Scottish Independence and Other News

 

Scottish independence

The referendum on Scottish independence is now behind us (it was held on 18 September 2014), and we know that a majority of residents of Scotland has voted to remain in the United Kingdom. The referendum campaign was accompanied by a spate of opinion polls in Scotland, mostly conducted online, which explored attitudes and voting intentions from a variety of perspectives. However, none of these appear to have asked about the faith of respondents, so we had no clear idea how religion may have influenced views on Scottish independence. The closest we came to that dimension was a series of articles and interviews in the print media by the historian Sir Tom Devine speculating on the shifting attitudes of Scottish Catholics on the prospects of independence for Scotland, and drawing on some less than current data from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.

It is therefore gratifying to note that Lord Ashcroft has surveyed the actual voting in the referendum of 2,047 Scottish residents. They were contacted by telephone or online on 18 and 19 September, after they had filled in their ballot paper, the voting of this sample almost exact mirroring the national results. The survey tabulations were published on 19 September at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Scotland-Post-Referendum-poll-Full-tables-1409191.pdf

As the following table, calculated from Ashcroft’s data, makes clear, there does appear to have been a simplistic correlation between religious affiliation and referendum voting patterns. Essentially, the majority of Catholics, non-Christians, and those professing no religion all favoured independence. It was only the votes of Protestants which saved the United Kingdom. The vast majority of these affiliate to the Church of Scotland and may have been influenced by the fact that the Queen has a strong relationship with it, albeit she is not its Supreme Governor (as she is in respect of the Church of England). The reality is likely to be far more complex than this, as a multivariate analysis of the dataset would doubtless reveal (if it ever becomes available), but these figures suggest that religion cannot be discounted from having some bearing on how people voted. 

% across

No vote

Yes vote

Total

54.6

45.4

Christians: Catholic

43.0

57.0

Christians: Non-Catholic

69.1

30.9

Non-Christians

36.4

63.6

No religion

44.3

55.7

Church and State

Talking of establishment, ComRes replicated for ITV News on 12-14 September 2014 a question about the official link between the Church of England and the State which it had first posed some three months earlier. Respondents, of whom there were 2,052 in the second online poll, were asked whether the maintenance of such a link was good or bad for Britain. The plurality was undecided on the issue, but, as the table below indicates, more now believe that establishment is bad than consider it good. It seems especially unpopular in Scotland (45%) and North-East England (40%). The full data can be found on pp. 42-3 of the tables at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ITV_News_Index_15th_September_2014.pdf 

% down

27-29 June

12-14 Sept

Change

Good

33

28

-5

Bad

29

32

+3

Don’t know

38

40

+2

Islamic State

The referendum on Scottish independence dominated the news last week, being the most noticed story for 61% of Britons, according to an online poll of 2,260 adults by Populus on 17-18 September 2014. The various manifestations of the Islamic State (IS) crisis in Iraq and Syria, including the murder of British hostage David Haines, were thus pushed down the agenda somewhat, but remained the top story for 13%. However, there have been two new IS-related online surveys by YouGov, as follows:

15-16 September 2014

YouGov replicated a sub-set of questions last asked in its poll of 4-5 September 2014. They were put to a sample of 1,977 respondents. Notwithstanding the intervening murder by IS of David Haines, and the threat to kill another British captive, public attitudes to the IS crisis had only slightly hardened, notably in respect of support for RAF air strikes against IS targets, up from 52% to 54% in the case of Iraq and from 48% to 52% in Syria (where Haines was almost certainly killed). There was overwhelming (70%) opposition to the payment of ransoms to secure the release of British hostages, albeit 63% endorsement for a British military rescue operation to free them. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/x2r1cq8rs3/YG-Archive-140917-IS.pdf

18-19 September 2014

The second poll, for The Sunday Times, interviewed 2,126 adults. Relative to the survey of three days before, there had been slight dips in the level of support for RAF air strikes against IS in Iraq (down 1%, to 53%) and Syria (down 1%, to 51%), and the commitment of British and American ground troops against IS in Iraq (down 2%, to 24%, with disapproval on 55%). Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/wpbxyfjd7p/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140919.pdf

Journal of Contemporary Religion

The latest issue (Vol. 29, No. 3, October 2014) of Journal of Contemporary Religion, published online on 9 September 2014, includes two articles and one book review by members of the BRIN team which may be of interest to readers of this website. The issue can be accessed at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjcr20/29/3#.VBcogTZwbX4

Ben Clements, ‘Assessing the Determinants of the Contemporary Social Attitudes of Roman Catholics in Britain: Abortion and Homosexuality’ (pp. 491-501) is based on secondary analysis of a YouGov survey of 1,636 professing British Catholic adults on the eve of the papal visit to Scotland and England in September 2010. On the two social issues investigated significant numbers of Catholics held liberal views which diverged from the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the most traditionalist (and socially conservative) among the faithful being found to be men, older people, and frequent Mass-goers.

Clive Field, ‘Is the Bible Becoming a Closed Book? British Opinion Poll Evidence’ (pp. 503-28) utilizes 123 national sample surveys of the adult general population and 35 national and local sample surveys of adult religious populations to study changes in the standing of the Bible in Britain since the Second World War. The analysis proceeds both at topline level and by breaks for gender, age, social class, religious denomination, and churchgoing. Twelve broad conclusions are drawn, with declining allegiance to the Bible visible on various fronts, even among regular churchgoers. In an everyday sense, one interpretation of the data could be that Christianity is becoming decoupled from the holy book on which it is founded. This process is attributed to the waning influence of three principal agencies of religious socialization (Church/Sunday school, state school, parents) which formerly underpinned the Bible’s role in faith and society.

The book review (pp. 555-6) is by David Voas and is of The World’s Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography, by Todd Johnson and Brian Grim (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

Charity Brand Index

The Methodist Recorder (12 September 2014, p. 2) reports that Methodist Homes (MHA) has been named the most trusted charity in the UK in 2014 according to the sixth Charity Brand Index published by Third Sector Research on the basis of an online survey of 4,000 adults by Harris Interactive. MHA’s trustworthiness rating stood at 85%, the highest of the 150 charities evaluated in the Index. This is just one facet by which these charities are ranked by the public, other measures including recognition, willingness to donate, effectiveness of media coverage and advertising, attitudes towards the charity’s cause, and understanding of the charity’s work. Unfortunately, the Index is a fully commercial product, the report and dataset costing £1,750, so BRIN is unable to provide further details of results for religion-related charities more generally. However, the top ten charities overall this year are not obviously religious in character; they are listed in the online edition of Third Sector at:

http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/cancer-research-uk-named-best-charity-brand-2014/communications/article/1309460

Christmas campaign

The Christmas Starts with Christ 2014 campaign, co-ordinated by ChurchAds.Net on behalf of a consortium of Churches and Christian agencies, was announced on 10 September 2014, with a range of downloadable resources, including posters, radio commercials, and web banners. The campaign officially kicks off on 30 November (Advent Sunday), with churches being invited to hold a Christmas Starts Sunday in December. The organizers hope that 10,000 places of worship will get involved this year.

During the summer (13 June 2014) Christmas Starts with Christ also released statistics of its 2013 campaign, in which an estimated 4,500 churches participated and advertising became genuinely multi-platform. The campaign’s three ‘chat show’ radio advertisements – featuring Mary, Herod, and the innkeeper – were heard by five million listeners. There were 3.55 million opportunities to see a #ChristmasStarts tweet on Twitter. Three ‘thunderclaps’ reached 1.31 million people via social media. The campaign website attracted 139,000 pageviews, 25% more than in 2012 and double the level in 2011. A post-campaign survey by ComRes in January 2014 revealed that 67% of Britons felt the Christmas message had been conveyed effectively by the campaign and 49% acknowledged the advertising had made them think more about the true meaning of Christmas. The ‘2013 – Our Year in Numbers’ summary is at:

http://christmasstartswithchrist.com/docs/2013/CSWC_2013_review.pdf

 

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Trust and Other News

 

Trust (1)

Public trust in the Church of England is lower than in other non-political national institutions, according to the results of an Ipsos MORI survey for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which were published on 13 September 2014. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2,008 adults aged 15 and over in Britain on 18-24 July 2014. Respondents were asked to assess their trust in 14 institutions on a scale from 0 to 10, the mean score for the Established Church being 5.36, only rising above 6 in the case of readers of mid-market daily newspapers and those broadly satisfied with the present system of government. The scores for all institutions follow:

 

Mean score

Armed forces

7.74

Charitable/voluntary sector

6.51

Police

6.49

Monarchy

6.38

Legal system

5.86

Bank of England

5.85

BBC

5.75

Church of England

5.36

Local government

4.90

Welsh Assembly

4.77

Scottish Parliament

4.67

Westminster Parliament

4.20

Westminster government

4.13

Political parties in general

3.76

The study also covered support for the protection by law of 10 rights and freedoms. Freedom of religion was ranked eighth in order of importance, although it was only seven points behind the most highly prized freedom (the right to a fair trial). Variation by demographic sub-groups ranged from 83% to 94%. Support for each of the rights and freedoms is tabulated below:

Strongly/tend to support

%

Right to a fair trial

96

Right to freedom from slavery

95

Right to a private/family life

95

Freedom of speech

95

Right to liberty

94

Right not to be tortured/degraded

92

Right to protest

91

Freedom of religion

89

Right to life

79

Right not to be charged for a non-crime

71

The data tables (pp. 1-3 and 114-16 being particularly relevant) will be found at:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/jrrt-state-of-the-nation-tables-2014.pdf

Trust (2)

Clergy/priests are the profession most trusted to tell the truth by MPs, in a survey released by Ipsos MORI on 9 September 2014, for which 143 MPs were interviewed face-to-face between 9 June and 6 August 2014. Indeed, the proportion of MPs trusting clergy/priests completely or a fair amount was, at 86%, 20 points greater than among the general public in November 2013. Judges (83%), scientists (82%), and doctors (76%) also performed well on the MPs’ veracity index, as they did with the public, with bankers (18%), estate agents (12%), and journalists (11%) being deemed the least trustworthy by MPs.  For more information, see the slideshow at:

http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/IpsosMORI/the-view-from-westminster-ipsos-mori-m-ps-survey-1978-2014/4

Religion of dependent children

Release Sup. 3 of the 2011 census results for England and Wales, dated 9 September 2014, included Table LC2123EW: religion of dependent child by sex. Fully interactive, and searchable to the lowest level of census geography, it revealed that, across the country as a whole, 51% of dependent children were recorded as Christian, 8% as Muslim, 3% as of another religion, 30% as of no religion, and 8% as not stated. However, there were many areas where Christians were in a minority, including Birmingham (the centre of this summer’s alleged Trojan Horse plot in schools), where there were more Muslim dependent children (97,100) than Christian (93,800). The table can be accessed at:

http://www.nomisweb.co.uk/census/2011/lc2123ew

Islamic State

The polling scene has recently been dominated by the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, but there have continued to be some surveys on the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria since our last post on 4 September 2014. Polls are arranged in chronological order of fieldwork, and were conducted online among samples of adults aged 18 and over.

21-29 August 2014

This Eurotrack survey by YouGov appears to be the first to study British attitudes to the IS crisis in a comparative context, in this case measured against those in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. There were 2,021 respondents in Britain. Six questions were posed about Iraq, with some notable differences in national opinion, including when it came to the willingness of countries to take part in air strikes against IS targets. Britain and Denmark were most likely to contemplate such action (at 42% in each case), while Finland and Germany were least enthusiastic (26%). But perhaps the most significant variations emerged when participants were questioned about giving asylum in their country to Iraqi Christians and non-Christians. As can be seen from the table below, Britons were, after the French, the least well-disposed to this scenario, with non-Christians being less welcome than Christians in all countries. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/rkvalht3o6/August_Eurotrack.pdf

Approval (%) of

granting asylum to

Iraqi Christians

Iraqi non-Christians

Denmark

50

37

Finland

58

48

France

35

22

Germany

47

41

Great Britain

38

27

Norway

46

37

Sweden

61

54

3-5 September 2014

Support for some form of British military intervention against IS reached 60% in this Opinium Research poll for the Sunday Telegraph, for which 2,002 UK individuals were interviewed; only 20% were opposed to British action from the air or on the ground. Approximately four-fifths endorsed tough new powers against British jihadists fighting with IS, in the shape of seizure of their passports, stripping them of their citizenship, and banning them from re-entering the UK. Data tables are at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4829_telegraph_iraq_tables.pdf

4-5 September 2014

Support for RAF air strikes against IS built to 52% in this YouGov poll among 1,961 Britons for the Sunday Times, even reaching 48% for air strikes against IS in Syria (11 points up on the week before). Opposition was voiced by 68% to the payment of ransoms for the release of British citizens held hostage by IS, with 62% in favour of a military rescue operation. Half the sample felt that British Muslim leaders should be doing a lot more to dissuade British Muslims from going to Iraq to join IS, just 22% thinking the Muslim leadership was doing all it reasonably could. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/e6yfutr1ad/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140905.pdf

Household income

In an online poll by Populus on 29-31 August 2014, the 2,010 respondents were asked to provide information about their religion and total household income prior to tax. Correlating the answers to the two questions, it can be shown that non-Christians were disproportionately likely to come from the poorest households (with an income of under £14,000), while those professing no religion were to be found in above-average numbers in the richest households (with an income over £28,000). Christians were more clustered in households with a middling income. Results are summarized below, and the source data are on p. 35 of the tables at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/OmFood_Fraud-income-break.pdf

%

Up to £14k

£14k-£28k

Over £28k

All

23

43

33

Christians

21

50

29

Non-Christians

30

35

35

No religion

24

36

39

Premier Christian Radio audience

Premier Christian Radio, the evangelical (and sometimes controversial) station broadcasting primarily in London and South-East England (but also receivable on Freeview and the national DAB multiplex) has announced that it reached its biggest ever audience in its twenty-year history during the second quarter of 2014. According to official RAJAR figures, its average weekly listening by adults aged 15 and over in London and the South-East was 240,700 in this period, equivalent to 2% of the population served. The rise follows a rebranding exercise and the launch of a new website (incorporating listen again features) earlier in the year. However, historic data back to 2010, tabulated below, indicate that there has been some volatility in Premier’s audience, so it is too soon to say whether this increase will be sustained. These statistics can be examined in more detail, including for the pre-2010 era, at:

http://www.rajar.co.uk/listening/quarterly_listening.php

Period

Weekly

audience

persons

Weekly

audience

hours

Hours

per

listener

2010 Q1

141,000

1,456,000

10.4

2010 Q2

143,000

1,708,000

12.0

2010 Q3

213,000

2,405,000

11.3

2010 Q4

164,000

1,833,000

11.2

2011 Q1

135,000

808,000

6.1

2011 Q2

235,000

2,339,000

9.9

2011 Q3

181,000

1,461,000

8.1

2011 Q4

89,000

1,076,000

12.0

2012 Q1

153,000

1,147,000

7.5

2012 Q2

172,000

1,881,000

10.9

2012 Q3

164,000

1,568,000

9.6

2012 Q4

175,000

2,069,000

11.8

2013 Q1

138,000

979,000

7.1

2013 Q2

156,000

1,522,000

9.8

2013 Q3

147,000

1,373,000

9.3

2013 Q4

160,000

1,141,000

7.1

2014 Q1

97,000

865,000

8.9

2014 Q2

241,000

2,435,000

10.1

Education of Anglican bishops

The Church Times has surveyed the secondary and tertiary educational backgrounds of the Church of England’s 112 serving bishops. One half were found to have been educated at an independent school, with 36% attending a grammar school and 13% a comprehensive school. Two-fifths (42%) had taken their first degree at Oxford or Cambridge, with Durham University accounting for a further 17%. The newspaper collected the data following the recent publication of a report on Elitist Britain? by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, which documented a bias towards independent and Oxbridge backgrounds among other national leaders. Details are available for each individual bishop at:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/5-september/news/uk/half-the-bishops-in-the-c-of-e-were-educated-privately

 

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Round-Up of Islamic State and Other Surveys

 

Islamic State

There has been a further round of polling in recent days related to the advances of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, as summarized below, by chronological order of fieldwork. Unless otherwise stated, surveys were conducted online and among representative samples of Britons aged 18 and over.

August 2014

OnePoll reported on 29 August 2014, on the basis of 1,000 interviews, that the most popular option for resolving the IS crisis was ‘encourage peaceful negotiation’ (29%), with ‘military action – we should launch air strikes’ a close second on 27%. The proportion in facour of air strikes was higher among professing Christians (32%) than atheists (24%), although the number in both sub-groups recommending military action in the form of deploying ground troops against IS was similar (13% and 12% respectively). The survey covered knowledge of, and attitudes to, a range of current international conflicts, revealing a significant lack of understanding (including the 13% of respondents who identified the Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as a terrorist organization). As so often with OnePoll studies, there is only a blog post available online, published at:

http://www.onepoll.com/13-of-brits-think-sharm-el-sheikh-the-popular-egyptian-holiday-destination-is-a-terrorist-group/

20-22 August 2014

ComRes, commissioned by the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday, reported 55% of 2,058 Britons in agreement with the suggestion that, if IS continued unchecked in Iraq, it would pose a direct threat to security on British streets; just 14% disagreed with 31% undecided. However, there was no consensus that the emergence of IS demonstrated that Britain had withdrawn from Iraq prematurely: 26% agreed, 39% disagreed, and 36% could not say. Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/SM_IoS_Political_Poll_24th_August_2014_12371.pdf

22-25 August 2014

ComRes, for ITV News, asked 2,062 Britons how the British government should respond to IS, taking into account the level of military action necessary to achieve a particular outcome. One-third (35%) thought that we should seek to defeat IS in its entirety, a big jump on the 20% recorded in the pollster’s previous survey of 15-17 August, with 23% wishing to see us concentrate on preventing IS from making further gains (29% in the earlier study). Just over one-fifth (22%) argued that Britain should not become involved, 8% down on the week before. These answers were not wholly consistent with those to another question, which asked whether the government should concentrate its efforts on preventing radicalization of Muslims in the UK, rather than engaging in Iraq and Syria, a strategy with which 58% agreed. Overwhelmingly (71%), respondents considered that people using social media to promote IS should have their accounts suspended, with only 10% dissenting, with 75% concurring that social media websites should hand over to the government the personal details of anybody using their account to organize IS activity. Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ITV_News_Index_26th_August_2014.pdf

28-29 August 2014

YouGov’s latest weekly poll for the Sunday Times largely replicated questions about IS and Iraq asked on 21-22 August 2014, and sometimes in earlier surveys. Opinion was found to have remained constant over the week, with 77% approving of the RAF dropping humanitarian supplies to people fleeing IS, 43% of air strikes by the RAF against IS (more specifically, 37% against IS targets in Syria), 37% of supplying arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS, and 29% of sending British troops to help train such forces. Strong support remained for stripping Britons fighting alongside IS of their citizenship, in cases where they held dual nationality or had been naturalized (78%), and of changing the law to allow citizenship to be withdrawn from birth Britons (67%). Overwhelmingly (86%), Britons who had fought for Islamist groups abroad were deemed to pose a threat to the country on their return, while 79% held that their Islamist involvements had increased the risk of major terrorist attacks taking place in Britain. Four-fifths wished to see the prosecution of British citizens travelling to Iraq or Syria, the presumption for many respondents being that they must have gone to fight for IS, unless they could prove otherwise. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/frletj5cgx/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140829.pdf

29-31 August 2014

Telephone interviews with 1,001 adults by ComRes for The Independent revealed continuing minority support for direct British military involvement in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria, 35% endorsing RAF air strikes (with 50% disagreement) and 20% the commitment of British ground forces (with 69% opposed). A majority (61% versus 29%) thought that Britons suspected of joining IS should have their passports taken away and be stripped of their citizenship, albeit fewer (39%) considered that Britons travelling to Iraq and Syria should be presumed to be terrorists until they could be proved innocent. Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/The_Independent_Political_Poll_2nd_September_2014.pdf

3 September 2014

The deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria, including an apparent beheading by IS of a second American citizen and a threat of a similar fate to a British hostage, is slowly increasing public support for RAF air strikes against IS. Based on a fairly small sample of 703 adults, by YouGov for The Sun, the figure now stands at 47%, ten points up on 10-11 August (when the question was first asked by YouGov), with 31% disapproval and 22% undecided. Support for Britain supplying arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS has also increased, from 28% on 11-12 August to 39% on 3 September, with 37% opposed and 24% uncertain. However, there was no greater enthusiasm than in previous polls for Britain and the USA deploying ground troops in Iraq to combat IS (with 20% in favour and 58% against, the same split as on 14-15 August). Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ozg4t2h6kv/SunResults_140903_Islamic_State_ISIS_W.pdf

A tracker of YouGov’s recent polling on Iraq and IS is at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ogulv37v9d/YG-Archives-Pol-Trackers-Iraq-IS-Conflict-030914.pdf

Scottish religion

Further evidence that religion is on the wane in Scotland is provided by two new data sources from the Scottish Government.

The proportion of adult Scots who profess no religion stood at 46% in 2013, up by six points since 2009, according to the report and tables from the 2013 Scottish Household Survey, published on 13 August 2014, for which 9,920 individuals were interviewed. There was a corresponding fall over the same period in allegiance to the Church of Scotland, from 34% to 28%, while the number of Roman Catholics remained unchanged, at 15%. Respondents were also asked about their experience of discrimination and harassment. Discrimination was reported by 7% of all Scots but by 10% of Catholics and Christians other than Church of Scotland, and by 21% of non-Christians. For harassment the national average was 6% but 14% among non-Christians. Further information is contained in tables 2.2, 4.18, and 4.19 and in figure 2.1 at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/08/7973/downloads

The majority of marriages in Scotland in 2013 were solemnized in civil ceremonies, as they have been in every year since 2005. The proportion now stands at three times the level it did in 1946-50. The principal reason why ‘religious’ weddings remain reasonably common, at 49% in 2013, is that the total is inflated by those conducted by humanist and other ‘non-religious’ celebrants, a practice which is legal in Scotland, but not yet in England and Wales. Indeed, representatives of the Humanist Society of Scotland alone officiated at 3,185 marriages in Scotland in 2013, not far short of the 4,616 celebrated by Church of Scotland ministers. If humanist and other belief weddings are excluded, then the proportion which might be considered ‘religious’, on a more conventional definition of organized religion, is reduced to 37%, the equivalent figure in 1946-50 being 83%. The fall in religious marriages has been absolute as well as relative. Whereas in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War there were an average of 35,700 per annum, there were just 10,300 in 2013, on a like-for-like basis. Weddings conducted in the Kirk have more than halved in the decade 2003-13. Details are provided in Vital Events Reference Tables 7.5, 7.6, and 7.7, published by the General Register Office for Scotland on 14 August 2014 at:

http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/general/ref-tables/2013/section-7-marriages-and-civil-partnerships.html

Trust in religious institutions

Surveys have consistently demonstrated that the under-25s are the least religious of all age groups, regardless of the measure of religiosity which is used. New research from Survation for Sky News, based on 1,004 online interviews with Britons aged 16-24 on 21-26 August 2014, has now revealed that they also tend to mistrust religious institutions, relative to other national institutions. The question asked was: ‘which of the following institutions do you trust to address your concerns/needs?’ Topline results are summarized in the table below. Distrust in religious institutions was especially high among prospective UKIP voters and residents of Wales, Scotland, and Southern England outside London (the capital itself recording 43% trust). For more detail, see tables 42-49 at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Sky-Youth-Poll-Tables.pdf

%

Trust

Not trust

National Health Service

78

22

Police

66

34

Social services

53

47

Local authorities

52

48

Judiciary

42

58

Government/Parliament

31

69

Religious institutions

31

69

Mainstream media

18

82

 

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More Islamic State Polling and Other News

 

Islamic State

Further polls (conducted online, unless otherwise stated) have been carried out during the past week to probe public opinion on the escalating crisis brought about by the progress of the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of the Iraq and Levant and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Iraq and Syria and by the brutalities which it is perpetrating. Here, for space reasons, we report topline findings only, although breaks by standard demographics are mostly available through the links shown. Polls are arranged in chronological order of fieldwork, reflecting the dynamism of the situation.

11-13 July 2014 [not published until 18 August 2014]

Just 7% of Britons held a favourable view of IS, compared with 16% in France and 2% in Germany, according to an ICM Research poll for the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya. British fieldwork was carried out by telephone with a sample of 1,000 adults. Opposition to IS was voiced by 64% of Britons, rising to 70% among over-65s, with 29% undecided. Data tables are at:

http://www.icmresearch.com/data/media/pdf/New%20EU%20Members-Combined-July%202014-V3.pdf

and a commentary at:

http://rt.com/news/181076-isis-islam-militans-france/

12-15 August 2014

In an Opinium Research poll for The Observer among 1,963 adults, 64% claimed to have been following very closely or quite closely the conflict between IS and the Iraqi government. There was strong support (85%) for air drops of humanitarian aid to Yazidi refugees in the mountains of northern Iraq and greater endorsement than in some other surveys for non-humanitarian intervention by the UK and other countries. Thus, 51% backed air strikes on IS targets and 45% the provision of weapons and military supplies to the Iraqi army and Kurdish militias in their fight against IS. However, 56% were opposed to sending in UK or other ground troops, with 28% in favour. Data tables are at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/vi_12_08_2014_tables.pdf

15-17 August 2014

A ComRes poll of 2,042 adults for ITV News asked how the British government should respond to IS, taking into account the level of military action necessary to achieve a particular outcome. In reply, 20% suggested that we should attempt to defeat IS in its entirety, 29% that we should seek to prevent IS making further gains, and 30% that Britain should not get involved and leave the situation to run its course (the remaining 21% were undecided). Just over one-third believed the British government should arm Kurdish forces who were fighting IS. Only 24% agreed that Iraqi Christians at risk of persecution should be allowed to come and stay in the UK, with 50% opposed and 26% uncertain. Still fewer, 16%, approved of Iraqi Muslims being admitted into the UK, with 58% disapproving and 26% undecided. Full data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ITV_News_Index_18th_August_2014.pdf

17-18 August 2014

In a YouGov survey for The Times among 1,710 Britons, support for RAF involvement in making humanitarian air drops to assist refugee religious minorities in Iraq and for direct air strikes by the RAF against IS targets was unchanged from previous polls, at three-quarters and two-fifths respectively. However, approval of Britain supplying arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS was, at 35%, seven points up from 11-12 August. The country was divided about whether Iraqi Christians who had been rendered homeless by the conflict should be offered asylum in Britain, 39% being in favour and the same proportion against. Approval dropped to 29% when it came to possible asylum being given to non-Christian Iraqis, with 46% of adults opposed. Full data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/a1eg1742l1/Times_Results_140818_Iraq_questions_1_to_6_W.pdf

18-19 August 2014

In its next poll, YouGov asked 2,036 Britons to rank three current crises from three different perspectives. These were the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza; between IS and the Iraqi government; and between pro-Russia separatists and the Ukrainian government. The crisis around IS was assessed as the most serious of the three, 58% viewing it as the greatest threat to Britain, 52% as the greatest threat to world peace, and 41% as the crisis they most cared about personally. The Gaza situation was seen as the smallest of the three threats to Britain (10%) and world peace (18%), although 33% rated it as the issue they were most concerned about themselves. Data tables are at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/e0demldomi/InternalResults_140819_Israel_Gaza_Palestine_W.pdf

20-21 August 2014

Iraq has dominated the news agenda during the past week, according to a Populus poll of 2,018 Britons. The top two news stories were recalled as Iraq and IS (reported by 21% of interviewees) and the murder of American photo-journalist James Foley by an IS (possibly British) jihadist (19%). The Israeli-Palestinian war was relegated to third place (8%), with unspecified conflicts in the Middle East in tenth position on 2%.

20-21 August 2014

YouGov, on the basis of interviews with 2,028 Britons on behalf of The Times Red Box, reported that 83% had heard of the existence of a video apparently showing the beheading of James Foley by an IS jihadist, with a further 3% unsure whether they had or not. Among this sub-sample of 1,777, 47% had seen a still from the video in the media, 30% had seen or heard an extract from the video, and 3% had watched the whole video. Although 56% supported the media’s right to report these kinds of videos, 43% did not think that any part of them should be shown by social media or media organizations, with a further 32% wanting to see them shown but with the actual killing edited out. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/j8pj9g07z2/InternalResults_140821_american_journalist_video.pdf

21-22 August 2014

In its poll of 1,866 adults for The Sunday Times, support for RAF air drops of humanitarian aid for people fleeing IS remained high, on 77%, with a plurality of 45% approving of RAF strikes against IS. There was less enthusiasm for Britain supplying arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS (37%) and for British troops being sent to train such forces (30%). The public took a tough line against British subjects fighting with IS; in such circumstances 76% wished to see British citizenship revoked for individuals who held dual nationality or had been naturalized (which the government is empowered to do), while 68% wanted the law changed to enable those with only British nationality to be stripped of their citizenship. Just 35% desired Britain to give asylum to displaced Iraqi Christians, which was four points down on the figure for 17-18 August, although it was higher than the 23% who felt that the group of Afghan Sikh illegal immigrants found suffocating in a container at Tilbury docks recently should be given asylum (53% wanted them sent home). Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/8wj4hu4alm/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140822-2.pdf

Evangelical neighbourliness

Are We Good Neighbours? is the latest in a series of reports deriving from the Evangelical Alliance’s research panel. Like all the others since 2011, it is based on an opportunity sample of self-selecting respondents, in this case 1,497 self-defining evangelicals who completed an online questionnaire in February 2014. Therefore, the study is potentially unrepresentative of evangelical churchgoers and its results should be regarded as illustrative only. The report can be found at:

http://www.eauk.org/church/resources/snapshot/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=52910

The scope of what is considered to be neighbourly in the survey is fairly wide, but there are some questions about neighbours in the next-door sense (as well as about more general ‘Good Samaritan’ behaviours of panellists and their churches). The answers revealed that, within the past week, 68% had chatted with someone in their street; 45% had prayed for a neighbour without letting them know (with 12% praying for a neighbour who was aware of the fact); 23% had welcomed a neighbour into their own home; and 21% had been inside a neighbour’s home. Neighbours were most commonly turned to when practical help was required: to take in a parcel (86%); to look after the home, plants, or pets while the owner was away (45%); and to hold a spare key to the dwelling in the event of getting locked out (42%). One-quarter reported that they were regularly supporting a neighbour who was lonely, ill or otherwise in need. However, two-thirds thought that people in the UK are not such good neighbours as they used to be.

More unexpectedly, perhaps, the questionnaire extended to politics, 91% of evangelicals claiming to almost always or always vote in elections for local councillors, which is apparently well above the national average (overall turnout in the 2014 local elections was only 35%). More than half (56%) claimed to know the names of their local councillors, and 38% had contacted them or a council department within the past year. On national political issues, 74% said they would feel unhappy if Scotland became independent of the rest of the UK, 73% feeling the same way about Wales and 64% about Northern Ireland. Just a plurality (46%) expressed unhappiness at the prospect of Britain departing the European Union, with 34% in favour of leaving and 20% neutral. The Evangelical Alliance’s current survey (closing date 15 September 2014) is actually focused on the broader political views and engagement of evangelicals, with the intention of generating data to inform the May 2015 general election debates.

GCSE results

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) published the Summer 2014 GCSE results for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland on 21 August 2014. The outcome for Religious Studies (RS) and all subjects is summarized in the table below:

 

Full course

Short course

Religious Studies

All entrants 2014

282,099

123,393

All entrants 2013

263,988

174,364

% change

+6.9

-29.2

% female entrants

53.7

48.5

% A*-C grades

71.5

56.8

All subjects

All entrants 2014

5,217,573

189,995

All entrants 2013

5,445,324

274,017

% change

-4.2

-30.7

% female entrants

51.1

49.2

% A*-C grades

68.8

56.4

Although combined entries for the full and short course GCSE in RS were down by 7.5% on the previous year, this was entirely a function of the progressive demise of short courses generally, following a range of curriculum and examination reforms under the present government. Full course entries in RS were actually up by 6.9% even though entries for all full course GCSEs were down by 4.2%, with – on one reading of the data – more than one-third of those who in a previous year might have taken the short course in RS electing to take the full course instead. Those sitting the full course in RS were also 2.7% more likely to achieve a ‘good’ grade (defined as A*-C) than in all subjects. Much more detail is available at:

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

 

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Islamic State and Other News

 

Islamic State

According to opinion polling published in the past week, the British public is becoming uneasy about the advances being made by the armed forces of the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) in northern Iraq, its brutal persecution of ethno-religious minorities there, and the humanitarian crisis left in its wake.

A ComRes survey for ITV News, conducted online on 12 August 2014 among 1,088 adult Britons, found that 84% blamed IS for the current situation in Iraq. The same proportion wanted Britain to send humanitarian aid to the Yazidis then trapped by IS on Mount Sinjar, with 73% wishing to see British helicopters used to airlift them to safety. A plurality (45%) supported British fighter planes making airstrikes on the Islamists (which have yet to happen), but there was much less appetite (18%) for British troops becoming embroiled in ground combat against them. The potential fate of the Iraqi Christian community was a particular cause for concern, no fewer than 50% (including 62% of the over-65s) wanting Britain to give asylum to those currently at risk of death, even though no numbers were specified, just 29% being against. Full tables for these and other ComRes questions on Iraq are located at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ITV_News_Iraq_Crisis_Snap_Poll_12th_August_2014.pdf

YouGov has conducted three polls, all online among samples of adults aged 18 and over: on 10-11 August 2014 (n = 1,676), 11-12 August 2014 (n = 1,942, for The Times), and 14-15 August 2014 (n = 2,019, for The Sunday Times). They revealed strong backing (around three-quarters) for the RAF’s involvement in the airlifting of humanitarian aid to members of religious minorities fleeing the Islamists, with a plurality of around two-fifths approving of RAF airstrikes against IS (albeit a majority backed similar action being taken by the Americans). However, only 28% endorsed the supply of arms by Britain to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS, with 44% opposed, and no more than one-fifth favoured the engagement of British and American ground troops against IS (58% disapproving). A potential British offer of asylum to ‘some of the Yazidi people’ was less popular than in the ComRes poll in respect of Iraqi Christians, approval running at 34% and disapproval at 46%. Two-thirds discerned IS to be a major or moderate threat to Britain itself. YouGov data tables are available as follows:

10-11 August 2014:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/2a3r3j0yj4/InternalResults_140811_Iraq_aid_and_air_strikes_W.pdf

11-12 August 2014:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/3otq667g5p/Times_Results_140812_Iraq_aid_and_air_strikes_W.pdf

14-15 August 2014:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/bm0fuq6bgy/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140815.pdf

A Level results

This summer’s A Level results for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland were published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) on 14 August 2014. Entrants for Religious Studies (RS) numbered 24,213, a rise of 3.7% over the previous year, notwithstanding a 2.0% reduction in those for all subjects. RS entries represented 2.9% of all A Levels sat. RS A Level candidates were preponderantly female (69.3%), compared with the all subject average of 54.4%. The RS pass rate (at grades A*-E) in RS was 98.5%, half a point above the figure for all A Levels, with 24.8% gaining A* or A in RS (marginally down on the 25.5% for RS in 2013 and also lower than the 26.0% achieved for all subjects in 2014). Results are further disaggregated by the three home nations. Entries for the AS (Advanced Subsidiary) Level in RS rose even more impressively, by 12.2%, far more than the 5.0% for all AS Level subjects. The full JCQ tables are at:

http://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels

Church of England finance statistics

The Church of England published its national and diocesan finance statistics for 2012 on 14 August 2014, in 25 pages of tables, figures, and commentary, and based on the annual parochial returns (as distinct from the central accounts of the Church Commissioners, which are entirely separate). After three years of deficit, parishes reached break-even point in 2012 through a combination of reductions in expenditure and increased giving. However, donor income, while at a record level, has not kept pace with inflation, being up by just 0.4% on the year (reflecting lower Gift Aid payments from HMRC and slightly fewer regular donors). Full details at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2048371/2012financestatistics.pdf

Church of England clergy survey

The latest issue of the Church Times (15 August 2014, p. 5) reports that YouGov is to carry out an online survey of the background and attitudes of 5,000 Anglican clergy aged 70 and under, randomly selected from Crockford’s Clerical Directory. The poll has been commissioned by Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University in connection with a new series of Westminster Faith Debates on ‘The Future of the Church of England’, to be held in Oxford during the autumn of 2014, in association with Ripon College Cuddesdon and the Church Times. For more information about the programme, go to:

http://faithdebates.org.uk/category/debates/2014-debates/oxford-faith-debates-the-future-of-the-church-of-england/

Attitudes to homosexuality

The past half-century has witnessed a dramatic change in public views of homosexuality in Britain, as recently documented by Ben Clements and Clive Field in  ‘Public Opinion Toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights in Great Britain’, Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 2, Summer 2014, pp. 523-47. Deploying a wide range of attitudinal measures, presented in 31 tables and commentary, they demonstrate some of the key turning-points in this process of liberalization, including the setback brought about by AIDS in the mid-1980s and the rapid improvements in perceptions which have occurred since the Millennium. The abstract and options for accessing the full text of the article are located at:

http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/content/78/2/523.abstract

In line with the journal’s template for contributions to its series of poll trends, the authors reproduce topline data only, for representative probability samples of adult Britons, and with no breaks by standard demographics, including religion (albeit relatively few surveys actually included religious affiliation as a variable). However, two of their tables do have a religion component, based on discontinued series of Gallup data. Table 14 summarizes answers to the question: ‘in your opinion, can a homosexual be a good Christian, Jew, etc. or not?’ In six of seven surveys between 1977 and 1993 around three-quarters answered in the affirmative, and just over one-tenth in the negative. However, much more discomfort was expressed about the appointment of homosexual clergy in six polls from 1977 to 1991 (Table 16), with the plurality (and, in 1986, a majority) opposed. Only in 1991 were more people reconciled to the prospect (49%) than not (41%).

Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain have certainly increased since armed conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted again in Gaza in early July 2014. So much so that, among British Jewry, ‘63% say there may be no future for Jews in UK.’ Thus proclaimed the headline on the front page of the current issue (15 August 2014) of The Jewish Chronicle, the percentage appearing in thick, bold characters almost seven centimetres high. In the relatively brief story which followed, the newspaper explained that: ‘in a straw poll conducted by the JC this week, 150 people were asked: “Since the protests against the war in Gaza began, have you or your friends had a discussion about whether there is a future for Jews in the UK?” Just over 63 per cent answered “yes”’.

More information was revealed in an editorial on p. 28: ‘This week’s front-page story is not something we ever thought would be published. The poll is not scientific; we simply approached 150 people randomly in the street. But it accurately reflects the overwhelming anecdotal evidence of recent weeks. Emphatically, that does not mean that 63 per cent of us are preparing to leave. But it is deeply shocking that the stench of antisemitism is now so pungent that many in our community feel the question has to be asked.’ In an obvious slip of the pen, the editor then proceeded misleadingly to describe the poll as ‘a random sample of British Jews’.

Given that the survey has been widely reported in the online media, in Britain and overseas, thereby acquiring some authority, it is important to recognize that this is little more than a ‘voodoo poll’, to use market research industry jargon, and not necessarily representative of Jewish opinion in the country. The small sample size and inadequate sample selection process undermine its wider validity. This is a useful reminder of the difficulties of gauging the views of religious minorities which are so thinly and/or unevenly spread as not to show up in sufficient numbers in nationally representative sample surveys of all adults.

 

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Baroness Warsi’s Resignation and Other News

 

Baroness Warsi’s resignation

Last Tuesday (5 August 2014), Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from Britain’s coalition government in protest at its response to the crisis in Gaza arising from the latest round of conflict between Israel and Hamas. She had been the first female Muslim member of a UK Cabinet and, in addition to being Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, held the portfolio of Minister for Faith and Communities at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In what appears to be the first test of public reaction on the subject, a plurality (44%) of 1,943 adult Britons questioned online by YouGov for The Sunday Times on 7-8 August 2014 felt that she had been right to resign, with a big difference between Conservatives (27%) on the one hand and Labour voters (58%) and Liberal Democrats (50%) on the other. One-quarter considered she had been wrong to resign (including 46% of Conservatives), with 31% undecided.

Somewhat fewer than endorsed Warsi’s resignation, 33%, wanted to see the British government doing more to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza, with Labourites (48%), Liberal Democrats (42%), and Scots (40%) especially of this view. Just 7% wished to see the government doing more to support Israel. In particular, Israel’s bombing of Gaza is widely and increasingly regarded as unjustified, as the following table shows:

Gaza bombing (%)

Justified

Unjustified

Don’t know

20-21 July 2014

15

51

34

24-25 July 2014

18

52

31

28-29 July 2014

17

52

31

31 July-1 August 2014

17

54

29

3-4 August 2014

15

55

30

7-8 August 2014

17

60

24

Public sympathy with the Palestinians has also increased since the current flare-up in Gaza began early last month, now running at twice the level expressed for the Israelis. However, a steady two-fifths of the British public still feels sympathy for neither side. Trend data are as follows:

Sympathize with (%)

Israelis

Palestinians

Neither

Don’t know

13-14 July 2014

14

20

40

26

20-21 July 2014

14

23

40

23

24-25 July 2014

14

27

41

19

28-29 July 2014

14

27

41

18

31 July-1 August 2014

14

28

40

17

3-4 August 2014

12

30

39

20

7-8 August 2014

16

30

41

13

Full tables for the most recent YouGov poll are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/s41ippsqgi/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140808.pdf

Sunday trading

Resistance to the Sunday opening of shops in England and Wales still persists twenty years after the Sunday Trading Act 1994 brought in greater liberalization of shop hours. This is revealed in a poll by ICM Research for Retail Week in which 1,838 English and Welsh adults were interviewed online on 25-27 July 2014. Asked directly, 26% of respondents thought that shops should not be open at all on Sundays, with 53% disagreeing. However, fewer (17%) expressed the view that shops should be closed on Sundays when the question was put in a more indirect way, regarding future priorities for Sunday trading. And fewer still (13%) claimed never to shop on a Sunday, against 41% who were frequent Sunday shoppers (every week or most weeks) and 42% more occasional ones. Among those who ever shopped on a Sunday, supermarkets (71%), garden centres (33%), and home or DIY stores (31%) were the most frequently visited venues. Support for a change in the law to enable large shops to open on Sundays for more than the present six hours was voiced by 48% (rising to 55% among under-45s), 31% being opposed, with 17% rejecting the call for longer opening hours on religious grounds. An account of the survey was published in Retail Week on 1 August 2014, which is available online for subscribers only. Topline results can be accessed without restriction in the form of a slide pack at:

http://www.icmresearch.com/data/media/pdf/Sunday%20Trading%20Poll%20July_August%202014_29.07.14.pdf

Religion and the European Union

Few in Europe or the UK view religion as a major component of the European Union (EU), according to the initial results of Standard Eurobarometer wave 81.4, conducted by TNS Opinion and Social among adults aged 15 and over in all 28 member states, including face-to-face interviews with 1,373 in the UK between 31 May and 14 June 2014. Asked which of twelve issues most created a feeling of community among EU citizens, only 9% in the UK and in the EU overall selected religion, culture scoring most highly (29% and 27% respectively), with sport in second place in the UK (25%). Religion was positioned bottom of the table in the EU and equal second bottom in the UK, somewhat ahead of solidarity with poorer regions (5%). Similarly, when it came to which of twelve values best represented the EU, religion came bottom of the list in the EU and second bottom in the UK, with 3% each (only self-fulfilment being regarded as less significant in the UK). Peace was considered by far the most important value in the EU (37%) but was pipped to the top spot by human rights in the UK (41%). A maximum of three answers was permitted to each question. Topline data only are available at present at:

http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb81/eb81_anx_en.pdf

Scottish Gods

Steve Bruce’s latest book, Scottish Gods: Religion in Modern Scotland, 1900-2012 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014, xi + 244p., £70, ISBN 978 0 7486 8289 8), is an elegantly-written and stimulating social history of, and sociological commentary on, religion in twentieth- and early twenty-first century Scotland, charting both progressive secularization and religious diversification. It does not aspire to provide a fully comprehensive account of the Scottish religious scene, being essentially a series of case studies along ‘confessional’ or thematic lines. These are successively devoted to: the islands of Lewis, Orkney, and Shetland; the Roman Catholic Church; Protestant sectarianism; the Church of Scotland; the Free Church and the Free Presbyterian Church; the New Churches; the Buddhists of Samye Ling; the Findhorn Community; Muslims; and sex and Scottish politics.

Although statistics are quoted throughout, this is not a heavily quantitative work (and doubtless all the more readable and less dull for that). The single most cited quantitative source is the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey for 2001, which included a module on religion and belief, which (sadly) has not been replicated since. The volume also draws quite heavily on the results of the religion question in the 2001 census of population; the (relative to England and Wales) belated and still incomplete publication of Scottish religion data from the 2011 census meant that Bruce could not accommodate them in the main text, but he does discuss them in a two-page addendum. There is also a statistical appendix containing eight tables, as well as seven further tables distributed across individual chapters, the original plan for a much longer appendix of statistics being dropped in view of the existence of BRIN (whose achievement is fulsomely acknowledged). The preface holds out the promise of companion volumes on English Gods and Welsh Gods.

Future of Jewish community research

The future of the Community Research Unit of the Board of Deputies of British Jews is under review, according to the latest issue of the Jewish Chronicle (8 August 2014, p. 14). This follows the departure for a new job of its senior researcher, Daniel Vulkan, after almost nine years in the role. The Board has apparently held talks with the Institute of Jewish Policy Research on continuation of the Unit’s work. The Unit has traditionally collected and analysed key data relating to British Jewry, including preparation of an annual survey of Jewish births, marriages, divorces, and burials, as well as publishing regular reports on synagogue membership and Jewish day schools, and conducting research on behalf of other Jewish communal organizations.

 

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Religious Self-Identification and Other News

 

Religious self-identification

The current issue of Religion (Vol. 44, No. 3, 2014) is a special theme issue on ‘Making Sense of Surveys and Censuses: Issues in Religious Self-Identification’, guest-edited by Abby Day and Lois Lee. It contains a number of contributions which will be of interest to BRIN readers, and these are detailed below (there are also three other papers on exclusively non-British topics). All can be accessed (via institutional subscription or pay-per-view options) through the journal issue homepage at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rrel20/44/3#.U94fmTZwbX4

Abby Day and Lois Lee, ‘Making Sense of Surveys and Censuses: Issues in Religious Self-Identification’ (pp. 345-56) – This provides a general introduction to the theme issue and summarizes the individual chapters. It also draws upon Day’s own research into the religion question in the 2001 UK census of population and upon her involvement in discussions with the Office for National Statistics regarding the 2011 and 2021 censuses.

Clive Field, ‘Measuring Religious Affiliation in Great Britain: The 2011 Census in Historical and Methodological Context’ (pp. 357-82) – This traces the history of the measurement of religious affiliation in Britain from the Reformation to the present day, with particular reference to the contribution of the Churches, the State, and empirical social science. Nominal affiliation is shown to have been universal until the time of the French Revolution and preponderant until as late as the 1980s. The phenomenon of religious ‘nones’ has emerged since the latter date, but its extent today is dependent upon the way each question about religious affiliation is formulated. Alternative question-wordings are revealed to lead to wide variations in the results obtained. There are twelve tables.

Conrad Hackett, ‘Seven Things to Consider When Measuring Religious Identity’ (pp. 396-413) – The author offers seven suggestions for those wishing to describe and understand religious identity using survey data. He draws upon a range of American and international examples to illustrate his arguments. One section (pp. 402-4) attempts to explain the apparent discrepancy in religious affiliation results between the 2010 Annual Population Survey in England and Wales and the 2011 census of population.

Serena Hussain and Jamil Sherif, ‘Minority Religions in the Census: The Case of British Muslims’ (pp. 414-33) – The article considers the benefits for religious groups of having census data on religion, and for Muslims in particular. Much space is given over to the successful campaign (involving, among others, the Muslim Council of Britain) to persuade Government to field a religion question in the 2001 census; to the profile of Muslims which emerged from the 2001 and 2011 censuses, not least concerning disadvantage; and to the public policy and media impacts of such data, including perceived Islamophobic responses to the results of the 2011 census. The authors conclude with a brief expression of concern about the potentially negative effects for publicly available data on religion of the proposed changes in the methodology for the 2021 UK census.

Martin Stringer, ‘Evidencing Superdiversity in the Census and Beyond’ (pp. 453-65) – The concept of ‘superdiverse’ communities, as originally defined by Steve Vertovec, is explored through the lens of religion and other census statistics for England and Wales, with particular reference to Birmingham. The discussion is somewhat inconclusive, partly because the full range of local census data was not available to the author at the time of writing, but the conclusion appears to be that a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures will be necessary to differentiate ‘superdiverse’ from simply ‘diverse’ communities. The paper will probably make most sense when read alongside Stringer’s book Discourses on Religious Diversity (Ashgate, 2013).

Lois Lee, ‘Secular or Nonreligious? Investigating and Interpreting Generic “Not Religious” Categories and Populations’ (pp. 466-82) – The author uses qualitative, ethnographic research among self-identifying non-religious in Cambridge and Greater London to investigate what non-religious categories actually measure, specifically whether they indicate non-affiliation or disaffiliation or an alternative form of cultural affiliation. The widespread assumption that such categories merely denote secularity or secularization is questioned, many who subscribe to non-religious categories identifying with substantive (albeit diverse) non-religious and spiritual cultures. Distinctions between religious and non-religious categories as, respectively, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ are thus flattened. The paper is somewhat jargon-ridden.

Vivianne Crowley, ‘Standing Up To Be Counted: Understanding Pagan Responses to the 2011 British Censuses’ (pp. 483-501) – Although the number of people self-identifying as Pagan increased between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, from 44,000 to 85,000, many Pagans remain reluctant to declare their Paganism, and census statistics of Pagans thus fall below those from other sources. The paper principally reports the results of an online questionnaire completed by 1,706 Pagans in Britain in May-June 2013 who were recruited via ‘snowballing/viral methods’, the sample consequently being ‘skewed heavily towards those well-networked Pagans who are active in e-groups, rather than those whose community links are weaker and more diffuse’. Respondents were asked about how they had handled the 2011 census question on religion and about their motivations for doing so. Overall, 85% recollected that they had written in Pagan on the census form, the remainder opting for another religion category (including none), not answering the census question, or being unable to say what they had done two years before. Crowley concludes that: ‘The census is not a good instrument for measuring the number of Pagans in Britain, particularly when based on household rather than individual forms.’

2021 census

On 18 July 2014 the Government, under the signature of Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office), gave its response to the National Statistician’s recommendations for taking the 2021 population census. It accepted the proposal to have a predominantly online census in that year supplemented by more extensive use of administrative and survey data. However, Government made it clear that its support for this dual-track approach was restricted to 2021 and that its ‘ambition is that censuses after 2021 will be conducted using other sources of data and providing more timely statistical information’. The exact content of the 2021 census has still to be determined, so it is not yet definite that a question on religion will be included for a third time.

Christians, sex, and marriage

The UK’s practising Christians mostly continue to uphold a ‘traditional’ view of Christian marriage but are far from being strait-laced or immune from marital failure. This is according to a new survey by Christian Research on behalf of Christian Today, published on 30 July 2014, and for which 1,401 churchgoers and church leaders were interviewed online on 28-30 June 2014. More than two-thirds said that Christians should not cohabit before marriage. About four-fifths felt it important to marry another Christian, and of those who were married, a similar proportion had done so. Nearly seven in ten thought their spouse or partner had been specially ‘put aside’ for them by God, and almost half had explicitly looked for their ideal partner in a Christian context. Although two-thirds believed that personal desire did not need to translate into the sex act, more than seven in ten agreed that ‘my spouse/partner and I love the physical part’. Some 12% reported that their relationships had failed, in that they were either divorced or separated or remarried after divorce. A surprisingly high 0.6% of practising Christians claimed to be in civil partnerships, which only came into effect in December 2005, and this was the lead finding from the poll in the Christian Today coverage (there are currently no data tables in the public domain), which is at:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/one.in.200.churchgoers.in.same.sex.relationships/39175.htm

Ex-Anglican Catholic Priests

Research by Professor Linda Woodhead and Fr Christopher Jamison, reported in the current issue of The Tablet (2 August 2014, p. 32), suggests that 389 Catholic priests in England and Wales are former Anglican clergy, most of them believed to be working in Catholic parishes and chaplaincies, and a very large proportion of them married. The figure is approaching one-tenth of all active Catholic priests, secular or religious, in England and Wales. Of the 389, it is estimated that 250 left the Church of England between 1994 (when the first women were ordained in that Church) and 2000, 52 from 2001 to the present, with a further 87 joining the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham following its establishment in 2011. The report is online at:

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/1028/0/new-figures-show-almost-400-catholic-priests-were-anglicans

Muslim heroes

Today marks the centenary of Britain’s entry into the First World War. It is an appropriate moment to remember the service and sacrifice of millions from Britain and its then Empire who supported the war effort in the front line and on the home front. Among them were 400,000 Muslims, preponderantly from the then unpartitioned India (covering the area of the present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), who fought in the British armed forces, alongside 800,000 Hindus and 100,000 Sikhs. Few contemporary British citizens are aware of the strength of this Muslim contribution to the First World War, according to the results of an ICM Research poll for the British Future think tank which were released on 2 August 2014 to coincide with the Living Islam festival. Asked to estimate how many Muslims fought with Britain in the First World War, only 2% correctly placed the number between 250,000 and 500,000. Another 600,000 Muslims fought in the Second World War.

Islamic terrorism

Almost half (46%) of the population view Islamic terrorism as a critical threat to Britain, according to an opinion poll by YouGov, conducted online on 31 July and 1 August 2014 among 2,083 adults aged 18 and over. The proportion rose to 71% of UKIP voters, 60% with the over-60s, and 59% for Conservatives. A further 33% regarded Islamic terrorism as an important but not critical threat to Britain, bringing to 79% the figure for those deeming it some kind of serious threat (and 92% or 93% for Conservatives, UKIP supporters, and over-60s). Just 2% (peaking at 8% of 18-24s and 6% of Londoners) saw it as no threat at all, with another 10% assessing it as only a minor threat. Islamic terrorism was seen as a greater danger to Britain than Russia’s military in the post-Ukraine crisis world; 11% viewed Russia as a critical threat and 47% as an important but not critical threat. Data tables can be found at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/1hdxa38zho/InternalResults_140801_NATO_W.pdf

Anti-Semitic incidents

The Community Security Trust announced on 31 July 2014 that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the first six months of the year was, at 304, 36% up on the January-June 2013 figure. The reasons for the increase are unclear, since no specific ‘trigger event’ occurred during that half-year, but the Trust speculates that improved reporting of incidents as well as more anti-Semitism both contributed to the trend. Naturally excluded from the data are incidents registered in July 2014, over 130 of them in what the Trust describes as ‘the second worst outburst’ of anti-Semitism in recent memory, and largely linked to the ongoing Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza. Antisemitic Incidents Report, January-June 2014 can be downloaded from:

http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Incidents%20Report%20Jan%20-%20June%202014.pdf

 

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Women in the Church and Other News

 

Women in the Church

Prompted by the recent debate (and decisive vote) about women bishops in the Church of England’s General Synod, Opinium Research resolved to test public opinion about several facets of the role of women in the Church. Questions were put to an online sample of 2,003 UK adults on 11-14 July 2014, with the results being published on 15 July. Key data are tabulated below for meaningfully-sized demographic sub-groups (unfortunately, some sub-groups, including regular churchgoers, had too few cases to be statistically reliable).

Q1.0 Women should be allowed to become bishops in the Church of England

% across

Agree

Disagree

Neither/

don’t know

All

56

7

37

Men

52

8

41

Women

60

6

34

18-34

52

4

43

35-54

57

7

37

55+

58

9

33

Anglican

62

7

31

Catholic

42

15

42

No religion

58

3

39

Q1.1 Women should be allowed to become clergy in the Roman Catholic Church 

% across

Agree

Disagree

Neither/

don’t know

All

53

8

40

Men

49

9

42

Women

56

6

37

18-34

51

7

42

35-54

56

7

37

55+

51

9

40

Anglican

56

6

38

Catholic

48

24

28

No religion

54

4

43

Q1.2 The ordination of women is not consistent with Christian teaching

% across

Agree

Disagree

Neither/

don’t know

All

21

30

49

Men

25

25

50

Women

18

35

47

18-34

27

19

54

35-54

22

30

48

55+

15

40

45

Anglican

20

36

44

Catholic

36

24

41

No religion

15

30

55

Q1.3 Gender equality in religious organisations should be enforced by law

% across

Agree

Disagree

Neither/

don’t know

All

38

20

42

Men

35

22

42

Women

40

18

42

18-34

41

14

45

35-54

41

17

42

55+

32

28

40

Anglican

40

20

40

Catholic

27

35

37

No religion

40

13

46

Q1.4 Whether or not women are allowed to become priests or bishops is an important issue for the 21st century  

% across

Agree

Disagree

Neither/

don’t know

All

46

14

40

Men

40

17

43

Women

52

10

37

18-34

43

11

46

35-54

45

14

41

55+

50

15

34

Anglican

55

10

34

Catholic

49

23

29

No religion

39

16

45

Q1.5 Whether or not women should be ordained as clergy is entirely a matter for each Christian denomination to decide

% across

Agree

Disagree

Neither/

don’t know

All

44

15

40

Men

46

12

41

Women

43

18

40

18-34

35

17

49

35-54

44

16

40

55+

53

13

34

Anglican

53

11

36

Catholic

58

18

25

No religion

32

21

48

At first sight, these results may seem a little surprising. Given the legislative and other strides taken toward gender equality in Britain, otherwise reflected in strong support in public opinion polling, the fact that, at best, only a slim majority appears to favour a greater role for women in the Church strikes one as odd. But the solution to the puzzle lies in the very substantial numbers unable to express a view on the matters surveyed (Q1.2 being a particular case in point), often, one imagines, because they considered themselves insufficiently well-informed to make a judgment or because they were indifferent to the issue. This is a phenomenon characteristic of a lot of polling on religion (see, also, the item on disestablishment, below).

Beyond that, females tended to endorse a stronger role for women in the Church than males, but the effect of age was less consistent save the disproportionate tendency of the 18-34s not to take sides. Anglicans were generally more favourable than Catholics to women assuming more responsibility in Church life, albeit almost half the latter endorsed women priests. People of no religion were only marginally more likely to take a gender diversity stance than the average, and they were disproportionately to be found among those registering as neutral or don’t know.

The full data are available at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4677_opinium_pr_women_bishops_external.pdf

British values

The so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ plot in Birmingham schools recently triggered a political debate about the need to instil ‘British values’ in our children and citizens more generally. In BRIN’s post of 28 June 2014 we noted an initial attempt by ComRes on 11-13 June to define those values, by offering a representative sample of Britons a list of twelve candidate values, from which they were asked to select the most important. They included religious freedom (which was actually ranked tenth in significance).

Subsequently, on 25-27 June 2014, ICM Research (on behalf of British Future) proposed an alternative list of ten items to its online sample of 2,030 adults aged 18 and over. On this occasion, respondents were not specifically asked to rank them but to identify any which they deemed a ‘British value’. Respect for other people’s religion and beliefs was so regarded by 52% (with highs of 67% among the over-65s and 62% for the top AB social group), placing it in seventh position. The most prized British value was respect for the law (69%) and the least respect for MPs and others in elected office (18%). Data tables are at:

http://www.icmresearch.com/data/media/pdf/British%20Future-British-Values-June%202014-V2.pdf

Disestablishment

Only one-third of Britons think the official link between the Church of England and the state is good for Britain, according to a survey by ComRes for ITV News on 27-29 June 2014, for which 2,049 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online. Support was greatest among the over-65s (41%), the top (AB) social group (40%), and retired people with a private pension (42%); it was least in Scotland (19%). The link was considered bad by 29% overall, peaking at 35% for men and in Wales and at 42% in Scotland. The remaining 38% of respondents were unable to express any view on the matter, rising to 46% in the case of the 18-24s and lowest (DE) social group, thereby reinforcing the impression from other polls that indifference and ignorance effectively help to shore up the current establishment of the Church. Full data tables can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ITV_News_Index_EU__30th_June_2014.pdf

Gay cake row

The Christian Institute has taken up the case of the Christian family-run bakery in Belfast (Ashers Baking Company) which has been threatened with prosecution by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland for its refusal to decorate a cake promoting same-sex marriage (which is not legal in the province). This followed a complaint against the business lodged by a gay activist. In pursuit of its campaign, the Institute commissioned ComRes to pose several questions to an online sample of 2,007 Britons on 16-17 July 2014, the results being published on 23 July.

Three-fifths of respondents thought the Commission had acted in a disproportionately heavy-handed way, with just 14% dissenting. A plurality (45%) agreed with the suggestion that ‘Christian-run businesses appear to be being singled out unfairly by gay activists in order to make an example of them’, and this was especially felt by men (54%), Conservatives (55%), the over-65s (62%), and UKIP voters (66%). One-quarter disagreed with the proposition (including one-third of under-35s and of Labourites and Liberal Democrats and 38% of Scots), while 30% voiced no opinion. Full results can be located at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/CI_Bakery_Poll_July_2014.pdf

 

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British Academy Recognition and Other News

 

BRIN secures British Academy recognition

The British Academy, the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences, announced on 23 July 2014 that BRIN is to be one of fine new Academy Research Projects in the social sciences. Following an open and peer-review-based competition, BRIN has been awarded funding for five years in the first instance, with the potential for further support thereafter. BRIN and the four other projects ‘have been recognised for the excellence of their scholarship, and the promise and exciting nature of their programmes’. The British Academy’s announcement can be found at:

http://www.britac.ac.uk/news/news.cfm/newsid/1123

Ipsos Global Trends Survey, 2014

Britain has often been placed toward the bottom of international league tables of religiosity, and this continues to be the case according to the newly-published inaugural Ipsos MORI Global Trends Survey, 2014. Fieldwork was undertaken online in 20 developed and developing countries in two waves (3-17 September and 1-15 October 2013) among a sample of adults aged 16/18-64 (thereby excluding the over-65s, who tend to be the most religious cohort, as well as the group least likely to use the internet). Britain was ranked sixteenth in terms of identification of its citizens with any religion or faith (57% against the unweighted global mean of 71%), and sixteenth equal for the personal importance of religion/faith (27%, with 64% of Britons saying it was not important to them). It was also fifth equal for agreement with the statement that ‘organised religion is not for me’ (72%, with just 21% dissenting and 7% uncertain). The most consistently religious of the nations investigated were Argentina, Brazil, India, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States. Topline results can be extracted from the survey website at:

http://www.ipsosglobaltrends.com

Prospects for religious revival

In an important new article, ‘Late Secularization and Religion as Alien’, published on 17 July 2014, Steve Bruce of the University of Aberdeen argues that it is ‘sociologically implausible’ that secularization could be reversed in the UK since there are too many obstacles to ‘religious revival’, whether of Christianity or other creeds. In particular, ‘the shared stock of religious knowledge is small, the public reputation of religion is poor, and religion is carried primarily by populations that are unusual in being drawn either from a narrow demographic or from immigrant peoples’. These ‘carriers of religion’ in the UK have been allegedly reduced to elderly women, residents of rural peripheries, Poles, West Africans, and Muslims, leading to the conclusion that ‘religion is now alien’. ‘Being religious is no longer a characteristic that is thinly but fairly evenly distributed throughout the population: it is concentrated in specific minority populations, which reinforces the sense that religion is what other people do.’ The article is published in Open Theology, Vol. 1, 2014, pp. 13-23 and available for free download at:

http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/opth.2014.1.issue/issue-files/opth.2014.1.issue.xml

No religion hotspots

In a recent post on the Nonreligion & Secularity blog, dated 21 July 2014, Katherine Sissons of the University of Oxford explores the potential of DataShine, a data visualization tool developed at University College London, for the study of the distribution of no religion in the 2011 census: ‘“Godless Cities” and “Religious Enclaves”? The Distribution of Religion and Nonreligion in England and Wales’. She cautions against an over-simplistic interpretation of the data, noting that, although there are some apparent no religion urban ‘hotspots’ (such as Brighton and Norwich), religious and non-religious populations are generally not as spatially segregated as is often assumed, with, for example, above average levels of irreligion occurring in several more rural areas, such as large parts of Wales, East Anglia, and the South-West. The post can be read at:

http://blog.nsrn.net/2014/07/21/godless-cities-and-religious-enclaves-the-distribution-of-religion-and-nonreligion-in-england-and-wales/

Churches and social capital

‘The Church in England reaches approximately 10 million people each year through its community activities, even excluding “familiar” church activities – Sunday services, Christmas, Easter, Harvest, baptisms, weddings, and funerals.’ So concludes Paul Bickley in a new report prepared by Theos think tank for the Church Urban Fund: Good Neighbours: How Churches Help Communities Flourish. The report itself is largely based on an analysis of twelve case studies of the work of Church of England congregations in areas of high deprivation but is informed by an online survey from ComRes among 2,024 English adults aged 18 and over between 19 and 21 February 2014.

Respondents in the national study were first asked to select from a list of community activities and services (i.e. delivered by churches, charities, or voluntary organizations, rather than by private companies or the state) those which they or someone in their immediate family had accessed in the last twelve months. Almost half (48%) reported accessing such activities and services and 43% not. Among those who had taken up the provision, 51% recalled that it had come from a church or a church group (the tables fail to clarify how this figure was calculated). Setting aside weddings or funerals, the majority of this voluntary provision was church-based in only six areas: pastoral support for pub- and club-goers (68%), marriage/relationship advice (64%), food banks (56%), community events such as lunch clubs and cafés (56%), assistance of asylum seekers/migrants (55%), and counselling/befriending services (50%). In the other eleven areas secular agencies predominated.

Good Neighbours can be read at:

http://www.cuf.org.uk/sites/default/files/PDFs/Research/Good%20Neighbours%20Report-CUF-Theos-2014.pdf

and the ComRes data tables at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/Theos_and_Church_Urban_Fund___Churches_in_the_Community___Final_Data___25th_February_2014.pdf

United Reformed Church statistics

The General Assembly of the United Reformed Church met in Cardiff on 3-6 July 2014, and this provides an opportunity to record its latest Britain-wide statistics, which reveal a pattern of decline characteristic of most of the ‘historic’ Free Churches (the United Reformed Church itself evolved after 1972 as a union of several previous denominations). The following table has been abstracted from:

http://www.urc.org.uk/statistics.html

 

2012

2013

% change

Churches

1,512

1,487

-1.7

Active ministers

615

576

-6.3

Retired ministers

900

915

+1.7

Active lay preachers

484

479

-1.0

Serving elders

11,229

10,247

-8.7

Non-serving elders

8,791

8,396

-4.5

Members

61,627

59,077

-4.1

Regular attenders

20,596

19,968

-3.0

Average congregation

61,725

59,828

-3.1

Children associated with Church

44,771

42,076

-6.0

Children worshipping at main service

15,504

15,473

-0.2

Faith and Belief Scotland

Faith and Belief Scotland: A Contemporary Mapping of Attitudes and Provisions in Scotland, by Anthony Allison, is a report on research undertaken in 2013-14 by the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh on behalf of the Equality Unit of the Scottish Government. The project was designed to investigate the compliance of Scottish councils with the Public Sector Equality Duty of The Equality Act 2010 in respect of religion and belief as a protected characteristic. Data-gathering comprised qualitative research in eight council areas and an online national survey completed by 1,407 adults aged 16 and over between December 2013 and March 2014.

Although respondents to the online survey were drawn from all 32 Scottish councils, the method of distribution of the questionnaire (‘through various religion and belief mailing lists and popular social media platforms’) means that the sample cannot be considered as statistically representative. In particular, relative to the results of the 2011 Scottish census, adherents of the Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church appear to be seriously under-represented and non-Christians and those professing no religion to be over-represented.

Nevertheless, the 37 questions in the online survey do yield some interesting findings, including the significant number of people who rejected the Equality Act’s definitions of religion (43%) and belief (38%), seemingly because they incorporate the lack, as well as the existence, of religion and belief. It is also noteworthy that only 7% of respondents regarded Scotland as a Christian country, with 33% viewing it as a post-Christian or secular nation, and 60% as a society of many religions and beliefs. In part reflection of this fact, there was a significant amount of discomfort with religious organizations providing schools (47%), adoption (39%), and foster care (38%), while 47% were opposed to state funding of religion or belief groups (with 34% in favour).

The report can be found at:

http://faithandbelief.div.ed.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Faith-and-Belief-Scotland-FINAL-VERSION-OF-REPORT.pdf

An interactive map, permitting analysis of all 37 questions by gender, religion or belief group, and council is at:

http://faithandbelief.div.ed.ac.uk/fabs/

Anti-Semitism

A spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK has arisen this month as a direct consequence of the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, in much the same way as occurred with the similar conflict in January-February 2009. The Community Security Trust is reporting that the number of incidents in this country is currently running at double the level which would be expected under ‘normal’ circumstances (approximately 100 since 1 July 2014 compared with 58 for the whole of July 2013). Recent YouGov polling (as tabulated below) also indicates that, since Israeli military action commenced on 8 July 2014, Britons have been somewhat and increasingly more sympathetic to the Palestinian than the Israeli cause, although the plurality remains neutral and a substantial minority is undecided.

Sympathize with (%)

13-14/7/14

20-21/7/14

24-25/7/14

Israelis

14

14

14

Palestinians

20

23

27

Neither

40

40

41

Don’t know

26

23

19

 

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Mid-Summer Miscellany

 

Burka

The burka (and thus Islam) has been in the news again during the past week, partly because the European Court of Human Rights has upheld France’s ban on wearing the full face-veil in public (a similar ban also operates in Belgium), and partly because an imam has written to The Times to point out that ‘there is no Koranic mandate for female facial masks’ and to suggest that wearing the burka in public should be made illegal in the UK.

The latest publicity has prompted Opinium Research to test the popular mood in the UK, and the company put several questions to an online sample of 2,004 adults between 4 and 7 July 2014. Topline results are tabulated below, revealing two-thirds of people in favour of banning the burka, similar to other polls in recent years, albeit one-quarter expressed some concern on the grounds of implications for human rights and individual freedoms.

%

Agree

Disagree

Burqa, or full veil, should be banned in public places

68

14

Burqa a predominantly cultural rather than religious requirement

66

8

Banning burqa would give women who wear it less freedom

24

39

Banning burqa would be serious breach of rights of women

26

46

What people wear in public legitimate topic of public debate

62

11

What people wear, even in public, entirely private matter

26

48

Breaks by sex, age, and region, which show over-55s to be most illiberal in their views on all the questions, are also available at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4663_opinium_pr_veils_tables.pdf

Jihadists

The British Muslim community has also been in the headlines because of official confirmation that several hundred of its members have been engaged in jihad in Syria and Iraq, with a proportion of them potentially continuing their struggle on their return to Britain. The news has inevitably led to public concern, as recorded in a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times, for which 1,936 adults were interviewed online on 26-27 June 2014. Two-thirds of respondents felt that there was a serious danger of such jihadists undertaking terrorist attacks in this country, and this view was particularly held by Conservatives (78%), UKIP supporters (87%), and the over-60s (77%); just 17% believed the risk has been exaggerated. Social media have proved an effective vehicle for jihadist propaganda, and 61% were convinced that these media could be doing much more to prevent this happening, with 12% disagreeing and 27% unsure. Similarly, 63% of Britons considered that there was much more which Muslim community leaders could be doing to help the authorities identify young people who might become jihadists, a position again disproportionately taken up by Conservatives (76%), UKIP voters (85%), and the over-60s (74%); only 12% assessed that such leaders were doing all they reasonably could to assist, the remaining 25% expressing no opinion. In answer to a hypothetical question about having a Muslim child (including a convert), 63% said that they would inform the police if he had gone on jihad in Syria, while 8% would not, and 29% were uncertain what they would do. Full data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/s703u4qd5l/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-270614.pdf

Sunday trading

The overwhelming majority of Britons (77%) appear content with the provisions of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, which limits the opening of large shops in England and Wales to a maximum of six hours on a Sunday. This is according to a ComRes poll for the Association of Convenience Stores, released on 1 July 2014, and for which 1,004 adults were interviewed by telephone between 28 and 30 March 2014. The survey was presumably triggered by recent agitation on the part of some of the retail giants to get these restrictions lifted. Support for the status quo was highest in Scotland (86%), to which the law does not apply, but otherwise did not vary much by demographics (including by religious affiliation). Opposition to the six-hour rule was voiced by 20%, peaking at 30% in South-East England, albeit it sprang from a variety of motives. Among this minority, 56% wished to see no Sunday opening of large shops at all, while 23% wanted their hours to be reduced; on the other hand, 5% opted for a small increase in permitted opening hours and 17% for complete deregulation of Sunday trading, enabling large shops to open for as long as they desired. Data tables can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ACS_Public_Sunday_Trading_Tables_31_March_2014.pdf

Church and clergy

In a seminal article in Social Forces in 1994 Mark Chaves sought to redefine secularization as declining religious authority. His reformulation has hitherto been little examined in a British context, but Clive Field has now used it as a framework for considering changing views of Church and clergy: ‘Another Window on British Secularization: Public Attitudes to Church and Clergy since the 1960s’, Contemporary British History, Vol. 28, No. 2, June 2014, pp. 190-218. This is, in effect, a meta-analysis of opinion poll evidence from the last half-century, derived from 125 non-recurrent surveys and 15 time series (incorporating 114 data points). Much comparative information about other institutions and professions is also provided, notably in the twelve tables. The standing of Church and clergy in Britain is shown to have diminished, especially in the 1990s and 2000s, mirroring the net decline in institutional Christianity revealed in performance indicators of church membership, attendance, rites of passage, and affiliation. This loss of status, it is argued, reflects, not merely the passive effects of a secularizing climate, but active disenchantment with policies and practices pursued by Church and clergy, especially in respect of the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church. Access options for the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13619462.2014.923765#.U7cR4DZwbX4

Roman Catholic pastoral statistics

The Catholic Directory of England and Wales has been a standard source of statistical information about the Roman Catholic Church for more than a century. The statistical section was dropped by the editor from the 2013 edition, on the grounds of doubts about the quality of the data, bur reinstated in the 2014 edition (in respect of returns for 2012). Unfortunately, the new data are also flawed, according to the first of three blogs by Tony Spencer of the Pastoral Research Centre (PRC), subjecting the Catholic Directory figures to forensic examination. This first blog, published on 7 June 2014, reviewed the Catholic Directory’s table of Roman Catholic population, highlighting several problems. In brief, two dioceses failed to send in data (so there is no national total); other diocesan returns were incomplete, sometimes as a consequence of the belated or non-cooperation of parish priests; and most dioceses failed to implement adequate data collection and quality control procedures. As a result, Spencer argues, the Catholic population estimates are ‘meaningless and useless’ and ‘utterly misleading’. The claim is demonstrated by reference to the PRC’s own estimates for several dioceses. The Catholic Directory’s figures thereby exemplify the ‘highly dysfunctional statistics regime’ and ‘chaotic arrangements’ operated by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales since 2000-01. Regrettably, according to Spencer, the Catholic hierarchy has thus far ignored all proposals by the PRC to put a more systematic and credible statistics gathering process in hand. The blog can be read at:

http://www.prct.org.uk/

Religious hatred in Scotland

Criminalized religious hatred is declining in Scotland, according to Janine McKenna and Kathryn Skivington, Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland, 2013-14, which was published by Scottish Government Social Research on 13 June 2014. In 2013-14 there were 635 criminal charges relating to religious prejudice in Scotland laid under Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 or Sections 1 and 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. This represented a decrease of 17% on the 2012-13 total and of 29% since 2011-12. The majority of those charged were men (90%) and a plurality (47%) aged 16-30, while in 59% of cases the accused was described by the police as being under the influence of alcohol. The faiths targeted were Roman Catholicism (63%), Protestantism (29%), Islam (8%), and Judaism (2%). Almost half (48%) of victims were police officers. Many cases are still ongoing, but, of those which have already been concluded, 85% resulted in a conviction, with a monetary penalty (39%), community penalty (30%), or a custodial sentence (24%) being the principal resolutions. The report is at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00452559.pdf

 

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