Catholic Family and Other News

 

Catholic family

The Roman Catholic Church’s fortnight-long Extraordinary Synod on the Family ends in Rome today. It has attracted surprisingly little attention in the general (non-Catholic) British media, although its outcomes are now being reported as a victory for conservative forces in the Church, particularly on gay issues. So far as is known, the Synod has not been informed by any scientific test to determine how far British Catholics, professing or practising, are in tune with the Church’s official teaching on family matters. The Church’s own consultation questionnaire, in the autumn of 2013, was something of a public relations disaster, being poorly designed and imperfectly administered; in any case, the findings of this survey in England and Wales and in Scotland have been kept secret. No non-Catholic agency has stepped in to take the pulse of Catholic opinion in the run-up to the Synod, so the latest data which we have of a representative nature are those collected by YouGov for Westminster Faith Debates in June 2013, which revealed a big gap between the hierarchy and people in the pews. The tables from this poll are still available online at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/k0rbt8onjb/YG-Archive-050613-FaithMatters-UniversityofLancaster.pdf

That said, we probably should mention (just about) a global enquiry which has been run by the Catholic weekly The Tablet between 3 and 14 October 2014, via an 18-item open access online questionnaire. This was answered by an entirely self-selecting (and therefore probably quite unrepresentative) sample of more than 4,300 individuals, 57% of them from the United States (where the poll was highlighted on conservative blogs). According to The Tablet, one-quarter of respondents lived in the United Kingdom or Ireland, but their answers are not in the public domain, albeit there is a published tabulation of the views of 84 divorced and remarried British or Irish Catholics, which can be found at:

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/texts-speeches-homilies/4/470/what-you-are-hoping-for-from-the-synod-for-the-family-our-survey-results-in-full-

Islamism (1)

Polling interest in the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria appears to be waning. This is the first weekend in more than two months that The Sunday Times has not included a module of questions about IS in its weekly poll conducted on its behalf by YouGov. Although IS remained the second most noted news story of last week, it attracted just 11% of the vote, compared with 50% for the Ebola outbreak, according to a Populus survey on 15 and 16 October 2014 among an online sample of 2,039 adults. The only other recent poll to note was undertaken online by ComRes for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday, also on 15 and 16 October 2014, with 2,000 respondents. Asked whether the US and UK governments were right to refuse to pay ransoms to terrorist groups such as IS, 60% agreed, 13% disagreed, and 27% did not know what to think. Data tables are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/IoS_SM_Political_Poll_Additional_Questions_19th_October_2014.pdf

Islamism (2)

The Times of 2 October 2014 (p. 13) contained a report on recent research by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), at King’s College London. It was based on a study of 471 male and 54 female jihadists who had travelled to Syria and Iraq, overwhelmingly to join Islamic State (IS) or the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front. Biographical details were gleaned from interviews and social media. Comparative data on 378 German jihadists were obtained from that country’s intelligence service. Key findings from the newspaper coverage of the British research are quoted below, but no further information is currently available on the ICSR website.

‘The UK jihadists tend to be better educated, more affluent and have more social mobility compared to their counterparts in Europe. The typical British fighter was aged 18-24 and had received a sixth-form education, though some had degrees. Before going to the Middle East a majority had an involvement in activist groups focused on global Muslim issues, such as the Palestinian conflict, and many were involved in street-preaching groups. British jihadists tend to have South Asian backgrounds, reflecting the dominant ethnicities within British Islam, while men of North African extraction are the most numerous among mainland European fighters. Some British jihadists had criminal convictions, mostly for drugs or petty crime.’

Religious and ethnic hatred

Asked to select the greatest threat to the world from a list of five current dangers, 39% of Britons put religious and ethnic hatred in first place, with a further 22% placing it second, and still larger numbers of those on the political right. This is according to the results of a question asked in the most recent Pew Global Attitudes survey and released on 16 October 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in 44 countries between March and June 2014, including in Britain where 1,000 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed by telephone from 17 March to 9 April. The report and topline results from the question on world dangers can be read at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2014/10/Pew-Research-Center-Dangers-Report-FINAL-October-16-2014.pdf

The proportion of Britons citing religious and ethnic hatred as the world’s biggest danger in Spring 2014 was actually higher than in all other countries studied apart from Lebanon (58%) and the Palestinian Territories (40%), and it was considerably larger than the European average of 15% and the United States figure of 24%. However, it was somewhat diminished from the levels in Britain in Summer 2002 (43%) and Spring 2007 (45%), which were presumably influenced by the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in, respectively, New York in 2001 (9/11) and London in 2005 (7/7). The growing gap between the rich and the poor was perceived as the greatest global risk for 25% in Britain in 2014, pollution and other environmental problems for 16%, the spread of nuclear weapons for 14%, and AIDS and other infectious diseases for 4%.

Hate crimes: England and Wales

Hate Crimes, England and Wales, 2013/14, by Byron Creese and Deborah Lader, was published as Home Office Statistical Bulletin 02/14 on 16 October 2014. The police recorded 44,480 hate crimes in the year, of which 2,273 (5%) were categorized as religiously motivated, somewhat more than disability hate crimes (1,985) and transgender hate crimes (555) but less than sexual orientation hate crimes (4,622) and race hate crimes (37,484). All five strands demonstrated an increase between 2012/13 and 2013/14, which was partly a function of better reporting and partly of a genuine rise, especially, in the case of race and religion hate crimes (the latter up by 45%, from 1,573), growth following the murder of Lee Rigby in May 2013. Public order offences and criminal damage or arson were the commonest forms of religion hate crimes. The bulletin is at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/364198/hosb0214.pdf

Religion and equality: Scotland

The Scottish Government published on 14 October 2014 an Analysis of Equality Results from the 2011 Census of Scotland. Chapter 3 (pp. 66-98) is devoted to religion and contains 31 charts, 2 figures, and 2 tables, together with brief commentaries thereon. Breaks are given for religion by age, gender, marital status, cohabitation, ethnicity, national identity, country of birth, age of arrival in UK, length of residence in UK, urban/rural classification, English/Scottish language skills, language used at home, dependent children, and health. The report is available at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0046/00460679.pdf

Atheism

Matt Sheard applies prosopographical techniques to autobiographical and oral history sources to produce a partially quantitative profile of non-elite British atheists between 1890 and 1980. He demonstrates that the process of atheization was principally a phenomenon of childhood and adolescence and often associated with weak religious backgrounds. Sheard’s ‘Ninety-Eight Atheists: Atheism among the Non-Elite in Twentieth Century Britain’ was published on 13 October 2014 in the open access journal Secularism and Nonreligion as Vol. 3, Article 6, and is available online at:

http://www.secularismandnonreligion.org/article/view/snr.ar/

Church decline

Ruth Gledhill has covered on Christian Today the recent analysis by Ben Clements on BRIN of religious affiliation data from the first wave of the British Election Study (BES) 2015 panel. She concentrates particularly on the ‘massive decline’ in affiliation over the fifty-year history of BES. She also interviews BRIN co-director David Voas about the prospects for the Churches. He sees immigration as the principal engine of any church growth which is occurring and the failure to recruit the children of churchgoers as the main reason for church declension. Nevertheless, he does not predict the virtual extinction of the Church of England, thinking that the seemingly relentless decline will bottom out at some point. Gledhill’s article is at:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/exclusive.new.figures.reveal.massive.decline.in.religious.affiliation/41799.htm

London knowledge

YouGov polled 1,966 Britons online on 16-17 October 2014 about their attitudes to the restitution of the Elgin Marbles to Greece, prefacing the survey with a series of true or false statements to test the public’s knowledge of London. Whereas 78% correctly identified Sir Christopher Wren as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, fewer (53%) denied that Westminster Abbey is the main Roman Catholic Church in London, 19% thinking that it is. In fact, the Abbey, although of Catholic origin before the Reformation, is now a Royal Peculiar in the Church of England, and Westminster Cathedral is the principal Catholic place of worship in the capital. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/8y47s60k62/InternalResults_141017_London_Elgin_Marbles_Website.pdf

 

Posted in News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion in the Press, Religious Census, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The British Election Study 2015: Religious affiliation and attitudes

This second post, based on analysis of the British Election Study (BES) 2015, looks at selected attitudes of religious groups in Britain. Two waves of panel data (conducted in, respectively, February-March 2014 and April-June 2014) have so far been made available from the BES 2015 for wider analysis. The datasets and accompanying documentation can be found here. As with the first post, this post analyses data from wave 1 of the BES 2015 panel study. The analysis is based on a core sample size of 20,881 and the data are weighted accordingly. This post looks at party support and social attitudes. The party support questions concern how respondents’ voted in the 2005 and 2010 general elections and their current vote intention. The social attitude questions concern equal opportunities for different groups.

 

Party support

First, we can look at the pattern of voting for religious groups at the two most recent general elections, in 2005 and 2010. Data on which party a respondent voted for – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or some other party – are provided in Table 1. The top half of Table 1 shows reported voting behaviour in the 2005 election and the bottom half shows reported voting at the 2010 election. A parsimonious set of religious affiliation categories is used. Befitting, their historical linkages with the party, Anglicans were more likely to support the Conservatives at both recent elections, although the gap over Labour is more pronounced at the 2010 contest. For Catholics, historically seen as a key electoral constituency for the Labour Party, support for Labour was more pronounced at the 2005 contest, while their support for the two largest parties was much closer at the 2010 election. Other Christians, which includes those belonging to the Nonconformist churches and those identifying as Church of Scotland / Presbyterian, show a more balanced picture of Lab-Con party support at both elections, although with voting for Labour more common than supporting the Conservatives.

Those belonging to other religious traditions – another electoral constituency which has traditionally shown a greater propensity to vote for the Labour Party – show higher levels of support for Labour compared to the Conservatives, which was more apparent in 2005. Those with no religion show interesting variation at the two contests. In 2005, they were much more likely to have voted for Labour, but in 2010 the vote shares for Labour and the Conservatives are almost identical. At both elections, those with no religious affiliation register higher levels of support for the Lib Dems compared to all of the religious groups, which may reflect the more youthful demographic profile of the non-religious. The higher level of support for minor parties amongst other Christians partly reflects voting for the Scottish National Party amongst those identifying as Church of Scotland / Presbyterian.

 

Table 1: Voting in the 2005 and 2010 elections by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

2005
Con

42.8

28.7

31.2

29.0

26.2

Lab

36.4

48.1

38.0

47.0

41.1

Lib Dem

16.7

15.7

16.4

17.1

23.5

Other party

4.2

7.5

14.4

7.0

9.2

2010
Con

47.7

34.4

33.0

29.0

29.9

Lab

26.2

39.1

33.7

38.9

29.8

Lib Dem

21.9

19.3

19.2

24.1

32.0

Other party

4.3

7.2

14.1

8.0

8.2

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Are the patterns evident above reflected in the current vote intentions of the religious and non-religious? The following question was used in the BES 2015 to gauge current voting preferences: ‘And if there were a UK General Election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?’ Data are reported in Table 2, using the same sets of categories for party choice and religious affiliation. Anglicans are still more likely to report that they would vote for the Conservatives if a general election were to be held, although a fifth report they would vote for another party, which reflects some level of support for UKIP. Catholics show a strong propensity to support Labour again compared to the Conservatives. Those in the other Christian category show a slightly higher level of support for Labour. Those who belong to other religious traditions show strong support for Labour, at a slightly higher level that that registered amongst Catholics. Around half would vote for Labour and a quarter would support the Conservative Party. Amongst those with no religion, support is clearly higher for Labour, with about two-fifths declaring they would vote for them compared to just over a quarter who would support the Conservative Party. Across all groups, support for the Lib Dems is very low compared to the reported voting patterns at the 2005 and 2010 general elections – highest at about a tenth for those with no affiliation.

 

Table 2: Current vote intention by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Con

39.3

29.5

31.1

25.0

26.7

Lab

32.1

45.3

35.6

49.6

39.7

Lib Dem

7.5

5.1

8.1

7.1

10.5

Other party

21.1

20.2

25.2

18.3

23.2

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Table 3 provides another look at current voting patterns based on affiliation, providing data for a more detailed set of religious traditions. Given recent party-political and electoral developments, it also provides separate vote share data for UKIP (whereas, in Tables 1 and 2, they were included as part of the other party category).

Given that some of these religious groups – both Christian and non-Christian – are very small in terms of the numbers belonging to them, the unweighted bases for the weighted data are also presented. Extra care should obviously be taken with the party vote share figures for those religious traditions with relatively few or very few cases in the sample (United Reformed Church, Free Presbyterian, Brethren, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism).

The more detailed breakdown shows party support amongst some of the other Christian traditions and amongst different non-Christian faiths. Looking first at the Nonconformist churches, we can see that Methodists show somewhat higher support for the Conservatives than for Labour, while Baptists are more likely to favour the Labour Party, as are those who belong to the United Reformed Church. Those who identify as Church of Scotland / Presbyterian show greater support for Labour than for the Conservatives but a significant minority would vote for the SNP (captured in the other party category).

Amongst non-Christian religions, those belonging to Islam show very high support for Labour – at nearly three-quarters, this is highest across all of the groups in Table 3. Jews are more likely to support the Conservatives than Labour – a finding from other recent survey-based research – while adherents of all other faiths – in particular, Sikhism and Buddhism – show markedly higher levels of support for Labour. There is also a considerably higher propensity to vote Labour within the other category. Looking at intention to vote for UKIP, this is more prevalent amongst Anglicans than it is amongst Catholics

 

Table 3: Current vote intention by religious affiliation (full set of categories)

 

Con

Lab

Lib Dem

UKIP

Other

party

Unweighted base

Anglican (%)

39.3

32.1

7.5

18.3

2.9

4,884

Roman Catholic (%)

29.5

45.3

5.1

12.9

7.3

1,535

Presbyterian/Church of Scotland (%)

24.5

34.9

5.3

7.7

27.7

1,032

Methodist (%)

40.5

34.8

10.5

10.0

4.1

423

Baptist (%)

32.3

36.7

9.7

15.9

5.3

255

United Reformed Church (%)

27.2

35.8

12.3

7.5

16.3

73

Free Presbyterian (%)

21.7

47.8

4.3

17.4

8.7

25

Brethren (%)

15.4

53.8

0.0

30.8

0.0

11

Judaism (%)

46.3

29.9

5.4

11.6

6.2

134

Hinduism (%)

30.9

57.7

3.1

6.2

2.1

65

Islam (%)

14.9

73.0

7.3

0.8

3.6

153

Sikhism (%)

15.4

63.5

5.8

5.9

7.8

34

Buddhism (%)

24.7

38.4

6.8

13.5

17.6

73

Other (%)

23.7

42.9

8.4

11.3

13.7

572

None (%)

26.7

39.6

10.5

12.4

10.8

7,357

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

Note: Percentages sum across the rows.

 

Social issues

As well as shedding some light on the association between religious belonging and party support, the BES 2015 panel study asked questions on equal opportunities for ethnic minorities, women and gays and lesbians. The latter two issues are particularly relevant for religious groups given the various reforms made in relation to same-sex equality under recent governments – most recently, the legalisation of same-sex marriage – and also given debates over the role and status of women within, for example, the Anglicans Church, centring on the issue of women bishops. The questions asked were worded as follows:

 

Please say whether you think these things have gone too far or have not gone far enough in Britain.

Attempts to give equal opportunities to ethnic minorities.

Attempts to give equal opportunities to women.

Attempts to give equal opportunities to gays and lesbians.

 

It is worth noting that earlier BES studies asked equivalent questions (equal opportunities for women – asked on the BES surveys from 1974 to 1997, except in 1983; equal opportunities for gays and lesbians and ethnic minorities – asked on the BES surveys from 1987-1997). The pattern of responses for contemporary views based on affiliation is shown in Table 4. What is clear is that all groups are more likely to think that equal opportunities have not gone too far (or not nearly too far) for women compared to the other groups, with around a third or higher adopting this view across all categories of affiliation. In relation to equal opportunities for ethnic minorities, the view that they have not gone far enough is less prevalent across all groups; it is highest for those belonging to other religions, followed by those with no religion. Over two-fifths of Catholics and other Christians, and nearly half of Anglicans, think that equal opportunities have gone too far for ethnic minorities in Britain.

In relation to gays and lesbians, around three-tenths of those with no affiliation think that equal opportunities have not gone far enough (or nearly far enough), with such views less common amongst those with a religious identity. Views that equal opportunities for gays and lesbians have gone too far – perhaps with the recent debate and legalisation of same-sex marriage salient in the minds of some respondents – are higher amongst all religious adherents: for example, such views are twice as likely amongst other Christians as they are amongst those with no religion.

 

Table 4: Attitudes towards equal opportunities by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Ethnic minorities
Not gone nearly far enough or not gone far enough

10.3

15.1

13.9

26.4

19.5

About right

35.8

36.1

36.9

33.1

37.3

Gone too far or gone much too far

47.4

41.8

43.1

28.4

35.1

Don’t know

6.4

6.9

6.2

12.1

8.2

Women
Not gone nearly far enough or not gone far enough

34.8

36.6

36.0

34.2

37.9

About right

49.2

44.7

43.7

40.1

45.1

Gone too far or gone much too far

12.2

14.4

16.3

15.5

11.2

Don’t know

3.7

4.3

4.0

10.2

5.7

Gays and lesbians
Not gone nearly far enough or not gone far enough

16.0

20.3

14.1

19.6

30.2

About right

42.4

40.5

39.3

32.9

43.0

Gone too far or gone much too far

35.3

32.2

39.9

32.3

19.6

Don’t know

6.2

7.0

6.6

15.2

7.2

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Summary

The BES 2015 data, as with previous studies in this series, allow for analysis of the political and social opinions of religious groups across different issues. The past (2005 and 2010 elections) and present (current voting intention) patterns of electoral support provide some recent evidence, at first sight, for the traditional associations between religious groups and particular parties. That is, Anglicans still tend to favour the Conservatives over Labour; Catholics show higher levels of support for Labour; and non-Christian religious minorities also are much more likely to favour Labour, with support highest amongst Muslims. Reflecting the clear decline in the party’s public standing since entering into coalition government, levels of support for the Lib Dems have fallen to very low levels across all groups compared their (higher) reported vote share at recent general elections.

In relation to social attitudes, there is greater variation in the views of the religious and non-religious in relation to equal opportunities for ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians, but considerably more agreement in relation to equal opportunities for women, an issue which for the Church of England has been particularly divisive, most recently in relation to the debate over women bishops.

 

Reference

Fieldhouse, E., J. Green., G. Evans., H. Schmitt, and C. van der Eijk (2014) British Election Study Internet Panel Wave 1.

Posted in Measuring religion, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Research note, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The British Election Study 2015: Religious affiliation

This post analyses the contemporary social make-up of religious belonging in Britain using data released as part of the latest British Election Study (BES), focusing on the 2015 general election. Two waves of panel data (conducted in, respectively, February-March 2014 and April-June 2014) have so far been made available for wider analysis. They can be found here. This post uses wave 1 from the BES 2015 panel study to look at the social bases of religious affiliation in Britain, looking at how religious is distributed across various socio-demographic factors (sex, age, country and region). The analysis is based on the core sample (n=20,881) from wave 1 of the BES 2015 Panel Study, and the data are weighted accordingly. Although the data released so far have not contained measures of other aspects of religion, such as attendance, given the BES’s longevity (it started in the early-1960s) and the extensive range of questions on political and social issues, the current data – and future releases as part of the 2015 study – clearly represent an important resource for scholars of religion in Britain.

It is useful to look at the overall distribution for religious affiliation, which is given in Table 1. The question wording was as follows: ‘Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?’ The most common response is that of not belonging to any religion, at 44.7%. Next, those who identify as Church of England or Anglican constitute 31.1%, followed by 9.1% who identify as Catholic. Very small proportions say they belong to other Christian traditions or denominations, such as one of the Nonconformist churches or as Church of Scotland/Presbyterian. Similarly, very small proportions report that they identify with a non-Christian faith, including Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Buddhism, or some other religion.

 

Table 1: Religious affiliation

 

%

Church of England/Anglican/Episcopal

31.1

Roman Catholic

9.1

Presbyterian/Church of Scotland

3.1

Methodist

2.5

Baptist

1.3

United Reformed Church

0.5

Free Presbyterian

0.1

Brethren

0.1

Judaism

0.8

Hinduism

0.6

Islam

1.6

Sikhism

0.3

Buddhism

0.4

Other

3.7

None

44.7

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Table 2 provides a summary of the data reported already but based on five categories – combining (i) those in the various Christian groups (apart from Anglicans and Catholics) and (ii) those belonging to non-Christian faiths or who responded ‘other’. It also shows the earlier data on religious affiliation from other BES surveys, covering the period from 1963 to 2015. For this period, covering over fifty years, the major features are: the decline in levels of Anglican affiliation, the steady proportions who identify as Roman Catholic, the decline in the proportions belonging to other Christian traditions, the increase in those affiliated to minority non-Christian faiths and the growth in what are often termed the ‘religious nones’. Of course, religious belonging can be affected by the question wording asked and response options available on any particular survey, and the BES questions on affiliation have not been consistently-worded over time.

 

Table 2: Religious affiliation, 1963-2015

1963 (%)

(Feb.) 1974 (%)

1987 (%)

2001 (%)

2015 (%)

Anglican

64.5

41.5

41.4

32.5

31.1

Roman Catholic

8.6

9.0

9.8

10.8

9.1

Other Christian

23.1

12.9

14.7

6.9

7.6

Other religion

0.6

2.7

2.4

7.7

7.5

None

3.2

33.8

31.8

42.1

44.7

Source: BES cross-section surveys; BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

It is a common finding from sociological work on religion that women are more likely to have a religious identity and to be more involved or engaged with their faith. This is apparent, in relation to belonging, for the data presented in Table 3, which shows the religious composition of men and women. While similar proportions of men and women fall within the other Christian and other religion categories (and women are slightly more likely to be Catholic), a clear difference is in the proportions who report they are Anglican – 27.7% for men and 34.3% for women. Accordingly, men are more likely to declare that they do not belong to a religion, a nearly half (48.6%) compared to just over two-fifths of women (40.0%)

 

Table 3: Religious affiliation by sex

Male (%)

Female (%)

Anglican

27.7

34.3

Roman Catholic

8.5

9.7

Other Christian

7.6

7.5

Other religion

7.5

7.5

None

48.6

41.0

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Next, how does religious belonging vary by age? Table 4 presents the religious composition of seven different age groups (ranging from those aged 18-24 to those aged 75 and older). Several aspects of the data are worthy of note. First, identification as an Anglican increases steadily across age groups, lowest at just 14.2% for those aged 18-24 years and highest at half of those aged 75+ (at 52.1%). There is also a greater tendency to identify with other Christian traditions amongst the older age groups – highest at 11.6% and 10.4%, respectively, for the 65-74 and 75+ groups. Belonging to a non-Christian faith is more likely amongst younger age groups – particularly those between 18-34 years of age. The pattern in the data for having no religious affiliation is the reverse of that seen for Anglicans: that is, there is a steady decrease in the proportion with no religion as we move up the age range. Well over half of those aged 44 and under report having no affiliation, which falls to lower than three-tenths amongst those aged 65 and older.

 

Table 4: Religious affiliation by age group

18-24 (%)

25-34 (%)

35-44 (%)

45-54 (%)

55-64 (%)

65-74 (%)

75+

(%)

Anglican

14.2

19.4

23.6

32.8

39.4

46.4

52.1

Roman Catholic

8.5

8.7

9.4

9.6

9.8

8.6

7.4

Other Christian

4.0

5.6

5.3

6.7

9.4

11.6

10.4

Other religion

11.0

10.9

8.8

6.3

5.1

5.1

5.2

None

61.4

55.3

52.9

44.7

28.3

28.3

4.9

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Another way at looking at the association between religious affiliation and age is to look at the mean (average) age within each religious group, data on which are presented in Table 5. It is clear that the average age of religious affiliates is highest for Anglicans (53.7 years) and other Christians (52.4 years). It is lowest for those with no religion (43.3 years) and those who belong to non-Christian faiths (42.2 years). The average age of Catholics is 47.6 years, in between the other groups.

 

Table 5: Mean age by religious group

Mean age

Anglican

53.7

Roman Catholic

47.6

Other Christian

52.4

Other religion

42.2

None

43.3

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

The differing religious complexion of the different nations of Britain is still apparent in the data shown in Table 6. Anglicans are much more prevalent in England and Wales than in Scotland, where the other Christian category is much more common (many of whom would identify as Church of Scotland/Presbyterian). Identifying as Roman Catholic is more prevalent in Scotland and England than in Wales. Those in England and Wales are also somewhat more likely to belong to a non-Christian religion. Levels of non-affiliation are clearly higher in Wales and Scotland.

 

Table 6: Religious affiliation by country

England

(%)

Wales

(%)

Scotland

(%)

Anglican

34.0

27.7

4.5

Roman Catholic

9.1

5.9

11.5

Other Christian

5.4

8.1

28.6

Other religion

7.8

6.5

4.7

None

43.7

51.8

50.6

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

 

Finally, Table 7 provides a breakdown of religious affiliation in the different (Government Office) regions of England. Again, historical patterns of migration and settlement by religious communities are apparent. Higher proportions of Catholics are found in the North West, North East and in London. London is also distinct from other regions in having the lowest proportion of Anglicans (24.7%), the highest proportion belonging to other religions (21.4%, followed by the West Midlands at 8.1%) and the lowest proportion with no affiliation (35.3%).

 

Table 7: Religious affiliation by English region

Anglican

Catholic

Other Christian

Other religion

No religion

North East (%)

35.1

11.9

6.1

2.9

44.0

North West (%)

33.6

14.7

5.4

5.4

41.0

Yorkshire and the Humber (%)

37.5

6.5

6.4

5.8

43.8

East Midlands (%)

35.2

5.7

5.4

5.6

48.1

West Midlands (%)

35.2

6.7

5.4

8.1

44.6

East of England (%)

34.4

7.9

5.1

6.0

46.5

London (%)

24.7

13.8

4.8

21.4

35.3

South East (%)

35.3

7.1

5.4

5.0

47.2

South West (%)

39.7

5.4

5.3

4.1

45.5

Source: BES 2015 Panel Study – Wave 1.

Note: Percentages sum across the rows.

 

 

Summary

These new data on religious affiliation from the BES 2015 shed some light on the social basis of religious affiliation in contemporary British society. There are clear differences in levels of religious affiliation (and non-affiliation) based on sex, age, and region. Demographically, women and those in older age groups are more likely to be Anglican, while men and younger people are more likely to report having no religion. Younger people are also more likely to identify with a non-Christian religion. Religious belonging also varies by nation and region, reflecting historical patterns of migration, settlement and denominational fault-lines. Non-religion is somewhat higher in Scotland and Wales while, within England, London is particularly distinctive in terms of its religious complexion.

 

NB: A second note, to accompany this one, will look at the social and political attitudes of religious groups using the same data from the BES 2015.

 

Reference

Fieldhouse, E., J. Green., G. Evans., H. Schmitt, and C. van der Eijk (2014) British Election Study Internet Panel Wave 1.

Posted in Measuring religion, Research note, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clergy Voices and Other News

 

Clergy voices

A majority (54%) of Anglican clergy thinks the Church of England should retain its current established status, seemingly without modification, according to the first results from a YouGov survey commissioned by Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University and Westminster Faith Debates for the new series of debates on ‘The Future of the Church of England’, which commenced in Oxford last week.

Respondents comprised 1,509 clergy under the age of 70 from the Anglican Churches in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland who answered 29 questions online between 14 August and 8 September 2014. They had been selected on a random basis (every third name) from Crockford’s Clerical Directory, and questionnaires sent to the 5,000 of the resulting sample of 6,000 for whom email addresses were available. The response rate thus appears to be around 30%. The full findings will not be published until 23 October, the day of the second debate, but data tables for three questions (with breaks by gender, age, church, and ministerial role) are already available at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/qouw89178p/Results-for-LancasterUni-WestministerFaith-08092014.pdf

Only 14% of clergy backed the total disestablishment of the Church, with a further 27% favouring some loosening of Church-State ties. Nevertheless, 81% supported the preservation of the principle of an Established Church with some or all of its present privileges. There was also overwhelming acceptance (by 83%) of the importance of maintaining the (creaking) parish system, against 12% saying it was unimportant. Views were more divided about future options for housing the clergy, 49% wanting the Church to continue to provide accommodation, with 18% electing for a higher stipend so that incumbents could arrange their own housing, and 24% wishing both options to be on the table to enable freedom of choice.

An article about the survey appears in the current issue of the Church Times (10 October 2014, p. 4). This contains the toplines for one further question, about the constituency which the Church of England should prioritize. Two-thirds of the clergy replied England as a whole, 18% said Anglicans who do not go to church regularly, 5% regular churchgoers, 7% some other group, with 4% undecided. The article can be read online at:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/10-october/news/uk/survey-finds-c-of-e-clergy-wedded-to-the-parish-system

Islamic State

Here is a round-up of the latest online polling on the subject of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Topline results only are given; for breaks by demographics, follow the links to data tables.

Britain: 7-8 October 2014

Nine in ten adults rated air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria as a very important (62%) or fairly important (28%) international news story, according to this YouGov poll. The proportion saying the same about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was similar (88%). Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ouohbc27zh/InternalResults_141008_news_stories_Ebola_W.pdf

Britain, 8-9 October

The Ebola outbreak (37%) displaced IS (28%) as the most noticed news story of last week, according to Populus interviews with 2,055 persons.

Britain, 9-10 October 2014

The latest YouGov survey for The Sunday Times, for which 2,167 were interviewed, revealed marginally increased majorities in favour of the RAF bombing IS in Iraq (59%) and Syria (54%). However, 60% doubted whether the combination of Western air strikes and Iraqi and Kurdish forces would be sufficient to defeat IS and considered that other ground troops would be needed, even though only 32% approved of the commitment of British and US troops in Iraq (with 47% disapproving). Two-thirds remained opposed to paying ransoms to free British hostages held by IS, with only 9% in favour, but 27% supported the negotiation of other deals with IS (such as prisoner-hostage swaps), with 49% opposed. Three people in ten did not consider that the British media should report the holding and murder of hostages by IS. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/dra8m44o22/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-101014.pdf

London: 24-26 September 2014

A YouGov poll of 1,086 London residents, undertaken for the Evening Standard and published on 8 October, revealed overwhelming opposition (by 74%) to the readmission to the country of British nationals found to have been fighting with extremist groups in Iraq or Syria, such as IS. Just 13% were in favour of letting them back in. Support for Britain and the USA sending in ground troops to Iraq to combat IS was, at 36%, higher than in some national polls, and only 7% behind the disapproval score. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/wb3z4vzce8/EveningStandard_141002_ISIS_Website.pdf

Human rights

Four-fifths (79%) of the British public think that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion should be protected as a human right, according to a YouGov poll released on 8 October 2014 for which 2,155 adults were interviewed online on 6-7 October. Most of the other nine potential human rights enquired about also scored around the four-fifths mark, the extremes being the right not to be put into slavery and forced labour (92%) and the right not to be unlawfully arrested or detained without good reason and the right to marry and establish a family (70% each). Freedom of thought, conscience and religion was especially prized by Scots (88%), Labour and Liberal Democrat voters (86%), and the over-60s (84%). Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/qlmo7myu52/InternalResults_141007_human_rights_W.pdf

Methodists and drink

The latest issue of the Methodist Recorder (10 October 2014, p. 3) reports that University of Exeter doctoral student Jon Curtis has just launched a survey to determine the beliefs and practices regarding alcohol of current or former Methodists aged 18 and over living in England, Wales or Scotland. It forms part of the Coup D’Tea project on the history and future of alcohol in the Methodist Church in Britain. Curtis claims (although this could be disputed) that this is the first study of Methodist attitudes to drink for over 40 years. The questionnaire is intended for an entirely self-selecting sample, so, although it will doubtless generate some interesting illustrative material, it is unlikely to yield statistically representative data. It can be completed online at:

http://coupdtea.tumblr.com/

Abstinence is stereotypically associated with Methodism, yet, as Clive Field showed some years ago, its extent has often been exaggerated, especially among the Methodist laity: ‘“The Devil in Solution”: How Temperate were the Methodists?’, Epworth Review, Vol. 27, No. 3, July 2000, pp. 78-93. On the basis of a fairly systematic trawl of the available statistical evidence, he estimated that total abstinence among Methodists peaked around 1910, when it was practised by approximately 95% of ministers and 50% of members. By 1990 the proportion had sunk to one-fifth in both groups, and it has almost certainly declined further since. Just how far is hard to determine since, although sample surveys of the nation’s drinking habits are not uncommon, it is rare for them to control for religion and, even if they do, it is even rarer for them to identify Methodists. As the latest triennial statistics of mission confirm, Methodism has become such a minority denomination that it no longer shows up accurately in national surveys. Methodists tend to be bundled into an undifferentiated Christian category or classified as other Christians (apart from Anglicans and Catholics).

By way of example of the sort of analysis which is possible, we may cite one question from the 2011 British Social Attitudes Survey: ‘How often do you drink 4 or more alcoholic drinks on the same day?’ Results (weighted) are tabulated below:

Anglican

Roman Catholic

Other Christian   Non-Christian No religion
Never

49.9%

46.5%

46.8%

68.4%

34.3%

Once a month or less often

32.1%

29.7%

28.6%

20.0%

31.6%

Several  times a month

10.2%

20.2%

18.1%

8.2%

23.8%

Several  times a week

5.6%

3.0%

5.2%

1.7%

9.4%

Daily

2.2%

0.6%

1.3%

1.6%

0.9%

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Current Voting Intentions and Other News

 

Current voting intentions

We are almost through the party political conference season for another year, and the 2015 general election campaign seems already to have started, so it is perhaps an appropriate time to review the state of the ‘religious vote’ in the country. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of another of Lord Ashcroft’s large-scale polls, this time conducted online among 8,053 voters between 12 and 17 September 2014. Voting intentions for the four main parties by religious affiliation are summarized in the table below, from which it will be seen that by far the most significant trend to emerge is the predisposition to support the Labour Party of non-Christians in general and Muslims in particular. This will almost certainly have been shaped by the younger age profile of non-Christians (49.3% of whom were aged 18-34 compared with 28.0% of the whole sample) but may also reflect past gratitude to the former Labour government for its legislative support of religious diversity and equality (although that administration’s foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan had a countervailing influence in the Muslim community).

%   across

Con

Lab

LibDem

UKIP

All

22.4

27.3

5.5

14.5

Christian

28.2

25.3

5.0

16.6

Non-Christian

16.6

40.8

5.7

8.0

Muslim

5.4

62.9

5.4

3.0

No religion

16.2

27.7

6.2

13.1

Prefer not to say

7.6

31.4

6.5

6.5

In terms of religious affiliation, 37.9% of adults in this survey professed no religion, five points more than in equivalent polls conducted between January and June 2011 (32.8%). The number of Christians reduced by more than three points during the same three-year interval (from 56.6% to 53.2%). So, on this particular measure of religiosity at least, Britain seems to be secularizing at quite a rapid pace. For more information, see pp. 136-7 of the data tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Project-Blueprint-5-Full-data-tables-Sept-14.pdf

Islamic State

A round-up of recent polling on the Islamic State (IS) crisis in Iraq and Syria follows, arranged by date of fieldwork (which preceded the announcement of the murder by IS of a second British hostage, Alan Henning). Unless otherwise stated, surveys were conducted among online samples of Britons aged 18 and over. Topline results only are cited, but breaks by demographics are available by following the links.

26-28 September 2014

In a ComRes telephone poll for The Independent among a sample of 1,007, a majority (56%) of the public disagreed with the suggestion that ‘the situation in Iraq and Syria is none of our business and we should stay out of it’, against 38% who agreed. However, somewhat fewer (48%) thought that taking part in military action against IS would make Britain safer in the longer term, with 42% dissenting. David Cameron as current prime minister was more trusted than prospective prime minister Ed Miliband to make the right decisions on how to combat IS (45% versus 28%), albeit the plurality (49%) still distrusted Cameron. Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/Independent_Political_Poll_1st_October_2014_1237.pdf

26-28 September 2014

In another ComRes poll, this time conducted for ITV News among 2,024 individuals, 56% approved of British air strikes against IS in Iraq (twice the number disapproving) and 48% in Syria, but far fewer (29%) endorsed the engagement of British ground troops, with 51% opposed. The reasons given by those supporting air strikes were: the threat posed by IS to Britain (77%), the need to take action in the face of atrocities in the world (67%), and the beheading of British and American hostages (66%). Drivers for opposing air strikes included: the prospects of the conflict becoming longer and messier (77%), the lack of clear objectives (47%), the fact that it was none of Britain’s business (43%), the expense of involvement (41%), and Britain’s poor previous record of military action in Iraq (39%). Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ITV_News_Index_29th_September_2014.pdf

1-2 October 2014

IS was the most noticed news story of last week for 26% of the public, according to a Populus poll of 2,014. The death of Alice Gross came second, with 17%, and the Conservative Party conference third, with 11%.

2-3 October 2014

The regular YouGov poll for The Sunday Times, which interviewed 2,130, revealed approval for RAF participation in air strikes against IS to be unchanged from the previous week, at 58% in the case of operations in Iraq and 52% in Syria, although opposition was up by 3% in both cases. People were evenly split, at 42% each, in thinking that air strikes in Iraq would be effective or ineffective in combating IS, but the majority (51%) remained hostile to the commitment of ground troops in Iraq, with only 28% in favour. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/8xpy43vlqr/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-031014.pdf

Faith schools

The House of Commons Library has recently issued a short briefing note on faith schools in England (reference SN/SP/6972). It includes, at pp. 9-12, a useful digest of relevant statistics, including the number of such schools disaggregated by faith community and educational status, the number of pupils, and performance in GCSE examinations. The note is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN06972/faith-schools-faqs

Religion of armed services personnel

The United Kingdom’s armed service personnel remain overwhelmingly Christian in their religious allegiance, but the proportion is slowly declining, according to the Ministry of Defence’s Statistical Series 2 – Personnel Bulletin 2.01, which was published on 25 September 2014. Back in 2009, 87% of personnel professed to be Christian but the figure fell to 80% in 2014. There was a corresponding rise in the number claiming to have no religion, from 12% to 18%, rising to 25% in the case of the Royal Navy (with the Royal Air Force on 21% and the Army on 15%). The proportion of non-Christians continues to be very low (2% across all three services combined), and much less than in the population at large. There is more detail in Table 2.01.09 at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/357724/tri_service_personnel_bulletin_2_01_2014.pdf

Church in Wales statistics

The Church in Wales Membership and Finances, 2013 was one of the papers presented to the meeting of the Church’s Governing Body on 17-18 September 2014. In terms of membership, the report suggests, ‘there are no positive indicators: every field shows decline compared with the previous year, and in some cases that decline is significant’. Most serious was the 18% fall in confirmations between 2012 and 2013, with marriages down 13%, Easter communicants by 10% (on top of an 8% fall from 2011 to 2012), and average attendance by the under-18s by 9%. Average adult attendances reduced by 4% on Sundays and 5% on weekdays. Parochial income and expenditure likewise decreased, by 7% and 4% respectively, albeit a modest operating surplus of £491,000 was achieved. Weekly direct giving per attender grew by 4% in the year, above the rate of inflation, to stand at £9.11; indeed, the overall growth in such giving since 1990 has exceeded the retail prices index by 18% (113% versus 95%). The report is at:

http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/11-MembershipAndFinance.pdf

Jewish identity

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research published on 18 September 2014 a supplementary report on the results of its 2011 National Jewish Student Survey: David Graham, Strengthening Jewish Identity: What Works? An Analysis of Jewish Students in the UK. The underlying dataset includes 36 different measures of Jewish identity for almost 1,000 Jewish students. Through factor analysis they were collapsed into six broad indicators of identity: cognitive religiosity; socio-religious behaviour; cultural religiosity; ethnocentricity; student community engagement; and Jewish values. Although Jewish educational programmes were found to have some positive and independent impact on Jewish identity, overall the effect was six times weaker than that of a Jewish upbringing. The impact of Jewish education was strongest in terms of socio-religious behaviour, including practices such as synagogue attendance and Sabbath observance. The most important educational initiatives, from the perspective of impact on Jewish identity, were revealed to be those involving a seminary experience or gap year in Israel. The report, which also contains reflections on the findings by Jonathan Boyd, is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.Strengthening_Jewish_Identity.What_works.Sept_2014.pdf

Historic Methodist spirituality

British Methodism holds the record for publishing the longest annual national series of membership returns, starting in 1766. Underpinning them, especially in the earliest days, were the detailed registers of members for the rounds or circuits into which the country was divided. Some of these have survived and provide the basis for an analysis of Methodist membership by gender, marital status, and occupational background. These were systematically examined many years ago by Clive Field, and the results published in ‘The Social Composition of English Methodism to 1830: A Membership Analysis’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, Vol. 76, No. 1, Spring 1994, pp. 153-78. This article is freely available at:

https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:1m2333&datastreamId=POST-PEER-REVIEW-PUBLISHERS-DOCUMENT.PDF

A few of these registers went even further and, by means of symbols (dots, question marks, letters, and strokes), categorized Methodist members according to their spiritual state, as perceived by the ministers, along a continuum from awakening through justification to sanctification. This aspect of the listings, which had generally been discontinued by the time of John Wesley’s death in 1791, has been less often studied – until now: Robert Schofield, ‘Methodist Spiritual Condition in Georgian Northern England’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 65, No. 4, October 2014, pp. 780-802. Using data especially from the Keighley Round for 1763-65, but also four other circuits (three of them in the North), Schofield demonstrates through ten tables and four figures that both short-term recruitment to and leakage from Methodism were considerable and that the majority of members did not experience spiritual growth over a twelve-month period. For access options, go to:

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9348156&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0022046913000547

Another new publication to make good use of Methodist statistics is Jonathan Rodell, The Rise of Methodism: A Study of Bedfordshire, 1736-1851 (Publications of the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, Vol. 92, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-85155-079-4, £25.00). Its 16 tables examine the number and demographics of Wesleyan and Moravian members; the occupations of fathers of children baptised by Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists; and attendances at chapel and Sunday school in the 1851 religious census.

 

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Second Edition of UK Church Statistics

 

The indefatigable Dr Peter Brierley has recently produced what will perhaps be the highlight of the religious statistical publishing year: UK Church Statistics, Number 2, 2010 to 2020 (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2014, ISBN 978-0-9566577-7-0, £27 inclusive of postage and packing). Copies can be obtained directly from the author at The Old Post Office, 1 Thorpe Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent, TN10 4PW. Cheques should be made payable to Brierley Consultancy or you can arrange to pay via BACS by contacting peter@brierleyres.com

The first edition of UK Church Statistics was published in 2011. However, the title is, in effect, a continuation of UK Christian Handbook: Religious Trends (seven editions of which appeared between 1997 and 2008), which was edited by Brierley when he was director of Christian Research. Although Religious Trends nominally survives as an online publication on the Christian Research website, accessible to the organization’s subscribers, it is but a shadow of its former self and is not especially current. Even further back, the origins of UK Church Statistics can be traced to the statistical sections pioneered by Brierley in the main UK Christian Handbook, starting with UK Protestant Missions Handbook, Volume 2 in 1977.

UK Church Statistics, Number 2 extends to 184 densely-packed A4 pages, so the book cannot be easily summarized and critiqued in a single BRIN post. Here we simply strive to give an overview of the principal contents, as follows:

Denominational statistics (sections 0-11)

These sections comprise about one-third of the volume and, for this reader, constitute its most important part. The number of members, churches/congregations, and ministers are given for each of 292 UK denominations, based on a survey by Brierley during the second half of 2013. Comparative data are shown for 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012 (2009 being omitted on the rather flimsy grounds that it was covered in the first volume of UK Church Statistics), with forecasts for 2015 and 2020 (which denominations were also asked to supply). Gaps arising from non-response or other reasons are filled by estimates, which generally seem plausible. Data have been summed for ten broad denominational groupings (the same as have been used by Brierley for reporting over the past 35 years), with Fresh Expressions of church separately recorded, while each denomination’s figures are disaggregated by the four home nations comprising the UK.

One conclusion is that, although church membership in the UK is continuing to decline overall, the rate of decrease seems to have lessened significantly, with the result that the membership level previously anticipated for 2020 will probably not now be evident until 2025. Moreover, the trend is bucked in Independent, New, Orthodox, and Pentecostal Churches, as well as in the category of smaller bodies, all of which reported absolute growth between 2008 and 2013, much of which can be attributed to the effects of immigration. Partly for the same reason, church membership has flattened out in England, with the traditionally more religious Wales, Northern Ireland, and – most notably – Scotland proportionately losing most members between 2008 and 2013. It should be noted, of course, that the Churches do not have a common criterion of ‘membership’, and thus Brierley has needed to use multiple indicators (including attendance in the case of the Roman Catholic Church and the New Churches). Perhaps a more substantive explanation of this point would have been beneficial. The number of denominations rose by 6% during the last quinquennium, of places of worship by 2%, and of ministers by 6%.

Additional to the data for membership, congregations, and ministers which he has gathered from his 2013 survey, Brierley reproduces other statistics collected by individual denominations. This is especially so for the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, Methodist Church, and Free Church of Scotland.

London church census, 2012 (section 12)

A report on the census of church attendance in London in 2012, conducted by Brierley for the London City Mission, has already appeared in Brierley’s Capital Growth (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2013). In UK Church Statistics, Number 2, some of the finer, borough-level detail from this research is provided for the first time, with comparative data for 1989, 1998, and 2005 and contextual information from the 2001 and 2011 censuses of population. There is also a useful executive summary of the census, whose importance and interest stem from the fact that attendance in London actually grew by 16% between 2005 and 2012, largely on the back of immigration.

Distribution of English and Scottish churches (section 13)

The numbers of churches by denomination are given for counties and local authorities. These are derived from the 2002 Scottish and 2005 English church censuses, undertaken by Brierley, with revisions to the 2005 data in respect of the Roman Catholic Church.

Religion in the population census, 2001 and 2011 (section 14)

There are 31 pages of tables (and some maps), but no substantive commentary, exploring the results of the religion question posed in the 2001 and 2011 UK census of population, with breaks by age, gender, ethnicity, and local/unitary authorities or counties. There are also comparative data on the spatial distribution of English churchgoers, including in 2012 (estimated by Brierley since, apart from London, there has been no census of church attendance in England since 2005).

International religious statistics (section 15)

The section comprises 15 rather disparate sub-sections abstracted from collations of data by Patrick Johnstone and Todd Johnson or taken directly from primary sources such as the Australian and Irish censuses. Other international data appear in sub-section 5.6.

Other UK religious statistics (section 16)

This miscellany of 11 sub-sections is a slight misnomer, since much of the content relates to secular rather than religious data. However, there are useful tables of baptisms of children and of marriages by denomination back to, respectively, 1991 and 2000 (data on funerals are to be found in sub-section 2.8); estimates of usual Sunday attendance in England by age and denomination at five-yearly intervals back to 1980; and of passes in public examinations in Religious Studies, back to 2010.

Essays on UK religious life (section 17)

There are five essays by Brierley: ‘Church Families and Young People’ (2012); ‘Nominal Christians’ (2011); ‘Democracy and Protestantism’ (2013); ‘The Optimum Length of Ministry’ (2013); and ‘Norwich: “the Most Godless City”’ (2013). Also included is the article by Steve Bruce and Tony Glendinning on ‘The Extent of Religious Activity in England’ (2013). All essays have previously been circulated with FutureFirst, the bi-monthly bulletin of Brierley Consultancy.

Index (section 18)

With a claimed 4,000 entries, this is a helpful tool, not least since some data appear in sections where one might not necessarily expect to find them.

Summation

In general, this is a valuable resource, a great credit to the seemingly boundless energy and creativity of one man, and well worth the money. However, the exact extent of its value may depend upon your starting point. Experienced users of British religious statistics, with ready access to earlier volumes by Brierley and otherwise already familiar with some of the sources such as the population census, will derive the greatest benefit from sections 0-12, which incorporate the results of important original research by Brierley. In contrast to religious practitioners, they may also be less interested in, and occasionally more sceptical of, some of the forecasts of future trends. Those seeking a more one-stop-shop guide to British religion in numbers will find their needs very substantially, but by no means completely, met by this book, the single major omission being sample survey data touching on religion (albeit these often do not relate to institutional Christianity, which is Brierley’s principal preoccupation).

 

Posted in church attendance, News from religious organisations, Official data, Organisational data, Religious Census, Rites of Passage | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Religion and Attitudes Towards Faith Schools

The expansion of faith schools in recent years, as part of a broader parental choice and diversity of provision agenda in state-sector education, has been a prominent and divisive issue, both within religious traditions and between religious and secular lobbies. Of course, education has historically been an important battleground for religious groups’ identities and interests, whether the established Church of England, Roman Catholicism, the Nonconformist churches or, more recently, non-Christian faiths. Moreover, the historical and contemporary debate over faith-based schooling has varied in myriad ways across the constituent parts of Britain (and, indeed, in Northern Ireland), reflecting their differing religious compositions and deep-rooted tensions between religious traditions.

The renewed prominence of the faith schools debate as a result of recent government policy has been reflected in various opinion polls conducted to elicit whether faith schools have public backing, and to see whether public perceptions match the claims made by those campaigning on either side of the debate regarding, for example, the (supposed) unfair or biased admissions procedures and policies of faith schools, and their better or worse social and educational outcomes relative to non-faith schools. Of course, many of the opinion polls on this issue have been covered in previous BRIN posts. This BRIN post reviews the available social survey evidence on religious groups’ attitudes towards faith schools in Britain. It analyses data from the British Social Attitudes surveys (BSA).

The main focus is on data from more recent BSA surveys but the discussion starts with a question asked in the BSA 1989 survey:

If you were deciding where to send your children to school, would you prefer a school with children of only your own religion, or a mixed-religion school?

Table 1 shows the full distribution of responses to this question based on religious affiliation (Anglican, Catholic, other Christian or no religion). Catholics stand out for being the most likely to have preferred their children to go to a school of their own religious faith but, even so, this amounts to a just third of Catholic respondents (32.7%). Similar – and very small – proportions of Anglicans, other Christians (including those belonging to the traditional Nonconformist churches and those unaffiliated with a particular tradition) and those with no religious affiliation declared they would prefer to send their children to attend a same-faith school. Around two-thirds of Anglicans, other Christians and those with no affiliation preferred their children to attend a mixed religion school, compared to just under half of Catholics (48.9%). Similar proportions in each group had no preference for either a single faith school or a mixed religion school (nearly a fifth).

Table 1: Preferences for a single religion school or a mixed religion school, by affiliation

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

No religion (%)

Own religion only

13.7

32.7

15.7

10.2

Mixed religion

67.4

48.9

66.0

69.9

No preference

17.7

17.1

17.4

18.7

Don’t know

1.1

1.3

0.8

1.3

Source: BSA 1989 survey. Weighted data.

Do preferences on this question vary within religious groups based on their religious practice? Table 2 shows the distribution of opinion for Anglicans, Catholics and other Christians according to whether they are (i) frequent attenders or (ii) infrequent or non-attenders at church services. Frequent attendance is defined as going once a month or more. It should be noted that, when religious groups are divided on the basis of attendance or other indicator of religiosity, some of the percentages cited will necessarily be based on small numbers in the samples, so the data should be treated with a suitable degree of caution.

The most notable feature of the table is the markedly greater variation in the views of Catholics based on regularity of religious practice compared to Anglicans and other Christians. Catholics who attend services on a frequent basis were much more likely to express a preference for schools belonging to their own faith (44.7%) compared to those who attended less often or not at all (21.8%). Well over half of the infrequent attenders preferred mixed religion schools compared to just under two-fifths of regular churchgoers. Within the other Christian group, frequent church goers are also more supportive of single religion schools than mixed religion schools, being twice as likely to choose this preference as infrequent or non-attenders (respectively, 22.3% and 10.8%). However, around two-thirds of both of these groups expressed a preference for mixed religion schools. Amongst other Christians, those who attend church less often (or not at all) are much more likely to say they have no preference either way. Amongst Anglicans, there is much less variation based on religious practice. Those who attend services on a less frequent basis (or not at all) are somewhat more likely to express no preference either way.

Table 2: Preferences for a single religion school or a mixed religion school, attendance by affiliation

Response option

Anglican: Frequent attender (%)

Anglican: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Catholic: Frequent attender (%)

Catholic: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Other Christian: Frequent attender (%)

Other Christian: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Own religion only

15.9

13.2

44.7

21.8

22.3

10.8

Mixed religion

70.7

67.0

38.2

57.7

65.2

66.9

No preference

12.2

18.8

15.8

19.2

10.7

22.3

Don’t know

1.2

1.1

1.3

1.3

1.8

0.0

Source: BSA 1989 survey. Weighted data.

Are these differences based on affiliation and when groups are divided by religious practice evident in more recent BSA surveys which have asked questions on faith schools? The BSA 2003 and 2007 surveys asked several identical questions on faith schools, which tap into different aspects of the wider societal debate – for example, whether they should be expanded to meet the demands of parents and families from non-Christian minority faiths, and the perceived better (or worse) social and educational outcomes of faith schools compared to other schools in the state sector.

How much do you agree or disagree that … the government should fund single religion schools if parents want them.

How much do you agree or disagree that … if the government funds separate Christian faith schools, it should also fund separate schools for other faiths.

How much do you agree or disagree that … single religion schools have a better quality of education than other schools.

How much do you agree or disagree that … single religion schools give children a better sense of right and wrong than other schools.

Another question, asked only in the 2007 survey, asked:

How much do you support or oppose having some schools that are linked to a particular religious denomination, such as Roman Catholic?

Responses to these questions are given in Table 3, based on religious affiliation (and this time also including those from non-Christian faiths). For each question, Table 3 reports the response option favourable towards faith schools: those who strongly agree or agree that the government should fund non-Christian faith schools; those who strongly agree or agree the government should fund single religion schools; those who strongly agree or agree that single religion schools have a better quality of education; those who strongly agree or agree that single religion schools give children a better sense of right and wrong; and those who strongly support or support schools that are linked to a particular religious denomination. Before looking in detail at any differences based on affiliation, it is worth noting that between 2003 and 2007, possibly as the issue became a more controversial and prominent aspect of the debate over education policy, views in support of faith schools tended to decline across the different groups.

Table 3: Attitudes towards faith schools, by affiliation

Question Response option

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

Government should fund non-Christian faith schools 2003: Agree

38.3

56.1

43.1

66.8

41.3

2007: Agree

32.9

49.0

35.2

65.9

35.8

Government should fund single religion schools 2003: Agree

28.2

51.1

32.4

46.1

16.0

2007: Agree

24.8

38.7

21.8

36.3

13.8

Single religion schools have a better quality of education 2003: Agree

23.5

40.5

21.2

28.3

12.5

2007: Agree

21.6

35.7

22.4

30.8

12.6

Single religion schools give children a better sense of right and wrong 2003: Agree

29.8

46.6

32.0

34.1

13.4

2007: Agree

28.9

39.0

25.9

29.9

11.9

Support schools that are linked to a particular religious denomination 2007: Support

33.3

58.4

31.2

34.5

21.2

Source: BSA 2003 and 2007 surveys. Weighted data.

Looking first at the two questions on government funding of faith schools, it is clear that, in 2003 and 2007, Catholics and those belonging to non-Christian religions are more supportive than Anglicans, other Christians and those with no religion. For example, in 2003, majorities of Catholics and those within non-Christian traditions think that the government should fund faith schools for non-Christian religions; while a majority of the former and a plurality of the latter think the government should, in general, fund faith schools. In terms of the perceived social and educational outcomes of faith schooling, Catholics have the most positive assessments in 2003 and 2007, thinking that faith schools are more likely to provide a better quality of education and to instil a better sense of right and wrong in their pupils. In each case, those belonging to non-Christian religions show the next highest level of positive appraisal. There is a clear divergence in the views of those with and without a religious affiliation, with the latter group much less positive in its views of faith schools. In 2007, 12.6% of those with no affiliation think that such schools provide a better quality of education, while 11.9% think they provide pupils with a better sense of right and wrong.  Positive evaluations are much higher across all religious groups, albeit they are usually not a majority.

The question asked only in the 2007 survey (and which, it should be noted, refers to the Roman Catholic faith by way of example), also sorts out the religious and the non-religious to some extent. Again, those with no religion are less supportive of schools linked to particular religious traditions (21.2%). Even so, support amounts to just a third amongst Anglicans, other Christians and non-Christian faiths, but is considerably higher amongst Catholics, at 58.4%, which may partly reflect the specific wording of the question.

As in Table 2, the religious groups in the 2003 and 2007 surveys were subdivided on the basis of their attendance at services, in order to look at attitudinal variation within traditions. Table 4 reports opinions for the same set of questions shown in Table 3. There is a general tendency for those who are frequent attenders – whether Anglican, Catholic or other Christian – to be more supportive of state funding of faith schools and to have more positive appraisals of what they offer to pupils. The highest levels of support – a majority in each case but one – are registered amongst Catholics who attend church on a frequent basis.

Table 4: Attitudes towards faith schools, attendance by affiliation

Question and response option

Anglican: Frequent attender (%)

Anglican: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Catholic: Frequent attender (%)

Catholic: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Other Christian: Frequent attender (%)

Other Christian: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Government should fund non-Christian faith schools: Agree

2003: 50.0

2003: 35.1

2003:

67.9

2003:

44.9

2003:

45.6

2003:

41.5

2007: 37.1

2007: 32.0

2007:

59.8

2007:

41.0

2007:

37.2

2007:

34.0

Government should fund single religion schools: Agree

2003: 42.5

2003: 24.4

2003:

64.5

2003:

38.7

2003:

38.9

2003:

27.8

2007: 41.0

2007: 26.0

2007:

51.0

2007:

29.0

2007:

27.1

2007:

18.4

Single religion schools have a better quality of education: Agree

2003: 36.9

2003: 20.1

2003:

47.7

2003:

33.6

2003:

27.8

2003:

16.7

2007: 40.7

2007: 16.7

2007:

51.0

2007:

23.8

2007:

29.6

2007:

17.6

Single religion schools give children a better sense of right and wrong: Agree

2003: 49.4

2003: 24.6

2003:

56.4

2003:

37.8

2003:

47.0

2003:

21.5

2007: 53.8

2007: 22.6

2007:

53.4

2007:

28.2

2007:

35.4

2007:

19.7

Support schools that are linked to a particular religious denomination: Support

2007: 52.6

2007: 28.8

2007:

76.0

2007:

47.4

2007:

38.9

2007:

25.8

 Source: BSA 2003 and 2007 surveys. Weighted data.

As well as attendance, another way of looking at attitudes within religious traditions is on the basis of self-defined religiosity – in this case, how religious individuals are, which was probed in the BSA 2007 survey. For each religious group, respondents have been subdivided into whether they feel (i) very or somewhat religious or (ii) not very or not at all religious. Data are shown in Table 5. Within religious groups, there is marked variation in attitudes towards faith schools on the basis of self-defined religiosity. The general pattern is for those who express a greater degree of religiousness to be more supportive of government funding of faith schools and to have more positive appraisals of what they offer pupils compared to other schools. Amongst Catholics, this is the case for each of the questions. Amongst Anglicans and other Christians, this is also the pattern except for the question on funding faith schools for non-Christian religions, where the differences are much less apparent on the basis of religiosity.  The more religious within each group are also much more likely to support schools linked to a particular denomination (with the greatest divergence amongst Catholics and other Christians).

Table 5: Attitudes towards faith schools, religiosity by affiliation

Question and response option

Anglican: Very or somewhat religious (%)

Anglican: Not very or not at all religious (%)

Catholic: Very or somewhat religious (%)

Catholic: Not very or not at all religious (%)

Other Christian: Very or somewhat religious (%)

Other Christian: Not very or not at all religious (%)

Government should fund non-Christian faith schools: Agree

34.5

32.0

55.0

38.4

33.7

37.9

Government should fund single religion schools: Agree

32.1

18.4

42.7

31.2

26.7

14.2

Single religion schools have a better quality of education: Agree

27.3

16.6

46.3

16.5

29.3

11.5

Single religion schools give children a better sense of right and wrong: Agree

36.4

22.2

47.7

23.8

33.3

13.7

Support schools that are linked to a particular religious denomination: Support

38.5

29.2

70.5

37.5

41.5

15.6

Source: BSA 2007 survey. Weighted data.

A question in the 2008 BSA survey also asked about support for faith schools. The question was included in the BSA survey as part of the International Social Survey Programme specialist module on religion. The question was worded as follows:

Some schools are for children of a particular religion. Which of the statements on this card comes closest to your views about these schools.

Table 6 reports the full distribution of responses for this question, based on affiliation. Again, Catholics are most supportive of different religious traditions having faith schools (at 63.3%), with support at similar levels amongst Anglicans, other Christians and non-Christian faiths. Interestingly, over a third of those with no religion also support all religious groups being able to have faith schools. There are generally low levels of support for only some religious groups having their own schools (highest at 16.5% for Anglicans). Catholics are least likely to take the view that there should not be any faith schools (21.6%). This view is more common amongst the other religious groups – Anglicans: 36.3%; other Christians: 37.9%; non-Christian: 44.4% – and is held by nearly half of those with no affiliation (48.3%).

Table 6: Attitudes towards religious groups having their own schools, by affiliation

Response option

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Other religion (%)

No religion (%)

No religious group should have its own schools

36.3

21.6

37.9

44.4

48.3

Some religious groups but not others should have their own schools

16.5

13.9

14.1

5.7

12.8

Any religious group should be able to have its own schools

44.6

63.3

44.1

48.8

36.8

Don’t know

2.6

1.2

4.0

1.1

2.0

Source: BSA 2008 survey. Weighted data.

Finally, Table 7 shows responses to this question based on attendance within each Christian religious group. For each group, those who are less likely to attend services are more favourable to the view that there should not be any faith schools, highest at over two-fifths for other Christians who go to church (or chapel) infrequently or not at all. Amongst Catholics, support for all groups having their own faith schools varies only a little on the basis of attendance (and is around two-thirds of both groups); whereas, amongst Anglicans and other Christians, frequent attenders are much more likely to express this view. Across each group, the most prevalent opinion is that of allowing all groups to have faith schools with the exception of infrequent or non-attending other Christians, where support for no faith schools is the plurality viewpoint.

Table 7: Attitudes towards religious groups having their own schools, attendance by affiliation

Response option

Anglican: Frequent attender (%)

Anglican: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Catholic: Frequent attender (%)

Catholic: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

Other Christian: Frequent attender (%)

Other Christian: Infrequent or non-attender (%)

No religious group should have its own schools

24.2

38.9

14.9

25.2

22.3

45.3

Some religious groups but not others should have their own schools

14.3

17.0

18.9

11.5

12.4

14.8

Any religious group should be able to have its own schools

59.3

41.4

66.2

61.8

60.3

36.3

Don’t know

2.2

2.8

0.0

1.5

5.0

3.5

Source: BSA 2008 survey. Weighted data.

Summary

This review of religious groups’ attitudes towards faith schools – across various questions and using different measures of religiosity – points up two noteworthy findings. Firstly, when looking at attitudes on the basis of affiliation, Catholics have tended to hold the most supportive views of faith schools, whether that is for public funding in general or for non-Christian traditions, or in terms of what they offer their pupils compared to other schools. Not surprisingly, those who declare they have no religious affiliation tend to be least favourable towards the claims of faith-based schooling. Secondly, when looking at views within religious groups, it is apparent that the more religious – as manifested in regular attendance and a greater sense of religiousness – have more favourable views of faith schools. Accordingly, the most favourable views are held by more religiously-involved or committed Catholics. There is, then, considerable attitudinal variation within religious groups in terms of support or opposition towards faith schools, and therefore – at the level of ordinary adherents – views do not align with simplistic notions of an overarching religious-secular divide over the appropriate role of religion in the public sphere.

Further reading:

Clements, B. (2010), ‘Understanding public attitudes in Britain towards faith schools’, British Educational Research Journal, 36(6): 953–973.

Patrikios, S. and Curtice, J. (2014), ‘Attitudes Towards School Choice and Faith Schools in the UK: A Question of Individual Preference or Collective Interest?’, Journal of Social Policy, 43(3): 517-534.

 

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Research note, Survey news, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latest Surveys on Islamic State

 

With the referendum on Scottish independence now held, polling attention has begun to swing back to the crisis created by the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. Here we report the studies which have appeared since our last blog post on 21 September 2014, arranged in chronological order of fieldwork. It should be noted that no survey was taken completely after the parliamentary debate and vote, on 26 September, in favour of British involvement in air strikes against IS in Iraq. All polls were conducted online among representative samples of British adults aged 18 and over. Topline results only are given below, but breaks by standard demographics can be found by following the links to the full data tables.

8-9 September 2014 [published 26 September 2014]

Asked to choose the most important of five current news stories, 40% of the 2,099 interviewed by YouGov for Newsweek put IS and the beheading of foreign captives in first place, just ahead of the Scottish independence referendum on 35%. The Ebola outbreak in Africa came third, on 11%, with the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge and the leaking online of nude photos of celebrities trailing at 2% and 1% respectively. However, when asked to rate the same stories according to the degree of their personal interest in them, the Scottish referendum (40%) relegated IS into second position on 25%. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/ex0m19sls5/Newsweek_Results_140909_Kate_Middleton_Website_140926.pdf

21-22 September 2014

How should we (and the media) describe the Islamist organization which has advanced throughout parts of Iraq and Syria during the summer, and which has recently rebranded itself as ‘Islamic State’? Britons seem unclear as to how to answer this question, according to a YouGov poll among a sample of 1,671. Only 19% personally elected for IS, against 16% preferring ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the group’s earlier title), 11% Un-Islamic State (a purely made-up name, by British imams, suggesting the group’s activities are the antithesis of Islam), 27% some other designation, with 28% undecided. By contrast, 49% of Americans chose ISIS, even though the Obama administration has tended to use ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, another former title). In both Britain and America just one-third thought the media should cite the term favoured by the organization concerned, i.e. IS in this instance, the plurality recommending use of the most accurate nomenclature, with 13% of Britons and 7% of Americans urging a deliberately insulting description. British data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/v2v4emmnwp/InternalResults_140922_IslamicState_W.pdf

and American tables at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/px7wyur5cz/tabs_OPI_IS_name_20140922.pdf

22-23 September 2014

A plurality (46%) disapproved of Britain and the USA sending ground troops back into Iraq in order to help fight IS, with 29% approving and 25% undecided, in a YouGov poll of 2,141. However, of those who were opposed or uncertain, 39% wanted the option of deploying ground troops to be kept open. Data tables are at:

http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/09/25/full-results-troops-iraq/

24-25 September 2014

IS was the most noticed news story of the week for 34% of the 2,128 Britons interviewed by Populus, pushing the Scottish independence referendum into second place on 25%, and no other story scoring more than 4%. The question was entirely open-ended.

24-25 September 2014

Support for RAF air strikes against IS in Iraq increased to 57%, up from 53% on 18-19 September, in this YouGov poll for The Sun of 1,972 Britons. There was also a majority (51%) for RAF air strikes against IS in Syria, although the government is not currently pursuing this option. A plurality (48%) backed strikes in both Iraq and Syria. The majority (54%) disapproved of the commitment of ground troops. Endorsement of RAF involvement in the dropping of humanitarian aid to the victims of IS rose by six points during the week, to reach 81%. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/9cr35g8rud/SunResults_140925_Iraq_IS_W.pdf

24-26 September 2014

A plurality of 45% agreed with the proposition that Britain should take part in air strikes against IS in both Iraq and Syria, in this ComRes survey of 2,003 for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday. One-quarter (26%) disagreed, with 29% undecided. Data tables are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/IoS_SM_Political_Poll_28th_September_2014_8723.pdf

25-26 September 2014

Attitudes to the IS crisis remained fairly steady in the latest YouGov study, for The Sunday Times, among a sample of 1,992 adults, albeit support for RAF air strikes against IS nudged up to 58% overall and 53% in the case of IS in Syria. There was continued opposition (by 68%) to the payment of ransoms to free British hostages held by IS, but 33% felt there was more that the government could be doing to rescue them. The threat posed by IS was deemed sufficiently strong to warrant Britain co-operating with the governments of Iran (54%) and Syria (36%), whatever their faults. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/j77kqbuqsf/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-260914.pdf

Tracker

The latest tracker of YouGov polling on IS can be found at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/efwcliflou/YG-Archives-Pol-Iraq-Syria-and-ISIS-140925.pdf

Muslim predisposition to radicalism

At least 500 British Muslims are currently believed to be waging jihad in the Middle East, not all of them fighting with IS. Some insights into what might be the drivers for predisposition to Islamist extremism among young Muslims are offered in a new article published on 24 September 2014 in the open access, online journal PLOS One (Vol. 9, No. 9): Kamaldeep Bhui, Brian Everitt, and Edgar Jones, ‘Might Depression, Psychosocial Adversity, and Limited Social Assets Explain Vulnerability to and Resistance against Violent Radicalisation?’ The authors’ question was answered through face-to-face interviews, conducted by Ipsos MORI in 2011-12, with a quota sample of 608 men and women aged 18-45 of Pakistani or Bangladeshi family origin and of Muslim heritage living in East London and Bradford.

Radicalization was measured through a 16-item module exploring sympathies for violent protest and terrorism. Such sympathies were not widely expressed but, where they were, they were found to be most prevalent among those reporting depression and the importance of religion in their everyday life. Conversely, resistance to radicalization was associated with larger numbers of social contacts, less social capital (in terms of satisfaction with residential area, trust in neighbours, and feelings of safety), unavailability for work due to housekeeping or disability, and not being born in the UK. While calling for more research, the authors conclude that their findings point towards a preventive approach to radicalization, through tackling depression, promoting wellbeing, and, possibly, enhancing social capital. The text of the article and two supplementary tables (containing results from the 16 Likert-style radicalization statements) is located at:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0105918#s5

Other aspects of the same research were published in a previous article in PLOS One (Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2014): Kamaldeep Bhui, Nasir Warfa, and Edgar Jones, ‘Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health, and Common Mental Disorders?’ This revealed that only 2.4% of the sample showed some sympathy for violent protest and terrorist acts. They were disproportionately under 20, in full-time education, born in the UK, English-speakers at home, from high earning households, and healthy. Those with poor health, migrants, and older people were more likely to condemn radicalization, while discrimination, poverty, social and health inequalities, political engagement, and attitudes to foreign policy were not found to be relevant factors. This first article is at:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0090718

 

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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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