Counting Religion in Britain, February 2021

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 65, February 2021 features 30 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 65 February 2021


  • Coronavirus chronicles: are things really looking up that much for the Churches?
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Christian Aid poll on Covid-19 vaccines in developing nations
  • Coronavirus chronicles: returning to places of worship after lockdown
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Survation on lockdown of Scottish places of worship
  • Coronavirus chronicles: religious correlates of attitudes to abortion in England
  • Perceived importance of religion for getting ahead in life: KCL inequality poll
  • The Together Initiative’s Our Chance to Reconnect report: religion questions
  • ICM/Henry Jackson Society poll of UK adults and Black Britons: religion comparisons
  • Savanta ComRes report on Church Leaders Panel for 2020
  • Perceptions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as problems in the UK


  • Coronavirus chronicles: reaching for the Bible in a time of pandemic
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Church of England discussion paper on its prospects
  • Coronavirus chronicles: the attitudes of churchgoing laity in the Church of England
  • Coronavirus chronicles: survey of the views of Christian event organizers
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Jewish mortality from Covid-19
  • Community Security Trust’s anti-Semitic incidents report for 2020
  • Coronavirus chronicles: the Muslim experience of Covid-19
  • Attitudes of young British Christians towards climate change
  • Church of England’s carbon footprint: first year’s data from energy tool


  • On your marks! The decennial population census of England and Wales is on 21 March
  • Scottish Surveys Core Questions: 2019 results released


  • Coronavirus chronicles: University of York’s ‘Covid-19, Churches, and Communities’
  • Coronavirus chronicles: launch of Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS)
  • Coronavirus chronicles: impact of Covid-19 on London’s Strictly Orthodox Jews
  • Renewal in the Baptist Union of Great Britain during the 1990s
  • Theology and Religious Studies Provision in UK Higher Education (2019): A response
  • Three recent articles in academic religion journals


  • UK Data Service, SN 8767: Community Life Survey, 2019–2020
  • UK Data Service, SN 8772: British Social Attitudes Survey, 2019


  • Katie Harrison appointed Archbishop of Canterbury’s public affairs adviser

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2021

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, Covid-19, Historical studies, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, People news, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, November 2020

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 62, November 2020 features 23 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 62 November 2020


  • How we get along: Woolf Institute diversity study of England and Wales
  • Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, 2020: who trusts clergy and priests to tell the truth?
  • Religious correlates of adoption/fostering: Savanta ComRes poll for Home for Good
  • Importance attached to Religious Studies as a secondary school subject
  • Knowledge of the Holocaust and its importance in the school history curriculum
  • Perceptions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as problems in the UK
  • Legacy of Islamic State: the public’s ongoing lack of sympathy for Shamima Begum
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Co-op calls for reopening of places of worship during lockdown
  • Coronavirus chronicles: door-to-door carol singing not so welcome this Christmas


  • Coronavirus chronicles: Evangelical Alliance’s second survey of Changing Church
  • Church growth and social action in the Church of England
  • Church of England cathedral statistics, 2019
  • Coronavirus chronicles: UK Jewish mortality from Covid-19
  • Coronavirus chronicles: MCB report on British Muslims and Covid-19
  • Islamophobia and the Labour Party: report by the Labour Muslim Network


  • Campaign to recognize Sikhs as an ethnic group in the 2021 census of population
  • Coronavirus chronicles: partnerships between faith groups and local authorities


  • Coronavirus chronicles: fear, isolation, and compulsive buying among religious groups
  • Coronavirus chronicles: more findings from ‘Coronavirus, Church, and You’ survey
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Exeter report on Covid-19, Christian faith, and wellbeing
  • Secularization at the grass roots: a perspective from twentieth-century Slough
  • Round-up of recent academic journal articles


  • UK Data Service, SN 8718: National Survey for Wales, 2019–2020

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2020

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, Covid-19, Historical studies, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Education, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religion Online, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, August 2020

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 59, August 2020 features 21 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 59 August 2020


  • Coronavirus chronicles: religion/spirituality under lockdown–YouGov polling
  • Coronavirus chronicles: religion/spirituality under lockdown–Savanta ComRes polling
  • Coronavirus chronicles: have religious divisions in the UK shifted in the pandemic?
  • Coronavirus chronicles: attending places of worship after lockdown
  • Sunday shopping hours: latest YouGov tracker
  • Belief in God or a spiritual greater power: latest YouGov tracker
  • Influence of religion on the world: latest YouGov tracker
  • Plight of persecuted Christians in Nigeria: time for the UK to take action?
  • Perceptions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as problems in the UK
  • British Muslim anti-Semitism: Savanta ComRes poll for Henry Jackson Society
  • Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill: Savanta ComRes survey in Scotland


  • Coronavirus chronicles: Zoom boom for churches, reports Ecclesiastical
  • Coronavirus chronicles: UK Jewish mortality statistics
  • Media reporting of Muslims and terrorism: new statistical insights


  • Britain’s changing religious landscape: estimates from the Annual Population Survey
  • Coronavirus chronicles: postponement of 2021 census of population in Scotland
  • Solemnization of marriages in Scotland: humanist progress checked for the first time
  • Religious diversity of civil servants as at 31 March 2020
  • Religious diversity of armed forces personnel as at 1 April 2020
  • Entries for Religious Studies in June 2020 school examinations in England and Wales


  • Coronavirus chronicles: impact of the pandemic on Christian welfare organizations

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2020

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, church attendance, Covid-19, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religion in the Press, Religion Online, Religious beliefs, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Rites of Passage, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, July 2020

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 58, July 2020 features 17 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 58 July 2020


  • Spring 2019 Pew Global Attitudes Project: release of results for religion questions
  • Coronavirus chronicles: opening and attending places of worship after lockdown
  • Religious correlates of attitudes to gay conversion therapy
  • Religious correlates of attitudes towards climate change and racial inequality
  • Perceptions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as problems in the UK
  • Was the government right to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship?
  • BAME attitudes to minority religions: focaldata study for Hope Not Hate


  • Coronavirus chronicles: new research reports by the Allchurches Trust
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Covid-19 survey of Jews in the UK
  • Coronavirus chronicles: UK Jewish mortality statistics
  • Community Security Trust’s anti-Semitic incidents report, January-June 2020
  • Church of England clergy: initial research findings from the Sheldon Community


  • Number of state-funded faith schools and their students in England, 2000–20
  • Campaign to recognize Sikhs as an ethnic group in the 2021 census of population


  • Science and religion: conflict or coexistence?
  • Islam and Muslims on UK university campuses


  • UK Data Service, SN 8657: Annual Population Survey, Three-Year Pooled Dataset, January 2017-December 2019

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2020

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, church attendance, Covid-19, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, June 2020

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 57, June 2020 features 23 new sources of British religious statistics. The contents list appears below and a PDF version of the full text can be downloaded from the following link: No 57 June 2020


  • Coronavirus chronicles: relaxation of Sunday trading laws in England and Wales
  • Coronavirus chronicles: the practice of meditation
  • Coronavirus chronicles: pre- and post-lockdown religious affiliation
  • Religious London: Savanta ComRes polling for Theos
  • Attitudes of trustees to the management and governance of charities
  • Security of places of worship: survey conducted for Jacksons Fencing
  • Public’s continuing disinclination to adopt the Common Era dating system
  • Importance of teaching of Religious Studies at secondary school
  • Perceptions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as problems in the UK


  • Coronavirus chronicles: Evangelical Alliance report on Changing Church
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Roman Catholic responses to ‘Coronavirus, Church, and You’
  • Coronavirus chronicles: Anglican responses to ‘Coronavirus, Church, and You’
  • Coronavirus chronicles: UK Jewish mortality statistics
  • Recent Church of England reports
  • Other annual denominational statistical returns for 2019


  • Coronavirus chronicles: Covid-19 deaths by religion in England and Wales


  • Catholics in Britain research project: results for attitudes to women priests
  • Revisiting Methodism and social inclusion: a preferential option for the affluent?
  • Islamophobia in North-East England
  • Recent academic journal articles


  • UK Data Service, SN 8632: Annual Population Survey, January-December 2019
  • UK Data Service, SN 8648: Survey of Londoners, 2018–19
  • UK Data Service, SN 8649: Health Survey for England, 2018

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2020

Posted in Attitudes towards Religion, church attendance, Covid-19, Historical studies, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, December 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 27, December 2017 features 24 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 27 December 2017


Perils of perception

The latest Ipsos global Perils of Perception survey again sought to quantify the public’s perception of facts and compare it with the reality (as established by a variety of verified sources). The study was conducted in 38 countries between 28 September and 19 October 2017 by means of interviews (mostly online) with 29,133 adults aged 16/18-64, including approximately 1,000 in Britain. This year, respondents in each country were asked how many of their compatriots they thought said they believed in heaven, hell, or God. The British sample consistently overestimated what the answers might have been. In other words, interviewees assessed other Britons as being more religious than they actually claimed to be. This was particularly the case in respect of hell, in which nearly twice as many people were thought to believe as did so (38% versus 21%). The divergence was least for belief in God where the average guess was 43% against a reality of 39%, while for belief in heaven it was 45% versus 32%. Topline results only are available at:

Importance of religion

The relative insignificance of religion to UK citizens, and most other Europeans for that matter, was actually revealed in another contemporaneous survey, Wave 88.3 of the European Commission’s Eurobarometer, face-to-face fieldwork for which was conducted with 1,334 adults aged 15 and over in the UK by TNS UK on 5-14 November 2017. Asked to select from a list of twelve values the three which were most important to them personally, just 5% in the UK chose religion, one point less than the European Union mean. Peace was the most highly-prized (by 41%) value in the UK, closely followed by respect for human life and human rights on 40% each. Topline results only are available at: 

Knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ

To mark the UK launch of its mini-series Robert Powell on the Real Jesus of Nazareth, the History Channel commissioned OnePoll to conduct an online survey of 2,000 UK adults about their knowledge of the life of Jesus Christ. Although more than seven in ten reckoned they had a good grasp of the Christmas story, quite a few were ignorant of some of the specifics, including one-fifth who did not think Jesus was born on Christmas Day. If anything, there were even more gaps in respondents’ knowledge of His later life, one-fifth unaware that He had twelve disciples, three-fifths that Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, and one-quarter that Good Friday witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus. Just three in ten admitted that their knowledge of the life of Jesus derived from reading the Bible.

As with so many OnePoll studies, the full data tables from this survey are unlikely to enter the public domain, while media reporting of the headline results has been relatively unsystematic. The History Channel has a brief news release at:

A little more detail can be found in The Independent’s reporting at:

Christmas carols

Almost three-quarters of Britons claim to like Christmas carols, according to an app-based poll by YouGov published on 20 December 2017. A plurality (45%) said they enjoyed both singing and listening to carols, while a further 22% liked to listen to them and 6% to sing them. Approximately one-fifth (22%) neither enjoyed listening to nor singing carols and 5% were unsure of their preference. Topline data only are available at:

Meanwhile, Classic FM’s annual listeners’ poll of ‘The Nation’s Favourite Carol’ for 2017 revealed it to be O Holy Night, with Silent Night and In the Bleak Mid-Winter (Gustav Holst version) in second and third places, respectively. The top 30 listing is at:

Christmas cards

A Mail on Sunday survey of more than 580 Christmas cards from two leading greetings card producers, Hallmark and Card Factory, found only seven with a Nativity theme. And of the branches of Waitrose, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, and Waterstones which were visited by the newspaper’s investigators, none was selling cards depicting the Nativity. The story is told in:

Religion and politics

Most Britons consider that religion and politics belong to separate spheres, according to an online poll of almost 1,700 adults conducted by YouGov for The Times in December 2017, and reported in the Christmas Day online only edition of the newspaper. Asked whether politicians should feel free to use their religious beliefs to inform their political decisions, just 14% agreed, while 65% wanted politicians to keep their religious views out of their politics, with 21% undecided. Respondents were similarly unenthusiastic about the presence of clerics in the House of Lords, 62% saying that none should have an automatic right to a seat in the chamber; a mere 8% supported the continuation of the current arrangement of seats for 26 Church of England bishops alone, a further 12% thinking other faith leaders should sit alongside them, and 18% being unsure. The Times also took the opportunity to add a couple of more general religious questions, about belief in God (36% being disbelievers and 29% believers, with a further 23% believing in some sort of spiritual greater power) and intentions to attend a Christmas service (20% saying they had plans to do so). No data tables are available as yet but the newspaper’s report can be found at:

Entrance fees for places of worship

News that the Pantheon, a church which is one of Rome’s most celebrated tourist attractions, is to start charging visitors for admission prompted YouGov to ask, in an app-based poll published on 14 December 2017, whether it is acceptable to levy an entrance fee to places of worship. One-quarter of respondents deemed it inappropriate to charge at all, but the majority (57%) considered it acceptable to make tourists pay (albeit not worshippers) and a further 16% to charge everybody. Topline data only are available at:

Pope Francis

‘Global Leaders’ was the theme of the Gallup International Association’s 41st Annual Global End of Year Survey, Pope Francis being one of 12 leaders whom respondents were asked to rate. Fieldwork was conducted in 55 countries, including in the UK, where 1,004 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online by ORB International on 4-11 December 2017. Across the world in the aggregate, 56% viewed Pope Francis favourably and 18% unfavourably, giving a net score of +38%, which was larger than obtained by any of the other world leaders covered by the survey, all of whom were prime ministers or heads of state. In the UK, this net score for the Pope was somewhat lower, at +32%, the product of a 57% favourable and 25% unfavourable opinion. Although the UK was positioned 26th= for favourability towards the Pope, it came as high as 8th= for unfavourable attitudes, which were mainly worse in nations with large Muslim populations. Topline results only are available at:

Muslim experiences

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has recently released several reports on the Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II), which was conducted by Ipsos MORI in 2015-16. One of the reports concerns the experience of discrimination by Muslim minorities in 15 European Union countries, including the UK, where 710 self-identifying Muslim adults who were immigrants or descendants of immigrants from South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa were interviewed face-to-face between 24 September 2015 and 24 April 2016. Relative to their co-religionists in the other nations, UK Muslims had a slightly above average attachment to their country of residence and a below average perception of widespread discrimination existing against them. They had certainly experienced somewhat lower levels of discrimination during the previous five years, especially on the grounds of ethnic or immigrant background. The published report on Muslims can be found at:

An interactive search tool for the whole dataset is at:

Islamic State (1)

The public has mixed views about what precisely should be done with the estimated 850 Britons who have fought as jihadists with Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, but the majority is clear in not wanting to see them back home. This is according to an online survey of 2,007 UK adults by Opinium Research on 27-30 November 2017, following on from comments by a Foreign Office minister (Rory Stewart) that, in most instances, the best course of action would be to kill them. A plurality of respondents (42%) wished to see the Government strip the British jihadists of their citizenship and prevent them returning to the UK, while 35% wanted them treated as enemy combatants and thus as legitimate targets for attack. However, when Stewart’s comments were quoted, 62% agreed with them, 18% dissenting. In other questions, 84% accepted that the British jihadists were, indeed, legitimate targets and 77% that they could never be reintegrated into UK society. When it was suggested that the UK could be considered to be as bad as ISIS if the Government pursued a strategy of killing British jihadists rather than imprisoning them, only 29% agreed with the proposition, 46% disagreed, and 24% were neutral or unsure. Full data tables, disaggregated by an extensive range of variables, can be found at:

Islamic State (2)

Perhaps in reflection of the defeats suffered by ISIS on the battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria, United States President Donald Trump (33%) is now perceived by Scots as the greatest threat to international security, one point ahead of Islamic terrorism, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in third place (18%). This is according to a poll by Survation for the Sunday Post, conducted among an online sample of 1,006 adults aged 16 and over in Scotland on 1-5 December 2017. By far the highest proportions selecting Islamic terrorism as the greatest threat were found among Conservative voters (43%) and those who had voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum (42%). Further information is contained in table 55 of the survey report at:


Belief in aspects of the paranormal was tested by YouGov in three app-based polls conducted during December 2017, for which topline data only are available.

Asked whether it is possible to see or hear or feel a ghost, a plurality (44%) of Britons replied in the affirmative, with 41% disagreeing and 15% unsure. See:

When it came to unidentified flying objects (UFOs), one-half of adults said they would approve of the UK government having a programme to investigate UFO sightings, comparable with the one run by the US Pentagon between 2007 and 2012. Opposition to the idea stood at 39% with 11% undecided. See:

Even more, 71%, were confident that there are non-human life forms existing somewhere in outer space, with 11% emphatic there are not and 17% uncertain. See:


UK Church Statistics

By far the most important new religious statistical source this month is UK Church Statistics 3, 2018 Edition, edited by Peter Brierley (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-9957646-1-3, £28, paperback). It comprises 18 sections, the first 12 of which relate to the number of members, churches, and ministers in the UK for 257 denominations (collated into ten groups) for every year between 2012 and 2017, with a forecast through to 2022. These figures derive from a request sent to each denomination in mid-2016 supplemented by websites and estimates by Brierley. Notwithstanding membership growth in two-thirds of denominations, the overall trend remains one of decline (of 7% for the whole UK between 2012 and 2017 and 17% for Scotland alone), with 9.4% of the population a church member in 2017. Of the remaining sections in the book, special interest attaches to 22 pages of detailed tables and maps from the Scottish church census of 2016; and 10 pages of reworked tables of English church census data back to 1980.  There are also five reprinted essays by Brierley on specific aspects of the UK religious scene and a miscellany of other religious and social statistics. All in all, despite an occasional reservation, the volume is an impressive achievement. For a fuller content description and ordering information, go to:

Christian charities

The top ten Christian charities in the UK have a combined annual income of almost £521 million, according to an analysis by Charity Financials. The list, which is headed by the Salvation Army Trust on £209 million, is somewhat curious. The figures do not seem to add up, and, since there appear to be many obvious omissions, it remains unclear what criteria were used to identify the big-hitting Christian charities. The analysis is available at:

Unionized clergy

The Times (4 December 2017, p. 11) reported that almost 1,500 individuals have now joined the faith workers branch of the trade union Unite. This is an increase of nearly 200, or 16%, on the year before. The majority (54%) of the branch’s members are from the Church of England (who have their own workplace grouping within the branch, Church of England Clergy Advocates), with a further 10% Methodists (who likewise have a workplace grouping, the Association of Methodist Faith Workers), but rabbis and imams have also started to join. Even so, a comparatively small proportion of faith workers in the UK are unionized, at least via Unite. This is despite the fact that many have the legal status of office holders, rather than employees, and thus may be more likely to require independent advice and representation. According to Peter Brierley, the number of Christian ministers in the UK is actually increasing somewhat, and now exceeds 40,000.

Church growth, Anglo-Catholic style

Part A of Tim Thorlby’s A Time to Sow: Anglican Catholic Church Growth in London (London: Centre for Theology and Community, 2017, 96pp.) showcases seven examples of recent Anglican church growth in the Dioceses of London and Southwark, all in Anglo-Catholic parishes serving deprived areas. Part B contains summative reflections on church growth arising from the research. The report is available at:


The National Secular Society’s latest report, Separating Church and State: The Case for Disestablishment, includes, at pp. 10-11, an historical overview of public opinion towards the disestablishment of the Church of England. It can be downloaded from:



A special theme issue of Journal of Religious History (Vol. 41, No. 4, December 2017) is devoted to ‘New Perspectives on Secularisation in Britain (and beyond)’, guest-edited by David Nash and William Gibson. It comprises an introduction by Gibson (pp. 431-8) followed by five research articles, by Callum Brown on atheism (pp. 439-56), Stefan Fisher-Høyrem on the Victorian public sphere (pp. 457-75 – a distinctly odd piece), Dominic Erdozain on the origins of European doubt (pp. 476-504), David Nash on secularization narratives (pp. 505-31), and John Wolffe on London since the 1960s (pp. 532-49). The authors mostly engage with secularization at a theoretical and intellectual level, with Charles Taylor’s work often foregrounded, but Wolffe’s article has significant empirical interest, demonstrating (he suggests) a quantitative and qualitative religious resurgence in the capital, originating in the 1960s and 1970s and gathering momentum around 2000. Although this was mainly rooted in the growth of Pentecostalism, Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism, and most traditional Christian denominations continued to experience net decline, even here there were instances of expansion and effective new activity. For options to access this issue, go to:

Religious diversity

A special theme issue of Journal of Beliefs and Values (Vol. 38, No. 3, 2017) on relations between Abrahamic religions includes two articles reporting additional findings from the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project of 2011-12, conducted among 11,809 13- to 15-year-olds attending state-maintained schools in the UK. Tania ap Siôn, ‘Seeing how We See Each Other: Learning from Quantitative Research among Young People in the UK’ (pp. 305-17) concludes that: ‘students who are themselves religiously motivated hold more positive attitudes towards religious diversity; there is no evidence that schools with a religious character produce students who are less-accepting of people from other religious faiths; religious education does work in the sense of leading to attitudes that promote community cohesion, lessen religious conflict and promote the common good.’ Leslie Francis and Ursula McKenna, ‘Assessing Attitude toward Religious Diversity among Muslim Adolescents in the UK: The Effect of Religious and Theological Factors’ (pp. 328-40) uses regression analysis to demonstrate that theological factors (measured on the Astley-Francis Theology of Religions Index) account for much more variance than religious factors in explaining individual differences in Muslim students’ attitudes towards religious diversity. For options to access these articles, go to:

Bertelsmann Foundation Religion Monitor, 2017

The Bertelsmann Foundation has completed the third in a series of international Religion Monitors, this one focusing on Muslims. Fieldwork was conducted towards the end of 2016 with representative samples of the general population and of Muslims in each of five European countries: Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Great Britain (where approximately 1,000 adults and 500 Muslims were interviewed). Initial findings have been published in a 15-page report written by Yasemin El-Menouar, Muslims in Europe: Integrated but Not Accepted? Results and Country Profiles (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Foundation, 2017). Muslims in Britain were differentiated from the rest of society by their relative youth (their average age being 38 years versus 49 years for the national cross-section) and their significantly greater religiosity (98% self-rating as highly or moderately religious compared with 57% of Britons generally). Other indicators of social distance between Muslims and non-Muslims in Britain were that: no more than 68% of Muslims had regular contact with non-Muslims in their leisure time; just 20% of Muslims felt an exclusive connection with Britain (with a further 68% having a dual allegiance to Britain and their country of origin); 42% of Muslims claimed to have experienced discrimination in the previous year; and 21% of non-Muslims objected to Muslims as neighbours (against merely 4% opposed to Jews as neighbours, 3% to atheists, and 1% to Christians). The report is available at:

British Religion in Numbers

A further update of the British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) source database has just taken place. New entries have been created for 103 British religious statistical sources, 73 of them from 2017, and 16 existing entries have been augmented, mostly by additional bibliographical references. The total of sources described in the database now stands at 2,739, disproportionately sample surveys. Sources can be browsed at:

An advanced search facility is available at:

Educating late Hanoverian Anglican clerg

In The Education of the Anglican Clergy, 1780-1839 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017, x + 272pp., ISBN: 978-1-78327-175-7, £70, hardback), Sara Slinn offers a prosopographical study of the educational backgrounds of men ordained to the Anglican ministry in the late Hanoverian period, which was largely before the establishment of theological colleges. She demonstrates that the clergy of this era were socially, culturally, and educationally a more diverse group than has been previously recognised, with significant numbers of non-graduates. Extensive reliance is placed on quantitative data, mined from the Clergy of the Church of England Database, ordination application papers in diocesan archives, and ordination lists in contemporary periodicals and newspapers. The book’s webpage is at:


SN 6614: Understanding Society, Waves 1-7, 2009-2016 and Harmonised British Household Panel Survey, Waves 1-18, 1991-2009

This is not a new dataset per se but a major step forward in integrating access to pre-existing resources. For the first time in the study’s history, data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) have been harmonized with those from Understanding Society to create 25 years of longitudinal data for the UK. BHPS started in 1991 and followed the same representative sample of individuals over an 18-year period. In 2009, BHPS participants were invited to consider joining the new, bigger, and more wide-ranging survey called Understanding Society. This merged longitudinal dataset naturally has many advantages over traditional cross-sectional surveys in tracking over-time changes in attitudes and beliefs among a very large sample. During the lifetimes of BHPS and Understanding Society, various religion-related questions have been asked, including about religious affiliation, attendance at religious services, and the difference made by religious beliefs to everyday life. BRIN readers can explore further via the catalogue record and documentation at:

SN 8294: Community Life Survey, 2016-17

This is the fifth annual wave of the Community Life Survey (CLS), initiated by the Cabinet Office in 2012-13 to carry forward some of the questions in the discontinued Citizenship Survey; responsibility for the CLS currently rests with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Fieldwork for this wave was undertaken by Kamtar Public (formerly TNS BMRB) between 10 August 2016 and 31 March 2017, online interviews or postal questionnaires being completed by 10,256 adults aged 16 and over in England (being a response rate of 21%). Besides demographics, the interview schedule explored identity and social networks, community, civic engagement, volunteering, social action, and subjective wellbeing. More specifically, respondents were asked about their religion and whether they practised it, the proportion of their friends drawn from the same religious group, their participation in and volunteering for religious groups, and their charitable giving to religious causes. A full catalogue description of the dataset, with links to supporting documentation, can be found at:

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017


Posted in church attendance, Historical studies, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religion in public debate, Religious beliefs, religious festivals, Religious prejudice, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Religion in Britain, August 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 23, August 2017 features 27 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 23 August 2017


Personal values

Asked to select their three most important personal values from a list of twelve options, just 4% of UK citizens chose religion, bottom equal with self-fulfilment, and two points below the European Union (EU) average. The most highly favoured personal values in the UK were respect for human life (48%), peace (43%), and human rights (42%). Data derived from Wave 87.3 of Standard Eurobarometer, the UK fieldwork for which was undertaken by Kantar Public UK between 20 and 28 May 2017 through 1,365 face-to-face interviews. Questions were also posed about the values (including religion) which best represented the EU and the factors (again including religion) creating a feeling of community among EU citizens. Topline results were published in the annex at:

Religion at work

A director in the National Health Service, sacked for speaking out against adoption by same-sex parents, has claimed that political correctness is preventing Christians from holding public posts. The case prompted YouGov to ask, in an app-based survey reported on 1 August 2017, whether people who let their strong religious beliefs influence their attitudes at work should be allowed to hold high executive positions. The majority of Britons (59%) considered that they should not be permitted to do so, with 29% taking the contrary position and 12% uncertain. Topline data only are available at:

Religion and mental health

Religious nones are more likely to have had personal experience of mental health problems (including anxiety and depression) than people of faith, according to an online poll by Populus among 2,038 Britons on 9-10 November 2016, the results of which have recently been released by Mind, the survey sponsor. The disparity, 39% for nones against 29% for both Christians and non-Christians, is perhaps driven by the younger age profile of nones. By contrast, Christians are disproportionately numerous among the over-65s, a cohort whose declared personal experience of mental health problems falls to 18% nationally. Nones also report an above-average incidence of mental health problems among friends and family. Summary figures are shown below, and the raw data are available in table 68 of the dataset at:

Mental health problems (%)


Christians Non-Christians

No religion

Personal experience of problems


29 29


Friends or family experience of problems


36 42


Any experience of problems


56 56


Archbishop of Canterbury and politics

The Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby), who is a member of the House of Lords, recently said that the chances of finalizing a Brexit deal with the European Union before the target date of March 2019 are ‘infinitesimally small’. His intervention annoyed some MPs who suggested that he should stay out of the discussions. But, in an app-based poll reported by YouGov on 2 August 2017, the British public mostly sprang to the Archbishop’s defence. Just 26% of respondents considered he should speak only about religious issues. Two-thirds defended his right to comment on politics, divided between: 49% who said the Archbishop should speak on behalf of the Anglican communion on all matters relevant to it, including Brexit; 2% who judged he should speak on a wide range of issues but excluding Brexit; and 14% who wanted him to restrict his political forays to the House of Lords. The remaining 9% were unsure. Topline data only are available at:

Bridging the Reformation divide

Five centuries after the Reformation, the Catholic-Protestant divide in Western Europe has faded, according to a new multinational survey by the Pew Research Center. With funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, telephone interviews were conducted by GfK with nationally representative samples of 15 Western European countries between April and August 2017, including in Great Britain (where there were 1,841 respondents, 54% of whom were nominally Protestant and 17% Catholic).

The extent of the Catholic-Protestant divide was measured by a series of attitudinal and religiosity indicators, the British results of which are tabulated below. Interestingly, in something of a theological role reversal, far more British Protestants than Catholics now hold to the traditional Catholic position that both faith and good works are necessary to get into heaven. Martin Luther’s teaching on salvation by faith alone is believed by only one-quarter of the Protestants (and one-third of Catholics). Likewise, whereas the majority of Protestants assess that the two communities are more religiously similar than different, a plurality of Catholics still say the opposite, even though there is not that much to separate them in terms of claimed levels of religious observance. However, such perceived differences do not stand in the way of social integration for, almost universally, members of each community know people from the other and are willing to accept them as family members and neighbours. A detailed report and topline for all the countries surveyed is available at:

A comparable, but more detailed, survey on Catholic-Protestant relations was also undertaken in the United States, the report on which can be found at:

% (Great Britain) Protestants Catholics
Both good deeds and faith in God necessary to get into heaven



Faith in God only thing necessary to get into heaven



Religion very or somewhat important in personal life



Private prayer at least weekly



Churchgoing at least monthly



Know a person of the other religion



Willingness to accept persons of the other religion as family members



Willingness to accept persons of the other religion as neighbours



Catholics and Protestants religiously more similar than different



Catholics and Protestants religiously more different than similar



Pew Global Attitudes Survey

Further findings have been released from the Spring 2017 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Survey. British fieldwork was undertaken by Kantar Public UK between 6 March and 3 April 2017, 1,066 adults aged 18 and over being interviewed by telephone.

Asked whether they endorsed several of US President Donald Trump’s policies, 58% of Britons disapproved of proposed tighter restrictions on those entering the US from some majority-Muslim countries, four points below the global median and two points below the European median. Approval was expressed by 35% (compared with 36% in Europe as a whole and 32% in the world), rising to 52% of Britons on the political right (against 11% on the left). Disapproval in Britain of this particular Trump policy was identical to that of US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear weapons agreement but lower than opposition to US withdrawal from major trade agreements (72%), US withdrawal from international climate change agreements (80%), and building a wall on the US-Mexico border (83%). Topline data are available at:

Presented with a list of eight international threats to the UK, 70% of Britons ranked Islamic State (IS) the greatest major threat, increasing to 79% among over-50s. The next major threats to the UK were seen as cyberattacks from other countries (61%) and global climate change (59%). British concerns about IS were lower than in some other Western democracies, including France (88%), Spain (88%), Italy (85%), Greece (79%), Germany (77%), and United States (74%). They were also nine points less than they had been in Britain a year earlier, although it should be noted that the 2017 fieldwork was conducted before the Islamist attacks in Manchester and London in May and June, respectively, which caused numerous fatalities. Topline data are available at:

Communicating with the dead

A psychic has claimed recently that she has communicated with the late Princess Diana. However, just 10% of Britons think that psychics can genuinely communicate with the dead, according to an app-based poll by YouGov on 7 August 2017, for which 3,207 adults were interviewed. The proportion was higher for women than men and for manual workers than non-manuals, but it was highest of all among UKIP voters (17%). Almost three-quarters of the whole sample disbelieved in the ability of psychics to communicate with the dead, divided between 48% who said the psychics were knowingly lying to people and 25% who felt they really believed what they were doing. The remaining 17% of respondents were undecided. Full results by demographics are available at:


Just over one-quarter of British adults (28%) believe in omens, the highest proportions among women (37%) and UKIP voters (38%). One-half do not believe while 22% are undecided. The full results, which derive from an app-based YouGov survey on 31 August 2017 with 4,294 respondents, are at:


Community role of churches

The social role of churches is largely invisible to the general public, according to an online survey by OnePoll of 4,500 UK adults in February 2017 on behalf of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, which has recently released a few results. Three-quarters of respondents could not name any of the activities which took place inside their local church other than religious services held regularly or at festivals. Residents of North-West England were amongst the least knowledgeable and rural dwellers the most. Prompted with a list of community activities offered by churches around the country, 54% were still unaware of those which their own local church provided, the proportion reaching 65% among over-55s and 83% of 18-25-year-olds. The full data have not been published, but Ecclesiastical’s press release (from which this report has been compiled, together with a few additional details in the Church of England Newspaper, 25 August 2017, p. 1), is available at:

Chaplaincy (1)

Theos think tank has published two local studies of chaplaincy, based on quantitative research (via an online survey) between October 2016 and March 2017. The statistics relate to chaplaincies which could be identified and responded to the survey, so the picture in both cases is unlikely to be complete. Copies of Mapping Chaplaincy in Norfolk: A Report and Mapping Chaplaincy in Cornwall: A Report can be found at, respectively:

Chaplaincy (2)

Meanwhile, Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association) have published a third tranche of results from their online poll by YouGov on 28-29 July 2016, demonstrating (it is suggested) wide public demand for the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network which Humanists UK have just launched. Of the 4,085 adults interviewed, 69% agreed that prisons, hospitals, and universities with chaplains on the establishment should also have a dedicated non-religious pastoral support provider, including 73% of religious nones and 66% of persons of faith. In the event of being unhappy, distressed, or concerned at some point in the future, 42% said they would be likely to avail themselves of the services of a non-religious pastoral support provider, compared with 36% who would consult a chaplain. Nones (73%) were particularly unlikely to want to see a chaplain under such hypothetical circumstances, significantly above the national average of 49%, and they were also far less likely than Christians to have done so in the past. Many Christians (39%) and non-Christians (46%) would not be averse to seeing a non-religious pastoral support worker. In creating its new Network, Humanists UK have consciously decided to avoid using the term humanist chaplain since Britons overwhelmingly (83%) equate chaplaincy with Christianity. A summary of this particular section of the poll’s findings, with a link to the full data tables, is available at:

Gender pay gap

In compliance with Government requirements for all large employers, the Church of England has published details of the gender pay gap among the 452 employees of its National Church Institutions (NCIs). Results were separately reported for the Church Commissioners investment team (where a performance-related pay scheme is in operation) and the rest (the overwhelming majority) of NCI staff. In the case of the latter, there was a 41% disparity of men over women for median salary, reflecting the concentration of women in the lowest quartile pay band (where they represented 74% of the staff, dropping to 36% in the uppermost quartile). The report is available at:

Scottish church census, 2016

Headline findings from the 2016 Scottish church census, the fourth in a series since 1984, were featured in the April 2016 edition of Counting Religion in Britain. A book painting a fuller picture of the results has now been published: Peter Brierley, Growth Amidst Decline: What the 2016 Scottish Church Census Revealed (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2017, 215pp., ISBN: 978-0-9957646-0-6, £9.99, paperback). The ten chapters profile churchgoers in 2016 by age, gender, ethnicity, geography, churchmanship, and other characteristics; and analyse church leadership, midweek attendance, the age of churches, and replies to various sponsored questions on the census form. As befits a project commissioned and overseen by a consortium of Scottish Churches, most chapters end with a section ‘so what does all this say?’ There is also a concluding ‘making sense of all this’, aimed at individual congregations. An appendix briefly considers the methodology of the census and presents additional tables, and even more will be included in the forthcoming 2018 edition of UK Church Statistics, also by Brierley. The webpage of Growth Amidst Decline, with details on ordering a copy, is at:


The August 2017 issue of FutureFirst, the bimonthly bulletin of Brierley Consultancy, contains the usual mix of short and long articles about social and religious statistics. The longer pieces of British religious interest this time cover: a slow-down in Pentecostal church growth; an overview of recent research on parents passing on faith to their children; estimates of Scottish churchgoers by age over time; estimates of religious and secular funerals since 1995; and Christmas attendance in the Church of England. Further details are available from A version of the funeral article also appeared as Brierley’s monthly column in Church of England Newspaper, 25 August 2017, p. 10.

Antisemitism Barometer

The Campaign against Antisemitism (CAA) has published results and analysis from online surveys which were conducted in 2016 and 2017 among samples of Britons and British Jews aged 18 and over. Britons were members of YouGov’s 800,000-strong panel, 1,660 being interviewed on 18-19 August 2016 and 1,614 on 2-3 August 2017. The two Jewish samples were self-selecting, recruited by CAA via Jewish seed organizations and online networks, which were then used to initiate a snowballing process. They thus constituted non-probability convenience samples, with 1,857 respondents between 17 August and 18 September 2016 and 2,025 between 19 July and 8 August 2017. Results were weighted according to the profile of the Jewish population in the 2011 census and the 2013 National Jewish Community Survey. Full details of methodology and data tables are contained in the 110-page Antisemitism Barometer, 2017, which is available at:

Britons were presented with a list of seven anti-Semitic stereotypes and asked which they considered definitely or probably true. Just over one-third (36%) agreed with one or more of the statements in 2017, down from 45% in 2015 and 39% in 2016. On this criterion, the most anti-Semitic groups in 2017 were: Roman Catholics (52%), readers of The Sun or The Star newspapers (47%), over-65s (46%), men (42%), and leave voters in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (42%). No individual stereotype was subscribed to by more than 20% of the whole sample (this being that British Jews chase money more than other British people). Just 12% of interviewees had definitely not met a Jewish person but 34% were unsure whether they had or not.

One-third of the Jews in 2017 claimed to have considered leaving the UK during the previous two years on account of anti-Semitism, 21% disagreed that Jews had a long-term future in the country, and 17% felt unwelcome here. Just over one-third (37%) avoided showing visible signs of their Judaism when outside the home. Almost two-thirds (64%) disagreed that the authorities were doing enough to address and punish anti-Semitism, with 42% having no confidence that, if they reported an anti-Semitic hate crime, it would be prosecuted if there was sufficient evidence. Overwhelmingly (83%), Jews deemed that the Labour Party was too tolerant of anti-Semitism in its midst, although Islamist anti-Semitism (ranked first by 48%) was a rather greater concern than that from the far left (ranked first by 29%).

Coverage of the Antisemitism Barometer, 2017 in the Jewish media was quite brief and muted, and various reservations about the Jewish samples and the CAA’s overall approach to researching anti-Semitism were expressed by sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris in a column in the Jewish Chronicle for 25 August 2017 (p. 8), which can be read at:

A blazing row also erupted between the CAA and Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, after the latter posted a video blog (since taken down) lambasting CAA’s survey of Jews as tantamount to scaremongering. The controversy was covered in the online edition of the Jewish News at:


Religion of prisoners

‘Catholic Inmates Outnumber Anglicans for the First Time’, proclaimed the headline in The Times for 14 August 2017 (p. 22), calling into question, the newspaper’s correspondent argued, the privileged role of the Church of England in the prison service, including its monopoly in holding the post of chaplain-general of the service. Underlying this news report was the latest collation of quarterly Offender Management Statistics, one of whose documents tabulated the religious affiliation of the prison population (85,863 persons) as at 30 June 2017. Headline results (excluding the small number of religion unrecorded) are shown below, but the full spreadsheet, with data disaggregated by gender (albeit not age), can be found via the link at:


% June 2017

% change since June 2016





Roman Catholic












Other Christian




Other non-Christian




Visitor attractions

The 62 places of worship included in VisitEngland’s 2016 survey of major visitor attractions did not have an especially good year. Visitor numbers at them were down by 8% on 2015 levels and by 12% for those charging for admission (perhaps in reaction to an average 18% hike in their ticket prices). This compared with an annual increase of 2% for all visitor attractions in England. The fall was driven by some of the larger places of worship, especially in London, notably Westminster Abbey (-28%), where a 2012 Olympic Games boost had worn off. Outside the capital, sharp reductions in visitors were reported by Leicester Cathedral (-29%), after a spike caused by the reinterment there of the remains of King Richard III, and Guildford Cathedral (-30%). Gross revenue at the places of worship likewise fell by 1% against a rise of 7% for all attractions. Visitor Attraction Trends in England, 2016: Full Report, prepared by BDRC Continental on behalf of VisitEngland, is available at:

Scottish marriages, 2016

Scotland’s Population: The Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends, 2016 includes the number of marriages conducted in Scotland in 2016 by manner of solemnization. Of 29,229 marriages in all, 15,066 (51.5%) were civil ceremonies, 5,260 (18.0%) humanist, 3,675 (12.6%) Church of Scotland, and 1,346 (4.6%) Roman Catholic. For the full list, plus trend data, see Tables 7.05-7.07 at:

Religious Studies GCE A Levels

There were 26,086 entries for GCE A Level Religious Studies (RS) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the June 2017 examinations, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ). This represented a decrease of 3.5% on the 2016 total compared with a decrease of 1.0% for all subjects and of 1.7% in the 18-year-old population. The number of RS entries had previously risen steadily since the Millennium, there being only 9,532 in 2001. More than seven in ten candidates for RS in 2017 were female, 16 points more than the mean for all subjects. The proportion of RS examinees securing a pass at A* to C grade was 80.8%, against 77.4% for all subjects, although there were fewer than average RS successes at A*. Additionally, there were 19,027 entries for GCE AS Level RS, 50.6% less than in 2016, AS Levels generally rapidly losing ground in consequence of ongoing reform of the examination system. Full provisional tables for both A and AS Level, showing breaks by gender and grade within home nation, are available, together with an important note and press release outlining changes affecting comparability of results year-on-year, at:

Religious Studies GCSE O Levels

The results for GCSE O Level RS were released by the JCQ the week after the A Level data were published. There were 282,193 entries for the full course GCSE in RS in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in June 2017, a decrease of 4.7% on 2016 (and the first fall in a decade) compared with an increase of 3.9% in entries for all subjects. A much smaller proportion of candidates for GCSE O Level RS was female (54.1%) than for GCE A Level RS. The cumulative number obtaining a pass between A* and C for the full course GCSE O Level RS was 71.3%, five points more than the average across all subjects. The short course in GCSE O Level RS (equivalent to half a GCSE) continued its steep decline, with 23.5% fewer candidates in June 2017 than in June 2016, in line with the progressive disappearance of short courses generally. Full tables, again with an important note and press release outlining changes in the examination system affecting year-on-year comparability, are available at:


Religion and voting

The latest blog by Ben Clements on the BRIN website concerns religious affiliation and party choice at the 2017 British general election. It is based on a cross-sectional analysis of the post-election wave (number 13) of the British Election Study (BES) Internet Panel, 2014-18, online fieldwork for which was conducted by YouGov between 9 and 23 June 2017. There was a wide variation in support for the two main political parties among the principal religious groups. For example, the Conservative Party secured the votes of 63% of Jews, 58% of Anglicans, 40% of Catholics, and just 11% of Muslims. The blog, which also includes trend data from previous BES surveys, is at:

In a separate exercise, on behalf of Clive Field (who is preparing a lecture and article on the electoral behaviour of British Methodists between 1832 and 2017), Clements has tabulated the self-reported voting of professing Methodists at the last four general elections, again using the BES Internet Panel. These statistics are shown below:

% down


2010 2015




40 39




31 33


Liberal Democrat


21 13




8 15


By way of footnote to this item, we should flag James Tilley’s ‘We Don’t Do God? Religion and Vote Choice in Britain’ in More Sex, Lies & the Ballot Box: Another 50 Things You Need to Know about Elections, edited by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford (London: Biteback Publishing, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-78590-090-7), pp. 25-9. Using British Social Attitudes Survey data for 1983-2014, Tilley contends that religion is still a good predictor of vote choices, even after controlling for demographic factors and value scales. The denominational patterns which he has detected (Anglicans predisposed to the Conservatives, Catholics to Labour, and so forth) mirror those found in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, electoral preferences being transmitted from one generation to the next. This brief chapter is distilled from a longer article by Tilley in the British Journal of Political Science in 2015, which has already been covered by BRIN.    

Human rights and equality laws

In Politics, Religion, and Ideology, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2017, pp. 73-88, Kingsley Purdam, Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, Nazila Ghanea, and Paul Weller continue their reporting of research into religious discrimination based on the replies of 499 religious organizations to a postal and online questionnaire in 2010-11: ‘Religious Organizations and the Impact of Human Rights and Equality Laws in England and Wales’. The core of the article comprises five tables which quantify responses from the larger faith traditions regarding: the perceived helpfulness of equality legislation and policies in reducing unfair treatment of religious people, facilitating the working of religious organizations, and advancing participation of religious people in British society; and support for exemptions from such legislation for religious organizations in relation to religion or belief. The authors found that ‘equality is variously understood and many religious organizations give only limited recognition to certain legally protected characteristics including gender, sexual orientation and also the identities of other religious organizations’. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Religious education and community cohesion

After controlling for contextual, psychological, and religious factors, researchers have found a small but statistically significant association between taking religious education as an examination subject and higher scores on the scale of attitudes towards religious diversity. Fieldwork was conducted in 2011-12 as part of the Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity Project among 3,052 Year 9 and 10 students from state-maintained schools in England, Wales, and London who self-identified as either Christians or religious nones. A full report appears in Leslie Francis, Tania ap Siôn, Ursula McKenna, and Gemma Penny, ‘Does Religious Education as an Examination Subject Work to Promote Community Cohesion? An Empirical Enquiry among 14- to 15-Year-Old Adolescents in England and Wales’, British Journal of Religious Education, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2017, pp. 303-16. Access options to this article are outlined at:

Discrimination in Scotland

One-third of black and minority ethnic residents of Scotland feel they have experienced discrimination in the last two years, and 44% of this sub-group think that it was on the grounds of their religion. The full sample of 508 respondents, interviewed over the telephone by Survation between 12 June and 17 July 2017 on behalf of Nasar Meer of the University of Edinburgh, was asked a series of questions about their experience of and attitudes to discrimination in Scotland. Results were disaggregated by a range of variables including religious affiliation, although it should be noted that, Muslims apart (n = 257), cell sizes for individual faiths were small. Full data tables are available at:

Yearbook of International Religious Demography

The 2017 edition (Vol. 4) of the Yearbook of International Religious Demography has been published by Brill, edited by Brian Grim, Todd Johnson, Vegard Skirbekk, and Gina Zurlo (xxiv + 257pp., ISBN: 978-90-04-34627-7, €85, paperback). Its contents follow the usual format: global and continental religious data in part I (chapters 1-2); case studies and methodology in part II (chapters 3-9); and data sources in part III (chapter 10). Figures for world religions by country are given in an appendix (pp. 221-49). Although none of the case studies focuses on Britain alone, two relate to Europe more generally: Antonius Liedhegener and Anastas Odermatt on religious affiliation and religious plurality, which introduces the SMRE project, the ‘Swiss Metadatabase of Religious Affiliation in Europe’ (chapter 6); and Michaela Potančoková, Marcin Stonawski, and Anna Krysińska on the effect of increased numbers of asylum seekers on Muslim populations in 2010-15 (chapter 7). The book’s webpage is at:

More information about the SMRE project may be found at:

Victorian statistical rhetoric

Miriam Elizabeth Burstein offers an interesting case study of Victorian attitudes to religious statistics in her ‘“In Ten Years there is an Increase of 450 Priests of Antichrist”: Quantification, Anti-Catholicism, and The Bulwark’, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 56, No. 3, July 2017, pp. 580-604. The Bulwark, published continuously by the Scottish Reformation Society since 1851, was arguably the most influential anti-Catholic periodical of the second half of the nineteenth century, a reputation built on its self-proclaimed devotion to ‘facts’ in demonstrating, through its ‘weaponized statistical discourses’, the religious and social threat which Roman Catholicism posed to the nation. Protestants alone, and only Protestants of the proper theological orientation, were deemed by The Bulwark to speak authoritatively in matters of numbers. Some contextual information about more general ecclesiastical views on quantification is also provided by Burstein, including in connection with the 1851 religious census. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Qualifying secularization

Without denying ‘the steep decline in religious practice, belief, and commitment’, Daniel Loss argues for ‘The Institutional Afterlife of Christian England’ and the absence of a secular society during the second half of the twentieth century. He finds this persistent Christianity reflected in enduring links between the mainstream Churches and the government and public bodies on the one hand (especially over education and broadcasting) and in ‘popular interest in Christianity as a cultural resource’ on the other (Grace Davie’s model of ‘vicarious religion’ is invoked). Particular importance is attached to the role of the Church of England, which is characterized as tolerant, progressive, and inclusive, its image one of ‘bland inoffensiveness’ and ‘harmlessness’. As with much scholarly writing on secularization, whether from pessimistic or optimistic schools, the author tends to claim too much for the primary evidence (which, in this instance, peters out in the 1970s). He also fails to deploy sample surveys to demonstrate precisely how, ‘stripped of its denominational distinctiveness, English Christianity increasingly became a matter of cultural identity rather than orthodox belief or practice’. Access options to the article, published in Journal of Modern History (Vol. 89, No. 2, June 2017, pp. 282-313), are outlined at:

Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017


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Counting Religion in Britain, May 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 20, May 2017 features 27 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 20 May 2017


Global Trends, 2017

Results from the second wave of the Ipsos MORI Global Trends Survey (the first wave being in 2013) have recently been published, based on online interviews with 18,180 adults aged 16-64 across 23 countries between 12 September and 11 October 2016, including 1,000 in Great Britain. Abbreviated topline results for the three specifically religious questions are tabulated below, for Great Britain, the United States, and the all-country mean. They confirm the international relative irreligiosity of Britons. Britain ranked eighteenth on interest in having a more spiritual dimension in life and nineteenth on the importance attached to religion. Full topline data can be found at:

% down

Great Britain

United States

All countries

Religious affiliation
No religion




Spiritual but not religious












Interest in having more spiritual dimension in daily life








Neither/don’t know




Religion/faith very important








Neither/don’t know




Supernatural beliefs

The incidence of various supernatural beliefs has been gauged by BMG Research in an online poll of 1,630 Britons on 13-16 May 2017. Topline results are tabulated below, revealing a span of belief from 16% in astrology to 51% in karma. Disbelievers outnumbered believers with regard to astrology, ghosts/spirits, and life after death. Women were far more likely to believe than men, apart from in life on other planets, when the positions were reversed. In terms of age, and somewhat curiously, the greatest level of belief in life after death was actually among under-35s (39%), falling away through successive cohorts to reach 21% for the over-75s. A similar pattern obtained for belief in life on other planets, held by 55% of under-35s. Breaks were also given for social grade and past voting (in the general election and European Union Referendum). Data tables are at:

% across








Life on other planets












Life after death








Trust in the Church

The Church ranked seventeenth in nfpSynergy’s latest survey of public trust in 24 institutions. Of the 1,000 Britons aged 16 and over interviewed online in February 2017, 33% said they trusted the Church a great deal (9%) or quite a lot (24%) while 58% trusted it not much (28%) or very little (30%). The most trusted institutions were the National Health Service (71%) and the armed forces (70%), the least trusted multinational companies (18%) and political parties (12%). A report on the survey can be downloaded from:

Churches and communities

Despite their scepticism about the Church as a national institution, one-half of UK adults claim they would consider the closure of their nearest church a significant loss to their local community and one-third would campaign against its closure (the same proportion who said they would provide financial support if their local church experienced financial difficulties). This is according to research commissioned by Ecclesiastical Insurance from OnePoll, for which 4,500 UK adults were interviewed online in February 2017. Local churches were regarded as part of the history of their community by 51% of respondents and as part of the fabric of their community by 36%. Data tables are not available but Ecclesiastical’s press release will be found at:


Kate Woodthorpe’s Keeping the Faith surveys the role of religious beliefs in contemporary UK funerals. It was prepared for Royal London, which is the country’s largest mutual life, pensions, and investment company. Although the report is essentially qualitative, there are occasional glimpses into quantitative online research commissioned by Royal London from YouGov among three separate samples (cumulating to 3,240 individuals) who had been responsible for organizing a funeral in recent years. The report can be found at:

Talking Jesus

Insights into the religiosity of 2,000 English young people aged 11-18 are provided by a newly-released online ComRes survey undertaken between 7 and 19 December 2016 on behalf of HOPE and the Church of England. A majority (51%) was not religious in the sense of being disbelievers or uncertain believers in God, the remainder comprising 20% Anglicans, 11% Roman Catholics, 10% other Christians, and 8% non-Christians. Irreligiosity increased with age, being 48% among 11-13-year-olds, 51% for 14-16-year-olds, and 57% for 17-18-year-olds. A majority (54%) also doubted that Jesus Christ was a real person who had actually lived while 63% disbelieved in, or were unsure about, His Resurrection. Of the 825 Christians, 51% described themselves as an active follower of Jesus, with 47% claiming to read the Bible at least monthly, 65% to pray with the same frequency, 51% to attend church once a month or more, 40% to participate in church-related youth activities, and 41% to have talked about Jesus with a non-Christian within the past month. Full data tables, extending to 208 pages, are available at:

Papal power

United States President Donald Trump and Pope Francis recently held their first face-to-face meeting at the Vatican. Asked on 26 May 2017 which of these two world leaders has the more power, 49% of 7,134 YouGov British panellists replied the United States President and 16% the Pope, with 15% regarding them both as equally powerful and 20% undecided. Only in Scotland (22%) and among Scottish National Party voters (29%), both sub-samples with (in all likelihood) an above-average number of Catholics, did the Pope fare a little better. Data are available at:

Jewish vote

The overwhelming majority (77%) of Jews intend to vote for the Conservatives in the forthcoming general election (8 June 2017), 13% for Labour, 7% for the Liberal Democrats, and 2% for another political party. This is according to a telephone poll of 515 self-identifying British Jews undertaken by Survation on behalf of the Jewish Chronicle on 21-26 May 2017, once electors who were unlikely to vote or undecided or refused to say had been excluded from the calculation. There appeared to be two main reasons for the Jewish disinclination to support Labour. One was Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, with 44% of respondents agreeing they would be much or a little more likely to vote for the party were he not its leader. The other was the perceived level of anti-Semitism among Labour Party members and elected representatives, 39% rating it at the highest point on a five-point scale. Full data tables are available at:


Asked by BMG Research which religious group is served by Ramadan, 27% of 1,374 Britons interviewed online on 19-22 May 2017 were unable to say (15%) or gave an incorrect answer (12%). People of no religion (70%) were less inclined to know than Christians (76%) that Ramadan is associated with Islam and Muslims. The full data table is available via the link at:

Islam and intolerance

Two-fifths (41%) of Britons agreed with the statement ‘Islam is an intolerant religion’ in an app-based survey by YouGov reported on 11 May 2017 at:

Islam and extremism

Four-fifths of Britons are either very (43%) or somewhat (36%) concerned about extremism in the name of Islam, according to the Spring 2017 Pew Global Attitudes survey, for which 1,066 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed by Kantar Public UK by telephone between 6 March and 3 April. The combined figure of 79% was three points less than when the question was last asked in Britain in 2015 and also below the level of concern found in Italy (89%), Germany (82%), Spain (82%), and Hungary (80%), being identical to the median for 10 European Union countries. British results varied by age (from 61% of under-30s to 87% of over-50s) and by political alignment (from 61% of left-leaners to 86% of right-leaners). Remaining Britons were either not too concerned (15%) about extremism in the name of Islam or not at all concerned (5%). Pew’s press release can be found at:

On his recent visit to the Middle East, United States President Donald Trump described the world’s fight against Islamic State and Islamist extremism as a battle between ‘good and evil’. One-half of 7,420 Britons interviewed online by YouGov on 22 May 2017 agreed with this description, the proportion being especially high among Conservatives (63%), over-65s (67%), and UKIP voters (71%). The other half of the sample divided between those who rejected the terminology of good versus evil (24%) and don’t knows (26%). Full data are at:

Manchester bomb

On 22 May 2017, an Islamist suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people. It was the worst terrorist incident on British soil since the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 and was hailed by Islamic State (IS). In the following days, YouGov ran several online surveys which touched on the event and its implications.

On 24-25 May, on behalf of The Times, 2,052 Britons were asked about the advisability of implementing specific new measures to combat terrorism in Britain. Among the options was encouraging imams in mosques in Britain to preach solely in English. Only 37% deemed this ‘the right thing to do’, including a majority of over-65s (55%) and UKIP voters (70%). A plurality (41%) was opposed, considering it would be an over-reaction, peaking at 60% of Liberal Democrats and 63% of under-25s. The remaining 22% were unsure. Thinking about how the rest of the world deals with the threat posed by IS, a plurality (46%) judged it likely to be solved by military force whereas 18% advocated dialogue with 37% uncertain. Two-thirds of interviewees viewed the threat of IS as arising wholly or partially from social, religious, and political issues in the Middle East. Data tables are at:

On 25 May, YouGov asked respondents to an app-based survey whether they thought religion-motivated terrorism could ever be stopped. The majority (68%) doubted that it could be while 23% thought it could be halted and 9% were unsure. Anger (71%), concern (57%), and shock (56%) were the commonest reactions to the Manchester outrage, although 71% said their personal confidence had been unaffected by it. Topline results are at:

On 25-26 May, on behalf of the Sunday Times, YouGov asked 2,003 Britons whether they approved of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy of early identification of people in danger of being radicalized, including a requirement for schools and social projects to report extremist sympathies to the authorities. The overwhelming majority (73%) approved of this approach, but there was a minority of 10% who deemed it inappropriate, on the grounds that it intruded too much into the lives of those who had not committed any crime and risked alienating law-abiding British Muslims. The proportion rose to 14% for under-25s, 15% for Liberal Democrats, and 17% for Labour voters. The remaining 17% of the entire sample was undecided. For further details, see p. 11 of the data tables at:

On 26 May, YouGov asked respondents to an app-based survey whether terrorist attacks by IS should be considered as a criminal act or an act of war. The majority (58%) opted for the former description, 34% for the latter, with 8% undecided. Topline results are at:


Faith in Research

The Church of England’s annual Faith in Research Conference was held in Birmingham on 17 May 2017 and attended by 95 delegates. As usual, there was a mix of plenary sessions and parallel streams showcasing the most recent qualitative and quantitative research into faith matters, not exclusively Anglican-related. Highlights of the 17 presentations included first results from wave 1 of the longitudinal panel survey into ‘Living Ministry’ and from the ‘Talking Jesus’ study among 11-18-year-olds in England fielded by ComRes (noted above). Slides from the majority of the presentations are already available at:

Belonging to church

The Faith in Research Conference was chaired by David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, whose recent book is an example of the genre of empirical theology: God’s Belongers; How People Engage with God Today and How the Church Can Help (Abingdon: Bible Reading Fellowship, 2017, 158 pp., ISBN: 978-0-85746-467-5, £7.99, paperback). In it, Walker proposes a fourfold model of belonging to church, through relationship, place, events, and activities, replacing the traditional dichotomy between church members and non-members. His particular concern is with Anglican occasional churchgoers, investigated through his surveys of attenders at harvest festival services in the Diocese of Worcester in 2007 and at cathedral carol services at Worcester in 2009 and Lichfield in 2010. The detailed findings from these studies have been reported in a series of academic papers, listed in the bibliography on pp. 156-7, but, selectively and relatively unobtrusively, they are drawn upon to help sustain the argument in this book, whose purpose is essentially missional. The volume’s webpage can be found at:


In advance of special services to celebrate Godparents’ Sunday on 30 April 2017, the Church of England released a calculation that at least six million people have been godparents at a Church of England christening since the start of the new Millennium. This reflected that there were more than two million baptisms of infants and children between 2000 and 2015, with a minimum requirement of three godparents for each person baptised. The Church of England’s press release is at:

Church Commissioners

The Church Commissioners, who manage investable assets amounting to £7.9 billion and who contribute some 15% of the Church of England’s income, have presented to Parliament their annual report for 2016. The total return on investments for that year was 17.1%, compared with 8.2% for 2015, and well ahead of the target of inflation plus 5%. Indeed, the Commissioners notched up their strongest performance for more than three decades, with notable successes in global equities, timber, and indirect property. The report can be found at:

Ethnic churchgoers

In his latest monthly column for the Church of England Newspaper (12 May 2017, p. 9), reprinted in No. 51 (June 2017, p. 2) of his bimonthly magazine FutureFirst, Peter Brierley usefully collates the statistical evidence from church censuses about the proportion of BME churchgoers since 1998. Although the picture is mixed, Brierley contends that there has been especially rapid growth of Black Christians, both within White congregations and in Black churches. In England in 2017, Brierley estimates, 30% of all church attenders are BMEs (and 40% of evangelicals) while in London the majority (51%) are.

Youth culture

A parallel piece of research to the ‘Talking Jesus’ study, mentioned above, is Youth for Christ’s Gen Z: Rethinking Culture, based on a survey completed by 1,001 Britons aged 11-18 in November-December 2016. The questionnaire, covering four core areas (culture, influences, priorities, and religion and faith), was scripted, hosted, and managed by DJS Research while using the Youth for Christ online platform. Almost half (46%) of respondents professed no religion, 43% were Christian, and 7% non-Christian. With regard to beliefs, 32% said they believed in a God, 22% in ghosts and spirits, and 47% in neither. Among believers in God 59% considered themselves a follower of Jesus and the Christian faith but just 41% prayed (four-fifths of them at least once a week). The 44-page report can be downloaded from:


Religious nones

In Catholic Research Forum Reports, 3, published by the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University Twickenham, Stephen Bullivant analyses The ‘No Religion’ Population of Britain: Recent Data from the British Social Attitudes Survey (2015) and the European Social Survey (2014). The British Social Attitudes Survey revealed that 49% of adults identified as belonging to no religion. They were predominantly white (95%) and male (55%), although among under-35s men and women were equally likely to be religious nones. Three-fifths had been brought up with a religious identity whereas fewer than one in ten of those reared nonreligiously currently subscribed to a religion. For every one person brought up with no religion who had become a Christian, 26 people brought up as Christians professed no religion at the time of interview. On the other hand, according to European Social Survey statistics, 15% of nones still rated themselves as religious and/or prayed monthly or more. The report is available at:

Religious affiliation and party political liking

In a blog on LSE’s Religion and the Public Sphere website, Siobhan McAndrew utilizes data from wave 10 of the 2015 British Election Study Internet Panel (with fieldwork conducted by YouGov between 24 November and 12 December 2016) to investigate the liking of adults for the main political parties. Scores, on a scale running from 0 to 10, were generally below 5, with the exception of a score of 5.6 by Anglicans towards the Conservative Party. The lowest score was 2.3, by non-Christians towards UKIP. Non-Christians and Catholics showed a stronger liking for Labour while there was little variation between religious groups when it came to the Liberal Democrats. Factoring in other demographic variables, identities, and values tended to attenuate these associations. The post can be found at:

Religious affiliation and Brexit

In his latest blog on the British Religion in Numbers website, Ben Clements offers an analysis of the voting of religious groups in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU), based upon data from wave 9 of the 2015 British Election Study Internet Panel (with fieldwork conducted by YouGov between 24 June and 6 July 2016). The most pronounced findings were the predisposition of Anglicans to leave and of non-Christians and no religionists to remain in the EU. The post can be found at:

Catholic vote

In another blog for the LSE’s British Politics and Policy website, Ben Clements examines the party political preferences of Roman Catholics, mainly based on trend data from British Election Studies and British Social Attitudes Surveys. He shows that, historically, Catholics have disproportionately favoured the Labour Party, especially in Scotland, but that the link has become weaker in recent years, as expressed both in voting behaviour at general elections and overall party allegiance. Scotland apart, older and female Catholics have been most drawn to the Conservative Party. The post can be found at:

Muslim women

Muslim women’s civic and political involvement in Britain and France, with particular reference to Birmingham and Paris, is investigated by Danièle Joly and Khursheed Wadia in Muslim Women and Power: Political and Civic Engagement in West European Societies (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, xviii + 322 pp., ISBN: 978-1-137-48061-3, hardback, £86). Harnessing Joly’s expertise as a sociologist and Wadia’s as a political scientist, it distils their and others’ secondary literature and reports on fresh empirical research, notably participant observation, interviews, focus groups, and a questionnaire completed by 119 Muslim women in Britain and 107 in France (the results from which are described as ‘reliable rather than statistically valid’). The demographic context is derived from census and other sources. The authors argue that Muslim women’s interest in and knowledge of politics and their participation in both institutional and informal politics is higher than expected. The book’s webpage is at:

Ministerial deployment

Despite their frequent assertions of a priority for the poor, religious groups distribute their active stipendiary ministers inversely to socio-economic deprivation (measured at household and neighbourhood levels) and (implicitly) to pastoral care needs, and it seems unlikely that this relationship has occurred by chance. So claims Michael Hirst in his analysis of data, aggregated to local authority areas, from the 2011 census of population in ‘Clergy in Place in England: Bias to the Poor or Inverse Care Law?’ which is published in the ‘early view’ edition of the journal Population, Space, and Place. Parallels are drawn by the author with the concept of inverse medical care law proposed by Julian Hart. By its very nature, the primary source deployed cannot differentiate between ministers who live in less deprived areas but who work in more deprived ones. It also necessarily excludes retired, self-supporting, and non-stipendiary ministers. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Comparative historical secularization

The seemingly greater religiosity of the United States over Western Europe has been a central element of investigation and debate in the scholarly literature of secularization. A comparative religious history of these two areas, noting both parallels and divergences, is now attempted in Secularization and Religious Innovation in the North Atlantic World, edited by David Hempton and Hugh McLeod (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, xiv + 407 pp., ISBN: 978-0-19-879807-1, £75, hardback). It comprises an introduction by McLeod followed by nine pairs of chapters, eight pairs exploring particular themes (such as evangelicalism, gender, and popular culture) and the last offering a separate conclusion by each editor which, notwithstanding their different approaches and emphases, provides a degree of coherence to what might otherwise be quite a disparate volume of insightful case studies. Of the 17 individual contributors, the solitary sociologist of religion is Grace Davie; the rest are essentially religious historians. Although chronological coverage starts with the eighteenth century, there is a special focus on the second half of the twentieth century. Likewise, consideration of Western Europe is disproportionately about Britain. Descriptive statistics are referenced throughout the work but there are no tables, while several opportunities are missed for systematic comparative quantitative analysis, notably for the past half-century, which might simultaneously have provided some common criteria for measuring secularization. The volume’s webpage can be found at:

David Martin on secularization

David Martin is a notable absentee from the line-up of Hempton and McLeod’s book, notwithstanding he has written extensively about secularization, including about the comparative experience of Europe and America. In his Secularisation, Pentecostalism, and Violence: Receptions, Rediscoveries, and Rebuttals in the Sociology of Religion (London: Routledge, 2017, xi + 194 pp., ISBN: 978-0-415-78859-5, £115, hardback), Martin, who is now in his late 80s, offers an autobiographical cum bibliographical retrospect of the three core themes of his scholarship during the past half-century. The 10 chapters include one (pp. 57-85) which recapitulates the sociology of religion in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s and briefly considers the contribution of religious statistics, of which Martin was evidently initially quite sceptical, and specifically references British Religion in Numbers. The book’s webpage can be found at:


SN 8168: Scottish Household Survey, 2015

The Scottish Household Survey, initiated in 1999, is undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government by a polling consortium led by Ipsos MORI. Information is collected about the composition, characteristics, attitudes, and behaviour of private households and individuals in Scotland; and about the physical condition of their homes. For the 2015 survey (January 2015-March 2016) data were gathered on 10,330 households and 9,410 adults. The specifically religious content of the questionnaire covered: religion belonged to; experience of discrimination or harassment on religious grounds; and incidence of volunteering for religious and other groups. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:


Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017


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Counting Religion in Britain, February 2017

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 17, February 2017 features 31 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 17 February 2017


Places of worship

The overwhelming majority (87%) of Britons, including 86% of non-Christians and 79% of religious nones, perceive that the UK’s 42,000 churches, chapels, and meeting houses bring important benefits to the country, according to a survey by ComRes on behalf of the National Churches Trust, for which 2,048 adults were interviewed online on 15-18 December 2016. The greatest benefits were seen as their value as places of worship (52%), examples of beautiful architecture (51%), and as an aspect of local identity (42%). A similarly high proportion agreed that churches, chapels, and meeting houses are important as part of the UK’s heritage and history (83%) and as spaces for community activities (80%), with 74% endorsing their future use as community centres. Somewhat fewer (57% on both issues) supported Government financial aid to protect them for future generations or said it would have a negative impact on the community if their local place of worship was to close. Asked whether they had visited a church, chapel, or meeting house during the past year, 57% replied in the affirmative and 43% in the negative, the latter figure peaking in Wales (54%) and among religious nones (61%). Breaking down the purpose of the visit, 37% of the whole sample claimed to have attended a religious service, 16% a non-religious activity, and 24% to have come as a tourist. One-quarter also reported they had made a donation to a church, chapel, or meeting house within the previous twelve months, over-65s (37%), Christians (41%), and visitors to churches (44%) being most likely to have done so. Full data tables are available at:

St Valentine’s Day

St Valentine’s Day, celebrated annually on 14 February, originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast honouring two early saints Valentinus. However, the customary association of the day with courtship seems to be connected with either the pagan festival of Lupercalia or the natural season, rather than with the saints Valentinus. In contemporary times, its religious associations have been all but lost and St Valentine’s Day has become more of a cultural and retail event. One-quarter of 2,051 UK adults interviewed online by YouGov on 10-13 February 2017 said that they hated or disliked St Valentine’s Day, more than the 19% who liked or loved it (peaking at 23% for women and 24% for under-35s), with 53% neutral. Two-fifths felt pressured to do something romantic on St Valentine’s Day, one-half disagreed that it was a beautiful tradition, while 87% judged it too commercial. Asked about their own intentions for the day, 18-24s were the group most likely to be planning something romantic with their partner (42%), double the national average (20%), and also already to have a definite date for the day (16%). Results tables are accessible via the link in the blog post at:

For headline findings from another online poll, by Opinium Research for PwC in January 2017, and focusing on Valentine’s Day spending patterns, see:


YouGov marked Ash Wednesday by asking 6,742 of its panellists on 28 February 2017 whether they were planning to give up, or cut down on, anything during Lent. The overwhelming majority (69%) said they would not be making any Lenten sacrifices, rising to 75% of over-60s and 77% of UKIP voters. Almost one Briton in eight (13%) had not made up their minds, leaving 18% intending to observe Lent in some way, including 21% of women, 23% of Londoners, and 25% of 18-24s. Given a list of eight potential forfeits, the most popular was forsaking or cutting back on certain items of food or drink, selected by 8% of the whole sample. If previous years are anything to go by, the number of Lenten observers will be rather less than aspirations. Poll results can be found at:

National identity

Religion is not a major determinant of national identity in Britain according to the latest release of results from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Asked about the importance of being Christian in order to be truly British, 18% of all adults replied that this was a very important attribute. This was far fewer than made the comparable claim about the dominant religion and national identity in Greece (54%), Poland (34%), the United States (32%), Italy (30%), and Hungary (29%), albeit it was more than in Canada (15%), Australia (13%), Germany (11%), France (10%), Spain (9%), The Netherlands (8%), and Sweden (7%). In Britain the proportion fell to just 7% among the under-35s but rose to 26% for the over-50s. A further 19% of all Britons assessed being Christian as somewhat important for being truly British while 24% rated it as not very important and 38% as not at all important. The total for very or somewhat important was thus 37%, which compared with 98% saying the same about being able to speak English in order to be truly British, 87% about sharing British customs and traditions, and 56% about being born in Britain. Pew’s report and topline data can be found at:

Muslim integration

The majority (54%) of Britons think that most Muslims living in the country want to be distinct from the wider society, according to the latest release of data from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. This is a similar number to 2011 (52%) albeit lower than in 2006 (64%) and 2005 (61%) when the question was about Muslims coming to, as opposed to already living in, Britain. It is also comparable with the 2016 statistics for Sweden (50%), France (52%), and The Netherlands (53%), five other European nations recording higher figures: Germany (61%), Italy (61%), Spain (68%), Hungary (76%), and Greece (78%). Of the 12 countries surveyed on this particular topic, only in three did those believing that most Muslims want to be distinct fail to reach a majority, and then not by that much: United States (43%), Poland (45%), and Australia (46%). Just under one-third (31%) of Britons in 2016 acknowledged that most Muslims did want to adopt British customs and way of life, a steady improvement over time since 2005 (19%). The remaining 15% of Britons expressed no clear view on the matter. Topline data are available through the link in the blog post at:

Diversity welcomed in Australia, U.S. despite uncertainty over Muslim integration

‘Muslim’ travel ban (1)

Notwithstanding its almost immediate suspension, following intervention by the US judiciary, President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration of 27 January 2017 continues to divide public opinion, both in his own country and abroad. The order banned for three months travel to the USA by citizens of seven Muslim majority nations, the admission of refugees from Syria, and the admission of any refugees for four months.

In Britain, according to an online YouGov poll of 1,705 adults for The Times on 30-31 January 2017, half the population thought Trump’s immigration policy to be a ‘bad idea’. Especially critical were Liberal Democrats (83%), ‘remainers’ in the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum (78%), Labourites (73%), and 18-24s (69%). Just under one-third (29%) deemed the policy a ‘good idea’, rising to 50% of ‘leavers’ in the EU referendum and 73% of UKIP voters. One-fifth of interviewees did not know what to think.

Not dissimilar results were obtained in another, separately reported, YouGov survey among a much larger sample of 6,926 Britons, also conducted on 30-31 January 2017. This enquired how respondents would feel if Prime Minister Theresa May adopted for the UK a similar policy of barring Syrian refugees, together with temporary bans on other refugees and immigrants from some Muslim countries. One-third (32%) said they would be appalled, 17% disappointed, 13% pleased, and 15% delighted, with 24% neutral or undecided.

Detailed tables for both investigations, whose fieldwork preceded the suspension of the executive order, can be found on the YouGov website at:

‘Muslim’ travel ban (2)

On 7 February 2017, Chatham House released the headline findings of a multinational poll carried out on its behalf by Kantar Public between 12 December 2016 and 11 January 2017, before President Trump’s inauguration and executive order. The fieldwork period coincided with several instances of Islamist terrorism, notably the attack on a Berlin Christmas market on 20 December which claimed the lives of twelve people. Online surveys were conducted with approximately 1,000 adults aged 18 and over in ten European nations.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed with the statement that ‘all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. Majorities in eight of the ten nations investigated agreed with the proposition, the two exceptions being the UK and Spain. In the UK, 47% agreed that migration from mainly Muslim countries should be halted, eight points less than the European average, while 23% disagreed and 30% were neutral. Agreement was highest in Poland (71%), Austria (65%), Hungary (64%), Belgium (64%), and France (61%). Across the continent, endorsement of migration controls peaked among the over-60s whereas under-30s and degree holders were less supportive. Chatham House’s press release about the poll can be found at:

‘Muslim’ travel ban (3)

A ComRes poll for The Independent and Sunday Mirror, undertaken online among 2,021 Britons on 8-10 February 2017, asked whether the UK should follow the US lead and introduce its own ‘travel ban’ on immigrants from Muslim majority countries. Overall agreement with the proposition had by then reduced to 29%, with relatively little variation by demographics, except for a peak of 75% endorsement from UKIP voters. The majority (55%) disagreed with a UK ban, Liberal Democrats (86%) and 18-24s (74%) being especially opposed. One in six (16%) was undecided about the desirability of a UK ban. Comparable results were obtained from an earlier question about whether President Trump had been right to try and halt temporarily immigration to the US from Muslim majority countries, 33% judging he had been, 52% that he had not, and 14% unsure. Detailed data tables are available at:

Muslims and President Trump’s state visit

The debate about President Trump’s attempted Muslim travel ban has become increasingly linked, in the minds of the British public, with his state visit to the UK during 2017, following the invitation extended to him by Prime Minister Theresa May. This has prompted Ipsos MORI, in its latest political monitor (undertaken by telephone interview among 1,044 adults on 10-14 February 2017), to ask whether ‘The Donald’ should do various things in the course of his visit. One of the possible activities suggested by the pollster was for him to visit a London mosque or Muslim community group. A plurality of respondents (47%) thought he should not do that but 44% believed he should, including small majorities of men, persons aged 35-54, the top (AB) social group, Liberal Democrats, and Greater Londoners. The remaining 10% were undecided. Full data tables can be accessed via the link in the news post at:

Islam and British values

A plurality (46%) of the public continues to think there is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society, according to the latest YouGov@Cambridge tracker, for which 2,052 adults were interviewed online on 12-13 February 2017. Over-65s (63%), those who had voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum (68%), and UKIP supporters (78%) were the groups most likely to hold this opinion. Just one-quarter said that Islam was generally compatible with British values, remain voters in the EU referendum being most optimistic (41%). The residual 29% failed to choose between the two options. Data tables can be found at:

This is the sixteenth occasion over the past two years YouGov@Cambridge has asked this question. All the data can be accessed via the links at:

General opinions of Islam and Muslims

‘Britons continue to hold quite mixed and sometimes contradictory views on Muslims and Islam’, according to an analysis by Nick Lowles of an online poll by YouGov for Hope Not Hate, for which 1,679 adults were interviewed on 16-19 December 2016. On the one hand, 50% of the public think Islam poses a serious threat to Western civilization, rising to 60% of Conservative and 75% of UKIP voters; only 22% of the nation disagree. Moreover, 67% believe that Muslim communities need to respond more strongly to the threat of Islamic extremism. On the other hand, 69% think it wrong to blame an entire religion for the actions of a few extremists, 52% concede that discrimination is a serious problem facing Muslims in Britain, and 40% criticize the media for being too negative towards Muslims. These questions formed part of a broader investigation into ‘the state of the nation’, in which attitudes to immigration and post-Brexit issues loomed large. However, space was also found for a question about trust in groups, revealing that 61% of Britons distrust religious leaders (against just 29% who trust them). Full data tables have yet to be released but the article by Lowles can be found on pp. 12-15 of the January-February 2017 edition of Hope Not Hate at:

Islamic State

A majority (61%) of the British public is either very worried (14%) or fairly worried (47%) that Islamic State (IS) may attempt a terrorist attack in Britain. This is a lower proportion than in France (76%) and Germany (74%), both of which were on the receiving end of deadly IS outrages in 2016. But it is lower than in Scandinavian countries, anxiety about an IS attack standing at 53% in Sweden, 51% in Denmark, 45% in Norway, and 44% in Finland. The results come from the latest six-nation Eurotrack study, undertaken online by YouGov between 19 and 24 January 2017, with 1,569 interviewees in Britain. The topline findings are available via the link in the blog post at:

Fake news

Fake news has received much media coverage recently, prompting Channel 4 to commission YouGov to run an online poll on the subject among 1,684 Britons on 29-30 January 2017. Respondents were given a list of six stories that had genuinely appeared in the media during recent times and asked whether they had previously seen or heard the particular story and if it was true or false.

One of the stories concerned an enforced name change for the Essex villages of High Easter and Good Easter, following complaints that they were offensive. This story emanated from the so-called Southend News Network which had reported in March 2016 that Essex County Council had resolved to require the villages to change their names from the beginning of 2017, in order to avoid falling foul of European Union guidance that the inclusion of a specifically religious term in a place name might offend people of other faiths or none. Despite being widely believed on the internet, this story was entirely fabricated, and Southend News Network is actually an avowedly spoof website.

Although just 2% of the YouGov sample had previously seen this particular story, as many as 22% thought that it was definitely or probably true, rising to 34% of under-25s and 31% of Snapchat users. A slight majority (51%) correctly recognized the story as fake news and 26% could not make up their minds whether it was true or not. Full data tables are available at:

Generation Z

Insights into the values and attitudes of young people aged 15-21 have been gained from a global citizenship survey undertaken by Populus on behalf of the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organization committed to improving standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. Online interviews were conducted with randomly drawn samples of young adults in 20 nations between 19 September and 26 October 2016, including 1,031 in the UK. The other countries were: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States.

Several questions probed the importance and influence of faith, revealing that, relative to the global mean, religion is accorded lower significance by young people in the UK. Just 4% in the UK agreed with a battery of four statements about the personal saliency of faith and only 3% concurred that a greater role for religion in society would make the greatest difference in uniting people. No more than one-quarter regarded their faith as contributing to their overall happiness. A majority (58%) endorsed the right to non-violent free speech even if it was offensive to a religion. Full data tables are not yet available, but a variety of research outputs can be downloaded from the sponsor’s website at:


The Church and LGB mental health

The Church’s typically negative stance to same-sex relationships has had a ‘hugely distressing impact’ on large numbers of lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) people, according to the latest report from the Oasis Foundation: Steve Chalke, Ian Sansbury, and Gareth Streeter, In the Name of Love: The Church, Exclusion, and LGB Mental Health Issues. This negativity is viewed by the authors as a significant contributory factor to the greater prevalence of poor mental health among LGB individuals than for heterosexuals. In support of their claim, brief reference is made to British Social Attitudes Survey and YouGov data concerning views about same-sex relationships among religious populations. It is also noted that: 74% of signatories on the website of the Coalition for Marriage, which opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage (SSM), are identifiable Christians; 54% of the MPs who voted against SSM self-identified as Christian; and 91% of negative comments in a sample of national media articles about SSM were made by Christians. The 16-page report can be found at:

Women and the Church

The Church of England still has ‘a significant way to travel before women have any degree of equality’, with a continuing ‘high disparity between the opportunity and prospects of male and female clergy’. This is according to WATCH (Women and the Church), which has just published A Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry in 2016. Data are presented on the gender balance at various levels of ordained and lay ministry for 2015 and immediately preceding years. WATCH highlights the fact that, although the number of men and women being ordained is now roughly equal, a significantly higher and increasing proportion of men are ordained to stipendiary posts, with around half ordained females receiving no financial support from the Church for their ministry. Only 27% of women clergy are currently vicars or in more senior roles. The report is available through the link in the press release at:

Living ministry research

On 31 January 2017, the Church of England launched its ‘Living Ministry’ research project, exploring the factors which help clergy flourish in their ministry with a particular focus on wellbeing and outcomes (effectiveness). It will be a longitudinal panel study, tracking (by means of an online survey every two years over an initial ten-year period) the progress of four cohorts, those ordained as deacons in 2006, 2011, and 2015 and ordinands who started training in 2016. These cohorts comprise 1,600 individuals. The foundation survey runs until 7 March 2017. Qualitative research will also be undertaken. Further information is available at:

‘Living Ministry’ builds upon the ‘Experiences of Ministry’ project which surveyed a representative sample of Church of England clergy in 2011, 2013, and 2015. It was undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Management, King’s College London and is due to wind up in 2017. Further information is available at:

Anti-Semitic incidents

There was a ‘record’ number (1,309) of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2016, 36% more than in 2015, according to the latest annual report of the Community Security Trust (CST). The incidents were spread relatively uniformly throughout 2016 with more than 100 each month between May and December. The CST is currently recording, on average, more than double the number of monthly incidents it did four years ago. Over three-quarters of the incidents took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester, areas with the country’s two largest Jewish communities. Abusive behaviour (mostly verbal) accounted for 77% of incidents, but there were also 107 violent assaults, 100 cases of threat, and 81 instances of damage and desecration to Jewish property. No single trigger event explained the rise in incidents, as had happened in 2009 and 2014; rather, the CST cited ‘the cumulative effect of a series of relatively lengthy events and factors’, including ‘high profile allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party’ and ‘a perceived climate of increased racism and xenophobia . . . following the EU referendum’. In addition to the 1,309 logged incidents, the CST received 791 notifications of potential incidents which, upon investigation, did not evidence anti-Semitic motivation, targeting, or content. On the basis of survey data, the CST believes there is a likely significant under-reporting of anti-Semitic incidents to both itself and the police. The 36-page Antisemitic Incidents Report, 2016 is available at:

In his ‘The View from the Data’ column in the Jewish Chronicle for 17 February 2017 (p. 37), Jonathan Boyd of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research cautioned against labelling the 2016 anti-Semitic incidents statistics as ‘the worst year on record’ (as the newspaper’s own headline had claimed). He identified several ‘interfering factors’ which inhibited use of the CST’s reporting back to 1983 as a true time series. For instance, the CST figures now include incidents reported to both the police and CST, whereas prior to 2011 they incorporated notifications to the CST alone. The column is at:

Jewish learning disabilities

The latest report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), commissioned by Langdon, estimates that 7.4% of the UK Jewish population have some kind of learning disability, affecting 9.6% of Jewish males and 5.1% of females. The extent of learning disability varies greatly, from severe at one end of the spectrum (7% of cases) to light at the other (54%). Detailed figures for each region are contained in an appendix, differentiating by gender, age, and, where applicable, between mainstream and strictly orthodox Jews. The estimates are derived from multiple sources, both British and international, including JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey and the 2011 Scottish census of population (the corresponding census in England and Wales did not collect data about learning disabilities). Daniel Staetsky’s 27-page Learning Disabilities: Understanding Their Prevalence in the British Jewish Community is available at:


Census of population

Roger Hutchinson offers a vivid and readable census-based self-portrait of the British Isles in his The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through its Census since 1801 (London: Little, Brown, 2017, 352pp., ISBN 9781408707012, £20, hardback). It traces the often contested development of the official decennial population census from 1801 to 2011 while simultaneously providing a wealth of human illustrative detail. There are some references – necessarily insubstantial in such a generalist work – to the religious dimension of the census. This was only realized in Britain itself (Ireland and the British Empire and Commonwealth followed a different path) through enumerations of religious accommodation and worship in 1851 and of religious profession in 2001 and 2011 (albeit religion questions were also proposed and hotly debated for several other years). The book’s webpage is at:

1851 religious census

Of mainly local interest is John Crummett’s Mothering Sunday, 30th March 1851: A Window into Church-Going in Northern Derbyshire (New Mills Local History Society, Occasional Publications, 95, New Mills: the Society, 2016, [4] + ii + 35pp., £2). The author explains the ecclesiastical background to the government religious census and reproduces the results for the Hayfield and Glossop sub-districts. He also highlights the criticisms of the census made by two local Anglican clergymen, John Rigg and Samuel Wasse, and provides biographical information about them in one of the appendices. The pamphlet can be ordered from the publisher at:

Youth social action

Research has sometimes found a positive correlation between social capital and religious faith. However, the latest National Youth Social Action Survey, 2016, written up by Julia Pye and Olivia Michelmore, reports that participation in meaningful social action during the preceding year is now actually higher among youngsters aged 10-20 without religion than for those with faith. The difference was not huge, 44% versus 41%, but was statistically significant compared with 2014, when the reverse applied. Places of worship were relatively unimportant locations for the involvement of youngsters in social action. The study was undertaken by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the Office for Civil Society (part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and Step Up to Serve, by means of 2,082 face-to-face interviews throughout the UK on 2-16 September 2016. The report is available at:


Secularization in the ‘long’ 1960s

In the ongoing debate about secularization, historians and sociologists are increasingly turning their attention to changes in the religious landscape during the ‘long’ 1960s, in Britain and elsewhere in the West. A heavily statistical spotlight on this period is now shone in Clive Field’s Secularization in the Long 1960s: Numerating Religion in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, xvii + 269pp., including 61 tables, ISBN: 978-0-19-879947-4, £65, hardback). In most cases, to permit sufficient contextualization, data are presented for the years 1955-80, with particular attention to the methodological and other challenges posed by each source type.

Following an introductory chapter, which reviews the historiography, introduces the sources, and defines the chronological and other parameters, evidence is provided for all major facets of religious belonging, behaving, and believing, as well as for institutional church measures. The work particularly engages with, and largely refutes, Callum Brown’s influential assertion that Britain experienced ‘revolutionary’ secularization in the 1960s, which was highly gendered in nature, and with 1963 the major tipping-point. Instead, a more nuanced picture emerges with some religious indicators in crisis, others continuing on an existing downward trajectory, and yet others remaining stable. Building on previous research by the author and other scholars, and rejecting recent proponents of counter-secularization, the long 1960s are ultimately located within a longstanding gradualist, and still ongoing, process of secularization in Britain. The book’s webpage is at:

Church of England and the people

One of the more controversial religious books of 2016, and (indeed) of recent years, was That Was the Church that Was, by journalist Andrew Brown and sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead, a lively and mainly damning account of developments in the Church of England between 1986 and 2016. The authors argued that, during these decades, the Church became progressively more inward-looking, more obsessed with ‘managerial voodoo’, evolving from a societal into a congregational church, disappearing from the centre of public life, and becoming alienated from (and unaccountable to) its host community. In presenting this thesis, Brown and Woodhead made relatively little use of numerical data. Their claims that the Church of England has ‘lost’ the English people since 1986 have now been examined through religious statistics in Clive Field, ‘Has the Church of England Lost the English People? Some Quantitative Tests’, Theology, Vol. 120, No. 2, March-April 2017, pp. 83-92. Both attachment and attitudinal indicators are reviewed, the former showing the decline of the Church has been long-term, the latter that division between Church and nation is not always clear-cut. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Homosexuality and the Church of England

‘Half of Anglicans believe there is nothing wrong with same-sex relationships’, NatCen Social Research proclaimed on the very day (15 February 2017) that the Church of England General Synod was due to debate a report reaffirming the traditional Christian view of marriage as between a man and a woman. The NatCen press release and associated data tables were based upon secondary analysis of various waves of British Social Attitudes Surveys. In 2014, 47% of professing Anglicans said they agreed with same-sex marriage with just 26% disagreeing. In 2015, 50% of Anglicans described same-sex relationships in general as not wrong at all (three times the number who had said so in 1983), while 27% regarded them as always or mostly wrong; these figures were not that much different than for the electorate as a whole (59% and 22%, respectively). Many of these Anglicans would have been very nominal in their allegiance, and attitudes would doubtless have been less liberal among churchgoers. Affiliates of non-Christian faiths were found to be least supportive of same-sex relationships and religious nones the most. The press release is at:

Meanwhile, one of YouGov’s app-based polls reported on 17 February 2017 that, among recent news stories, 39% of Britons had been interested to hear there were to be ‘no gay marriages in CofE churches’. However, the topic did not generate quite so much interest as North Korea (62%), Donald Trump (55%), and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow (44%). The poll is posted at:

Young nones

In a 17-page article in the online first edition of Journal of Youth Studies, Nicola Madge and Peter Hemming report on ‘Young British Religious “Nones”: Findings from the Youth on Religion Study’.  This project principally involved online interviews in 2010 with 10,376 13- to 18-year-olds attending secondary schools in three multi-faith locations (Hillingdon and Newham in London and Bradford in Yorkshire), of whom one-fifth self-described as non-religious. As with other investigations into ‘nones’, their lack of homogeneity was the most striking feature of the research. A wide range of religious identities was in evidence, with different levels of religiosity and considerable fluidity in belief and behaviour, over time and according to setting. In particular, being non-religious did not necessarily imply that religion played no part in these young lives. Science and then family were recorded as the two greatest influences in the formation of their religious views. The article is available on an open access basis at:

The authors have also contributed a summary of the research in a recent post on the Religion and the Public Sphere blog at:

Financing early Methodism

Ecclesiastical finance is a significantly neglected area of research, albeit a vital one since it is clearly essential to understand the means by which churches and other religious bodies sustained themselves in economic terms. Especially welcome, therefore, is Clive Murray Norris, The Financing of John Wesley’s Methodism, c. 1740-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, 336pp., ISBN 978-0-19-879641-1, £65, hardback). In ten chapters, resting upon an extensive range of archival and other primary sources (described on pp. 9-11), Morris demonstrates the often innovative ways in which the nascent Methodist movement financed itself at every level, from the local society to the connexion, and in every sphere of operation, including the preaching ministry, the acquisition of chapels, its publishing enterprise, its educational and welfare work, and its overseas missionary endeavours. There are also some references to comparative developments in the Church of England, Calvinistic Methodism, and Dissent. The book’s webpage is at:


SN 7787: Twenty-First Century Evangelicals, 2010-2016

This is not a new dataset as such but the fourth edition of a dataset originally deposited with UKDS in November 2015, adding data for the most recent surveys among this self-selecting panel of professed UK evangelicals. The latest study (the 24th in the series) was conducted by the Evangelical Alliance in September 2016 on the subject of religions, belief, and unbelief; it elicited 1,562 responses. A catalogue description for this resource, with links to a raft of documentation, is available at:

The Twenty-First Century Evangelicals project was the responsibility of Greg Smith between 2011 and 2016. He has recently retired from his post of research manager at the Evangelical Alliance and has indicated that ‘it is unlikely that any further materials will now be added’ to the dataset.

SN 8119: Wellcome Science Education Tracker, 2016

The Science Education Tracker (SET), building upon previous Wellcome Monitor Surveys, is designed to provide evidence on a range of key indicators for science engagement, education, and career aspirations among young people aged 14-18 in England. The 2016 sample comprised 4,081 students in school years 10-13 attending state-funded schools. Fieldwork was conducted, through online self-completion, by Kantar Public between 29 June and 31 August, on behalf of the Wellcome Trust and supported by the Royal Society, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Education. The questionnaire included three background variables on religion: religious affiliation (with no denominational differentiation within Christianity); attendance at religious services other than for rites of passage; and opinions about the origin and development of life on earth (creationism versus evolution). A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

SN 8140: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2015-2016

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly the British Crime Survey) is a face-to-face victimization survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of a range of crimes during the 12 months prior to interview as well as about their attitudes to different crime-related issues. The series began in 1982. The 2015-16 survey was conducted by TNS BMRB for the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Office for National Statistics and achieved 35,248 interviews with adults. In addition to investigating the incidence of religiously-motivated hate crime, respondents were asked to give their religious affiliation, which can obviously function as a background variable for analysing replies to any other part of the questionnaire. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:

SN 8144: Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2015

Scottish Surveys Core Questions combines into a single dataset the answers to identical questions asked of an aggregate 21,183 respondents in the annual Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (2014-15), the Scottish Health Survey (2015), and the Scottish Household Survey (2015), all undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government. Religious affiliation is one of the 19 core questions. A catalogue description of the dataset is available at:


Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2017


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Counting Religion in Britain, July 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 10, July 2016 features 14 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 10 July 2016


Hope not Hate post-Brexit poll

On behalf of Hope not Hate, Populus conducted an extensive online survey among 4,032 adults in England between 30 June and 4 July 2016, principally to test the social impact of the vote to leave the European Union in the referendum on 23 June. Results were disaggregated by a range of demographics, including religious affiliation, albeit they are only statistically meaningful for Christians, non-Christians, and religious nones. Tables 247-352 present the data for the module on the European Union, showing how particular groups voted, and why; what they thought of the Remain and Leave campaigns; and how they perceived Brexit would impact the nation. The voting figures (summarized below) confirm what we already know from previous studies, that Christians were disproportionately leavers and non-Christians remainers.

% down


Christians Non-Christians




33 51




50 35


Did not vote


17 14


The poll also replicated questions exploring attitudes to religious groups which had been included in Hope not Hate’s pre-Brexit poll, undertaken on 1-8 February 2016. This is interesting, given the frequent claims that the Brexit vote has increased public hostility toward immigrants and other outsiders. In fact, even for Muslims, who have the most negative ratings of all five religions featured in the study, the number of adults suggesting they created major problems in both the UK and the world actually fell in the period between the pre- and post-Brexit fieldwork. There were also modest reductions in those with negative views toward other religions, held by only tiny minorities.

% choosing 4-5 on 5-point scale



Groups creating problems in UK















Groups creating problems in world















All the data tables from this poll can be found, in two separate files, at:

Perceptions of Muslims (1)

Another pre-Brexit study also revealed that a significant minority of Britons (28%) continued to entertain an unfavourable opinion of Muslims in the country. This was nine points more than in 2015, albeit at a similar level as 2009 and 2014. Unfavourable attitudes to Muslims were especially likely to be held by those on the ideological right (33%) rather than left-leaners (18%) and peaked at 54% among UKIP supporters. People regarding Muslims unfavourably were twice as inclined as those viewing them in a favourable light to perceive refugees as a major threat and as heightening the risk of terrorism. Just under one-fifth of Britons (17%) agreed that most or many Muslims in the country already back Islamic State. Notwithstanding, negativity toward Muslims remained far lower in Britain than in nine other European countries surveyed, the proportion surpassing two-thirds in Greece, Poland, Italy, and Hungary.

With regard to integration, a majority of Britons (54%) still considered most Muslims in the country want to be distinct from the wider society, although this was ten points fewer than in 2006, in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings the previous summer. The proportion rose to 65% on the ideological right and 80% of UKIP voters. Overall, 31% thought Muslims wanted to adopt national customs and way of life, a steady improvement from the 19% recorded in Britain in 2005, but below the 43% currently achieved in France and Sweden. All the findings are contained in the latest release of data from the Spring 2016 wave of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, for which 1,460 Britons aged 18 and over were interviewed by TNS BMRB by telephone between 4 April and 1 May 2016. Other questions covered attitudes to Jews and the importance of being Christian to national identity. The report is available at:

Perceptions of Muslims (2)

In his column in The Sun on 18 July 2016, Kelvin MacKenzie questioned whether it had been appropriate for Channel 4 News to co-present its report on the recent and deadly Islamist truck attack in Nice with a Muslim journalist (Fatima Manji) wearing a hijab. His article prompted a flood of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. The pollster YouGov took up the matter on 21 July when it ran one of its instant app-based surveys. Just 29% of respondents thought MacKenzie had been right to make his remark against 64% who deemed him in the wrong. About half (48%) also argued that The Sun should not have printed the remark. Topline results are available at:


Bible stories

The Bible Society has recently published The Nation’s Favourite Bible Stories (ISBN 978-0-5640-4407-8, 144pp., paperback, £7.99), reproducing 70 of them. The 70 emerged from an online survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Society among a sample of 2,051 Britons aged 18 and over on 22-23 April 2015. Respondents to this poll were asked to list, unprompted, their top three Bible stories or passages. ComRes subsequently tested the top 20 unprompted mentions with a separate online sample of 2,252 UK adults between 4 and 6 September 2015. The final top 10, in order of popularity, were:

1.     The birth of Jesus

2.     Noah’s ark

3.     The Good Samaritan

4.     The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus

5.     The Exodus

6.     David and Goliath

7.     The Ten Commandments

8.     Jesus feeding the five thousand

9.     Jesus turning water into wine

10.  The Sermon on the Mount

Jewish marriages

The latest report from the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) is David Graham’s Jews in Couples: Marriage, Intermarriage, Cohabitation, and Divorce in Britain, derived from the 2001 and 2011 censuses of population (including many tables specially commissioned by JPR from the Office for National Statistics) and the JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey. Three-fifths of adult Jews live as couples, more than for any other religious or ethnic group, in part due to their older than average age profile. The majority of couples (89%) is married but 11% cohabit. Among married Jews, 78% are in endogamous marriages (i.e., they are married to another Jew) but 22% are in exogamous relationships, generally wed to a Christian or religious none. Marital endogamy for Jews has declined in Britain since at least the late 1960s but the rate of decrease has tailed off recently, being only 2% between the two censuses; moreover, marital endogamy here is still much higher than for Jews in the United States. On the other hand, intermarried Jews have fewer dependent children than their in-married counterparts. Among the rapidly growing contingent of cohabitees, the proportion of exogamous partnerships reaches 68%, negatively impacting Jewish fertility. Exogamous Jews, whether married or not, exhibit far weaker levels of Jewish attachment and engagement than endogamous Jews. Exogamy also increases the chances of a Jewish marriage ending in divorce, although the divorce rate among Jews is lower than in society as a whole. Jews in Couples is available at:


The lead article in the August 2016 issue of FutureFirst, the bimonthly subscription magazine of Brierley Consultancy, is contributed by Phil Topham and considers recent statistics of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (based on a report discussed in the May 2016 edition of Counting Religion in Britain). The remaining content is written by Peter Brierley, including two articles inspired by British Social Attitudes Survey religion data, an analysis of rural churches in East Anglia, and a piece on the growing number of active retired clergy in the Church of England (who will soon exceed stipendiary clergy). Brierley Consultancy can be contacted at:


Religious hate crimes

The Crown Prosecution Service completed 737 prosecutions for religiously aggravated offences in England and Wales in 2015/16, a 10% increase on the previous year. The total represented 5% of all hate crime prosecutions in 2015/16. Of these religion-related prosecutions, 79% resulted in convictions (five points less than in 2013/14 and 2014/15 and four points less than the average for all hate crimes in 2015/16) and the remainder were unsuccessful, mostly because of acquittal after trial or of victim issues. Just over two-thirds of convictions involved guilty pleas. The Religiously Aggravated and Antisemitic Crime Action Plan was developed and implemented during 2015/16, and the Hate Crime Assurance Scheme was extended to cover racially and religiously aggravated cases, so it is possible that prosecutions may increase in future years. Further details are contained in Hate Crime Report, 2014/15 and 2015/16, which is available at:

Sex crimes

There have been 725 reported sex crimes in places of worship in the UK during the past three years, according to data obtained from police forces by The Mail on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act. The number has risen by one-fifth during the past twelve months, partly, it is believed, as a result of the ‘Jimmy Savile effect’. Half of the cases (368) involved child abuse. Although most cases related to churches, some occurred at mosques and gurdwaras. One expert, Graham Wilmer, of The Lantern Project (which supports child sex abuse victims), suggested that, given the well-documented tendency to underreport crime, the true number of cases could be up to ten times the reported figure. See the newspaper’s coverage at:

Religion of prisoners

Prison Population Statistics by Grahame Allen and Noel Dempsey (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper No. SN/SG/04334) includes tables summarizing the religious profession of prisoners in England and Wales (Table 7, annually from 2002 to 2016) and Scotland (Table 14, for 2005, 2010, and 2013 only). Of the 85,441 prisoners in England and Wales in March 2016, 49% were Christian (nine points fewer than in 2002), 15% were Muslim (seven points up on 14 years before), and 31% were religious nones (unchanged from 2002). In Scotland in June 2013 (the latest date available), 54% of the 7,883 prisoners were Christian, 3% Muslim, and 42% nones (albeit 57% for female prisoners alone). Muslims are overrepresented in the prison population in both England and Wales and Scotland. Prison Population Statistics can be downloaded from:

Meanwhile, the British Religion in Numbers website has recently updated its own coverage of the religion of prisoners in England and Wales, its series (now extending from 1975 to 2015) being available at:


State of the Church of England

Two of the country’s leading writers on religious affairs, journalist Andrew Brown and sociologist of religion Linda Woodhead, have teamed up to write That Was the Church, that Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (London: Bloomsbury, 2016, [8] + 255pp., ISBN 978-1-4729-2164-2, £16.99, hardback, also available in ePDF and ePub editions). It tells the story of how, since the 1980s, the Church of England has not merely declined in a numerical sense (a process which had obviously started long before) but has progressively disappeared from the centre of public life and become alienated from (and unaccountable to) its host society. While, it is suggested, the Church has largely stood still over these three decades (with the notable exception of the ordination of women, achieved under duress), becoming more inward-looking and immersed in ‘managerial voodoo’, the nation has been transformed, generally embracing social liberalism and, in some measure, spirituality as an alternative to religion (which has become a ‘toxic’ brand). The limited trust and allegiance which the English now exhibit toward their Established Church is depicted as in stark contrast to the higher levels of support enjoyed by ‘its closest historical cousins’, the Scandinavian state Churches.

Since the work seems primarily addressed to a general readership, rather than an exclusively academic audience, the argument is not unreasonably built up primarily through description and analysis of key episodes and personalities in the life of the Church, often enlivened by the direct personal experiences of the authors. Some of the judgments on individuals may seem harsh and are likely to ruffle a few feathers, not least among allies of two former (and still living) Archbishops of Canterbury, George Carey and Rowan Williams, who come in for a fair amount of overt or implied criticism. Indeed, That Was the Church, that Was is already proving controversial (the first edition was withdrawn following legal challenge) and has received several unflattering reviews. Some British Religion in Numbers users may also be disappointed by the comparatively limited use made of statistics to substantiate the central claim that the Church of England ‘lost’ the English people during the period in question. Although some reference is made in the text and, more especially, the endnotes to Church and sample survey data, including research commissioned by Woodhead in recent years, their treatment is far from systematic. A possible solution might have been the inclusion of a short appendix where the relevant quantitative evidence could have been assembled for scrutiny. The publisher’s webpage for the volume can be found at:

Religious nones

In a recent post on the LSE’s Religion and the Public Sphere blog, Ben Clements collates evidence from sample surveys and opinion polls to illuminate the growth of no religionism in Britain since the Second World War and the extent to which it is driven by avowed atheism or agnosticism. He highlights variability in the findings arising from fluctuations in methodology and question-wording. The post can be found at:

Historical Quaker statistics

A reasonably full history and analysis of national-level statistics relating to the Religious Society of Friends in Britain is offered by James William Croan Chadkirk, ‘Patterns of Membership and Participation among British Quakers, 1823-2012’ (MPhil thesis, University of Birmingham, 2015, xx + 261 + xxxivpp., with 72 figures and 55 tables). It covers three broad areas: membership (both before and after the inauguration of the ‘Tabular Statement’ in 1861); attendance at meetings for worship (commencing with the Government’s 1851 religious census and with an especially good overview of the national Quaker censuses in 1904, 1909, and 1914); and various ad hoc studies conducted in recent years, including the longitudinal ‘Present and Prevented’ surveys undertaken by Chadkirk and Ben Pink Dandelion in 2006, 2008, and 2010 (considered at length in chapters 5 and 10). There is no substantive discussion of the British Quaker Survey, 2014 but some preliminary findings are given in footnotes. The conclusion draws brief quantitative comparisons with the experience of other Churches and denominations but emphasizes the distinctiveness of Quakerism and rejects generalized secularization theory as an explanation of Quaker decline. The thesis can be downloaded from:

Religion and higher education

James Lewis, Sean Currie, and Michael Oman-Reagan have utilized the population censuses of Australia (2006), New Zealand (2006), Canada (2011), and England and Wales (2011) to establish a positive relationship between higher educational attainment and affiliation to new religious movements (NRMs). They also contend that, apart from New Zealand, irreligion and higher education are similarly correlated. In the case of England and Wales, as the authors note, data on NRMs were only available for those individuals who ticked ‘other’ religion and chose to write in their specific religion on the census schedule. ‘The Religion of the Educated Classes Revisited: New Religions, the Nonreligious, and Educational Levels’ is published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 55, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 91-104, and access options are outlined at:

Collective worship in schools

Imran Mogra surveyed 125 primary school trainee teachers (preponderantly female) at an English university to investigate their knowledge and understanding of, and attitudes toward, collective worship in schools. A large majority of the students thought such worship should be retained and that it makes a significant contribution to the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, emotional, and intellectual development of pupils. ‘Perceptions of the Value of Collective Worship amongst Trainee Teachers in England’ is published in Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol. 37, no. 2, 2016, pp. 172-85, and access options are outlined at:


Please note: Counting Religion in Britain is © Clive D. Field, 2016

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