question was actually understood. The majority (54%) did not regard themselves as spiritual while 41% said they were (12% very and 29% slightly), compared with 60% and 35% respectively when YouGov last probed the matter in September 2011. However, too much should not be read into the differences as spirituality is a rather elusive concept, difficult to operationalize, with surveys on the topic yielding fluctuating results. A blog about this latest YouGov study, with a link to the data tables, was published on 8 April at: 

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/04/08/scientology-not-real-religion-public/

Professing Anglicans and the general election

The Church of England has often been seen as a natural ally of the Conservative Party, and an analysis of YouGov’s aggregate polling of 35,000 electors in March 2015, commissioned by the Church Times, certainly confirms that professing Anglicans are disproportionately likely to favour the Conservatives. Whereas, as the table below shows, the Conservatives and Labour were tied nationally, on 34% each, the Conservatives had a commanding 21% lead among Anglicans. Catholics, by contrast, were more disposed to Labour (42%) than Conservatives (31%). For the Church Times report, see: 

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/10-april/news/uk/tories-can-count-on-the-c-of-e-voters-tell-polls 

% down

All electors

Anglican electors

Conservative

34

48

Labour

34

27

Liberal Democrat

7

6

UKIP

14

16

Other parties

11

3

Practising Christians and the general election

Four-fifths of 1,960 practising (churchgoing) Christians aged 16 and over think Britain is heading in the wrong moral direction, while two-thirds believe that it is harder to be a Christian in Britain today than it was in 2010. This is according to a ComRes survey undertaken online in the UK between 13 and 17 March 2015 and published on 9 April by Premier Christian Radio, which sponsored the study, in a press release at: 

http://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Election-Deficit-not-a-top-concern-for-Christians

Asked which of the leaders of the four main parties they most associated with six statements about the role of faith in politics, a majority of practising Christians ranging from 55% to 78% replied ‘none of them’, with David Cameron being the only one to shine a little (see table, below). However, even Cameron had blotted his copy-book in the eyes of respondents, with 71% denying that his time as Prime Minister had been good for Christians in Britain (and 52% saying that it had actually been bad), and 78% claiming that he had been wrong to laud the legalization of same-sex marriage as one of his proudest achievements. 

Leaders of four main parties associated with … (%)

None of them

David Cameron

Places importance on own faith in political decision-making

78

12

Exhibits Christian values in political beliefs

68

20

Exhibits Christian values in personal life

66

23

Likely to build on Britain’s Christian cultural/political heritage

59

23

Encourages involvement of faith groups in politics

58

24

Committed to protecting religious freedom

55

18

The three most important of 13 named policy areas for determining the personal vote of practising Christians were: managing the NHS (42%), ensuring the benefits of economic growth are felt by all (41%), and making the welfare system fairer (33%). These are not necessarily the highest priorities of the electorate as a whole (for instance, immigration and the European Union came well down this sample’s list of concerns) nor of the main political parties. Even reducing the government budget deficit preoccupied no more than 20% of practising Christians, and promoting UK economic growth just 16%. The latter was the major policy area where practising Christians regarded the Conservatives as having a big advantage over Labour (50% versus 13%), followed by reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. Otherwise, the rating of the parties was either closer or Labour was seen as the more credible option, notably when it came to ensuring economic equality, improving housing affordability, making the welfare system fairer, managing the NHS, and caring for the elderly.   

Regrettably, although full data tables for the survey are available, including breaks by age, gender, region, and denomination, they are not up to the usual ComRes standard of presentation and clarity. They can be found at: 

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Premier-_-Election-Priority-Polling.pdf

Jews and the general election

Among electors intending to vote in the forthcoming general election, and after discounting undecideds and refusals, Jews are more than twice as likely to favour the Conservatives and far less likely to support UKIP as the population as a whole. This is according to the latest Survation telephone poll of 566 self-identifying British Jews for the Jewish Chronicle on 2-7 April 2015, compared with the same company’s national poll for the Daily Mirror on 8-9 April. A summary of voting intentions appears below, with full data tables for the Jewish survey available at: 

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/General-Election-Poll-Tables.pdf 

% down

Jewish electors

All electors

Conservative

69

30

Labour

22

36

Liberal Democrat

2

8

UKIP

2

15

Other parties

5

11

The pro-Conservative stance of British Jews doubtless reflects their relatively affluent status, but it also appears to be determined by perspectives on Israel and the Middle East. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Jews claimed that the views of British political parties towards Israel would be very or quite important in influencing their own vote. Three-fifths (61%) contended that the Conservatives had the best policies for Israel and the Middle East, and 65% felt that, of the party leaders, David Cameron had the best approach to these issues. A similar proportion (64%) considered that Cameron as Prime Minister would have the best attitude to the Jewish community in the UK, against only 13% for Labour’s Ed Miliband. Indeed, in its coverage of the poll (10 April 2015, pp. 1, 4, 28), the Jewish Chronicle was particularly struck by Miliband’s ‘shocking’ standing, asking how a supposedly Jewish politician could make ‘such a terrible fist of attracting Jewish voters?’

Muslims and current issues

Most British Muslims (71%) see no incompatibility between the values of British society and those of Islam, according to a telephone poll of 1,001 Muslims, conducted by Survation for Sky News from 10 to 16 March 2015, and published on 10 April. Just 16% disagreed. A majority also felt that Muslims were already doing enough to integrate into British society (64%) and that they had personally encountered no more suspicion from non-Muslims than a few years previously (62%). However, there was some ambiguity when it came to matters of terrorism. Two-fifths overall (and 46% of women) did not believe it was the responsibility of Muslims to condemn terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam, while 28% of all Muslims (including 33% of women and 32% of under-35s) said that they had a lot or some sympathy with young Muslims who had left the UK to join fighters in Syria. A plurality (39%) agreed that the actions of the police and MI5 were contributing to the radicalization of young Muslims. Data tables, with breaks by gender, age, and region, are available at: 

http://interactive.news.sky.com/2015/PDFs/Sky-Muslim-Poll.pdf

Survation also undertook an online survey of 1,000 non-Muslims, which has yet to be reported in full. A few results were mentioned in a Sky News press release, two being polar opposites of the Muslim voice, with 58% of non-Muslims considering that Muslims were not doing enough to integrate into British society and 52% that the values of British society and Islam were incompatible. The press release is at: 

http://news.sky.com/story/1462023/poll-majority-have-no-sympathy-with-extremists

 

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Ben Clements on Religion and Other News

 

Ben Clements on religion

Ben Clements has been a regular contributor to BRIN’s news pages and his expertise in British religious statistics needs no introduction. His new book is a veritable cornucopia of quantitative data, containing no fewer than 90 tables and 45 figures: Religion and Public Opinion in Britain: Continuity and Change (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, xix + 280p., ISBN 9780230293892, £68.00, hardback, also available in PDF and EPUB editions). The data, spanning the years 1947-2013 (but mainly from the 1970s onwards), derive both from serial sources (notably British Election Study, European Values Study, and British Social Attitudes Survey) and some non-recurrent polling. They illuminate six facets of the socio-political dimensions of religion, with breaks by standard demographics and by indicators of religious belonging, behaving, and believing (including by four principal religious groups – Anglican, Catholic, other Christian, no affiliation), as follows:

  • Religious authority (extent of religious change; confidence in religious institutions; attitudes to the role of religious leaders in politics)
  • Religion and party choice (voting)
  • Religion and ideology (left-right, welfare, and libertarian-authoritarian scales; attitudes to the death penalty and to censorship)
  • Religion and abortion (including detailed analysis of Catholic attitudes)
  • Religion, homosexuality, and gay rights (including attitudes to same-sex adoption and same-sex marriage)
  • Religion and foreign policy (European integration; military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Each of the above chapters finishes with a summary, and there is also an overarching (if tantalizingly brief) conclusion, which separately charts areas where there has been over-time attitudinal continuity (party choice, ideology, and Euroscepticism) and change (diminishing religious authority and liberalization of socio-moral attitudes), as well as suggesting where there is scope for further research. Appended material includes useful checklists of religious measures in the recurrent surveys and of datasets which have been used. In short, this is a scholarly and empirically-grounded monograph which does exactly what it says it does in providing ‘an important “bottom-up” perspective on the historical and contemporary linkages between religion and politics in Britain’. It will equally appeal to political scientists, sociologists of religion, and religious historians.

British Social Attitudes, 2014

The main report on the 2014 British Social Attitudes Survey was published by NatCen on 26 March 2015: British Social Attitudes, 32: 2015 Edition, editors: John Curtice and Rachel Ormston. A sample of 2,878 Britons aged 18 and over was interviewed by NatCen through a combination of face-to-face interview and self-completion questionnaire between August and November 2014, with a response rate of 47% on the interview component. The full dataset will not be available through the interactive BritSocAt website until the autumn, hopefully a little earlier via the UK Data Service. Meanwhile, the report and questionnaire can be viewed at, respectively:

http://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/media/38945/bsa32_fullreport.pdf

http://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/media/38926/bsa32_questionnaire.pdf

The full sample was asked, in the face-to-face interview, the standard background variables about current religious affiliation, religion of upbringing, and attendance at religious services. The replies for these questions will be useful for analysing by religion the wide range of social and political topics covered by the survey. Page 159 of the report suggests that 49% professed no religion in 2014, with 18% Church of England and 8% Roman Catholic. Two other religion-rated questions were only put to sub-samples A and C (representing about two-thirds of the whole) through the self-completion questionnaire: membership of and participation in church or other religious organizations, and attitudes to religious extremists being allowed to hold public meetings. According to the report (page 126), 12% claimed active membership of a church or religious organization in 2014 (down from 16% in 2004), while a further 12% were non-participating members (against 18% ten years before).

21st-century evangelicals

During the course of the past four years, BRIN has reported on results from the baseline and eleven thematic surveys of the Evangelical Alliance’s online research panel, comprising a self-selecting opportunity sample of UK evangelical churchgoers and church leaders. An aggregate analysis of much of this research appears in a new book edited by Greg Smith (the Alliance’s research manager) and entitled 21st Century Evangelicals: Reflections on Research by the Evangelical Alliance (Watford: Instant Apostle, 2015, 192p., ISBN 9781909728257, £12.99 paperback, also available in a Kindle edition).

Following an introduction to the Alliance’s research programme and a demographic profile of evangelicals in the panel, there are eight chapters (each accompanied by a very brief response) on evangelicals and their theology/identity, church life, social involvement, politics, gender, families/youth, charismatic movement, and global connections. The chapters are mostly written by established academics in the sociology of religion and theology who provide analysis (sometimes reanalysis of the original data), commentary, and contextualization, each drawing upon anything up to five of the thematic surveys. They cumulate to a useful and accessible digest of the views and experiences of the Alliance’s research panel, which presents an overall celebratory picture of the health, vitality, and values of evangelicalism while not completely concealing the more negative dimensions. However, the underlying methodological limitations of the data source should be constantly borne in mind. As Smith reminds us (page 19), respondents have not comprised a random sample, they are potentially unrepresentative, and ‘we need to be very cautious in extrapolating from it to UK evangelicals as a whole’.

Churchgoers and homosexuality

Churchgoers’ attitudes to homosexuality have undergone an ‘ethical earthquake’ during the past decade, according to Oasis UK, which recently released headline findings from a survey of the views of 1,300 churchgoers and church leaders on the subject. Half of practising Christians now believe that monogamous same-sex relationships should be fully embraced and encouraged within the Churches, with just 1% totally opposed to people in such relationships being allowed to attend public worship (albeit a further 8% wish to see them ‘regularly challenged’ about their situation). However, 37% of churchgoers confessed to being reluctant to communicating their views to other Christians for fear of being looked down upon, and this concern was shared by church leaders, who were 10% less likely than churchgoers to support same-sex relationships in any case. Unfortunately, at this stage, only secondhand accounts of the research are available online, the fullest in the public domain being in Christian Today at:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/more.than.a.third.of.uk.churchgoers.hide.their.support.for.same.sex.relationships/50381.htm?print=1

If you have a subscription to the Church Times, there is also an article there at:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2015/27-march/news/uk/christians-too-scared-to-voice-support-for-same-sex-relationships

Ramifications of ‘gay cake’ row

As regular users of the BRIN website will know, we do not ordinarily seek to cover Northern Irish religious statistics. However, since we have already featured surveys of British opinion on the ongoing ‘gay cake’ row (whereby Ashers, a Christian-run bakery in Northern Ireland, is facing civil action for refusing to bake a cake iced with the slogan ‘support gay marriage’), it seems appropriate to draw attention to a ComRes poll for the Christian Institute which was published on 23 March 2015. One thousand adults in Northern Ireland were interviewed by telephone between 10 and 15 March on the rights of business people to their own freedom of speech and religious liberty when it comes to the provision of goods and services to the public. Respondents were asked for their views on a range of potential real-life situations affecting these rights, one of the scenarios being modelled on the Ashers case. Three-quarters of the sample thought the bakery’s actions should not constitute grounds for court action, and two-thirds agreed that the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland had been wrong to initiate such action against Ashers. Full data tables, giving breaks by standard demographics and religious group, are at:

http://comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Christian-Institute-_-Northern-Ireland-Poll-_-March-2015.pdf

Religious rights

Muslim immigrants, and especially religious Muslims, are more supportive of religious rights than native Christians, and religious natives are more approving of the rights of out-groups than the non-religious. This is according to an article published in the advanced access edition of Social Forces on 15 March 2015: Sarah Carol, Marc Helbling, and Ines Michalowski, ‘A Struggle over Religious Rights? How Muslim Immigrants and Christian Natives View the Accommodation of Religion in Six European Countries’. Data derive from the EURISLAM project which, in April-September 2011, surveyed by telephone 7,256 majority group members without immigrant backgrounds and Muslim migrants from the former Yugoslavia, Morocco, Turkey, and Pakistan living in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Switzerland. In Britain interviews were conducted with 387 people from the majority population and 798 migrants. The two rights investigated were religious education (Christian and Muslim) and wearing of religious garments (Christian symbols or headscarves) by teachers, both within the context of public schools. British natives were found to be especially critical of Islamic religious rights, not least surrounding the headscarf. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/recent

For more information about EURISLAM in general, including a list of other publications, go to:

http://www.eurislam.eu/page=site.home

Anglican church growth row

According to reports on the Christian Today website (20 March 2015) and in The Tablet (28 March 2015), the Church of England’s General Synod has come under fire from Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University for authorizing the Church Commissioners to sell substantial historic assets in order to fund an £100 million investment in additional clergy and initiatives to break the cycle of the Church’s ongoing decline. The investment was said to be in accordance with ‘proven growth formulae’. Arguing that such a strategy was ‘nonsense’, ‘unevidenced’, and ‘reckless’, Woodhead wrote to William Fittall, the Synod’s outgoing Secretary General, who, in his reply, was forced to concede that ‘proven growth formulae’ was perhaps an inaccurate phrase and that ‘established evidence about growth’ would have been more appropriate. Woodhead then commented that ‘there is a danger … that the Church is moving from complacency to blind panic’, noting that, in his response to her, Fittall had still been ‘unable to supply any evidence for thinking that the plan will reverse church decline’.

Jewish families and households

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research published on 19 March 2015 another title in its invaluable series of research reports on English and Welsh Jewry as depicted in the 2011 population census: David Graham with Maria Luisa Caputo, Jewish Families and Jewish Households: Census Insights about How We Live. It reveals that the number of Jewish households declined by 5% between 2001 and 2011, to 110,700, whereas there was an increase of 8% in the country as a whole. Jewish households were slightly smaller than in the general population, 2.31 against 2.36 persons, but the gap is closing. However, Jewish households were significantly larger than average in areas with predominantly haredi (strictly orthodox) Jews and Jewish student communities. One-third of Jewish households comprised Jews living alone, while 59% consisted of couples or families; in the latter case, Jews were more likely than the norm to live as married couples and less likely to cohabit or to be lone parents. The overwhelming majority (88%) of Jewish children under 16 lived in married couple families, far more than all children in England and Wales (58%). Overall, Jewish household structure most closely resembled that of Christian households, most especially in their older than average age profiles and large proportions comprising only people aged 65 and over. Jews were more likely to own their own home than the nation at large (73% versus 64%), albeit there was a 9% fall in Jewish home ownership between 2001 and 2011. The 48-page report can be found at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR_Census_Jewish_families_and_Jewish_households_report_March_2015.pdf

 

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