Religion, Identity, and Other Issues

Church of England and Britishness

Although only a tiny minority attends its services, and very many are critical of its stance on diversity issues, the majority of Britons (51%) still consider the Church of England to be important in defining Britishness, much the same as three years ago (52%), albeit it ranked only 19th of 25 factors. This is according to a new poll by YouGov for The Sunday Times, undertaken among an online sample of 2,036 adults on 10-11 April 2014 and published today. The proportion thinking the Church of England important in defining Britishness was especially high for women (60%), the over-60s (59%), and Conservative voters (57%). Not unexpectedly, it was at its lowest in Scotland (31%). Data tables can be found at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/qvi85im0s2/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140411.pdf

The full list of factors considered important in defining Britishness follows (all figures being percentages):

William Shakespeare

73

Monarchy

72

Common law

71

House of Commons

69

Composed of three nations

68

Britain’s role in the world

68

Undivided by civil war since 17th century

64

Pubs

62

BBC

61

Our weather

61

‘God Save the Queen’

61

Driving on the left

59

No identity cards

56

‘Land of Hope and Glory’

55

Double-decker buses

55

Red telephone boxes

55

Formerly had a great empire

54

Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo

52

Church of England

51

Cricket

49

Quality of British restaurants

49

Motorway network

47

Stiff upper lip

44

Membership of European Union

37

Warm British beer

24

Respondents were also asked to identify from a list of 50 prominent British people the ten who best reflect Britain today. Just one religious leader was included on the list, John Sentamu (Archbishop of York), who collected 5% of the vote, less than the arch-atheist Richard Dawkins (8%). The table was headed by Her Majesty the Queen (on 63%).

Religion and identity

Religion is not an especially significant factor in defining personal identity, according to an Ipsos MORI poll for the BBC which was published on 7 April 2014, for which 2,517 UK adults aged 15 and over were interviewed face-to-face between 13 and 31 March. The question put to respondents was: ‘If you were introducing or describing yourself to somebody you hadn’t met before, apart from your friends and family, the job or work you do, and where you live, which three or four of these, if any, would you say are most important to your identity?’ A list of 17 options was offered.

‘My religion’ was selected by 10% of respondents, putting it in 11th place, a long way behind interests or leisure activities (44%), values and outlook (38%), and personal views and opinions (34%). Religion also scored less than other demographic characteristics such as age or generation (22%), nationality (20%), and gender (13%) but more than social class (7%), ethnicity (6%) or sexual orientation (2%). Religion was most likely to be chosen as a self-identifier by BMEs (24%), female over-55s (17%), and over-65s generally (15%). Full results are available in tables 22-25 at:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/ipsos-mori-bbc-identity-poll-2014-tables.pdf

Multiple religious identities

Survey questions on religious affiliation invariably assume that it is only possible for a person to have a single allegiance at any one time. This was true, for example, of the voluntary question on religion in the 2011 census, even though the question om national identity permitted more than one option to be ticked and that on ethnicity had a category for mixed/multiple ethnic groups. Such a unitary approach can be problematical for some people of South Asian origin, as a recently-published essay about a study of 300 households (n = 1,993 individuals) in the UK Nepali community in 2010 demonstrates: David Gellner and Sondra Hausner, ‘Multiple Versus Unitary Belonging: How Nepalis in Britain Deal with “Religion”’, in Social Identities Between the Sacred and the Secular, edited by Abby Day, Giselle Vincett, and Christopher Cotter (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), pp. 75-88. The work derives from the ‘Vernacular Religion: Varieties of Religiosity in the Nepali Diaspora’ project funded by the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme.

The Nepali respondents were first asked, unprompted, to describe their religion, and at this stage 9.4% elected for a dual faith identity. But, when prompted by a list of possibilities which included dual and triple affiliations, no less than 26.6% selected a multiple identity, the commonest combination being Hindu and Buddhist (15.5%), with 9.1% choosing Kirat and Hindu, and 2.0% Kirat and Buddhist. Buddhists were the group most likely to change between the unprompted and prompted phases, one-third reassigning themselves to a multiple identity, mostly Buddhist and Hindu (to which 28.6% subscribed). Fewer (one-fifth) of Hindus altered their affiliation, but that minority was redistributed in more complex ways, with 9.2% shifting to Hindu and Kirat, 7.4% to Hindu and Buddhist, and 3.8% to other religious positions (including non-religious). Kirats changed least of all (11.5%).

Religious census

On 11 April 2014 the UK Data Service announced a further release of 2011 census aggregate statistics through InFuse, a portal providing free and open access (with no requirement for registration or login) via an online tool that allows users to build queries and extract the data they need. InFuse incorporates census data collected and processed by the three respective national statistical agencies in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The latest release includes multivariate data for England and Wales down to the output area level of geography from the third, fourth and fifth releases of 2011 census aggregate statistics from the Office for National Statistics, as well as comparable univariate data across the UK down to the district level of geography from the key statistics and quick statistics for local authorities in the UK Part 1 release. Religion is one of the topics covered. For further information, consult the UK Data Service’s press release at:

http://census.ukdataservice.ac.uk/news-and-events/newsitem/?id=3761

Religion and abortion

Public opinion on abortion in Britain has progressively liberalized over the years, even within religious groups, but residual hostility to it, both in general and in particular circumstances, is still associated with religion. The precise nature of this relationship between religious factors and opposition to abortion in Britain is explored in a new article by Ben Clements: ‘Religion and the Sources of Public Opposition to Abortion in Britain: The Role of “Belonging”, “Behaving”, and “Believing”’, Sociology, Vol. 48, No. 2, April 2014, pp. 369-86. Data are drawn from the 2008 waves of the British Social Attitudes Survey (all four sub-samples) and the European Values Study, relate to adults aged 18 and over, and explore support for abortion for both elective and traumatic reasons. Breaks by religious affiliation are provided for each question asked about abortion (tables 1 and 2), but the bulk of the article focuses on multivariate analysis, using binary logistic regression techniques, to assess the relative influence of ‘belonging’ (religious affiliation), ‘behaving’ (attendance at religious services and salience of religion), and ‘believing’ (religious beliefs) dimensions of religion (tables 3, 4, and 5). ‘The main finding is that opposition to abortion is not solely based on differences in faith or denominational affiliation but that greater religious involvement or commitment, as measured by attendance at services and personal salience, and more traditionalist beliefs underpin opposition. These findings generally hold across surveys, different estimation techniques and different specifications of the dependent variable.’ Article access options are explained at:

http://soc.sagepub.com/content/48/2/369.full.pdf+html

Religion and happiness

Did you celebrate United Nations International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2014? One group which certainly did was Action for Happiness, an international movement dedicated to creating a happier society. Founded in 2011 and part of the Young Foundation, it marked the day by commissioning YouGov to conduct an online survey of 2,391 UK adults on 10-11 March 2014. The second of the three questions asked respondents to identify the factors most important for their own happiness and wellbeing. They could choose three from a list of nine options. Their religious/spiritual life came in seventh position with 8%, just ahead of appearance and possessions, which scored 4% each. Ranked a resounding first were relationships with partner/family (80%), followed by health (71%), money and financial situation (42%), friends and community (35%), place/area of residence (21%), and work (15%). The Action for Happiness press release, dated 19 March 2014 and giving only these topline results, is at:

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/news/national-happiness-matters-more-than-national-wealth

Religious education teachers

There were 15,400 teachers of religious education (and philosophy) in publicly-funded secondary schools in England in November 2013, according to the Department for Education’s latest annual workforce census, which was published on 10 April 2014. This number represented 6.6% of all teachers, although the hours for which they actually taught religious education (123,000) was only 3.3% of all teaching hours, suggesting that most taught other subjects, also. Fewer than half (46.8%) had a relevant post-A Level qualification in the subject, which was one of the smallest proportions of any discipline. Only ICT (44.9%), foreign languages except for French, German and Spanish (38.8%), media studies (22.6%), engineering (18.6%), and citizenship (7.4%) had lower figures. For further information, see tables 11-13 and 15 at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-workforce-in-england-november-2013

Religious newspapers

Further to our coverage of the Jewish and Muslim press in our post of 6 April 2014, BRIN has checked to see which other religious weeklies are registered with the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). Unfortunately, only the Roman Catholic publication The Tablet appears to be. It had an average weekly circulation of 20,471 copies throughout 2013, of which 70% were distributed in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and 30% in other countries, with 96% in print and 4% in digital format. For the rest, The Universe and the Catholic Times were once registered with ABC but not since 2003. All the other religious weeklies which BRIN can think of, such as the Church Times and Catholic Herald, do not appear in the ABC database. The most recent tabulation of circulation data for all religious newspapers and periodicals would appear to be the UK Christian Resources Handbook, 2009/2010 (Bible Society, 2009), p. 223, but circulation will have dropped for many titles since then and some have disappeared completely as print editions (such as the Baptist Times).

Bibliometrics and religion

BRIN readers interested in the comparative quantitative analysis of published scholarship (bibliometrics) may like to know of an article in the current issue of Religion (Vol. 44, No. 2, April 2014, pp. 193-219): Steven Engler, ‘Bibliometrics and the Study of Religion/s’. Although the author contends that bibliometric measures are inherently biased against work in the study of religion/s, and the humanities and social sciences more generally, he does advance ‘a case for the limited value of bibliometrics in making quantitative comparisons within and across clearly delimited disciplinary contexts’. In particular, he presents a range of statistical data about the content of academic journals in religion, including in table 1 an analysis of the proportion of corresponding authors from the UK and other countries contributing to fifteen leading journals between 1996 and 2013. The UK figure is at its highest, 51%, in the case of Journal of Contemporary Religion, with a mean of 10% for all the titles. The article is currently available on an open access basis at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/0048721X.2014.893680

40 years ago this month …

The leadership of organized religion already commanded less public confidence than did most other institutions and professions, according to an Opinion Research Centre poll for The Times which was undertaken face-to-face on 13-19 April 1974 and published in that newspaper on 30 April 1974. The proportion of electors expressing a great deal of confidence in people ‘running’ religion was only 22%, ranking it 12th out of 18 institutions, well behind the police (68%) and medicine (62%) in the top two spots, and 4% down on the year before. The best-known individual British religious leaders of that time would have been Michael Ramsey (Archbishop of Canterbury) and Cardinal John Heenan (Archbishop of Westminster).

 

Posted in Historical studies, Official data, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion in the Press, Religious Census, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Religion and social-morality issues in 2012

This BRIN post looks in some detail at data on religion groups’ views on social-morality issues, based on the British Social Attitudes (BSA) 2012 survey. The BSA report from the latest survey was released in September 2013, which was covered at the time by BRIN, and the dataset has now been made available for wider usage via the UK Data Service. An overview of the BSA series can be found here. Previous BRIN posts have already looked at trends in religious groups’ attitudes towards homosexuality and euthanasia in recent decades. This post provides a ‘snapshot’ of religious groups’ views on the following four topics, discussing each one in turn.

 

  • Abortion
  • Euthanasia
  • Homosexuality
  • Gender roles

 

For each topic, attitudes are compared on the basis of religious affiliation and frequency of attendance at religious services. They are classified as follows:

 

  • Anglican, Catholic, other Christian, non-Christian, no religion
  • Frequently-attends (once a month or more), infrequently-attends (less than once a month), never attends

 

Throughout, the results presented are based on weighted data.

 

Abortion

The BSA surveys have carried a set of questions since 1983 asking whether abortion should be allowed under different circumstances. This set is similar to that which has been asked on the U.S. General Social Survey, which has been running since the early-1970s. The full question wording used in the BSA surveys is as follows:

 

Here are a number of circumstances in which a woman might consider an abortion. Please say whether or not you think the law should allow an abortion in each case.

The woman decides on her own she does not wish to have the child.

The couple agree they do not wish to have the child.

The couple cannot afford any more children.

There is a strong chance of a defect in the baby.

The woman’s health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy.

The woman is not married and does not wish to marry the man.

The woman became pregnant as a result of rape.

 

Table 1 (affiliation) and Table 2 (attendance) present the results for these seven questions, showing the proportions responding ‘no’ (i.e. against an abortion being allowed). Looking at Table 1, opposition is much lower for three sets of circumstances (strong chance of a defect in the baby, the woman’s health being seriously endangered, and a woman becoming pregnant as a result of rape). Opposition to abortion is generally higher for the other four sets of circumstances. Looking at variation in attitudes based on affiliation, the lowest levels of opposition are in each case registered by those with no religion. Catholics offer the highest levels of opposition for some, but not all, sets of circumstances. In some areas, their opposition is exceeded by those belonging to non-Christian faiths. Generally, Anglicans and other Christians express lower levels of opposition than Catholics but higher levels than those with no religion. On three measures Catholic opposition reaches a majority (a woman deciding on her own, where the woman is not married, and where the couple cannot afford any more children). On no occasion does Anglican opposition to abortion reach a majority and on only one occasion do a majority of other Christians oppose abortion (where a woman decides by herself to have an abortion).

 

Table 1 Opposition to abortion by religious affiliation, per cent saying ‘no’

 

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Non-Christian (%)

No religion (%)

Woman decides on her own

41.2

56.8

48.6

52.2

24.5

Woman is not married

42.6

66.1

51.5

36.6

33.0

When the couple agree

29.1

40.0

33.5

32.7

15.3

Couple cannot afford any more children

37.4

55.0

40.5

40.8

24.7

Strong chance of a defect in the baby

14.8

26.7

18.9

30.5

10.6

Woman’s health is seriously endangered

4.2

10.8

7.7

9.0

2.9

Woman becomes pregnant due to rape

3.7

14.4

10.1

19.1

4.3

Source: BSA 2012 survey. Weighted data.

 

Table 2 presents attitudes based on attendance at services. There is a consistent pattern across the seven different scenarios. That is, frequent-attenders are always more likely to express opposition to abortion, which reaches a majority in three cases. In one case (the woman deciding on her own) infrequent-attenders are about equidistant in their opposition, placed in-between frequent-attenders and non-attenders. For the other measures, they are much closer to the level of opposition expressed by non-attenders. The highest level of opposition registered by non-attenders is in the case of a woman not being married, at around a third, and reaches a quarter for two other scenarios. In the cases of a woman’s health being seriously endangered and the pregnancy being a result of rape, less than 5 per cent of infrequent-attenders and non-attenders express opposition.

 

Table 2 Opposition to abortion by religious attendance, per cent saying ‘no’

 

Frequently-attends (%)

Infrequently attends (%)

Never attends (%)

Woman decides on her own

58.6

42.7

26.3

Woman is not married

58.6

38.2

34.3

When the couple agree

44.1

25.9

17.6

Couple cannot afford any more children

54.2

30.6

26.4

Strong chance of a defect in the baby

27.6

14.1

11.6

Woman’s health is seriously endangered

13.2

2.4

3.3

Woman becomes pregnant due to rape

20.0

2.9

4.3

Source: BSA 2012 survey. Weighted data.

 

Assisted dying

A single question on the issue of assisted dying or euthanasia was asked in the BSA 2012. The question wording was:

 

About a person with a painful incurable disease. Do you think that doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life, if the patient requests it?

 

Respondents could respond ‘yes’, ‘no’, or did not answer (this question did not offer an explicit ‘don’t know’ or ‘can’t choose’ option). Table 3 presents the full distribution of responses for religious affiliation and Table 4 does the same for religious attendance. There is overwhelming support for a doctor being allowed to end a patient’s life amongst Anglicans, other Christians and those with no religion (highest at 88.1 per cent). Support is somewhat lower among Catholics, at around two-thirds, and lower still amongst members of non-Christian faiths, at around half.

 

Table 3 Attitudes towards assisted dying by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Non-Christian (%)

No religion (%)

Yes

81.6

68.6

75.0

51.4

88.1

No

13.1

28.1

22.6

48.6

8.8

Not answered

5.3

3.4

2.4

0.0

3.0

Source: BSA 2012. Weighted data.

 

Looking at Table 4, over four-fifths of both infrequent-attenders and non-attenders support assisted dying with the involvement of a doctor. Those who frequently attend services stand apart from these two groups, as just over half responded ‘yes’.

 

Table 4 Attitudes towards assisted dying by religious attendance

Frequently-attends (%)

Infrequently attends (%)

Never attends (%)

Yes

53.1

81.2

88.1

No

44.4

16.9

8.2

Not answered

2.5

1.9

3.8

Source: BSA 2012. Weighted data.

 

 

Homosexuality

A series of questions on same-sex relations were asked, including those gauging views on same-sex marriage, adoption and homosexual people holding particular roles and occupations. Also asked was a long-running question on sexual relations between two adults of the same sex. The wordings for the questions on sexual relations, same-sex marriage, bringing up children and adoption were as follows:

 

About sexual relations between two adults of the same sex. Do you think it is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?’

How much do you agree or disagree that  … gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry one another if they want to?

Children grow up in different kinds of families. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements … A same sex male couple can bring up a child as well as a male-female couple.

Children grow up in different kinds of families. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements … A same sex female couple can bring up a child as well as a male-female couple.

Do you think homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt a baby under the same conditions as other couples?

 

Data for these questions are shown in Table 5 (affiliation) and Table 6 (attendance). Both tables report the proportions holding negative views on these questions – those who think sexual relations between homosexuals are always or mostly wrong, who disagree with same-sex marriage, and so on. Generally, those with no religion are distinctively more liberal in their views compared to the four religious groups. Just 16 per cent think that sexual relations between homosexuals are always or mostly wrong and just 14 per cent disagree with same-sex marriage. Levels of opposition are higher, though, in relation to adoption and the two questions on bringing up children. In relation to the questions on sexual relations and same-sex marriage, the highest levels of opposition are expressed by members of non-Christian religions. Anglicans report the highest levels of opposition to the question on adoption, and they, along with non-Christians, are most likely to disagree with same-sex male couples being able to raise children as well as heterosexual couples would. Broadly similar levels of disagreement – slightly above two-fifths – are expressed by the four religious groups in relation to the question on same-sex female couples bringing up children.

 

Table 5 Attitudes toward same-sex relations by religious affiliation

Anglican

(%)

Catholic

(%)

Other Christian (%)

Non-Christian (%)

No religion (%)

Sexual relations between two adults of the same sex: Always or mostly wrong

40.1

35.1

35.4

61.2

15.5

Same-sex marriage: Disagree or strongly disagree

32.5

25.5

31.8

44.0

14.0

Same-sex female couple bringing up children: Disagree or strongly disagree

44.7

44.9

42.0

45.2

25.3

Same-sex male couple bringing up children: Disagree or strongly disagree

51.2

48.7

45.0

52.4

28.4

Allowed to adopt under same conditions as other couples: No

59.5

49.4

55.6

44.9

33.2

Source: BSA 2012. Weighted data.

 

Table 6 shows results for attendance at religious services. Across-the-board, frequent attenders are much more likely to express negative views on issues concerning homosexuality and gay rights. They are more likely to think that sexual relations between homosexual couples are wrong, to disagree with same-sex marriage, less likely to favour same-sex couples being allowed to adopt under similar conditions as heterosexual couples, and less likely to believe that same-sex couples – male or female – can bring up children as well as heterosexual couples.

Across groups, the highest levels of opposition are expressed on the adoption issue, followed by the two questions on bringing up children. In relation to the questions on raising children, opposition is slightly higher towards same-sex male couples. In each case, those who never attend religious services express the lowest levels of negative sentiment, with a fifth thinking sexual relations between homosexual couples are always or mostly wrong and even fewer being against same-sex marriage.

 

Table 6 Attitudes toward same-sex relations by religious attendance

Frequently-attends (%)

Infrequently attends (%)

Never attends (%)

Same-sex relations: Always or mostly wrong

52.2

35.0

20.0

Same-sex marriage: Disagree or strongly disagree

46.8

25.4

16.0

Same-sex female couple bringing up children: Disagree or strongly disagree

54.9

32.4

30.6

Same-sex male couple bringing up children: Disagree or strongly disagree

59.7

41.7

33.3

Allowed to adopt under same conditions as other couples: No

60.3

50.0

39.0

Source: BSA 2012. Weighted data.

 

The BSA 2012 survey also asked three questions on homosexual people being able to hold certain role or occupations. These questions began with:

 

Is it acceptable for a homosexual person …

 

Respondents then answered in relation to holding a responsible position in public life, teaching in schools and teaching in colleges and universities. Table 7 shows the results for affiliation and Table 8 for attendance, reporting the proportions who responded ‘no’. Looking at the results for affiliation, we can see that while levels of opposition are generally low across the groups, negative sentiment is always higher for homosexuals being allowed to teach in schools or in colleges and universities. Those with no religion express the lowest levels of opposition in each case, with only 3 per cent thinking a homosexual should not be allowed to hold a responsible position in public life. Those from non-Christian faiths stand out here as they tend to express higher levels of opposition than all the other groups. Nearly a half oppose homosexual people being allowed to teach in schools and more than a third are against them holding positions in public life or teaching in other settings. Across Christians, the highest level of opposition is registered by Anglicans, with a fifth against homosexuals being allowed to teach in schools.

Table 7 Attitudes towards a homosexual person holding certain roles and occupations by religious affiliation, per cent saying ‘no’

Anglican

(%)

Catholic

(%)

Other Christian (%)

Non-Christian (%)

No religion (%)

To hold a responsible position in public life

7.2

5.5

11.2

36.8

2.7

To be a teacher in a college or university

15.3

11.8

13.3

38.1

5.4

To be a teacher in a school

19.2

14.4

15.7

47.2

7.5

Source: BSA 2012 survey. Weighted data.

 

Table 8 shows a consistent pattern for attendance at services. Those who are frequent-attenders always express higher levels of opposition but, even so, this amounts to less than a quarter in the case of being allowed to teach in school, where the proportions against are highest across all of the three groups. Infrequent-attenders are broadly equidistant between the other two groups in their opposition to homosexuals being allowed teaching roles, but are closer to the views of non-attenders concerning homosexuals holding positions in public life.

 

Table 8 Attitudes towards a homosexual person holding certain roles and occupations by religious attendance, per cent saying ‘no’

Frequently-attends (%)

Infrequently attends (%)

Never attends (%)

To hold a responsible position in public life

18.3

6.5

4.8

To be a teacher in a college or university

19.4

13.6

8.9

To be a teacher in a school

23.8

17.5

11.0

Source: BSA 2012 survey. Weighted data.

 

Gender roles

The final issue looked at is that of gender roles, based on responses to a question which the BSA series first used back in 1984. It asks:

 

Do you agree or disagree that … a husband’s job is to earn money; a wife’s job is to look after the home and family?

 

Table 9 (affiliation) and Table 10 (attendance) show the full set of responses to this question. Looking first at affiliation, with the exception of adherents of non-Christian faiths, varying majorities disagree with the above statement, highest at nearly three-quarters of those with no religion. Around two-fifths of those belonging to a non-Christian religion disagree to some extent with the statement. This group shows the highest proportions agreeing with the statement (about 29 per cent) and expressing a neutral position (neither agreeing nor disagreeing). Agreement is lowest amongst those with no religion, and is at similar levels for Anglicans, Catholics and other Christians.

Table 9 Attitudes towards gender roles by religious affiliation

Anglican (%)

Catholic (%)

Other Christian (%)

Non-Christian (%)

No religion (%)

Strongly agree or agree

16.8

17.3

15.2

28.6

7.8

Neither

22.8

18.7

21.2

31.0

19.5

Disagree or strongly disagree

58.9

64.0

63.6

40.5

72.3

Can’t choose

1.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4

Source: BSA 2012. Weighted data.

 

Looking at views based on frequency of attendance, around a fifth of each group opts for a neutral position on the question. Those who frequently-attend are around twice as likely as non-attenders to express a traditionalist stance; that is, more likely to agree with the statement. Across groups, however, the majority view is that the statement is wrong, with opposition highest at nearly 70 per cent for those with no religion, followed by those who attend infrequently.

 

Table 10 Attitudes towards gender roles by religious attendance

Frequently-attends (%)

Infrequently attends (%)

Never attends (%)

Strongly agree or agree

20.8

12.9

10.9

Neither

22.9

23.3

19.8

Disagree or strongly disagree

55.6

63.8

68.8

Can’t choose

0.7

0.0

0.5

Source: BSA 2012. Weighted data.

 

Summary

The above review of religious groups’ attitudes on several social-morality topics, based on data from the BSA 2012 survey, shows that those with no religion – the religious ‘nones’ – are generally more liberal in their views. That is, they tend to express less socially-conservative attitudes on all four topics: abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and gender roles. On the ‘life issues’ examined here – abortion and assisted dying – the opposition expressed by Catholics was in some cases rivalled or exceeded by that of non-Christians. On other questions, non-Christians also registered more socially-conservative views. On the basis of attendance, those who did not attend services (a group which includes those with and without a religious affiliation) were usually more liberal in their views, sometimes closely-followed by those who attend services infrequently.

 

Further analysis of this broad area of topics, based on data from the 2012 study and earlier surveys can be found in the following source:

Park, A. and Rhead, R. (2013), ‘Personal Relationships: Changing attitudes towards sex, marriage and parenthood’, in A. Park, C. Bryson, E. Clery, J. Curtice and M. Phillips (eds), British Social Attitudes: The 30th Report. (London: NatCen Social Research). Available at: www.bsa-30.natcen.ac.uk.

Further analysis of religious groups’ views on gender roles and the ordination of women is available in the following article:

Clements, B. (2014), ‘Changing attitudes towards gender equality and the ordination of women’, Modern Believing, 55(1): 16-21.

 

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Jewish and Muslim Press and Other News

Jewish press

The Jewish Chronicle (The JC) is Britain’s longest established Jewish weekly newspaper, being founded as far back as 1841 (with its entire archive available online), and its headquarters are in London. Its current edition (4 April 2014, p. 2) highlights the findings of its latest readership research, conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. This suggests that the paper is read on a regular basis by 156,000 people, equivalent to 67% of UK Jews, a figure far in excess of its circulation. The latest Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) certificate for The JC (covering July-December 2013) shows an average print circulation of 21,370 copies, of which 99% were in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The overwhelming majority (71%) were retail and single copy sales, with 18% single copy subscription sales, 1% multiple copy sales, and 9% free distribution. Earlier audited data are only available to ABC subscribers but circulation is evidently falling since an undated readership survey on The JC’s website (which can be no later than c. 2010 from internal evidence) cites sales of 35,000 copies and a readership of 180,000, reaching 80% of Jewish households in the UK. The survey, which contains a range of other interesting facts and figures about The JC’s readership, can be found at:

http://www.thejc.com/files/pdfs/JCH%20004%20readershipsurvey%20bk.pdf

Other Jewish newspapers may also be mentioned. The London-based Jewish News was established in 1997. It is a free weekly newspaper and claims to be the only title exclusively serving the Jewish communities of Middlesex, Hertfordshire, and Essex. It is distributed via 257 distribution points in Greater London. Its latest ABC certificate, again for July-December 2013, reveals an average circulation of 31,930 copies. In 2000 it launched www.totallyjewish.com, which is described as ‘the leading web portal for British Jews’.

The weekly Jewish Telegraph was founded in 1950 and incorporated the Jewish Gazette from 1995. It is based in Manchester and regards itself as ‘Britain’s only regional Jewish newspaper’, with four separate editions for the Jewish communities of Manchester and the Midlands, Liverpool and Merseyside, Leeds and Yorkshire, and Glasgow and Scotland. No circulation data are quoted on its website, but the Liverpool edition is said to reach ‘virtually every Jewish home in that city and surrounding areas’. No subscription is mentioned, so, presumably, advertising is the main source of revenue.

The Jewish Tribune (not to be confused with the Canadian title of the same name) is a weekly newspaper for the strictly orthodox (haredi) Jewish community. Founded in 1962, it is published by Agudath Israel of Great Britain and is based in Stamford Hill, London. It has a circulation of just 2,500 copies. It is said to be the only UK newspaper to include a section in Yiddish.

Hamodia (the Hebrew word for communicator) is a subscription-based weekly English-language newspaper. It is also specifically designed for haredi communities but aimed at an international market (in America, Israel, and Europe), although its main offices are in London. It commenced in 1998 and its international readership is said to be 250,000.

Muslim press

Two English-language Muslim newspapers in the UK have recently celebrated significant anniversaries. Harrow-based Muslim News, a monthly with an annual subscription of just £12, has had its 25th birthday, having begun in February 1989, about the same time as Muslims were emerging as a distinct faith community in British public life. Its circulation was last verified by ABC in July-December 2002, when bulk distribution averaged 21,400, but copies are also distributed via other channels. Readership is currently claimed as over 150,000 with 1,500,000 hits on its website each month. In 2012, according to an advertiser pack for that year still on the newspaper’s website, there were 145,000 readers, of whom 37.6% were in London, 11.5% in Lancashire, 9.1% in the Midlands, 7.4% in West Yorkshire, 28.5% elsewhere in England, 2.5% in Scotland, 1.1% in Wales, 0.5% in Ireland or Northern Ireland, and 1.7% abroad. The gender division of readers was 55% male and 45% female, and the ethnic breakdown 65% Asian, 10% African or Afro-Caribbean, 10% Turkish, 10% Middle Eastern, and 5% other. Also in 2012, 18,000 email addresses were held by the Muslim News and available for mail shots.

The East London-based Muslim Weekly (£50 per annum and with a mean page extent of 32 A4 pages) has now completed ten years of publication, having commenced in October 2003. It claims a circulation of 50,000 copies per edition and a readership of 275,000, with each copy being read by an average of five and a half people. It is also not registered with ABC. Copies are distributed via the wholesale trade, subscriptions, and at over 200 mosques in the UK. Its readership profile is summarized on its website as: 60% male and 40% female; 68% aged 20-45; 70% married; and primarily belonging to ‘the ABC1 and C2 socio-economic groups, possessing a sizeable disposable income, and who are frequent purchasers of staples, quality and luxury items’.

Other English-language newspapers and magazines for Muslims in the UK have come and gone over the years, of which perhaps the most influential was Q News, which was published between April 1992 and October 2006, to judge from records in the national serials union catalogue. The Muslim Post weekly newspaper seems to have lasted only between 2009 and 2012.

Methodist statistics

The most recent quarterly meeting of the Methodist Council took place in Leamington Spa on 5-7 April 2014. One of the papers under consideration was MC1457, ‘Statistics for Mission Report, 2014’. Although this is not the detailed triennial statistical report for the Methodist Church for 2010-13, which will be presented to the Methodist Conference over the summer following completion of ‘verification and reasonableness checks’, it does include headline findings on the general direction of travel, as well as noting new measures and enhanced dissemination of data. The four-page report can be read at:

http://www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/coun-MC14-57-statistics-for-mission-april-2014.pdf

Membership and attendance figures are said to ‘show year-on-year decreases across the connexion and suggest a narrative of general decline’. The number of Methodist members in Britain at 31 October 2013 was 208,679, 10.0% down on 231,708 in 2010, while average weekly church attendances fell from 208,962 to 193,210 (or by 7.5%) over the triennium, albeit the annual rate of decrease in churchgoing was slower in 2010-13 than it had been in 2004-07 (2.6% compared with 4.5%). Potentially even more significant than a ten-year decline of 32% in weekly attendance is the 47% drop in the community roll, Methodism’s most inclusive performance indicator, of all those in pastoral contact with the Church. The latter figure is tentatively attributed to a change in the recording and reporting of the community roll, but this explanation is not unpacked.

The report to Methodist Council was glossed in an editorial in the Methodist Recorder for 4 April 2014 (p. 6). It is said to ‘make for pretty grim reading’, the decreases being ascribed to ‘a combination of the deaths of large numbers of members, alongside very low “recruitment rates” in most churches’. Of particular concern is ‘the well-documented catastrophic decline in the involvement of young people in our churches’, which is ‘inextricably linked with the widespread absence of families in our congregations’. While the scenario of ‘oblivion in around a generation’ is dismissed, the editor’s most optimistic reading of the situation is that, if current trends persist, the Methodist Church will shrink by half in the next thirty years.

Religion and social grade

In the past, social status was often thought to be a major determinant of religious allegiance, but is this still the case today? To provide an up-to-date answer to this question, BRIN has aggregated the weighted results from online political polling by Populus for January-March 2014, conducted for Lord Ashcroft (January) and the Financial Times (February-March). The combined sample of 50,685 adult Britons aged 18 and over was asked ‘which of the following religious groups do you consider yourself to be a member of?’ Percentages are shown below, first for religious affiliation within social grade (downwards) and then for the social grade of each religious group (across).

% down

All

AB

C1

C2

DE

Christian

53.3

54.8

51.4

54.7

52.7

Muslim

2.1

2.1

2.2

2.0

2.1

Hindu

1.0

1.2

0.9

1.2

0.6

Jew

0.7

0.8

0.7

0.3

0.7

Sikh

0.3

0.3

0.1

0.6

0.2

Buddhist

0.5

0.4

0.7

0.5

0.5

Other

2.0

1.5

1.8

1.8

3.1

None

37.9

36.4

39.6

37.3

38.1

No answer

2.2

2.4

2.6

1.6

2.0

 

% across

AB

C1

C2

DE

All

26.8

28.2

21.5

23.5

Christian

27.6

27.2

22.0

23.2

Muslim

27.0

29.3

20.5

23.1

Hindu

33.8

24.9

26.1

15.6

Jew

32.8

31.1

11.0

25.0

Sikh

28.4

13.5

44.0

14.2

Buddhist

22.2

37.1

20.0

20.7

Other

20.2

25.6

18.7

35.6

None

25.8

29.5

21.1

23.6

No answer

29.5

33.1

15.7

21.5

It will be seen from the across table that, overall, social grade in isolation now appears to make only a modest difference to the pattern of religious affiliation. The social grade profile of the three largest religious groups – Christians, nones, and Muslims in that order – is fairly close to the national average. Among more minority religions, the most important deviations from the norm are the disproportionately large number of Hindus and Jews in the top (AB) social grade, of Jews and Buddhists in the lower middle class (C1), and of Sikhs in skilled manual occupations (C2). There are also fewer than expected Sikhs in C1, of Jews in C2, and of Hindus and Sikhs in the lowest grade (DE). The downward picture teases out some nuances, with Christianity faring best among the AB and C2 grades, and no religion peaking among the C1s.

Since we often feature polls with breaks by social grade, a classification system which originated with the National Readership Survey and is based on the occupation of the chief income earner in the household, some BRIN readers may find the following tabular summary of the system helpful:

Grade Status Occupation
A Upper middle class Higher managerial, administrative, or professional
B Middle class Intermediate managerial, administrative, or professional
C1 Lower middle class Supervisory or clerical, junior managerial, administrative, or professional
C2 Skilled working class Skilled manual workers
D Working class Semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers
E Lowest level of   subsistence State pensioners or widows (no other earner), casual or lowest grade workers

The March 2014 Populus/Financial Times data tables can be found at the following URL, with a range of demographic breaks for the religion question on pp. 149-56:

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/140401-Populus_FT-March-2014.pdf

Religious slaughter

The highly emotive debate about religious slaughter for Jews and Muslims, whereby animals are not pre-stunned before having their throats cut, has flared up again in Britain, spearheaded by the British Veterinary Association (BVA). John Blackwell, BVA’s President-Elect, has just called for Britain to follow Denmark’s lead in banning slaughter without pre-stunning, although Prime Minister David Cameron promised Israel, on his recent visit to the country, that he would defend Jewish shechita. Advocates of religious slaughter methods have often argued that they are as, if not more, humane as conventional techniques, which involve pre-stunning, because of a high incidence of failures in stunning.

Now, in a written response to Parliamentary Questions 192079 and 192080 on 24 March 2014, the Government has published details of incidents of mis-stunning which occurred during slaughtering in approved meat establishments between 27 March 2008 and 28 February 2014. The numbers were very small indeed, from which the BVA (in a press release issued on 5 April) has calculated the mis-stunning rate to be very much less than 1%, far below the level (anything up to 31%) sometimes claimed by defenders of religious slaughter. According to The Times for 5 April religious leaders (such as the spokesperson for Shechita UK) have reacted angrily to the Government statistics, which they consider to be inaccurate, reflecting vets failing to record properly mis-stuns in abattoirs. In its response Government also stated that the Food Standards Agency collects no data on mis-cuts in relation to religious slaughter.

 

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Supernatural, Superstition, and Other News

Supernatural and superstition

UK adults are now more likely to believe in supernatural phenomena than in a God, according to a survey published on 27 March 2014. It was conducted by OnePoll among an online sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over and commissioned by UKTV’s Watch Channel to coincide with the British launch of the US drama series Believe. The story is about a young orphan girl in possession of mysterious powers who is placed under the protection of an escaped death row inmate.

Belief in the supernatural and superstition ran at 55% against 49% believers in a God. The most widespread supernatural beliefs were in ghosts (33%), a sixth sense (32%), UFOs (22%), past lives (19%), telepathy (18%), the ability to predict the future (18%), psychic healing (16%), astrology (10%), the Bermuda Triangle (9%), and demons (8%).

One-quarter of respondents said that their beliefs in the supernatural arose from witnessing something spooky themselves, while 19% had been convinced by somebody they trusted, and 16% influenced by television or film. Some were prepared to fork out money in pursuit of the supernatural, 4% admitting they spent more than £100 a year on it, but others did not need to. For 10% (and 14% in North-West England) claimed to possess at least one supernatural power themselves (mostly seeing into the future, regressing to past lives, or telepathy), which was more than attended religious services on a weekly basis (8%).

One-third (32%) of adults considered themselves superstitious, rising to 37% in the South-East. The most common superstitions about good or bad luck were associated with walking under a ladder (25%), breaking a mirror (21%), touching wood (18%), opening an umbrella indoors (18%), putting new shoes on the table (17%), finding a penny on the floor (17%), experiencing burning ears when somebody was talking about them (15%), spilling salt (15%), Friday the 13th (14%), and forbidding the groom to see the bride in her dress before the wedding (14%).

Online coverage of this poll is currently rather limited, and OnePoll does not tend to publish its data tables, but there is a press release about the survey on one of the UKTV websites at:

http://watch.uktv.co.uk/believe/article/do-you-believe/

There have also been some news stories in the print and online editions of the Daily Mail at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2590349/God-Were-likely-believe-supernatural-Number-people-think-sixth-sense-higher-regularly-attend-church.html

and of The Times, with the online article (heavily abridged for the print edition) being accessible to subscribers only at:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/faith/article4046215.ece

In the absence of any further information about question-wording and results, it is hard to compare these headline findings with those from previous polls. This is certainly not the first time since the Millennium that only a minority report belief in a God, but the exact proportion does tend to vary quite a bit, depending on how the question is framed and what response codes are on offer.

Scottish independence

Scots will be voting in the independence referendum in September. Religion has not featured strongly in the debate thus far, but The Universe for 23 March 2014 (p. 11) contained a report entitled ‘Scots Catholics “more likely to vote for independence”’. It reflected recent coverage in The Herald newspaper regarding the attitudes of Catholics in Scotland to Scottish independence. Professor Tom Devine is quoted as saying that Catholics are the biggest supporters of independence, having abandoned their previous apprehensions about it following ‘the death of structural sectarianism and labour market discrimination’. He cited data from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) in defence of his claim. Professor John Curtice agreed that Catholics had once been unlikely to vote for the Scottish Nationalist Party and (implicitly) for Scottish independence and that this was no longer the case. However, he argued that Scottish Catholics were still more likely to vote Labour than non-Catholics. The Scottish Labour Party is campaigning for the union with the United Kingdom.

SSAS certainly appears to be the main source of information about the subject, since it gathers data on religious affiliation, whereas most opinion polls and sample surveys touching on Scottish independence do not. The 2013 SSAS, which interviewed 1,497 adults, is the latest available, and the independence debate has obviously moved on since then, so we cannot be sure that the picture it reveals is still current. One of the many questions asked was ‘should Scotland be an independent country?’ This is identical to the wording to be used in the forthcoming referendum. The religious break of the combined responses of those who had and had not definitely made up their mind at the time of interview are as follows:

% across

Yes

No

DK/not vote

Church of Scotland

22

66

13

Roman Catholic

37

41

22

Other Christian

13

68

18

Non-Christian

37

54

10

No religion

34

50

17

All

30

54

17

So, at that stage, Scottish Catholics were more likely to support independence than any other religious group, apart from non-Christians, albeit the plurality of Catholics still favoured the union. These figures have been calculated from the extremely valuable What Scotland Thinks website, which brings together all the relevant opinion data and enables online analysis of SSAS results. Besides data, it also has a comment and analysis section, including an interesting blog by Michael Rosie from last August on ‘Religion and Scottish Independence’, explaining that, once age and gender are factored in, the modest differences in attitudes to independence between religious groups fade away. See:

http://blog.whatscotlandthinks.org/2013/08/tall-tales-religion-and-scottish-independence/

2021 census

As widely reported in national media on 28 March 2014, there will be a decennial population census in England and Wales in 2021 if recommendations by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are approved by Government. Following comprehensive evaluation of options, and a public consultation exercise, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority submitted proposals to the Cabinet Office on 27 March under which the census would continue, but on the basis of being completed online in the main. Such a change in methodology is expected substantially to reduce the estimated £1 billion cost of taking a conventional paper-based census in 2021, and builds upon the relative success of the 2011 census in which 16% of household reference persons in England and Wales took up the option of filing their returns online. Additionally, ONS is arguing for a change in the law to allow personal administrative data routinely collected by Government departments (examples might be from the tax, benefit, and NHS systems) to be made available to ONS so as to improve the currency and accuracy of its data sources. It is intended that greater use would also be made of sample surveys between censuses. All in all, quite an ambitious ONS shopping list.

The detailed recommendations from the National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority in respect of England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland are carrying out separate reviews of options for another census) can be read at:

www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/who-ons-are/programmes-and-projects/beyond-2011/beyond-2011-report-on-autumn-2013-consultation–and-recommendations/national-statisticians-recommendation.pdf

It is naturally far too early to say what the content of any 2021 census (if it happens) would be, and, in particular, whether the voluntary question on religious affiliation asked in 2001 and 2011 will be retained.

2011 census

Meanwhile, new analysis of the results of the 2011 census continues to be published, and a couple of recent releases are worthy of note.

On 27 March 2014 the Office for National Statistics published various outputs on living arrangements and marital status for adults in England and Wales in 2011, demonstrating a marked increase since 2001 in the proportion cohabiting or living alone (including the never married). The highest levels of cohabitation seemed to be associated with local authorities with the greatest incidence of religious nones, and vice versa. The pattern was exemplified by Norwich, which topped the league tables for both indicators, with 16% of adults cohabiting and 43% of the population professing no religion. See table 4 in the report at:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_356002.pdf

On 19 March 2014 the Registrar General for Scotland published Release 3B of the 2011 Scottish census, including table DC2207SC, containing details of country of birth by religion by sex for all geographies. The full data can be manipulated via the data explorer tool on the Scotland’s Census 2011 website, but a summary of country of birth for each religious group in Scotland appears below (the abroad category including the Republic of Ireland, an important consideration in the case of Catholics):

%

Scotland

Rest of UK

Abroad

All

83.3

9.7

7.0

Church of Scotland

94.1

4.4

1.5

Roman Catholic

82.1

5.7

12.2

Other Christian

48.6

36.0

15.4

Buddhist

33.2

13.3

53.5

Hindu

13.2

5.2

81.6

Jew

63.1

17.4

19.5

Muslim

37.3

7.4

55.4

Sikh

43.9

14.2

41.9

Other religion

63.3

23.0

13.6

No religion

83.4

11.4

5.2

Religion not stated

79.5

13.5

7.0

Church of England health check

In our posts of 31 January and 14 February 2014 we noted three of the four instalments in the health check of the Church of England which recently appeared in the Church Times, and written by a team of 35 contributors under the leadership of Professor Linda Woodhead. These articles have now been gathered together into a single volume, which will be published by Canterbury Press on 25 April 2014: How Healthy is the CofE? The Church Times Health Check (ISBN 9781848257016, £12.99 paperback). Copies can be pre-ordered on the Canterbury Press website but not yet on Amazon. Orders are also being taken by the Church Times bookshop with a reduced price for six copies or more.

Attitudes to Israel

British Jewry is always sensitive about perceptions of Israel by the British public. It may, therefore, be disappointed to see the outcome of what is arguably the largest-scale test of opinion ever conducted in this country. Ironically, it was published (on 22 March 2014) soon after Prime Minister David Cameron had visited Israel. In the latest Populus poll for Lord Ashcroft, conducted online among a huge sample of 20,058 Britons aged 18 and over between 7 and 20 January 2014, respondents were asked to say how positively or negatively they felt about 21 countries, using a scale running from 0 (very negative) to 10 (very positive). In a league table of mean scores, below, Israel languished in 18th position, just behind Russia (noting that fieldwork predated the Crimean crisis) but ahead of Iran and North Korea, traditionally the least favoured states.

Canada 7.23 China 4.77
Sweden 6.77 Poland 4.74
Switzerland 6.63 Greece 4.63
Norway 6.52 South Africa 4.60
Japan 5.98 India 4.55
Germany 5.74 Russia 4.07
USA 5.73 Israel 3.97
Italy 5.70 Saudi Arabia 3.46
Spain 5.69 Iran 2.69
France 5.08 North Korea 2.40
Brazil 4.90    

Only 7% of Britons gave Israel the most positive scores of 8-10, whereas 53% were fairly neutral (4-7) and 40% very negative (0-3), the last figure peaking at 45% among the 45-54s and the lowest (DE) social group and at 46% for those with no formal educational qualifications. These findings are in line with other evidence, Israel’s reputation in Britain having taken a tumble during recent decades because of its policies and actions on the Palestinian question. The complete favourability of nations ratings can be found on pp. 250-501 (with Israel on pp. 286-97) of the data tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Europe-on-Trial-poll-Full-tables.pdf

 

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

Latest Anglican Mission Statistics and Other News

Church of England mission statistics

The Research and Statistics Department of the Church of England published Statistics for Mission, 2012 on 21 March 2014. The report extends to 65 pages and includes 25 tables and 42 figures, with data disaggregated to diocesan level, plus extensive commentary. As well as presenting the statistics for 2012, comparisons for 2003-11 are also often given, recalculated to reflect a new estimation procedure for parishes/churches not making any return or sending an incomplete return (in 2012 some estimation was done for 27% of parishes/churches). Other procedural changes have also been implemented, so it is recommended that the methodological notes in the report be studied. The document can be downloaded from:

http://churchofengland.org/media/1936517/statistics%20for%20mission%202012.pdf

As ever, the picture which emerges from these annual returns is a complex and mixed one, both at national and diocesan levels. However, although it is certainly not all doom and gloom (for example, one-fifth of parishes exhibited some signs of growth, and 1,900 ‘fresh expressions’ of church were noted), the dominant trend remains downward. BRIN’s key headlines from the report are:

Church attendance

  • A measure of the worshipping community is reported for the first time, 1,010,000 who attend services at least once a month, 20% being aged 0-17, 52% 18-69, and 28% 70 or over (against 12% in the population, and ranging from 13% in the Diocese of London to 41% in the Diocese of Norwich)
  • Joiners and leavers are also reported for the worshipping community, 73,000 (among them 38,000 who had not previously been churchgoers) and 51,000 respectively (albeit the latter figure is believed to be an undercount), with joiners representing 7% of the worshipping community
  • All age average weekly attendance in October has slowly declined between 2008 and 2012, by 4% to reach 1,047,000 (paradoxically, more than the worshipping community), four-fifths of these individuals worshipping on Sunday (three-fifths in the case of children and nine-tenths for adults)
  • All age usual Sunday attendance halved between 1968 (when first returned) and 2012, although it has levelled out somewhat since 2009

Festival attendance

  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attract the largest congregations of the year (three times those on a usual Sunday), albeit somewhat smaller in 2012 (2,521,000) than 2011 and 4% less than 2008; nevertheless, attendance is affected by the day of the week Christmas falls upon and by the weather, 2006 being by far the best year in the past decade
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services in 2012 achieved the greatest penetration of the population (5%) of any Anglican performance measures, the proportion rising to 9% in four southern dioceses
  • Christmas Day and Christmas Eve communicants similarly fluctuate year-on-year and represented 37% of Christmas congregants in 2012
  • Easter Eve and Easter Day attendances amounted to 1,395,000 in 2012, slightly up on 2011 but 2% down on 2008; there appears to be some variability, perhaps depending upon whether the date of Easter is early or late in any particular year
  • Easter communicants (once the litmus test of Anglican membership) represented 70% of Easter attendances in 2012 and have fallen by 4% since 2008; they equalled 8% of the adult population in 1930 but just 2% in 2012

Membership

  • Numbers on the electoral rolls continue to decline, with sharp falls whenever the roll is renewed, followed by modest increases as new people are added to the roll; the figure was 1,187,000 in 2012, or 3% of the adult population (compared with 4% in 1995 and a peak of 15% in the late 1920s)
  • There were 23,000 confirmations in 2012, barely one-tenth of the 1901 figure, and 29% lower than in 2003, with, as always, the majority of confirmands (59%) female

Rites of passage

  • Infant and child baptisms decreased by 5% between 2003 and 2012, but, within that total, child baptisms have risen by 23%, almost certainly explained by parents seeking to maximize chances of getting their children into a church school (a similar phenomenon occurring for the same reason among Roman Catholics)
  • The absolute number of marriages conducted by the Church of England has remained broadly stable since 2003 but is much diminished from former times (according to data collected by the state rather than the Church)
  • The number of funerals conducted by the Church of England was, at 162,000, 13% fewer in 2012 than 2008 (and 50,000 less than in 2003), the 2012 figure being equivalent to 34% of all deaths (ranging from just 16% in the Diocese of London to 63% in the Diocese of Hereford)

Funeral planning

Speaking of funerals, SixthSense, the market intelligence arm of YouGov, published a new consumer report on funeral planning on 21 March 2014. This appears to contain some information that BRIN readers would find of interest, including about types of funeral and officiants at services, and which is almost impossible to obtain from other sources. Unfortunately, we have no findings to share with you since the report costs a cool £3,500 to download, which is a bit beyond our (non-existent) budget! The research is based upon two partially overlapping samples of UK adults aged 18 and over, interviewed online on 8-19 January 2014, one being nationally representative (n = 2,072) and the other of people who had organized a funeral in the past five years (n = 1,488). Public domain outputs are currently restricted to a press release at:

http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/03/21/reflecting-personality-prevalent-modern-day-funera/

and an outline of content and methodology at:

http://reports.yougov.com/sectors/lifestyle/lifestyle-uk/funeral-planning-2014/

Clergy wellbeing

Clergy are certainly not the best-paid occupation in Britain, but they enjoy the greatest life satisfaction, according to an unpublished analysis by the Cabinet Office of ‘Life Satisfaction by Occupation in Mid-Career’, some data from which have obviously been released to the press to coincide with a new report from the Legatum Institute on Wellbeing and Policy. Using official statistics (from the Annual Population Survey for 2011-13 in the case of life satisfaction), 274 occupations were ranked in terms of mean income and satisfaction, and clergy headed the league table for the latter, with publicans and managers of licensed premises propping it up. The top ten occupations in terms of life satisfaction are:

  Occupation

Mean Income £

Satisfaction Rating (out of 10)

1 Clergy

20,568

8.291

2 Chief executives/senior officials

117,700

7.957

3 Managers/proprietors in agriculture/horticulture

31,721

7.946

4 Company secretaries

18,176

7.930

5 Quality assurance/regulatory   professionals

42,898

7.891

6 Health care practice managers

31,267

7.843

7 Medical practitioners

70,648

7.836

8 Farmers

24,520

7.808

9 Hotel/accommodation managers/proprietors

32,470

7.795

10 Skilled metal/electrical/electronic   trades supervisors

35,316

7.795

The complete table, which is based on occupations for which there were more than 200 observations, can be found on various media sites, perhaps most conveniently on the BBC’s at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26671221

There is also a visualization of the data on page 72 of the Legatum Institute report at:

http://li.com/docs/default-source/commission-on-wellbeing-and-policy/commission-on-wellbeing-and-policy-report—march-2014-pdf-.pdf?sfvrsn=5

The findings will doubtless lead to much debate (and denial) about the extent to which money buys happiness and particular occupations are ‘cushy’. The clergy have long been the butt of jokes about only working one day a week, but there is also a fairly extensive body of evidence about the stress levels which they experience.

Sigbert Jon Prais (1928-2014)

Professor Sigbert Jon Prais FBA died on 22 February 2014, aged 85. Born in Frankfurt, he left Germany with his family as a Jewish refugee from the Nazis in 1934 and settled in Birmingham, becoming a British citizen in 1946. Following tertiary education at the Universities of Birmingham and Cambridge, his career was spent in economics, in a variety of contexts, in Britain and abroad. He had been Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Social and Economic Research since 1970. An obituary was published in the online edition of The Times for 19 March 2014 and (heavily abridged) in the print edition of 20 March; this can be viewed by subscribers.

Prais’s principal publications were, not unexpectedly, on economic subjects. However, he also had a keen interest in Jewish statistics and demography, apparently commencing with a survey of Birmingham Jewry in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. During the 1960s and early 1970s he made a major contribution to professionalizing the collection and analysis of Jewish statistics for Britain. The need was great for, in a seminal paper to a two-day conference in April 1962, he lamented that ‘there is hardly a single figure that can be quoted with any firmness for the Jewish community of Great Britain today’. He was influential in the establishment by the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 1965 of a Statistical and Demographic Research Unit, and acted as its Honorary Consultant for some time.

At this period, also, Prais wrote a series of important articles on aspects of Jewish demography for the Jewish Journal of Sociology, several in conjunction with Marlena Schmool (who later became head of the Research Unit). These papers were subsequently reprinted by the Board of Deputies in its Studies in Anglo-Jewish Statistics Reprint Series. The titles which BRIN has identified are:

  • 1967 (Vol. 9, No. 2)*: ‘Statistics of Jewish Marriages in Great Britain, 1901-1965’
  • 1968 (Vol. 10, No. 1)*: ‘The Size and Structure of the Anglo-Jewish Population, 1960-65’
  • 1970 (Vol. 12, No. 1)*: ‘Synagogue Marriages in Great Britain, 1966-8’
  • 1970 (Vol. 12, No. 2)*: ‘Statistics of Milah and the Jewish Birth-Rate in Britain’
  • 1972 (Vol. 14, No. 2): ‘Synagogue Statistics and the Jewish Population of Great Britain, 1900-70’
  • 1973 (Vol. 15, No. 2)*: ‘The Fertility of Jewish Families in Britain, 1971’
  • 1974 (Vol. 16, No. 2): ‘A Sample Survey on Jewish Education in London, 1972-73’
  • 1975 (Vol. 16, No. 1)*: ‘The Social Class Structure of Anglo-Jewry, 1961’

Contributions by Prais on Jewish statistics to edited volumes include:

  • 1964: ‘Statistical Research: Needs and Prospects’, Jewish Life in Modern Britain, edited by Julius Gould and Shaul Esh, London: Routledge & Kegan Pail
  • 1972*: ‘Méthodes de recherches démographiques sur le judaisme britannique: rapport sur les travaux du groupe de recherche statistique du Board of Deputies’, Démographie ei identité juives dans l’Europe contemporaine, edited by Willy Bok and Isiel Oscar Schmelz, Bruxelles: Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles
  • 1981: ‘Polarization or Decline’, Jewish Life in Britain, 1962-77, edited by Sonia and Vivian Lipman, New York: K.G. Saur

Asterisked publications were co-authored with Schmool. The foregoing is likely to be an incomplete list, so, if you spot omissions, do let BRIN know.

 

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Science and Religion and Other News

Science and religion

Public Attitudes to Science, 2014: Main Report was published on 14 March 2014. The fifth in a series which began in 2000 (but effectively going back to 1988 for some topics), it draws upon face-to-face interviews conducted by Ipsos MORI with 2,064 UK adults aged 16 and over (including a booster sample of 16-24s) between 15 July and 18 November 2013. The research was commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Economic and Social Research Council. The main report can be accessed, alongside a technical report, topline findings, and detailed data tables for all adults and separately for young adults, at:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3357/Public-Attitudes-to-Science-2014.aspx

As part of the contextual information gathered from respondents, a number of religion-related science questions were asked, the results of which (at headline level, for all adults) are shown in the following tables:

Q12B: ‘We depend too much on science and not enough on faith’

%   down

1988

1996

2000

2008

2011

2014

Agree

44

41

38

34

29

30

Disagree

34

31

35

38

46

47

Neither

19

25

22

25

23

21

Don’t know

3

3

4

3

1

2

The number agreeing that we depend too much on science and not enough on faith has diminished over time, from 44% in 1988 to 30% today. This either reflects a growing public confidence in science or a decreased attachment to faith, and probably both. In the latest survey the proportion in agreement was highest among the DE social group (42%), Londoners (42%), over-75s (43%), respondents with low scores on a science knowledge quiz (43%), people with no educational qualifications (46%), BMEs (56%), and weekly attenders at religious services (56%).

Q12F: ‘God created the earth and all life in it’

% down

2011

2014

Agree

39

41

Disagree

37

37

Neither

21

20

Don’t know

3

3

The public is fairly evenly divided on this matter, but a small plurality of all adults inclines to creationism. However, among the 16-24s 48% in 2014 disagreed with the proposition. Agreement in the latest survey was strongest among women (47%), the over-75s (58%), the DEs (58%), people with no educational qualifications (59%), respondents with low scores on a science knowledge quiz (60%), Londoners (60%), Northern Irish (79%), BMEs (82%), and weekly attenders at religious services (90%).

Q12H: ‘It is possible to believe in a god and still hold the view that life on earth, including human life, evolved over time as a result of natural selection’

% down

2014

Agree

62

Disagree

19

Neither

16

Don’t know

3

Three-fifths thought evolution compatible with a belief in a god (and, perhaps implicitly, with some kind of divine role in the origins of life). Variations by demographic sub-groups were not pronounced.

QL: ‘Which of the following comes closest to your view about the origin and development of life on earth?’

% down

2014

Humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current form

19

Humans and other living things evolved over time, in a process guided by God

26

Humans and other living things evolved over time by natural selection, in which God played no part

41

I have another view on the origins of species and development of life on earth, which is not included in this list

9

Don’t know/refused

5

Answers to this question are broadly compatible with Q12H, in that about two-thirds of all adults and three-quarters of the 16-24s subscribed to the theory of evolution. However, 26% of the former thought that evolution was guided by God, with a plurality of 45% thus according God some role in the origins of humans and other living things (38% for 16-24s); this is consistent with the replies to Q12F. Just under one-fifth of the full adult sample were pure creationists, disproportionately respondents with low scores on a science knowledge quiz (41%), Northern Irish (43%), BMEs (50%), and weekly attenders at religious services (56%).

Several of the above questions find parallels in other surveys covered by BRIN. Recent examples include:

Special Eurobarometer 401 at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2013/end-of-year-round-up/

Wellcome Trust Monitor, Wave 2 at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2013/religious-marriages-and-other-news/

God and morality

Many people around the world continue to think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, but this view is more commonly held in poorer than wealthier countries, and it certainly does not reflect opinion in Britain. This is according to a compilation of data from surveys conducted in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, and Winter 2013-14 and published in a 22-page report on 13 March 2014 at:

http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2014/03/Pew-Research-Center-Global-Attitudes-Project-Belief-in-God-Report-FINAL-March-13-2014.pdf

British statistics are only available for three data points, the most recent being in Spring 2011, when 1,000 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed. The proportion of Britons disagreeing that it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values has increased from 73% in Spring 2002 to 75% in Spring 2007 to 78% in Spring 2011. Those thinking that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral have reduced from 25% to 20% over the same period.

Among the 39 other nations surveyed only China (14%), France (15%), and the Czech Republic and Spain (19% each) now subscribe less than Britain to the necessity of belief in God as the basis for morality. Britain also comes bottom of the list of English-speaking western countries; in the United States the figure remains as high as 53% and in Canada 31%, while in Australia it is 23%. In two nations (Indonesia and Ghana) 99% of adults contend that belief in God is a prerequisite for being moral. Twenty other countries also record majorities in favour of this position, consistently so in those with predominantly Muslim populations.

Opinion formation

What impact does religion have on shaping our personal opinions? Not a lot, apparently, at least relative to other factors, according to recent surveys by Ipsos MORI for the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, which were published on 12 March 2014. Interviews were conducted by telephone with representative samples of 1,001 adults in Scotland on 20-25 February 2014 and of 868 in England and Wales on 8-10 March 2014. The question asked was: ‘What impact, if any, would you say each of the following factors has had in explaining why you hold the opinions that you do?’ A press release, topline results, and detailed data tables can be found at:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3353/Scots-more-likely-to-think-their-attitudes-are-related-to-where-you-come-from.aspx

In both England and Wales and in Scotland the majority of respondents were clear that religion had no impact at all in shaping their opinions, although 6% more of the Scots than the English and Welsh said it had a big or small influence. The impact (big or small) of religion was greatest (45%) among the over-55s in Scotland but the age effect was not so marked south of the border. The topline figures are:

% down

E&W

Scot

Big impact

12

16

Small impact

16

18

No impact at all

70

65

Don’t know

2

1

A list of the various factors having some impact (aggregate of big and small) on opinions appears below. The table shows that religion was the least decisive influence on opinions in both England and Wales and Scotland, with personal experiences being dominant. With the exception of social class, each of the eight factors had more impact on the Scots than the English and Welsh, and this was especially true of country of residence, the views of parents and friends, and gender.

%

E&W

Scot

Personal experiences

85

90

Age

65

69

Social class

63

64

Country in the UK that you come from

61

75

Parents’ opinions

48

65

Friends’ opinions

47

61

Gender

34

46

Religion

28

34

Papal bestseller

The latest issue of the Catholic Herald (14 March 2014, p. 1) reports that Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis has become something of a bestseller in Britain. The Catholic Truth Society (CTS), the official publisher to the Holy See, has apparently sold more than 25,000 copies since this apostolic exhortation was published on 4 December 2013, twice as many as any previous papal encyclical, and the most successful Vatican document since Unitatis Redintegratio, the Vatican II decree on ecumenism, which sold 85,000 copies in Britain after its promulgation in 1964. CTS describes the success of Evangelii Gaudium as ‘an ecclesial event’, although its sales must of course be set against the size of the Roman Catholic population of Britain (4,155,000 in England and Wales according to the Pastoral Research Centre and 841,000 in Scotland at the 2011 census). The report in the Catholic Herald is at:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/03/13/publisher-evangelii-gaudium-is-romes-biggest-seller-for-decades/

Catholic converts

The Catholic Church in England and Wales published details on 11 March 2014 of those who participated in the Rite of Election at Catholic cathedrals on 8-9 March 2014. Participants were intending adult converts to Catholicism who will be received into the Church at forthcoming Easter Vigils (some of whom will also be baptised, others already being baptised into another Christian denomination). Although not all converts are able to attend the Rite, the figures give some indication (by diocese) of trends in those joining the Catholic Church in adulthood. Discounting the special factor of the creation of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, designed for ex-Anglicans, it will be seen from the following table that the statistics have been fairly flat in recent years.

Diocese

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Westminster

797

829

734

675

712

Southwark

517

517

481

457

503

Brentwood

306

362

333

282

334

Birmingham

NA

302

255

207

213

All other dioceses

1,830

1,921

1,692

1,459

1,524

Ordinariate

NA

795

200

NA

NA

Total

3,450

4,726

3,695

3,080

3,286

Details for each diocese for all of the above years can be found via the links at:

http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/Home/News/Rite-of-Election-2014

Anglican church growth

Further to our post of 18 January 2014, concerning the launch event for the overview report on the Church of England’s 18-month research programme into numerical church growth, we may note that the final reports on the individual strands of the programme are all now available for download at:

http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk/progress_findings_reports

They comprise:

  • [1-2] David Voas and Laura Watt, Numerical Change in Church Attendance: National, Local, and Individual Factors, 93pp.
  • [3a] John Holmes and Ben Kautzer, Cathedrals, Greater Churches, and the Growth of the Church, 109pp.
  • [3b] Church Army Research Unit, An Analysis of Fresh Expressions of Church and Church Plants Begun in the Period 1992-2012, 137pp.
  • [3c] David Goodhew with Ben Kautzer and Joe Moffatt, Amalgamations, Team Ministries, and the Growth of the Church, 199pp.
  • [4] David Dadswell and Cathy Ross, Church Planting, 88pp.

Orthodox numbers

The number of members of Orthodox churches in the UK is estimated to have roughly doubled since 2000 and stood at 460,000 in 2013, according to Dr Peter Brierley, writing in his monthly column on church statistics in the Church of England Newspaper, 14 March 2014, p. 14. This growth is mostly attributed to immigration, with, for example, big increases in Bulgarians and Ukrainians resident in this country between 2001 and 2011. Eastern Orthodox currently account for 91% of the membership (including 51% in the Greek Orthodox Church), Oriental Orthodox for 8%, and other Orthodox for 1%. The geographical distribution of the Orthodox is said to be: 86% in England, 9% in Scotland, 3% in Wales, and 2% in Northern Ireland.

 

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More Scottish Census Data and Other News

More Scottish census data

Release 3A of the 2011 census results for Scotland was made available on 27 February 2014. It comprised the first of a series of rolling releases of cross-tabulations, providing (in this case) detailed characteristics on ethnicity, identity, language, and religion, from the national to the local levels. The Scottish Census Data Explorer tool is the entry-point for a range of configurable standard outputs and can be found at:

http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/ods-web/standard-outputs.html

Three standard outputs are relevant to BRIN from release 3A: Table DC2107SC (religion by sex by five-year age bands; Table DC2201SC (religion by ethnic group); and Table DC2204SC (religion by national identity). The national identity data are obviously rather topical in view of the referendum on Scottish independence later this year, especially so since the extensive referendum polling has largely (if not entirely) ignored any possible religious influences on prospective voting. A simplified version of Table DC2204SC is therefore given below (the other category subsumes: Scottish and any other identity; English identity; any other combination of UK identities; other identity with or without a UK identity):

%

Scottish

British

Scottish and British

Other

Total

62.4

8.4

18.3

10.9

Church of Scotland

65.8

6.8

24.8

2.7

Roman Catholic

65.6

5.3

13.9

15.2

Other Christian

32.5

17.2

14.3

36.0

Buddhist

26.6

16.6

7.4

49.3

Hindu

8.6

16.6

3.8

71.0

Jew

36.8

18.2

19.4

25.6

Muslim

24.3

29.2

9.9

36.6

Sikh

30.5

29.4

9.0

31.2

Other religion

51.2

12.8

11.9

24.2

No religion

65.9

8.4

15.7

10.0

Religion not stated

58.3

10.0

18.0

13.8

This analysis demonstrates that Scottishness is disproportionately concentrated among adherents of the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church and among those professing no faith at all, with two-thirds in each of these three groups describing themselves as Scottish only. The Scottish versus British debate seems much less relevant to other Protestants and non-Christians in Scotland, the majority (other Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus) or plurality of whom (Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and other religion) decline to choose between these two competing identities or select another identity combination.

From Table DC2107SC we can calculate the religious profile of Scotland in 2011 separately for children and adolescents and for adults aged 16 and over, as follows:

%

0-15

16+

All

Church of Scotland

21.3

34.8

32.4

Roman Catholic

15.3

16.0

15.9

Other Christian

4.2

5.8

5.5

Buddhist

0.1

0.3

0.2

Hindu

0.3

0.3

0.3

Jew

0.1

0.1

0.1

Muslim

2.5

1.2

1.4

Sikh

0.2

0.2

0.2

Any other

0.1

0.3

0.3

No religion

47.9

34.3

36.7

Not stated

8.1

6.7

7.0

Of particular interest is that the majority (56%) of Scottish under-16s were returned as without a faith or religion not stated. It is hard to know whether respondents completing the census schedules were admitting that children in their households were being brought up without a religion or implicitly stating that this was a matter for them to make up their own minds about when old enough to do so. This phenomenon particularly impacts the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church having a similar proportion of adherents among children as among adults. Also notable is the much stronger showing of Muslims among children than adults, laying the foundation for future growth of Islam in Scotland (albeit from a small base, relative to England).

The combination of Table DC2107SC and the previously available DC2107EW now enables us to present final figures for the religious profile of the adult population (aged 16 and over) of Great Britain in 2011, as follows:

 

England

and Wales

Scotland

Great

Britain

Whole population

45,496,780

4,379,072

49,875,852

Christian

27,926,262

2,477,436

30,403,698

Buddhist

218,935

11,685

230,620

Hindu

665,429

13,701

679,130

Jew

210,426

5,294

215,720

Muslim

1,810,929

54,193

1,865,122

Sikh

336,352

7,005

343,357

Any other

220,291

14,155

234,446

No religion

10,909,996

1,501,972

12,411,968

Not stated

3,198,160

293,631

3,491,791

Anglican ordinands

A Church of England press release on 25 February 2014 celebrated the fact that in 2013 young people (under 30) comprised almost one-quarter of those accepted for training in the Church’s ministry. The absolute number of young ordinands was, at 113, the same in 2013 as in 2012 and about 30 higher than the average throughout the noughties, albeit the figure had been 112 in 1998. There were slight increases between the two years in ordinands in their thirties and forties with those in their fifties flat. Ordinands who were 60 years and over reduced from 45 in 2012 to 19 in 2013. The percentage below the age of 30 during the past two decades (calculated from various editions of Church Statistics) is as follows:

1994 25.5 2004 12.6
1995 22.6 2005 14.9
1996 19.6 2006 15.2
1997 21.5 2007 14.8
1998 22.9 2008 16.7
1999 18.1 2009 15.1
2000 19.7 2010 21.0
2001 15.0 2011 16.6
2002 14.9 2012 22.2
2003 15.4 2013 22.6

Spotlight on Seventh-Day Adventists

This week’s jailing of two self-styled Seventh-Day Adventists for the manslaughter of their five-month-old son, who died of rickets in 2012, has brought some unwelcome media publicity for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The couple had refused medical treatment for their son on religious grounds, apparently regarding the death as ‘God’s will’. The Church has just issued a press release distancing itself from the couple’s ‘misguided understanding in their belief system’, and pointing out that they had drifted away from the Church since 2009.

The sectarian movement which became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church originated in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century but what is now its British Union Conference has always been relatively small. Its membership was first reported in 1903, at 1,160, rising steadily for the next 60 years, when it reached five figures (10,084 in 1963). It has more than trebled in the past half-century, standing at 34,048 in December 2012 (when last reported), almost certainly on the back of immigration. British membership flows for 2006-12, summarized below, are tabulated in full on the Church’s website at:

http://adventist.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/11574/BUC-Quarterly-Membership-Reports-2006-to-2012.pdf 

 

January

Gains

Losses

December

2006

25,520

2,432

1,057

26,895

2007

26,895

1,992

777

28,110

2008

28,110

1,541

601

29,050

2009

29,050

2,244

760

30,534

2010

30,534

1,647

519

31,662

2011

31,662

1,813

460

33,015

2012

33,015

1,548

515

34,048

Schools and creationism

Fearful that some faith-based academies and free schools, released from the strictures of the national curriculum, may seek to replace the teaching of evolution with creationism, the Government has clarified that all state-funded schools must teach evolution and not present creationism as a scientifically valid theory.

However, new research from the University of York’s Institute for Effective Education, among more than 200 14- to 16-year-olds in four English secondaries, demonstrated that student views on the origins of human life, and willingness to engage with the inter-relationship of science and religion, vary considerably according to their religious beliefs (Christian, Muslim, or none). Therefore, the researchers warn, the insensitive teaching of evolution in schools, devoid of any religious reference, could risk alienating pupils with a strong faith and turning them off science.

The full research can be found in the pay-per-view/subscription-based article by Pam Hanley, Judith Bennett, and Mary Ratcliffe, ‘The Inter-Relationship of Science and Religion: A Typology of Engagement’, which was recently published in the online edition of International Journal of Science Education. A freely available summary appeared on 12 February 2014 in the higher education e-journal The Conversation, which, in turn, formed the basis of news coverage in the Times Educational Supplement for 21 February 2014 and The Times for 22 February 2014. See:

http://theconversation.com/can-schools-find-way-through-creationism-meets-science-minefield-in-the-classroom-22807

A sixtieth anniversary

Sixty years ago today (on 1 March 1954) Billy Graham commenced his Greater London crusade in the Harringay Arena. By the time the crusade had finished, at Wembley Stadium on 22 May, he had reached an audience of over two million. Graham was already no stranger to Britain, having visited it for evangelistic purposes several times since 1946, as part of a wider (but uncoordinated) movement of revivalism in the years immediately after the Second World War, and in which all the major Protestant Churches, and even the Catholic Church, participated. After his 1954 crusade, Graham came back to run more crusades: in Glasgow and London in 1955; Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast in 1961; London in 1966 and 1967; Oxford and Cambridge in 1980; Blackpool in 1982; Bristol, Sunderland, Norwich, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Ipswich in 1984; Sheffield in 1985; London in 1989; and Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Glasgow in 1991.

How was Graham regarded by the British at the time of the 1954 crusade? According to two Gallup polls, he was certainly well known in the country, 83% of Britons having heard of him in March and 88% in May. A minority perceived him as a good and religious man doing very good work, 18% and 34% respectively, a big increase over the two months, reflecting the huge media coverage of the crusade. A further 15% and 13% suggested he was not likely to do much good in Britain, and another 12% and 11% said he was more needed in America. In March 13% and in May 7% thought he was just a curiosity or performer, while 17% and 22% had no interest in him.

The proportion of attenders at the crusades who ‘came forward’ as enquirers was small, around 2% in London in 1954 and Glasgow in 1955. They were disproportionately women and young people, and the majority already had a church association. A detailed assessment of the effects of mass evangelism in the 1950s, made by John Highet in his The Scottish Churches (1960), was fairly downbeat about its value. Certainly, the Graham crusades of 1954-55 coincided with the beginning of a renewed down-turn in Protestant church membership after a momentary reversal of decline (for some denominations, at least) in the aftermath of the Second World War.

 

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Welfare Reform and Other News

Welfare reform (1)

Recent attacks by church leaders from several denominations on the Coalition Government’s welfare and benefits reform programme seem to be giving the British public pause for thought, according to a YouGov poll for today’s edition of The Sunday Times, for which 2,141 adults were interviewed online on 20-21 February 2014. Asked whether they agreed with the church leaders’ criticisms, which branded the reforms as a ‘disgrace’ and leaving some people at risk of ‘destitution’, opinion was evenly divided, 42% agreeing and 42% disagreeing. Most negative about the Government’s policy were Labour voters (71%) and Scots (57%), while those more inclined to reject the views of the church leaders included Conservative supporters (77%) and residents of southern England outside London (50%). For the full results, see p. 9 of the data tables at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/7ievwsmlza/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140221.pdf

This is not the first intervention about the current Government’s welfare reform programme on the part of church leaders. For BRIN’s previous coverage of public reaction to such intervention, see:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2013/sunday-times-religion-poll-2/ [17 March 2013]

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/lords-spiritual/ [27 January 2012]

Welfare reform (2)

Meanwhile, opinion about the welfare system shows some signs of division along religious lines, according to a ComRes poll conducted online among a sample of 2,027 adult Britons aged 18 and over on 6-8 December 2013. Results were released on 19 February 2014 to coincide with the publication of the latest report from the think-tank Theos, The Future of Welfare, comprising 12 essays introduced and edited by Nick Spencer. The data tables for the survey can be found at:

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

Some of the key findings to emerge from the research include:

  • Non-Christians are most confident that the welfare state will survive in something like its present nature and scale in 30 years, 45% against 31% for Christians and 28% for people of no faith, the plurality view among the latter groups being that it will survive but in a diminished form.
  • Christians (75%) take a harder line than non-Christians (63%) or those without religion (60%) in believing that the receipt of welfare benefits should be dependent on prior financial contributions through the tax system, just 19% of Christians disagreeing.
  • Christians (63%) are also much more likely to disagree with the suggestion that everyone should receive benefits, irrespective of whether they have been paying taxes, this being 10% more than the religiously unaffiliated and 26% more than for non-Christians (51% of whom actually agree with the proposition).
  • A plurality among people of no faith (49%) do not think that the relatively wealthy should be entitled to some welfare benefits even if they have been paying taxes, whereas both Christians (58%) and non-Christians (53%) deem such entitlement to be perfectly appropriate (albeit 37% of each say not).
  • Paradoxically, all faith groups (ranging from 64% of those without religion to 70% of Christians) agree that welfare benefits should be a safety net for only the poorest in society.

Of course, such results do not establish any causal effect for religion in shaping views on welfare, and differences are likely to be attributable in the main to underlying demographics, especially of age and social class/wealth. For example, those of no religion will be found disproportionately among younger age cohorts who are, overall, perhaps more economically challenged than their parents’ generation. This may well explain why many of them feel unsympathetic to the relatively wealthy drawing down welfare benefits.

Seven deadly sins

Asked to nominate the worst of the seven ‘deadly sins’ in a recent YouGov poll, a plurality of Britons (43%) replied greed. This sin easily surpassed wrath (18%), sloth (11%), envy (7%), gluttony (5%), lust (3%), and pride (3%). However, when it came to confessing their own one or two worst vices, gluttony and sloth topped the list, at 25% each, followed by pride (19%), wrath (15%), envy (12%), greed (9%), and lust (8%). So, while greed is considered to be the worst sin, it is the one which people are much less likely to own up to themselves. Detailed figures are supposedly available through the link embedded in the YouGov blog post of 20 February 2014, but the link is broken (BRIN has reported it to YouGov), so only the blog is currently available at:

http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/02/20/greed-deadliest-sin/

Ethnicity and generational change

The first of the 2014 issues of Ethnic and Racial Studies (Vol. 37, No. 1) comprises nine articles on the theme of generational change (between first and second generations) among ethnic minorities in Britain. Several of these essays explore the religious dimension, drawing especially upon the British Election Study Ethnic Minority Survey (EMBES) in which a cross-section of 2,787 ethnic minority respondents was interviewed, face-to-face and by self-completion questionnaire, from 7 May to 31 August 2010. The contributions likely to be of most interest to BRIN readers are:

  • Lucinda Platt, ‘Is There Assimilation in Minority Groups’ National, Ethnic, and Religious Identity?’ (pp. 46-70). Platt’s principal finding is that there is generational decline on a range of measures of religiosity for all groups with the partial exception of Muslims. This confirms other evidence of a trend of generational assimilation towards majority and away from minority identity and, in a religious sense, could be said to constitute ‘secularization’. Notwithstanding, this is partially qualified by revelations that the second generation of Hindu immigrants prioritized their religious over their ethnic identity, and that perceptions of religious discrimination enhanced common cause among people of the same faith.
  • Raya Muttarak, ‘Generation, Ethnic, and Religious Diversity in Friendship Choice: Exploring Interethnic Close Ties in Britain’ (pp. 71-98). Muttarak uses pooled data from the 2007-08 and 2008-09 Citizenship Surveys, rather than EMBES. Interethnic friendship patterns are shown to vary significantly by ethnic group, religion, and generation. Ethnic groups sharing similar traits (such as region of origin, race, or religion) were more likely to nominate each other as close friends, although the effect weakened between the first and second generations. In particular, Indian Muslims had a substantially higher chance of having Pakistani close friends than fellow Indians of other religious persuasions. However, black Christians (Caribbean and African) had a higher likelihood of having white British close friends than did other blacks.
  • Siobhan McAndrew and David Voas, ‘Immigrant Generation, Religiosity, and Civic Engagement in Britain’ (pp. 99-119). Mainly using EMBES (other surveys are drawn upon), but analysing for an intermediate (1.5) as well as first and second generations, intergenerational secularization is found across ethnic minority groups, as measured by private religious practice (especially) and religious salience. At the same time, communal religious practice appeared robust to generational decline, apart from black Caribbeans. While immigrant religiosity failed to foster generalized social trust, it is revealed to promote greater civic integration and volunteering.
  • Sin Yi Cheung, ‘Ethno-Religious Minorities and Labour Market Integration: Generational Advancement or Decline?’ (pp. 140-60). EMBES is used to examine four labour market outcomes: economic activity, unemployment, access to salaried jobs, and self-employment. The second generation of immigrants showed little advancement in these outcomes relative to the first generation. Substantial ethno-religious ‘penalties’ persisted for all of the outcomes except self-employment, and there was a particularly strong ‘religious penalty’ among Muslim women.
  • Anthony Heath and Neli Demireva, ‘Has Multiculturalism Failed in Britain?’ (pp. 161-80). Analysis of EMBES, again incorporating a 1.5 generation, demonstrates that all ethno-religious groups have displayed major change across the generations in the direction of a British identity and a reduced social distance, which can co-exist with positive orientations toward their own ethnic culture (as reflected in in-group marriage and friendship). Only a small minority of respondents had taken a separatist position, rejecting a British identity and espousing ‘radical’ socio-political positions. No evidence was found that rates of intergenerational change had been slower among groups that had made successful claims for cultural recognition (such as Sikhs and Muslims). In contrast, lower levels of integration were associated with perceptions of individual or group discrimination.

For abstracts and access options for all these articles, go to:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rers20/37/1#.UwOlUjZFDX4

BMRB turns 80

The British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) is celebrating its eightieth birthday year, laying claim to ‘the longest continuous heritage of any social research company in Britain’. It was established in 1933 as the research arm of advertising agency J. Walter Thompson but quickly shifted emphasis away from commercially oriented research, winning its first contract with the Government in 1939. In 1987 it joined the WPP Group which bought out TNS in 2009, resulting in the creation of TNS BMRB as one of the three constituent companies in the Kantar Group, WPP’s insight, information, and consulting division. TNS Omnibus is a separate company which powers TNS BMRB’s Public Opinion Monitor. Compared to, say, the Gallup Poll (now effectively defunct in Britain), BMRB has not been a major player in religion-related survey research. However, you will find around 30 entries in the BRIN source database where BMRB was responsible for the fieldwork, including the 1963 Political Change in Britain study for David Butler and Donald Stokes, which was the forerunner of the British Election Studies.

 

Posted in Historical studies, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Church of England Health Check and Other News

Church of England health check

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catholics polled on family life – the sequel

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

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

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

2011 census: Church of Scotland parish profiles

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

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

Invisible church

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-Semitic incidents

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

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

Values profile of Britain

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

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

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

Faith under fire

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

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

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

 

 

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