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

OPINION POLLS

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:

https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/perils-perception-2017

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:

http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/publicopinion/index.cfm 

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:

http://www.history.co.uk/shows/robert-powell-the-real-jesus-of-nazareth/articles/survey-suggests-brits-dont-know-jesus

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

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/christmas-jesus-christ-birthday-25-december-brits-ignorant-nativity-christianity-bethlehem-a8094496.html

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/12/20/jobs-prisoners-how-many-sprouts-make-portion-chris/

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:

http://win.classicfm.com/nations-favourite-carol/

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:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5209287/Only-one-80-Christmas-cards-shows-Nativity.html

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:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/public-want-religion-kept-out-of-politics-t3rk055cx

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/12/14/charging-entrance-fee-places-worship-smoking-ban/

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:

http://www.gallup-international.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017_Global-Leaders.pdf

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:

http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2017/eumidis-ii-muslims-selected-findings

An interactive search tool for the whole dataset is at:

http://fra.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-and-maps/survey-data-explorer-second-eu-minorities-discrimination-survey?mdq1=dataset

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:

http://opinium.co.uk/government-british-jihadists/

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:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Final-Sunday-Post-Tables-301117APTB-1.pdf

Paranormal

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/12/18/ghosts-confidence-political-judgement-royal-weddin/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/12/19/tracking-ufos-attempting-world-record-volunteering/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/12/13/responsibility-online-extremist-content-banning-mo/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

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:

http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/growth-decline-1

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:

http://www.charityfinancials.com/charity-financials-insider/income-of-uks-top-10-christian-charities-exceeds-05-billion-1742.html

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:

http://www.theology-centre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/CTC-Research-Report-9-A-Time-To-Sow-2017online.pdf

Disestablishment

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:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/separating-church-and-state.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Secularization

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:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jorh.2017.41.issue-4/issuetoc

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:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjbv20/38/3?nav=tocList

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:

https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikationen/GrauePublikationen/Study_LW_Religion-Monitor-2017_Muslims-in-Europe_Results-and-Country-Profiles.pdf

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:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/source-list/

An advanced search facility is available at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/search/

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:

https://boydellandbrewer.com/the-education-of-the-anglican-clergy-1780-1839-hb.html

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVIC

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=6614&type=Data%20catalogue

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8294&type=Data%20catalogue

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

 

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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

OPINION POLLS

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:

http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/publicopinion/index.cfm

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/08/01/tony-blair-and-iraq-war-executive-positions-and-re/

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:  

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/OmCelebrities_Mental_Health-v2.pdf

Mental health problems (%)

All

Christians Non-Christians

No religion

Personal experience of problems

33

29 29

39

Friends or family experience of problems

40

36 42

46

Any experience of problems

60

56 56

67

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:  

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/08/02/ais-talking-each-other-should-archbishop-talk-abou/

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:

http://www.pewforum.org/2017/08/31/five-centuries-after-reformation-catholic-protestant-divide-in-western-europe-has-faded/

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:

http://www.pewforum.org/2017/08/31/u-s-protestants-are-not-defined-by-reformation-era-controversies-500-years-later/

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

62

41

Faith in God only thing necessary to get into heaven

27

35

Religion very or somewhat important in personal life

52

48

Private prayer at least weekly

25

38

Churchgoing at least monthly

26

24

Know a person of the other religion

94

87

Willingness to accept persons of the other religion as family members

98

89

Willingness to accept persons of the other religion as neighbours

99

94

Catholics and Protestants religiously more similar than different

58

41

Catholics and Protestants religiously more different than similar

37

45

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:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/06/26/u-s-image-suffers-as-publics-around-world-question-trumps-leadership/

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:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/08/01/globally-people-point-to-isis-and-climate-change-as-leading-security-threats/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/63a21567-7b56-11e7-b38e-db9ef5dc1756

Omens

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/f8f9758d-8e2d-11e7-9e62-855b7a08c6e8

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

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:

https://www.ecclesiastical.com/general/press-office/social-role-of-churches-invisible/index.aspx

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:

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Mapping%20chaplaincy%20in%20Norfolk-FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/Mapping%20chaplaincy%20in%20Cornwall-FINAL.pdf

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:

https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Humanists-UK-polling-on-pastoral-care-in-the-UK.pdf

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/4022743/nci-gender-pay-gap-report-1-august-2017.pdf

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:

http://www.brierleyconsultancy.com/growth-decline

FutureFirst

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 peter@brierleyres.com. 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:

https://antisemitism.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Antisemitism-Barometer-2017.pdf

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:

https://www.thejc.com/comment/analysis/my-questions-over-the-campaign-against-antisemitism-s-hasty-questionnaire-1.443352

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:

http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/simon-johnson-gideon-falter/

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

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:  

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/offender-management-statistics-quarterly-january-to-march-2017

Number

% June 2017

% change since June 2016

None

26,443

30.8

+1.1

Roman Catholic

14,961

17.4

-1.0

Anglican

14,691

17.1

-3.7

Muslim

13,185

15.4

+4.4

Other Christian

11,557

13.5

+2.8

Other non-Christian

4,859

5.7

+4.7

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:

https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/Documents-Library/documents/England-documents/annual_attractions_trend_report_2016.pdf

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:

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/vital-events-reference-tables/2016/section-7-marriages

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:

https://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/a-levels/2017

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:

https://www.jcq.org.uk/examination-results/gcses/2017

ACADEMIC STUDIES

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:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/2017/religious-affiliation-and-party-choice-at-the-2017-general-election/

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

2005

2010 2015

2017

Conservative

35

40 39

47

Labour

39

31 33

36

Liberal Democrat

19

21 13

10

Other

7

8 15

8

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:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21567689.2017.1297235

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:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01416200.2015.1128392

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:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Final-Scotland-BME-University-of-Edinburgh-Tables-5l0p8-1.pdf

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:

http://www.brill.com/products/reference-work/yearbook-international-religious-demography-2017#TOC_1

More information about the SMRE project may be found at:

http://www.smre-data.ch/

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:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-british-studies/article/in-ten-years-there-is-an-increase-of-450-priests-of-antichrist-quantification-anticatholicism-and-the-bulwark/5CFA25892D084FCAB3F6F7993E9BCCB0

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:

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/jmh/2017/89/2

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

OPINION POLLS

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:

https://www.ipsosglobaltrends.com/data/

% down

Great Britain

United States

All countries

Religious affiliation
No religion

48

18

26

Spiritual but not religious

5

11

8

Christian

41

62

47

Non-Christian

5

9

19

Interest in having more spiritual dimension in daily life
Agree

40

67

58

Disagree

53

28

35

Neither/don’t know

7

5

7

Religion/faith very important
Agree

30

68

53

Disagree

65

28

41

Neither/don’t know

5

4

6

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:

http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/british-public-reveal-beliefs-new-survey/

% across

Believe

Disbelieve

Unsure

Karma

51

30

19

Life on other planets

49

22

29

Fate/destiny

47

34

19

Ghosts/spirits

36

41

23

Life after death

34

36

30

Astrology/horoscopes

16

66

17

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:

https://nfpsynergy.net/free-report/trust-charities-and-other-public-institutions-may-2017

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:

https://www.ecclesiastical.com/images/churches%20a%20significant%20to%20local%20communities.pdf

Funerals

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:

https://www.royallondon.com/Documents/PDFs/2017/Royal%20London%20-%20Keeping%20the%20Faith.pdf

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:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Hope-Church-of-England-Perceptions-of-Jesus-Survey-Data-Tables.pdf

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/88c1aff0-41f4-11e7-94a8-2ab0a50a8b9c

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:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Final-JC-VI-Poll-5c1d5h.pdf

Ramadan

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:

http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/one-quarter-british-adults-dont-know-ramadan-muslim-celebration/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/11/girl-jobs-vs-boy-jobs-home-ai-help-make-decisions-/

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:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/24/majorities-in-europe-north-america-worried-about-islamic-extremism/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/775c5c60-3ed4-11e7-bbfa-4e47a0d22bac

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:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/dcfgflapq2/TimesResults_170525_VI_Trackers_Terrorism_W.pdf

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/25/religion-motivated-terrorism-personal-confidence-r/

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:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/fpwbs2u7v8/SundayTimesResults_170526_VI_W.pdf

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/26/terrorism-uk-who-has-more-power-pope-or-us-preside/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics/faith-in-research-conferences/faith-in-research-2017.aspx

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:

https://www.brfonline.org.uk/9780857464675/

Godparents

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2017/04/church-services-to-celebrate-role-of-godparents.aspx

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:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3983111/cc-annualreport-2016.pdf

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:

https://yfc.uk/gen-z-rethinking-culture-report-released/

ACADEMIC STUDIES

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:

https://www.stmarys.ac.uk/research/centres/benedict-xvi/docs/2017-may-no-religion-report.pdf

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:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2017/05/religion-and-party-liking-how-members-of-different-faith-communities-feel-about-different-political-parties/

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:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/2017/how-religious-groups-voted-at-the-2016-referendum-on-britains-eu-membership/

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:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/catholic-voters-in-britain-what-are-their-political-preferences/

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:

http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137480613

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:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/psp.2068/full

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:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/secularization-and-religious-innovation-in-the-north-atlantic-world-9780198798071?cc=gb&lang=en&

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:

https://www.routledge.com/Secularisation-Pentecostalism-and-Violence-Receptions-Rediscoveries/Martin/p/book/9780415788595

NEW DATASET AT UK DATA SERVICE

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8168&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

OPINION POLLS

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:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/National-Churches-Trust_Churches-Poll_Data-Tables.pdf

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/14/most-brits-have-told-three-or-fewer-people-i-love-/

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

http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2017/02/over-half-of-uk-adults-dont-expect-to-spend-on-valentines-day-but-is-less-amore.html

Lent

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/opi/surveys/results#/survey/21834fe0-fd9f-11e6-b7de-4e47a0d22bac

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:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2017/02/01/what-it-takes-to-truly-be-one-of-us/?

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:    

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/01/almost-half-brits-think-trump-state-visit-should-g/

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/qpe8e6s0j9/TimesResults_170131_Trump_W.pdf

‘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:

https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/what-do-europeans-think-about-muslim-immigration

‘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:

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Independent-Sunday-Mirror-VI-poll_11.02.2017_69847231.pdf

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:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3841/Europe-still-seen-as-most-important-relationship-for-Britain.aspx

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:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/9u1mmsq0we/YGC%20Tracker%20GB%20Feb%2017.pdf

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/02/19/tracker-islam-and-british-values/

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:

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/nick/archive/2/2017

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/08/most-brits-think-eu-needs-uk-least-much-uk-needs-e/

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:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/g9yhnt6pqu/Channel4Results_170130_FakeNews_W.pdf

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:

https://www.varkeyfoundation.org/generation-z-global-citizenship-survey

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

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:

https://oasis.foundation/sites/foundation.dd/files/In%20the%20Name%20of%20Love%20-%20FINAL_1.pdf

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:

http://womenandthechurch.org/news/watch-launches-report-developments-womens-ministry-2016/

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:

http://www.ministrydevelopment.org.uk/living-ministry-research

‘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:

http://www.ministrydevelopment.org.uk/experiences-of-ministry-project

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:

https://cst.org.uk/public/data/file/c/4/Incidents%20Report%202016%20Web.pdf

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:

https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/was-2016-really-the-worst-year-1.432877

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:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2017.Learning_disabilities.pdf

OFFICIAL AND QUASI-OFFICIAL STATISTICS

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:

https://www.littlebrown.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781408707012

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:

http://www.newmillshistory.org.uk/publications.html

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:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Publications/sri-youth-social-action-in-uk-2016.pdf

ACADEMIC STUDIES

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:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/secularization-in-the-long-1960s-9780198799474?cc=gb&lang=en&

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:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0040571X16676668

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:

http://natcen.ac.uk/news-media/press-releases/2017/february/half-of-anglicans-believe-there-is-nothing-wrong-with-same-sex-relationships/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/02/17/political-debate-uk-popular-news-topics/

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:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13676261.2016.1273518?needAccess=true

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

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2017/02/non-religious-young-people-in-britain-possess-a-range-of-different-identities/

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:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-financing-of-john-wesleys-methodism-c1740-1800-9780198796411?q=Clive%20Murray%20Norris&lang=en&cc=gb

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7786&type=Data%20catalogue

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8119&type=Data%20catalogue

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8140&type=Data%20catalogue

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:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8144&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

OPINION POLLS

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

All

Christians Non-Christians

Nones

Remain

38

33 51

42

Leave

45

50 35

41

Did not vote

17

17 14

17

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

Pre-Brexit

Post-Brexit

Groups creating problems in UK
Jews

6

6

Muslims

45

36

Christians

9

9

Hindus

6

5

Sikhs

6

5

Groups creating problems in world
Jews

16

13

Muslims

59

52

Christians

17

15

Hindus

9

7

Sikhs

8

6

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

http://www.populus.co.uk/polls/

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:

http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/07/11/europeans-fear-wave-of-refugees-will-mean-more-terrorism-fewer-jobs/

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:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/07/21/too-old-highest-office-kevin-mackenzie-and-comment/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

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:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR_2016.Jews_in_couples.Marriage_intermarriage_cohabitation_and_divroce_in_Britain.July_2016.pdf

FutureFirst

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:

http://peter@brierleyres.com

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

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:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/cps_hate_crime_report_2016.pdf

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:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3705042/Five-new-sex-offences-week-Reports-abuse-UK-churches-mosques-Sikh-temples-risen-20-cent-past-year-half-involve-children.html

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:

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN04334/SN04334.pdf

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:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/figures/religion-in-prison-1991-2015/

ACADEMIC STUDIES

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:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/that-was-the-church-that-was-9781472921642/

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:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionpublicsphere/2016/07/26/who-are-the-religious-nones-in-britain-atheists-agnostics-or-something-else/

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: 

http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5787/1/Chadkirk15MPhil.pdf

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:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jssr.12246/abstract

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:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13617672.2016.1185227

 

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

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Counting Religion in Britain, May 2016

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 8, May 2016 features 31 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 8 May 2016

OPINION POLLS

Anti-Semitism (1): Attitudes of Jews toward the Labour Party

The recent row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party seems to have further damaged its standing with the Jewish electorate. A majority (63%) of British Jews regard the Labour Party as anti-Semitic, and 66% assess its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as doing a bad job in addressing the issue. Whereas 15% of Jews voted Labour at the 2015 general election, and 32% of those who did not have considered voting Labour at some time in the past 10 years, only 7% would vote Labour now. The Jewish community remains overwhelmingly (67%) Conservative in its political allegiance, although it has only really been so since the Second World War. In part, this perhaps reflects the very low perception of anti-Semitism in that party (6%), a similar perception applying to the Liberal Democrats but not to UKIP (which 46% of Jews view as anti-Semitic). Notwithstanding the current publicity being given to anti-Semitism, 82% of Jews say they feel very or quite safe in Britain. Data derive from a survey of 1,008 members of Survation’s pre-recruited panel of self-identifying Jews in Britain, interviewed mainly by telephone on 3-4 May 2016.

The poll was commissioned by the Jewish Chronicle which published its own analysis of the results in its edition for 6 May 2016 at:

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/157746/labour-support-among-british-jews-collapses-85-cent

Full data tables, including breaks by demographics, are available at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-Tables-JC-Poll-030516SPCH-1c0d0h8.pdf

Results for a question on the voting intentions of Jews in the forthcoming referendum on European Union membership were separately reported in the Jewish Chronicle for 13 May 2016, 49% being in the ‘remain’ camp, 34% in the ‘leave’ camp, and 17% undecided. These data tables are at:

http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-Tables-JC-EU-Poll-030516SPCH-1c0d0h8.pdf

Anti-Semitism (2): Attitudes of Labour Party members

A bare majority (52%) of 1,031 Labour Party members interviewed online by YouGov for The Times on 9-11 May 2016 acknowledged that the Party has a problem with anti-Semitism, 38% being in denial. Moreover, 47% thought it no worse a problem in the Labour Party than in any other political party, while 35% blamed the press and opponents of Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for exploiting the issue in order to attack him (a further 49% accused them of manufacturing the problem for the same reason). Likewise, although 59% approved of the suspension from the Party of Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, only one-quarter judged the remarks leading to his suspension to be anti-Semitic and wanted him to be expelled from the Party. Data tables can be accessed via the link in the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/17/labour-members-increasingly-bullish-on-corbyn/

Anti-Semitism (3): Attitudes of the electorate

Asked about the extent of prejudice against Jews in the UK, 29% of 1,694 Britons replied that there is a great deal or a fair amount in an online poll by YouGov for Tim Bale on 2-3 May 2016. This was five points more than in a previous survey in December 2014. Not very much prejudice was reported by 43%, none at all by 5%, with the remaining 23% unable to say. Some anti-Semitism on the part of respondents themselves was in evidence, 7% agreeing with the long-standing trope that ‘Jews have too much influence in this country’, rising to 14 per cent among UKIP supporters and 10% for men and Scottish residents. A similar overall proportion (6%) acknowledged that they would be less likely to vote for a political party led by a Jew and also disagreed with the proposition that ‘a British Jew would make an equally acceptable Prime Minister as a member of any other faith’; the number was again double among UKIP voters. Almost one-third of the sample claimed to have Jewish friends, acquaintances, or work colleagues, which is a surprisingly high ratio, given that there are relatively few Jews in the country and that they are spatially concentrated.

Bale had an article about the survey in the online edition of the Daily Telegraph for 5 May 2016, which can be found at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/05/labour-voters-dont-have-a-problem-with-jewish-people-but-london/

The full data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/prmzmd3z1w/TimBaleResults_160503_Anti-Semitism_W.pdf

Perceptions of Islam

A significant degree of negativity toward both Islam and Muslims has again surfaced in a poll conducted by ComRes for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (UK) among a sample of 2,012 adult Britons interviewed online on 22-24 April 2016. Topline findings are tabulated below, in the order in which questions were asked, except for the omission of questions about understandings of the Caliphate (a central preoccupation of the sponsor), which are too complex to summarize here. It will be seen that a majority of respondents denied that Islam is compatible with British values, while a plurality disagreed it promoted peace in the UK and believed it is a negative force in the country. Only a minority acknowledged having a good grasp of Islamic traditions and beliefs, but there was little appetite to learn more or to see Islam taught more in schools. At the same time, there was acceptance that British Muslims are seriously and unfairly disadvantaged by misconceptions of Islam. The public’s long-standing desire for a separation of religion and politics was reaffirmed. Detailed computer tables, giving breaks by a range of demographics (including religious affiliation and possession of Muslim family, friends, or acquaintances), are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Ahmadi-Muslims_Perceptions-of-the-Caliphate.pdf

% across

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

Islam promotes peace in UK

32

46

22

Possess good understanding of Islamic traditions/beliefs

32

57

10

Possess Muslim family/friends/acquaintances

41

54

5

Get most of knowledge about Islam from media

55

37

8

Islam is compatible with British values

28

56

17

Islam promotes acts of violence in UK

33

51

16

Islam is a violent religion

28

57

14

Most people in UK have negative view of Islam

72

15

13

Islam is a negative force in UK

43

40

17

Would like to know more about Islamic traditions

36

49

15

More should be taught about Islam in UK schools

38

47

15

Misconceptions of Islam negatively impact quality of life of British Muslims

67

18

15

Misconceptions of Islam negatively impact quality of life of all Britons

60

24

16

Extremist views/actions conducted in Islam’s name by Muslim minority unfairly impact perceptions of Muslims

78

12

11

No place in UK politics for religious influence of any kind

62

23

15

UK Muslims do not have unifying figurehead

45

17

38

Admiration for global religious figures

Of the three international religious leaders included in YouGov’s latest 30-nation ranking of most admired living figures, the Dalai Lama took a larger share of the vote than the Pope in 19 countries, including the United Kingdom, the Dalai Lama performing especially strongly in Australia, France, Germany, and Norway. The Pope out-performed the Dalai Lama in nine countries, most impressively in the Philippines, while in Argentina and New Zealand the two leaders were tied. Internationally, the Pope has fallen seven places since last year’s rankings, suggesting his influence may be on the wane. The veteran evangelist Billy Graham, mostly out of the limelight these days, predictably trailed the other two religious leaders, except in Egypt (where he came first of the three) and in Brazil, South Africa, and the United States (where he came second). In the United Kingdom, which Graham has missioned on several occasions, his percentage share of admiration was below the global mean, whereas for Pope Francis it was slightly above. Of course, in virtually all countries the lists were dominated by secular names. Statistics for religious figures alone are tabulated below. Topline results for all figures for all participating nations, together with an explanation of methodology, can be found at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/07/wma-2016/

% share of admiration

Pope Francis

Dalai Lama

Billy Graham

Global mean

3.0

4.3

1.6

Argentina

7.0

7.0

1.0

Australia

4.8

11.4

2.1

Brazil

1.9

8.4

2.0

Canada

7.8

5.8

2.4

China

0.4

NA

0.2

Denmark

1.7

9.9

0.4

Egypt

0.7

0.6

0.9

Finland

2.3

7.0

0.8

France

7.7

10.0

0.1

Germany

1.3

10.0

0.3

Hong Kong

4.2

2.6

0.7

India

2.2

2.9

0.9

Indonesia

1.8

2.8

0.8

Malaysia

1.4

2.0

0.8

Mexico

3.7

9.1

0.8

Morocco

0.2

0.7

0.2

New Zealand

5.6

5.6

2.7

Norway

7.7

10.0

0.1

Pakistan

0.1

0.4

0.0

Philippines

20.7

2.8

1.7

Russia

1.1

2.8

0.1

Saudi Arabia

0.6

0.5

0.3

Singapore

3.4

2.5

1.7

South Africa

2.0

5.4

3.2

Spain

2.2

7.4

0.4

Sweden

2.0

8.7

0.3

Thailand

1.8

4.5

0.2

United Arab Emirates

4.1

2.0

0.9

United Kingdom

3.5

4.1

1.1

United States

8.2

3.7

5.2

Trust in religious leaders

In a separate YouGov study for YouGov@Cambridge, three-fifths of 1,742 Britons interviewed on 13-14 March 2016 said they had limited (32%) or no trust (28%) in religious leaders in general to tell the truth, peaking at 73% among those judging the current political system to be broken. Just 30% expressed a great deal or fair amount of trust in religious leaders, with marked contrasts between 18-24s (20%) and over-65s (43%) and between those thinking the political system works well (43%) and that it is broken (22%). Comparisons with a somewhat eclectic list of other groups are shown in the table, below. 

% degree of trust to tell truth

Great deal/fair amount

Not much

Not at all

Friends

89 7

0

Family members

89

6

1

Academics

64

22

5

People you meet in general

50

36

6

UK military leaders

40

32

17

Religious leaders

30

32

28

Trade union leaders

24

37

27

Journalists

18

45

32

People who run large companies

17

47

27

UK government ministers

15

38

38

Senior European Union officials

13

36

40

Senior US government officials

12

38

38

The same survey explored several other matters of religious interest. Asked about the role of a ‘higher force’ (such as God, fate, or destiny) in their own lives, 5% assessed that everything which happened to them was caused by this force, 8% that most of what happened was so caused, and 22% that some of what happened was so caused. That made 35% according some role to a higher force against 38% denying it had any influence at all, the remaining 27% being undecided between the options on offer. Men (45%) and 18-24s (48%) were most likely to refute the intervention of a higher force in their lives. Membership of church or religious organizations during the past five years was reported by 8% of respondents overall, rising to 13% of over-65s and 14% of Scots. Given a list of possible conspiracy theories, the suggestion that official accounts of the Holocaust are a lie, with the number of Jews killed being exaggerated, was strenuously refuted – merely 2% agreed with the proposition (albeit 5% of UKIP voters).

Data tables for the poll can be accessed via the link at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/05/27/conspiracies/

Dying

Britons claim to feel far more comfortable about discussing religion with their family and friends (80%) than they do sex (50%), according to the latest poll by ComRes for the Dying Matters Coalition, for which 2,085 adults were interviewed online on 15-17 April 2016. There is also greater willingness to discuss religion than either dying (64%) or money (78%), albeit slightly more reticence than about politics (82%) or immigration (85%). Just 17% say they would feel uncomfortable talking about religion, and no more than 19% among any demographic sub-group (the Welsh being most reluctant). However, when it comes to factors potentially ensuring a ‘good death’, ‘having your religious/spiritual needs met’ is rated as the least important of the six options, with a mean score of 5.29 on a six-point scale, the list topped by ‘being pain free’ on 2.44. Addressing religious and spiritual needs is judged the single most important factor by only 5% of respondents overall, and no more than 6% in any sub-group. Data tables are available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/NCPC_Public-polling-2016_Data-tables.pdf

Places of worship and community

Places of worship are accorded a very low priority by the public in shaping a local community, according to a recent survey commissioned by TSB Bank, for which OnePoll surveyed 4,000 UK adults online between 20 January and 18 March 2016. Indeed, asked which of 22 facilities and services were most essential, a place of worship came in penultimate position, attracting just 12% support, marginally ahead of a youth club on 10%. The list was headed by a post office (74%) and a bank (73%). Even fewer, 9% of men and 8% of women, said that the existence of easily accessible places of worship was a factor they liked about their current home. Full data tables from the poll are not in the public domain, but headline findings appear in a report from TSB at:

http://www.tsb.co.uk/news-releases/tsb-home-reports.pdf

Brexit

This will be the last edition of Counting Religion in Britain before United Kingdom voters decide on 23 June 2016 whether they wish the country to remain a member of the European Union (EU) or not. So, it seems appropriate to review the latest evidence about referendum voting intentions by religion. It comes from Lord Ashcroft’s online survey of 5,009 adult Britons interviewed between 13 and 18 May 2016. Respondents were not asked how they proposed to answer the actual question on the referendum ballot paper but about their inclination to vote, on a feeling thermometer running from 0 to 100, where 0-49 denoted a leaning towards remaining in the EU, 51-100 a leaning towards leaving, and 50 represented undecided. As the table below indicates, a majority of voters (52%) inclined towards the leave position, 14 points more than opted to remain. However, among Christians the gap in favour of leaving widened to 22%. A plurality of both non-Christians (49%) and religious nones (48%) was also in favour of leaving, albeit the margin over the remainers was very small (3% and 6%, respectively). See, further, page 92 of the data tables at:

http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Euro_Poll_May16.pdf

% across

Remain

Undecided

Leave

All voters

38

10

52

Christian

34

9

56

Non-Christian

46

5

49

No religion

42

11

48

Voting intentions of Jews in the referendum, according to a different survey, are mentioned in the final paragraph of the first item in this edition, ‘Anti-Semitism (1)’, above. For Sikh views on the EU, see ‘British Sikh Report’, below.

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

English church census, 2016

Plans for another ecumenical census of church attendance in England, the first since 2005, have been abandoned, according to news reports in the Church Times and on the Churches Together in England website. The census was to have taken place in October, with a pilot scheduled for June. The plans had been devised by a steering group which has been meeting since autumn 2015 under the chairpersonship of the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker. But they had to be aborted after several major denominations, including most recently the Church of England itself, indicated their unwillingness to sign up to the administrative resource implications. News stories about the cancellation of the census can be found at:

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/13-may/news/uk/church-census-2016-cancelled-after-c-of-e-drops-out

http://www.cte.org.uk/Articles/468006/Home/News/Latest_news_articles/Proposed_Church_Census.aspx

http://www.cte.org.uk/Groups/273292/Home/Resources/Proposed_2016_Church/Proposed_2016_Church.aspx

Sermons

The overwhelming majority (88%) of 1,800 UK churchgoers and church leaders interviewed online by Christian Research in early May disagreed with the suggestion that preaching a sermon in church is outdated. However, sermons in excess of half an hour in length appealed to only 10% of the sample, more so to men (14%) than women (6%) and to those aged 25-34 (19%) than over-65s (9%). In reality, 15% of sermons were reported as exceeding 30 minutes, the most common length (44%) being from 10 to 20 minutes. Regarding priorities for content, most emphasis (44%) was placed on biblical exposition, by men (49%) more than women (39%). Practical application was second in significance (40%), albeit preferred by more women (44%) than men (36%). Neither sex attached much importance to humour or anecdote in sermons. Four-fifths of worshippers did not mind whether the preacher was male or female, but one-fifth favoured a man in the pulpit. The research was commissioned by the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in the run-up to CRE International at the ExCeL Centre in London on 17-20 May, which featured a Sermon of the Year competition. As with virtually all Christian Research polling via its Resonate panel, few data have entered the public domain, but CRE has a press release at:

https://www.creonline.co.uk/news/preachers-told-give-us-content-over-comedy-please/

Church Commissioners annual report

The Church Commissioners, who support the mission and ministry of the Church of England from the proceeds of a diverse investment of £7 billion, have published their annual report and financial statements for 2015, entitled Investing in the Church’s Growth. The overall return on this investment last year was in excess of 8%, not far short of the annual average of almost 10% over the past 30 years, and well ahead of inflation. The Commissioners’ total expenditure in 2015 was £218.5 million, amounting to 15% of all spending across the Church, with their biggest single outlay (56%) being on clergy pensions (for service prior to 1998). Media coverage has focused disproportionately on the fact that Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, is shown among the Commissioners’ 20 most valuable equity assets, despite frequent accusations against Google that it fails to pay its fair share of UK tax. The report is available for download at:

https://churchofengland.org/media/2492846/churchcommissionersar2015.pdf

Fresh Expressions of church in the Diocese of Sheffield

An analysis of 56 Fresh Expressions of church (fxC) started in the Diocese of Sheffield between 1992 and 2014 has been prepared by George Lings and published by the Church Army’s Research Unit. Nearly all (47) of these fxCs are still in existence, adding 13% to the average weekly attendance in the diocese’s parish churches. Of the 2,450 fxC attenders, 35% are existing Christians, 27% dechurched, and 39% non-churched. The report is available at:

http://www.sheffield.anglican.org/UserFiles/File///CARU_Research_report_19_Sheffield_Diocese.pdf

Church of Scotland statistics

Church of Scotland statistics for the year-ending 31 December 2015, which were reported to the General Assembly meeting in Edinburgh this month, revealed a continuing decline. There were 14,788 fewer members in 2015 than 2014, a decrease of 4%, this being the net figure of 6,330 admissions and 21,118 removals from the rolls. Half the removals were as a result of deaths, which were nine times as numerous as new members received on profession of faith. The Church conducted 21,235 funerals during the course of the year, equivalent to 37% of all deaths in Scotland. There were only 3,591 baptisms, a far cry from the peak of 51,767 in 1962. Indeed, media coverage of the General Assembly highlighted the intention to give serious consideration to online baptisms (for example, via Skype or over the phone), which are already popular in America, to stem the fall. The headline statistics can be found in Appendix X of the General Assembly’s Order of Proceedings at:

http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/32879/Order_of_Proceedings.pdf

Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches

The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) has released a summary report on its 2014-15 ‘data survey’, which was initially prepared for consideration by its Leaders’ Conference in November 2015. The FIEC was founded in 1922 as an umbrella organization for non-denominational and unattached churches and missions. It currently represents 559 ‘church gatherings’ in Great Britain and is continuing to grow. The ‘data survey’ revealed that 39,000 individuals (31,000 adults and 8,000 young people under 18) attend FIEC churches on a typical Sunday morning, an increase of 10% since a similar survey in 2003. The number worshipping at least monthly (and thus considered to be regular attenders) is, at 46,000, almost one-fifth more. Church membership stood at 27,000 in 2014-15, equivalent to 59% of regular adult attenders compared with 64% in 2003. Most (54%) of FIEC churches have fewer than 35 members, the smaller the church, the more likely it is to be in numerical decline. The proportion of Sunday attendances in the morning has risen from 58% in 1989 to 70% today, while the number of churches holding evening services has fallen over the same period, from 93% to 77%. The ratio of young people in FIEC congregations has reduced from 32% to 20% since 1989, with 13% of churches having no young people in the pews and 53% reporting no baptisms in the past year. One in seven attenders is aged 75 or over. A further data survey is planned towards the end of 2016. The summary report for 2014-15 can be found at:

https://fiec.org.uk/docs/FIEC_How_are_we_looking.pdf

British Sikh Report

British Sikh Report, 2016 is the fourth annual edition of a survey overseen by a group of Sikh professionals, and conducted (mainly online) in late 2015 and early 2016 among a self-selecting (and thus potentially unrepresentative) sample of 1,416 adult Sikhs in the United Kingdom. Britain’s place in the world was a special theme of this year’s study. On membership of the European Union (EU), 57% of British Sikhs were in favour of remaining (mostly subject to reform of the EU, the survey being conducted before the British government’s agreement with the EU in February 2016), 12% wanted to leave the EU, with 31% undecided. However, 54% disagreed with allowing an unlimited number of EU migrants into the country, and 67% wanted their access to benefits to be limited. On immigration generally, although 59% agreed that migrants made a positive contribution to society, 67% feared that public services could not cope with the current level of net influx, and 53% that diversity and cohesion would be adversely affected by it. Only 32% supported Britain taking in more refugees (with 39% opposed), albeit 51% approved of greater help being given to refugees already in Europe. Other topics covered were ethno-religious self-identity, relevance of caste, observance of the Panj Kakkars, charitable giving and volunteering, attitudes to British military involvement in Syria and the retention of a nuclear deterrent, and demographics (including employment status and highest educational attainment). Gurbachan Singh Jandu contributes an article on ‘Britain’s Sikhs in 2016: A Community with Society in Mind’ (pp. 5-12). British Sikh Report, 2016 is available to download at:

http://www.britishsikhreport.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/British-Sikh-Report-2016.pdf

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

2021 census

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that it intends to include a question on religious affiliation in the 2021 population census of England and Wales, using the same wording as in 2011, to ensure continuity in reporting with both 2001 and 2011 results. A primary driver for so doing is to enable organizations to meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010, which defines religion as a protected characteristic. Following public consultation, ONS is declining to extend the question, noting: ‘While data users proposed that additional information about philosophical belief should also be collected, testing ahead of the 2011 Census demonstrated that including philosophical beliefs within the question changed how respondents thought about religion. This led to them providing answers on religious belief rather than affiliation. It is therefore not intended to expand the scope of the religion question to include this aspect of the protected characteristic.’ The statement appears in section 3.9 of The 2021 Census: Assessment of Initial User Requirements on Content for England and Wales – Response to Consultation, which is available (in English and Welsh) at:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/census/censustransformationprogramme/consultations/the2021censusinitialviewoncontentforenglandandwales

Scottish Surveys Core Questions, 2014

Scottish Surveys Core Questions combines into a single dataset the answers to identical questions asked of an aggregate 21,000 respondents in the annual Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, the Scottish Health Survey, and the Scottish Household Survey. The report and tables for 2014, the third year of the series, have just been published by the Scottish Government, with religion as one of the 19 core questions. Overall, 44% of the Scottish population had no religion, 52% was Christian (29% Church of Scotland, 15% Roman Catholic, 8% other denominations), and 3% non-Christian. Religious affiliation was used as a variable for analysing the incidence of general health, long-term limiting health conditions, smoking, mental wellbeing, unpaid care, local crime rates, and confidence in the police. The apparent statistical significance of some religious correlates was weakened when results were standardized by age, reflecting the disproportionately elderly profile of Church of Scotland affiliates and the younger profile of nones and Muslims. However, even after age standardization was applied, the greatest prevalence of smoking was still found among Catholics and nones. More details at:

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/05/7615/downloads

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Protestant and Catholic differences

‘Protestant and Catholic Distinctions in Secularization’ are examined by Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, with particular reference to the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, in Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, pp. 165-80. The underlying data derive from cross-sectional national surveys for the period 1985-2012, including 86,000 respondents to British Social Attitudes Surveys. In all three countries, there has been a steep decline in Protestant affiliation over time, but the remaining Protestants have generally seen heightened rates of religious practice (measured by attendance at religious services and prayer) when compared with remaining Catholics. With regard to orthodox religious beliefs, both remaining Protestants and remaining Catholics exhibit increasing levels of believing. For the incidence of religious behaviour and believing, Protestants now surpass Catholics in the United States and Canada and are said to be on track to do so in Britain. The societal implications of the ‘religious core’, at once diminished yet strengthened, are briefly assessed. Access options to the article, and to supplementary tables available online, are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2016.1152660

Catholic disaffiliation

British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys, in this case for 1991-2011 (and especially 2007-11), have also been mined by Stephen Bullivant in his study of ‘Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain: A Quantitative Overview’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2, 2016, pp. 181-97. Disaffiliates are defined as those who were brought up as Catholics but no longer identify as such, either because they regard themselves as belonging to some other religion (switchers) or to none at all (leavers). A much smaller proportion of Catholics (38%) was found to have disaffiliated than was the case with other mainstream denominations, some of the lowest retention rates being among Baptists and Methodists, only 36% and 34% of whom (respectively) stayed loyal to their faith of upbringing. Nevertheless, Catholic disaffiliations increased over time, from 25% for pre-1945 cohorts to 40% for post-1945 cohorts (a possible Vatican II effect, Bullivant suggests), and dwarfed, in the ratio of ten to one, converts to Catholicism. Men raised as Catholics were one and a half times more likely than women to disaffiliate. Moreover, a large contingent of the overall 62% of Catholics retaining their cradle identity rarely or never practised their religion, while a significant minority were even atheists or agnostics. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13537903.2016.1152664

A somewhat broader and more up-to-date account of results from this research, focusing on England and Wales and drawing upon BSA surveys for 2012-14, can be found in Bullivant’s Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales: A Statistical Report Based on Recent British Social Attitudes Survey Data (Catholic Research Forum Reports, No. 1, London: Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society, St Mary’s University Twickenham, 2016, 18pp.). Its four chapters explore: religion in England and Wales; the Catholic population; retention and conversion; and church attendance. Catholic data are disaggregated by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. Extrapolating from BSA, Bullivant suggests that the Catholic community of England and Wales numbers (professedly) 3,800,000 against 6,200,000 brought up as Catholics. This report is freely available to download at:

http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/benedict-xvi/contemporary-catholicism.htm

Catholics and faith schools

‘Attitudes Towards Faith-Based Schooling amongst Roman Catholics in Britain’ are explored by Ben Clements in an online first article in British Journal of Religious Education. The underlying data derive from a survey of 1,062 adult Catholics in Britain by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates in 2013. Some support is found for the ‘solidarity of the religious’ thesis, with the more orthodox Catholics (in terms of their religious practice and beliefs) showing a greater propensity to endorse publicly-funded faith school provision for Christians and non-Christians alike. The effects of moral attitudes and socio-demographic variables (except for ethnicity) were weaker and less consistent. Access options to the article are explained at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01416200.2015.1128393

Urban and rural Anglican dioceses

Owen Edwards has proposed a new model for defining rural, mixed, and urban Anglican dioceses in England and Wales, based upon 10 statistical factors, in comparison with an earlier (2001) model devised by David Lankshear. ‘Classifying “Rural” and “Urban” Dioceses of the Church of England and the Church in Wales: Introducing the Ten-Factor Model’ is published in Rural Theology, Vol. 14, No. 1, May 2016, pp. 53-65, and access options to the article are explained at:

http://tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14704994.2016.1154729

Polarized Jews

Jews are likely to hold more divergent and stronger views than non-Jews across a wide variety of social issues. This is according to a comparison of a 1995 study of British Jewish opinion, undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and British Social Attitudes (BSA) Surveys for 1993-94, both of which permitted respondents to choose between moderate or more extreme positions in answer to 14 identically-worded questions. No subsequent survey of the British Jewish community appears to have deliberately replicated BSA questions in this way. In all but one of the 14 cases, the Jewish sample exhibited a wider spread of attitudes than BSA interviewees, which was statistically significant in 11 instances. Competing non-religious (socio-demographic and language norm) explanations for the variance are considered and dismissed. This greater polarization of Jewish opinion conforms to Jewish folklore, religious narratives, and tropes of Jewish humour. An open access version of Stephen Miller, ‘Are Jews More Polarised in Their Social Attitudes than Non-Jews?  Empirical Evidence from the 1995 JPR Study’, Jewish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 57, Nos 1 and 2, 2015, pp. 70-6 is available at:

http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/12694/1/2%20Miller.pdf

Digital methodologies

Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion are explored in a new book edited by Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Suha Shakkour (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, xxvi + 227pp., ISBN 978-1-4725-7115-1, £21.99, paperback). It comprises 15 fairly short chapters by 25 contributors (10 of them from the United Kingdom) which tease out the methodological lessons to be learned from online research which they have conducted, identifying key tips for future practitioners. There is also a useful bibliography of relevant primary and secondary literature (pp. 197-223). The empirical findings of the research are only incidentally reported. Digital methodologies employed, besides the fairly obvious use of online surveys, include Facebook, YouTube, videoconferencing, apps, crowdsourcing, and gaming. They can be helpful in targeting minority and otherwise hard-to-reach populations, particularly in non-Christian communities, which are the subject of several of these essays (for example, Jasjit Singh’s contribution on the religious engagement of young Sikhs). However, in statistical terms, digital research, although relatively inexpensive, often struggles to achieve representative samples and thus to generate scientifically robust data. This even applies to online surveys, which frequently rely upon self-selecting respondents. The book’s webpage can be found at:

http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/digital-methodologies-in-the-sociology-of-religion-9781472571151/

Implicit religion and adolescents

Leslie Francis and Gemma Penny have examined the late Edward Bailey’s notion of the persistence of implicit religion among a sample of 8,619 adolescents aged 13-15 in England and Wales who participated in the Teenage Religion and Values Survey and who had no formal religious affiliation (nones) nor practice (never attended religious services). Implicit religion was operationalized as attachment to traditional Christian rites of passage (religious baptism, marriage, and funeral). Marriage in church was sought by 43%, a church funeral by 42%, and baptism of children by 21%. It was found that young people who remained attached to these rites displayed higher levels of psychological wellbeing than those who were not attached, suggesting, the authors contend, that implicit religion serves similar psychological functions as explicit religion. ‘Implicit Religion and Psychological Wellbeing: A Study among Adolescents without Formal Religious Affiliation or Practice’ is published in Implicit Religion, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2016, pp. 61-78, and access options are explained at:

https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/IR/article/view/30009

Journalists and religion

The United Kingdom’s 64,000 professional journalists are not an especially religious lot, even less so than the population as a whole. This is according to a new report from the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Neil Thurman, Alessio Cornia, and Jessica Kunert, Journalists in the UK. A random sample of journalists drawn from the Gorkana Media Database was invited to complete an online survey in December 2015, of whom 715 responded. The majority (61%) said that they had no religion, 74% that religious belief was of little (22%) or no importance (52%) to them, and 76% that religious considerations had little (28%) or no influence (48%) on their work. Moreover, as many as 45% expressed little (27%) or no trust (18%) in religious leaders, only 11% having a great deal or complete trust in them. The relatively low religiosity of journalists may be at least partially explained by the fact that they are disproportionately white and university-educated. The report is available at:

http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Journalists%20in%20the%20UK.pdf

George Whitefield’s voice

Christian history is full of examples of evangelists who have preached to large crowds in the open air without any amplification of their voice. Historians have often doubted whether these crowds were quite as large as estimated at the time and, in any case, whether the preacher would actually have been audible. Now matters have been put to the test in respect of George Whitefield, the great transatlantic preacher of the eighteenth century, who is said to have attracted as many as 80,000 people on a single occasion. Braxton Boren, a graduate in both physics and music technology, has used contemporary experimental and topographical data combined with modern simulation techniques to calculate the maximum intelligible range of Whitefield’s field preaching in Philadelphia and London. He concludes that, based on Whitefield’s vocal level, he could have reached a crowd of 50,000 under ideal acoustic conditions and still half as many even when noise levels were higher or crowd density lower. Braxton’s ‘Whitefield’s Voice’ is published in George Whitefield: Life, Context, and Legacy, edited by Geordan Hammond and David Ceri Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 167-89.

British Religion in Numbers

The annual update of the British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) source database has just taken place (it was deliberately delayed to allow the BRIN website to be migrated to a new platform, and, as part of that, for the database itself to be moved from MySQL to WordPress software). New entries have been created for 158 British religious statistical sources (disproportionately sample surveys), of which 121 date from 2015, 27 from 2014, and 10 from previous years. This brings the total of sources described in the database to 2,552. The 2015 sources include many important surveys, a very large number relating to Muslims, Islam, or Islamism (notably Islamic State), with a smaller cluster of polls exploring Jewish opinion and the attitudes of Britons toward Jews and anti-Semitism. Sources can be browsed at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/source-list/

An advanced search facility is available at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/search/

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7894: What about YOUth? Survey, 2014

The ‘What about YOUth?’ survey was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and conducted by Ipsos MORI through a combination of self-completion postal and online questionnaires between 23 September 2014 and 9 January 2015. It investigated the health and wellbeing of a random sample of 15-year-olds in England, which can be analysed by a raft of background variables, one of which was religious affiliation. The substantial size of the dataset (120,115 interviews, representing a response rate of 40%) makes it of particular interest. A catalogue description, with links to technical and other information, is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7894&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7963: Scottish Household Survey, 2013 and SN 7964: Scottish Household Survey, 2014

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 2013 survey (January 2013-February 2014) data were gathered on 10,650 households and 9,920 adults; for 2014 (January 2014-March 2015) on, respectively, 10,630 and 9,800. The specifically religious content of the questionnaire for both years covered: religion belonged to; experience of discrimination or harassment on religious, sectarian, or other grounds; and incidence of volunteering for religious and other groups. Catalogue descriptions for the datasets are available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7963&type=Data%20catalogue

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7964&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7972: British Election Study, 2015 – Face-to-Face Post-Election Survey

The series of British Election Studies originated in 1963, and the post-election survey for 2015 (there was also an internet panel) was based on face-to-face interviews with a probability sample of 2,987 British electors, 1,567 of whom also filled out a self-completion module. Fieldwork was conducted by GfK NOP between 8 May and 13 September 2015, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council allocated to a research team at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and Nottingham. Respondents were asked whether they regarded themselves as belonging to any religion and, if so, how often they attended religious services other than for rites of passage. These are important background variables for analysing the answers to the recurrent and non-recurrent questions on political and related topics. A catalogue description for the dataset is available at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7972&type=Data%20catalogue

 

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

 

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Counting Religion in Britain, March 2016

 

Counting Religion in Britain, No. 6, March 2016 features 23 new sources. It can be read in full below. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version: No 6 March 2016

OPINION POLLS

Hope Not Hate

Hope Not Hate, founded in 2004 to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate, was responsible for the most detailed opinion poll on religious issues whose results were released in full this month. Online fieldwork was conducted by Populus among a sample of 4,015 adults in England on 1-8 February 2016. An overview of the findings can be found in Robert Ford and Nick Lowles, Fear & Hope, 2016: Race, Faith and Belonging in Today’s England, running to 60 pages and full of bar charts, which can be purchased from the Hope Not Hate website, priced £3 for the ebook and £4 (inclusive of postage) for the printed version. Full data, extending to 436 tables over 541 pages, and incorporating breaks by a range of standard demographics (among them religious affiliation) and segmentation by six identity tribes, are freely available at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/polls/

Overall, compared with the Fear and Hope, 2011 report, England was said to have become a more tolerant and confident multicultural society than five years ago, with attitudes towards race, immigration, and religious hate speech all becoming more positive, due mainly to growing optimism about the economy and changing demographics. However, Muslims continued to be regarded as a uniquely different and problematic religious minority, albeit concerns about them were at a lower level than in 2011. There was majority support for a range of measures to promote greater integration by Muslims.

The richness of the data source precludes comprehensive analysis here, but readers may find it helpful to have a complete checklist of the specifically religious survey questions, as follows:

Q.7 Religious affiliation
Q.16 Religion and other influences as source of identity
Q.18 Compatibility of British values with religious faith
Q.19 Words/phrases (including Christian teachings) marking out British people
Q.20 Respect for local religious leaders/other local institutions
Q.27a Attitudes to influence of religion on laws/policies
Q.27b Personal importance of religion
Q.27c Perceptions of religion as force for good
Q.27d Attitudes to tolerance of different religious/cultural beliefs
Q.29 Perceived similarity to self of Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs
Q.30 Frequency of contact with Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs
Q.31 Know well people who Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs
Q.32a Extent to which Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs create problems in UK
Q.32b Extent to which Jews/Muslims/Christians/Hindus/Sikhs create problems in world
Q.35a Attitudes to relative seriousness of religious/racial abuse
Q.35b Perceptions of relative extent of religious/racial abuse in Britain
Q.35c Perceptions of increasing religious abuse in Britain
Q.35d Attitudes to free speech about religion
Q.37 Attitudes to new party wanting, inter alia, to challenge Islamic extremism and restrict building of mosques
Q.38 Attitudes to campaign against religious/racial extremism
Q.39 Attitudes to campaign against new mosque
Q.40 Attitudes to violence by either side in connection with new mosque
Q.41a Perception that Islam poses serious threat to Western civilization
Q.41b Perception that discrimination serious problem for Muslims in Britain
Q.41c Perception that media too negative to Muslims
Q.41d Perception that Muslim communities need to do more about Islamic extremism
Q.41e Perception that most Muslims have successfully integrated into British society
Q.41f Agreement that wrong to blame entire religion for actions of a few extremists
Q.42 Reaction to seeing/hearing Muslims associated with violence/terrorism
Q.43 Sympathy for English national/Muslim extremists when violence between them
Q.44a Support for more positive media coverage of Islam/Muslim communities
Q.44b Support for active promotion of British values within Muslim communities
Q.44c Support for closer monitoring of faith schools, including Muslim faith schools
Q.44d Support for measures to enable Muslim immigrants to speak English
Q.44e Support for high-profile campaign against anti-Muslim hatred

Religion and the European Union referendum

A by-product of the Hope Not Hate/Populus survey in England (see preceding item) is that it furnishes the first known evidence in the current European Union (EU) referendum campaign about the attitudes of different religious groups to whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU. The EU-related data will be found in Tables 364-388. A selection is presented below for the three main groups (Christians, Muslims, and nones). Unfortunately, cell sizes for other religions are too small to be statistically reliable. The voting question utilized a scale from 0 (will definitely vote for the UK to remain in the EU) to 100 (will definitely vote to leave), which was subsequently compressed by Populus into three categories (shown here). All the questions suggest that professing Christians are currently more likely than average to take up Eurosceptic positions, with Muslims the most Europhile. However, these views will be the product of a multiplicity of factors, of which religion on its own may not be especially significant.

% down

All adults

Christians Muslims

No religion

Voting intention        
Lean to voting for UK to remain in EU

34

31 40

38

More undecided

27

26 30

27

Lean to voting for UK to leave EU

39

43 31

35

Mean score

52.0

55.2 44.8

48.8

Britain does best within EU
Agree

41

39 54

40

Disagree

21

24 6

20

Britain can be just as prosperous outside EU
Agree

44

49 29

38

Disagree

25

24 36

26

Leaving EU would be security risk
Agree

44

41 64

46

Disagree

27

30 7

24

Britain should be outside EU even if economically worse off
Agree

44

49 30

49

Disagree

23

21 32

24

Leaving EU would allow Britain full control of borders
Agree

57

61 45

53

Disagree

15

14 18

17

Freedom of religion

Asked to select the single most important of 30 possible human rights, just 1% of Britons and of the publics of six other European nations prioritized the right to pursue a religion of choice (or none); in the United States, the figure was 7%. Allowed to pick four or five rights, 26% of Britons opted for religious freedom (peaking at 37% of Liberal Democrat voters), the overall proportion comparable with five of the other European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden), albeit much less than in the United States (53%). British fieldwork for the survey was conducted online by YouGov among 1,700 adults on 22-23 February 2016. International topline results and detailed British data tables are available via the post at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/30/which-rights-matter-most/

Belief at Eastertide

Using YouGov Profiles data, YouGov has reported on the level of belief in 14 spiritual or paranormal phenomena among 12,000 people who affiliate with Christianity and a control set of 39,000 adults. From the list of phenomena, Britons overall were found most likely definitely to believe in fate and alien life, with belief in ghosts and karma more prevalent than in a creator or heaven. Only 41% of Christians definitely believed in a creator (while 18% did not), less than in fate or destiny (46%). Christians also tended to identify with the more comfortable elements of faith, 44% definitely believing in heaven against 27% in hell, and 35% in angels against 24% in the devil. Additional analysis of YouGov Profiles for 234,000 adults showed Christians and religious nones neck and neck at 46% each, with other religions on 8%. For more information, see the blog at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/26/o-we-of-little-faith/

Good Samaritan

As part of its ongoing initiative ‘Pass It On’ (to hand down the stories and messages of the Bible to future generations), the Bible Society has been asking Britons about the contemporary meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). It commissioned YouGov to run two online surveys, one among 2,057 adults aged 18 and over on 4-7 December 2015, the other among 745 children aged 8-15 on 4-9 December 2015. Seven in ten adults said they had read or heard about the story of the Good Samaritan, with 40% (including 46% of women but just 27% of 18-24s) agreeing that educating school pupils about it would help create a kinder society. However, only 13% of adults had actually passed this story on to their own children, rising to 27% of over-55s. Majorities of both adults (64%) and children (58%) claimed to be worried that Britain is becoming a less kind society, while 86% and 89% respectively thought the country would benefit if people were more willing to help each other. In practice, given various scenarios outlined in the poll, there were clear limitations to respondents’ preparedness to help strangers in need in a public place, particularly if it might cost them money and the environment appeared unsafe. Lending somebody a mobile phone to make a call seemed an especially challenging prospect, even when the stranger was a religious leader. No data tables are available online as yet, but a report – Pass It On: The Good Samaritan in Modern Britain – The Power of the Parable in the 21st Century – is available to download at:

http://www.biblesociety.org.uk/uploads/files/good_samaritan_report_03083845.pdf

Easter eggs

Four in five (79%) of Britons disagree with the suggestion that manufacturers of chocolate eggs should avoid using the word Easter on their packaging, according to a survey of 2,050 adults conducted online by YouGov on 1-2 March 2016 on behalf of the Meaningful Chocolate Company (which has made The Real Easter Egg since 2010, including a copy of the Easter story in the box). One in nine (11%) of people agrees that Easter should be dropped from the packaging, while one in ten is undecided. The poll was commissioned in response to a tendency by some manufacturers to remove the word Easter from their boxes or to reduce it in size and reposition it on the back of the box. Data tables from the survey are not in the public domain, but there is a news report at:

http://www.inspiremagazine.org.uk/Stories/National?storyaction=view&storyid=2154

During the fortnight after the story broke, there was growing public and media outrage that chocolate manufacturers were airbrushing Easter from their eggs. Manufacturers were put on the spot to explain themselves, they were mocked on social media sites, and even MPs joined in the fray. Had the poll been undertaken a bit later and nearer Easter, against this backdrop, probably the majority in favour of reinstating the prominence of Easter on chocolate eggs would have been even more overwhelming.

Trust in the Church

The most recently published trust in institutions module of nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor, conducted in April 2015 among 1,000 adults aged 16 and over, revealed that 36% of Britons trust the Church quite a lot (26%) or a great deal (10%), a similar proportion to previous years (the survey has been running annually since 2006). The majority (55%) trusts the Church very little (27%) or not much (28%). The most trusted institutions are the armed forces (77%) and National Health Service (70%). Slides containing topline results can be downloaded (after free registration) from:

http://nfpsynergy.net/press-release/trust-charities-now-lowest-eight-years-scotland-and-northern-ireland-have-higher-trust

Papal popularity

In a WIN/Gallup International survey of the publics of 64 nations at the end of 2015 but not released until Easter, 54% overall entertained a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Pope Francis, 12% held an unfavourable view, with 34% undecided. In Britain, where the fieldwork was conducted online by ORB International among a sample of 1,000 adults on 19-28 November 2015, the plurality (46%) was neutral, with 37% favourable and 17% unfavourable. Britain ranked 46 out of 64 in terms of favourability towards the Pope, just behind Sweden and just ahead of Greece, the whole list being headed by Portugal (94%) and Philippines (93%). Not unexpectedly, favourability tended to be highest in predominantly Catholic countries. The proportion of Britons who were very favourable to the Pope was 9%, not much more than one-third of the global average of 24%, although the figures were an identical 5% for those holding a very unfavourable opinion. A report can be found at:

http://www.wingia.com/web/files/richeditor/filemanager/Opinion_Pope_Francis_Q8_Press_Release_v16-3-2016___.pdf

Topline results for each country are at:

http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=pope-more-popular-than-world-leaders-easter-2016-poll

The same survey also asked about favourability toward other world leaders. In Britain, Barack Obama (66%), David Cameron (42%), and Angela Merkel (40%) were all given higher ratings than the Pope, François Hollande the same (37%). These comparative data have been online for some time at:

http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/global-q4-only-final.pdf

Islamic State (1)

A poll by YouGov conducted among an online sample of 2,459 Britons on 23 March 2016, the day after the attacks by Islamic State (IS) in Brussels left 32 people dead, found 77% very or fairly worried that IS would attempt a terrorist attack on British soil, just 4% saying they were not worried at all. Concern was highest among over-60s (86%), women (85%), Conservative voters (84%), and Londoners (83%). Only 11% thought the war against IS was being won, while three times that number agreed IS was actually getting stronger, including 48% of UKIP supporters. A blog about the snap survey, incorporating a link to the full results, is available at:

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/23/were-failing-fight-against-isis-public/

Islamic State (2)

There have been calls recently for the killing by Islamic State (IS) of Christians and Yazidis (a Kurdish-speaking religious minority) in Iraq and Syria to be formally recognized as genocide. The calls have thus far been resisted by the British Government but appear to enjoy the support of a majority of the British public, according to an online poll by ComRes among 2,023 adults on 16-17 March 2016, commissioned by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Asked what the Government should be doing about the killing of Christians and Yazidis by IS, 63% thought it should be officially recognizing the killing as genocide, 69% wanted it to raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council with a view to onward referral to the International Criminal Court, 59% endorsed it launching its own enquiry into claims that IS had committed genocide, and 68% agreed that it should be using Britain’s broader international influence to ensure the killing is classified as genocide and the IS leadership brought to account. There was very little opposition to each of these proposed measures being taken by the Government, although about one-quarter of the population was undecided on each statement. Data tables, including breaks by religious affiliation, can be found at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ADF_Genocide-Tables_March-2016.pdf

The Sun and Muslim opinion

In the November 2015 edition of Counting Religion in Britain, we reported on a telephone poll by Survation of 1,003 British Muslims conducted in the wake of the Islamist outrages in Paris, and of the developing row surrounding the presentation of the findings by The Sun (which commissioned the survey) in its issue of 23 November 2015. The newspaper’s reporting of the poll, particularly its suggestion of substantial sympathy among Muslims for individuals who left the country to fight on behalf of Islamic State in Syria, triggered an unusually large number of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). IPSO has now investigated the matter and has upheld the lead complaint by Muslim Engagement and Development. IPSO has ruled that The Sun ‘failed to take appropriate care in its presentation of the poll results, and as a result the coverage was significantly misleading’. Accordingly, the newspaper has been found guilty of breaching Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice and has been required by IPSO to publicize the decision, in print and online, in remedy of the breach. IPSO’s judgment can be read in full at:

https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=331

Religion and gender

A helpful compilation of contemporary global data about the (generally) greater religiosity of women than men, together with an exploration of the various theories surrounding gender differences in religion (including a possible link to female labour force participation), is contained in the latest report from the Pew Research Center, The Gender Gap in Religion around the World. This was prepared under the direction of Conrad Hackett. The data on religious affiliation relate to 192 countries and derive from national censuses and surveys. Those on religious practices and belief are taken from Pew’s own surveys in 84 countries. In Britain atheists were more likely to be men (56% versus 44%), but women were 5% more likely to attend religious services weekly (15% versus 10%), 9% more likely to pray daily (23% versus 14%), and 7% more likely to say that religion was very important in their lives (25% versus 18%). Regrettably, measures of gender differences in belief in heaven, hell, and angels, which are also available for many countries, were not asked by Pew in Britain, although they have been covered by other survey agencies here. The Pew report can be downloaded at:

http://www.pewforum.org/files/2016/03/Religion-and-Gender-Full-Report.pdf

Meanwhile, the dataset from the Spring 2014 Pew Global Attitudes Project has been released. Questions of British religious interest concern attitudes to Jews and Muslims; opinions of Pope Francis; and the perceived threat to the world from religious and ethnic hatred. This dataset (and earlier ones) can be downloaded from:

http://www.pewglobal.org/category/datasets/

FAITH ORGANIZATION STUDIES

Visitor attractions

Westminster Abbey was the UK’s top ecclesiastical destination for tourism in 2015 and the fourteenth most frequented UK visitor attraction, among member organizations of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). It drew 1,664,850 fee-paying customers, 3% fewer than in the previous year. St Paul’s Cathedral was two places behind, with 1,609,325 visitors, 10% down on 2014. Canterbury Cathedral came thirty-fourth, with 957,355 visitors, a fall of 5%. Prominent among the former monastic ruins were Fountains Abbey (371,012 visitors) and Whitby Abbey (146,277), in the care of, respectively, the National Trust and English Heritage. Several places of worship administered by the Churches Conservation Trust appeared in the bottom quartile of the 230 properties on the ALVA list, while the sole designated religious museum (St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow) attracted 143,967 free visitors, up 5%. Visitor figures for ALVA members for 2015 and all years back to 2004 are available at:

http://www.alva.org.uk/details.cfm?p=423

Jewish charitable giving

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has published a new report, the first on the topic since 1998, on the charitable giving of the country’s Jews: David Graham and Jonathan Boyd, Charitable Giving among Britain’s Jews: Looking to the Future. The underlying data derive from the Institute’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey, which elicited 3,736 responses from a self-selecting and non-probability convenience sample. A very high proportion of these respondents (93%) claimed to have given something to charity during the year prior to interview, although a much smaller number (28%) had donated more than £500. The report identified the three most important variables which predict the scale of charitable giving of British Jews as age (older Jews being both more generous and habitual donors), strength of Jewish identity and engagement, and level of income. It forecast that secularization of the mainstream Jewish population may lead to a decline in giving, as may the growth in strictly Orthodox Jewry, which will reduce the overall wealth of the Jewish community, also increasing its charitable needs. The report is available at:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2016.Charitable_giving_among_Britains_Jews.pdf

Jewish health

A 2015 survey of 507 members (207 children, 300 adults, the latter disproportionately female) of Salford’s 7,500-strong strictly orthodox (Charedi) Jewish population has surfaced sundry health issues. It was sponsored by NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and conducted by Jonny Wineberg and Sandi Mann by means of focus groups and questionnaires. Particular concerns were raised by the researchers about immunization take-up, healthy eating, amounts of exercise (especially among men), and attitudes to mental health. Although alcohol consumption by adults was not generally a problem, 12% were classed as binge-drinkers on the Jewish Sabbath. A 54-page report of the survey can be found at:

http://archive.jpr.org.uk/download?id=2721

OFFICIAL STATISTICS

Places of worship

A relatively little-known aspect of religious data is that the state collects statistics of places of worship through a process of certification to the Registrar General laid down under an Act of 1855. This is a valuable source of information, notwithstanding certain limitations, in particular that the duty only applies to England and Wales, does not extend to the Church of England and Church in Wales, and is optional (albeit certification confers certain financial advantages and is a prerequisite for subsequent registration of a building for the solemnization of marriages).

A full-page article in The Times on 28 March 2016 used the certifications for 2010 and 2016 to highlight changes in the country’s religious landscape, notably the contraction in mainstream Churches and the growth of newer manifestations of Christianity and non-Christian faiths as a consequence of inward migration. Over this six-year period, places of worship belonging to the United Reformed Church reduced by 8% and to the Methodist Church by 6%. Salvation Army, Quaker, and Roman Catholic ones were down by around 3%. On the other hand, there were more Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, up by 17% and 39% respectively, while places of worship certified to Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims increased by one-quarter. ‘For every Church of England church that has closed over the past six years, more than three Pentecostal churches and almost two mosques have opened’, the newspaper’s journalist, Kaya Burgess, reported in the piece which was variously headlined, according to edition, including as ‘Anglican Faith Sinks in Sea of Diversity’. Subscribers can read the full text at:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/faith/article4722614.ece

ACADEMIC STUDIES

Jewish and Muslim MPs

In general, MPs from a Jewish or Muslim minority background in the UK House of Commons are not statistically more likely than MPs from other backgrounds to address issues of concern for Jews or Muslims in the House of Commons. This is according to a content analysis of 3,103 Early Day Motions (EDMs) sponsored by 38 Jewish MPs and 196 by 11 Muslim MPs between 1997 and 2012 compared with a control group of EDMs tabled by non-minority MPs. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that religious background was a vastly inferior predictor of raising minority issues than ‘institutional’ factors such as holding a leadership legislative role, representation of a constituency with a substantial minority population, and length of Parliamentary service. The research is reported in Ekaterina Kolpinskaya, ‘Does Religion Count for Religious Parliamentary Representation? Evidence from Early Day Motions’, Journal of Legislative Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2016, pp. 129-52. Access options to this article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13572334.2015.1134905

In an article in the advance access edition of Parliamentary Affairs, the same author applies the same methodology to Parliamentary Questions for Written Answers (WPQs) asked by the same group of MPs over the same timescale (39,877 WPQs by the Jewish and 2,398 by the Muslim MPs). An identical conclusion is reached about the limited impact of a religious minority background on engagement with minority issues in the House of Commons. Access options to Kolpinskaya’s ‘Substantive Religious Representation in the UK Parliament: Examining Parliamentary Questions for Written Answers, 1997-2012’ are outlined at:

http://pa.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/02/03/pa.gsw001.abstract

London churchgoing in 1913

Late Victorian and Edwardian London had a reputation for relatively low levels of religious practice, as evidenced in the census of church attendance conducted in the capital by the Daily News in 1902-03. In 1912-13 its successor, the Daily News and Leader, attempted to replicate this census but was forced to abandon it at an early stage in the face of concerted opposition from both Anglicans and Nonconformists. In its place was substituted a survey of the religious and social work of the metropolitan churches, which was published in 1914. The story of ‘the census that never was’ has been pieced together for the first time by Clive Field, who also explains the reasons for its significance, within the context of the broader scholarly debate about whether Edwardian Britain was a ‘faith society’. ‘“A Tempest in the Teapot”: London Churchgoing in 1913 – The Census That Never Was’ appears in London Journal, Vol. 41, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 82-99. Access options to this article are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03058034.2015.1108624

Religion in Bolton

Although Mass-Observation’s pioneering social survey of industrial Worktown (Bolton), Lancashire in the late 1930s is generally well-known, no serious investigation has hitherto taken place of its sub-project on religion. Clive Field has now published a preliminary survey of the extant and somewhat disordered documentation, enabling a basic history of the sub-project to be constructed for its principal phase in 1937-38, spanning organization, research methodology, and plans for a book which never saw the light of day. The account is underpinned by detailed references to relevant material in the Mass-Observation Archive, thereby facilitating future scholarly exploitation. Briefer descriptions are also provided of subsequent phases of Mass-Observation’s religion research in Bolton, during the early months of the Second World War and in the summer of 1960. A summative assessment finds that the overall output from the sub-project is somewhat disappointing and methodologically impoverished (notably in the limited recourse to quantification), more illuminating of religious institutions in the town than of the role of religion in the everyday lives of ordinary Boltonians, especially non-churchgoers. Access options for ‘Religion in Worktown: Anatomy of a Mass-Observation Sub-Project’, Northern History, Vol. 53, No. 1, March 2016, pp. 116-37 are outlined at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0078172X.2016.1127629

Nonconformist prosopography

Mary Riso casts light on the lives as well as the deaths of Victorian Nonconformists in her new book, The Narrative of the Good Death: The Evangelical Deathbed in Victorian England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015, xvi + 276pp., ISBN 9781472446961, £65.00 hardback, also available as an ebook). It is based upon an analysis of 1,200 obituaries published between 1830 and 1880 in the magazines of four denominations, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists. Of course, obituaries cannot be regarded as an approximation of a cross-section of the laity of these denominations. In this instance, their limitations also include a tendency to become progressively less formulaic and less spiritual in content over the half-century covered and for their subjects to become increasingly more male and middle class. A methodological chapter (pp. 29-56) explores some of these difficulties. Setting these considerations aside, the sample is large enough to permit some quantification, with statistics appearing throughout the text and, in figure format, in appendix B (pp. 231-47). The analysis is by theme (theology; lifestyle and social mobility; social background; age at death; and religious experience) within denomination. The book’s webpage can be found at:

https://www.routledge.com/products/9781472446961

NEW DATASETS AT UK DATA SERVICE

SN 7899: National Survey of Young People’s Well-Being, 2010

The National Survey of Young People’s Well-Being, 2010 was a collaboration between the Children’s Society and the University of York, with data collection the responsibility of the National Foundation for Educational Research. A self-completion online questionnaire was filled in, during December 2010 and January 2011, by 5,443 children aged 8-15 in years 4, 6, 8, and 10 of schools in England. It covered a range of measures of well-being and some background information, including religious affiliation (‘what would you say your religion is?’), allowing a ‘not sure’ response alongside ‘none’ and the major world faiths. The religion question does not appear to have been asked in the successor Children’s Worlds Survey, England, 2013-2014. For a full description of the 2010 dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7899&type=Data%20catalogue

SN 7919: Health Survey for England, 2014

The Health Survey for England, 2014 is the twenty-fourth in a series of annual studies designed to monitor trends in the nation’s health. It is commissioned by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care and conducted by NatCen Social Research and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. It is undertaken through a combination of face-to-face interview, self-completion interview, and clinical and other measurements. A number of core health-related topics are explored each year with additional topics investigated on a more occasional basis (mental health being a special focus in 2014). A question ‘what is your religion or belief?’ was one of the background variables included in the self-completion booklet given to the 8,077 adults aged 16 and over interviewed in 2014, with reply options of no religion, Roman Catholic, other Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and any other religion. This permits analysis of the religious correlates of particular health conditions and attitudes. For a full description of the dataset and background documentation, see the catalogue entry at:

https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=7919&type=Data%20catalogue

PEOPLE NEWS

Stephen Bullivant

Stephen Bullivant is the inaugural director of the new Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society which has been established at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. It will function as an international hub for research and engagement activities in the interaction between religion and economics, sociology, and political science. The Centre’s current major research projects are on the Scientific Study of Nonreligious Belief; Catholic Social Teaching, Policy, and Society; and Humanae Vitae at 50. A Catholic Research Forum also operates from the Centre, comprising a number of smaller initiatives, including a statistical profile of Catholics in England and Wales compiled from British Social Attitudes Surveys; an investigation among Catholics who no longer regularly attend Mass, in partnership with the Diocese of Portsmouth; and research into the uptake of free school meals in Catholic state schools, in collaboration with the Catholic Education Service. The Centre’s website can be found at:

http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/benedict-xvi/

 

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

 

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Christmas Observance and Other News

 

Christmas observance

Prospect magazine has entered into the festive spirit by commissioning YouGov to run a few questions about how Britons observe Christmas, 1,927 adults being quizzed online on 13-14 November 2014. Nothing unusual about that, you might think – there are countless Christmas-themed polls at this time of year. This one, however, is a little different in that responses are broken down for three religious groups: Christians who claim to attend church, even if only on special occasions; Christians who do not attend church; and those professing no religion (the sub-sample of non-Christians was too small to be meaningful).  

Select findings are summarized in the following table, from which it will be seen that:

  • Church-attending Christians send more Christmas cards than non-attenders, with no religionists sending the least
  • Christians, whether attending or non-attending, are more likely to have a Christmas tree at home than no religionists
  • Church-attending Christians expect to be joined by more people for Christmas dinner than non-attenders or no religionists
  • Church-attending Christians claim to give more to charity than non-churchgoers and no religionists (a median of £50 for churchgoers, against £22 for all adults)

Of course, these differences are not necessarily directly attributable to religious factors per se but may well be shaped by socio-demographics known to be linked to religion, for example the younger profile of those who profess no religion, the relatively affluent profile of churchgoers, and so forth. 

%

Attending Christians

Non-attending Christians

No religion

Christmas cards expect to send

 

 

 

Under 30

47

61

78

More than 30

47

34

18

Expect to have Christmas tree at home

 

 

 

Yes

87

87

77

No

11

12

19

Expect to have Christmas dinner

 

 

 

At home

62

58

57

Elsewhere

37

38

40

Likely to be present at Christmas dinner

 

 

 

Up to three other people

29

38

42

Four or more other people

68

59

54

Charitable donations in past year

 

 

 

Nothing

5

8

15

Under £100

52

67

62

More than £100

35

15

14

Peter Kellner has an article about the survey in the current issue of Prospect (No. 226, January 2015, pp. 14-15). The text of the article, minus the graphics presenting the results, is also freely available online at: 

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/opinions/do-we-still-love-christmas

Full data tables for the poll are at: 

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/8fkxtrmo9e/Prospect_Results_141114_Christmas_W.pdf

Leaving Christ out of Christmas

Asked what most excites them about Christmas, very few Europeans in a seven-nation Eurotrack survey by YouGov, conducted online on 20-26 November 2014, said they were excited about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. In Britain, where 1,641 were interviewed, the proportion was 13%, with a range elsewhere from 7% in Sweden to 16% in Germany. Britons get far more excited about spending time with friends and family (60%), giving presents (33%), Christmas food (31%), having a break from work (28%), and decorating their home (14%). Although 77% of the 97% of Britons who said they celebrated Christmas agreed that its ‘true meaning … has been lost’, it would appear that it was not the religious meaning which they had in mind. Topline results are at:   

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/u9prscml0t/November_Eurotrack_Xmas_Website.pdf

Christmas knowledge

Also characteristic of this time of year is the survey reminding us how relatively little some people know about the nativity story. The latest was commissioned by Brent Cross Shopping Centre, for which Mortar interviewed 1,000 UK children aged 5-12 between 15 November and 1 December 2014, using multiple choice questions. Among the findings:

  • 52% of children thought Christmas Day is the birthday of Santa Claus
  • 20% identified Jesus Christ as a footballer with Chelsea FC
  • 35% believed He was born at the South Pole
  • 27% believed He was born in a church
  • 25% thought the shepherds used Google Maps to find Jesus
  • 15% claimed the Three Kings gave Jesus a wand, tiara, and wings as gifts

Religions other than Christianity fared no better, with 30% of children suggesting Chanukah, the Jewish festival of light, is a Japanese cartoon. The Brent Cross press release is at: 

http://www.brentcross.co.uk/events/nativity-naivety

Freedom of speech

One-third (31%) of 1,219 Britons who work on a full- or part-time basis feel that they cannot speak freely about religion in their place of employment, according to a YouGov poll for New Culture Forum on 15-16 October 2014, published on 9 December. This is less than feel constrained about discussing immigration (36%) but more than are inhibited to raise moral and ethical issues (27%) or their party political preferences (20%). Londoners (44%) and UKIP voters (41%) reported being least able to speak freely about religion at work. The survey did not explicitly probe whether the concerns arose from the perceived reactions of colleagues or employers to open discussion of these four topics or fear of prosecution under the law. However, in an accompanying report (Speakers Cornered: Twenty-First Century Britain’s Culture of Silence), New Culture Forum seeks to use the poll as evidence that free speech is under attack. Data tables are at:    

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/cpzcl8kurq/NewCultureForumResults_141016_freedom_of_speech_w.pdf

Social integration

Places of worship are the most successful setting for mixing people of different social grades and ethnicities, and second most successful (after sporting events) for integrating people of different ages. This is according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph (7 December 2014, main section, p. 21) which draws upon (as yet) unpublished research by Ipsos MORI for the Social Integration Commission, for which 4,269 Britons aged 13-80 were interviewed online between 17 and 28 January 2014. The newspaper report can be read at: 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11276878/Churches-are-best-social-melting-pots-in-modern-Britain.html

Pope Francis

Apart from in Greece (which is overwhelmingly Orthodox), Pope Francis is viewed unfavourably by more people in Britain (17%) than in any other EU country included in the latest report from the Pew Research Center, published on 11 December 2014. With the same exception, as can be seen from the table below, he is regarded very favourably by just 20% of Britons, about one-third the proportion in Italy and Poland, with their strong Catholic traditions, and half the level in the United States. Another 45% in Britain view the Pope somewhat favourably, producing an aggregate favourability rating of 65%, compared with a median of 84% in Europe, 78% in the United States, and 72% in Latin America. The survey was undertaken in 43 countries across the globe, with 1,000 adults interviewed by telephone in Britain between 17 March and 8 April 2014, and the report with topline findings can be read at:  

http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2014/12/Pew-Research-Center-Pope-Report-FINAL-December-11-2014.pdf

% regarding Pope Francis

Very favourably

Somewhat favourably

Unfavourably

Italy

66

25

5

Poland

57

35

3

United States

38

40

11

Spain

34

50

9

France

30

58

11

Germany

25

57

11

Great Britain

20

45

17

Greece

8

41

24

BRIN source database update

The annual update of the BRIN source database has just taken place. New entries have been created for 151 British religious statistical sources (disproportionately sample surveys), of which 109 date from 2014 and 42 from previous years. This brings the total of sources described in the database to 2,394. The 2014 sources include many important surveys, a large number relating to Islam or Islamism (especially in Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria). However, there have also been several more general religious surveys (among them two modules in Wave 4 of the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study, which has a very substantial sample, and is yet to be analysed in detail on BRIN), as well as polls bearing on the debate about whether Britain is (or should be) a Christian country. A majority (but by no means all) of the 2014 sources have already featured on the BRIN news blog throughout the year. Moreover, 43 existing entries have been updated, mostly by additional subject keywords and/or publication references. The source database, which is searchable in multiple ways, can be found at: 

http://www.brin.ac.uk/sources/

 

Posted in People news, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anglican Clergy Poll and Other News

 

Anglican clergy poll

As anticipated in our post of 12 October 2014, the complete results of the YouGov survey of Anglican clergy were published on 23 October. The poll was designed by Professor Linda Woodhead and commissioned on behalf of Lancaster University, Westminster Faith Debates, and other partners in connection with the current series of debates on the Future of the Church of England. Respondents comprised 1,509 clergy aged 70 and under from the Anglican Churches in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland who answered 30 questions online between 14 August and 8 September 2014. They had been selected on a random basis (every third name) from Crockford’s Clerical Directory, and questionnaires sent to the 5,000 of the resulting sample of 6,000 for whom email addresses were available. The response rate thus appears to be around 30%.  Full tables (with breaks by gender, age, year of ordination, country, and ministerial role) are available at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/5f5s31fk47/Results-for-Anglican-Clergy-Survey-08092014.pdf

Additionally, a press release has been issued in which Woodhead makes the following points:

  • Anglican clergy are united by a strong faith in a personal God and commitment to the parish system, 83% in each case
  • They are marked out from lay Anglicans and the rest of the population by their left-wing, ‘old Labour’, views, including attachment to a generous welfare system
  • They tend towards morally conservative positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and – especially – assisted dying
  • Attitudes are often sharply split between the third of clergy who are evangelical and the rest, the former tending to dissent from the official Church line that Anglicans should learn to ‘disagree well’

An abbreviated version of the press release can be found at:

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2014/cofe-clergy-concerned-with-protecting-the-welfare-budget/

Some of the questions were specific to the clergy, but others replicated those put to a sample of adult Britons by YouGov on behalf of Westminster Faith Debates in June 2013. This permits comparisons between the clergy, the general population, and the Anglican section thereof, as follows:

% down

Clergy

Britons

Anglicans

Since 1945 British society has become

better

38

27

25

worse

34

51

60

Britain has benefited from immigration in

some ways

96

60

52

no ways

2

32

41

Welfare budget should be

reduced

17

46

52

maintained

31

24

23

increased

44

15

13

Abortion time limit of 24 weeks should be

increased

5

6

5

kept

32

40

39

reduced

43

29

33

Same-sex marriage is

right

39

46

38

wrong

51

37

47

Legal prohibition on assisted suicide should be

kept

70

14

14

changed

22

76

77

Other surveys of Anglican clergy have been carried out in the past, but have mostly had a different focus, on religious beliefs, aspects of ministry, or psychological type. Comparisons with the current YouGov study are therefore difficult. However, we may note that clerical support for disestablishment appears to have diminished somewhat over the years. Whereas Gallup found it running at 30% of full-time clergy in December 1984 and 35% in August 1996, it had fallen to 14% 30 years later, 81% wishing to retain all or some of the trappings of establishment.

Heritage at risk

The latest debate in the Future of the Church of England series was devoted to heritage, and it was fitting that, on the very same day the debate took place (23 October 2014), English Heritage published the 2014 Heritage at Risk Register. This is the first since the register began in 1998 to include a fairly comprehensive inventory of places of worship judged to be at risk. In the past year the organization has visited all those considered to be in poor or very bad condition on the basis of local reports. As a result, it is now known that, of the 14,775 listed places of worship in England, 887 or 6.0% are at risk, accounting for 15.4% of all 5,753 sites on the at risk register. The greatest number (805) are Anglican. The regional breakdown of at risk places of worship is shown below. To search the register, and for more information about it, go to:

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/heritage-at-risk-2014/

 

Places of worship at risk

As % of all sites at risk

South-West

163

9.6

South-East

116

20.9

London

73

11.3

East

115

25.8

East Midlands

105

26.1

West Midlands

76

17.4

North-West

115

24.0

Yorkshire

98

12.6

North-East

26

9.1

ENGLAND

887

15.4

In a complementary move, ChurchCare, the Church of England’s national agency for supporting its places of worship, has been working, with the financial assistance of English Heritage, to develop the Church Heritage Record, a publicly accessible database of church buildings integrated with a Geographic Information System. This will have an educational and engagement mission alongside its primary role in church planning. When launched in Spring 2015, it will contain over 16,000 entries on church buildings in England, covering a wide variety of topics from architectural history and archaeology to worship and the surrounding natural environment.

Number problems

The current issue (Vol. 16, No. 2, 2014) of DISKUS: The Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions is a theme issue devoted to ‘The Problem with Numbers in the Study of Religions’. Guest edited and introduced by Bettina Schmidt, it contains seven substantive research articles offering case studies of Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, and the British Isles (the latter including a further essay by Martin Stringer on superdiversity with reference to religion in Handsworth, Bitmingham in the 2011 census, as well as a qualitative study by Simeon Wallis of English adolescents who identify with no religion). There is an insightful afterword by BRIN’s co-director, Professor David Voas (pp. 116-24), which both offers a commentary on the individual papers and, drawing on his own research, illuminates the ‘serious problems of validity and reliability in measuring religion’ while simultaneously advancing a compelling case for quantification. The issue is freely available online at:

http://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/DISKUS/index.php/DISKUS/issue/view/8

From the British perspective, perhaps the single most important contribution is by Kevin Brice on ‘Counting the Converts: Investigating Change of Religion in Scotland and Estimating Change in Religion in England and Wales Using Data from Scotland’s Census,  2001’ (pp. 45-69). Factoring in ethnicity, this cross-references the questions on religion of upbringing and current religion asked in Scotland in 2001 (but not in 2011, when only current religion was investigated) in order to quantify life-cycle change in religion, albeit not differentiating between Christian denominations. The overall extent of religious change was 13.5% in Scotland in 2001 (ranging from 2.2% for Pakistanis to 21.1% for Black Caribbeans), with 85.7% of all changes involving a move to no religion, and with leaving Christianity for no religion a very dominant trend for almost all ethnic groups. Notwithstanding, there were also subsidiary trends, including a not insignificant movement from none to Christian. This is a valuable piece of historical analysis, with the detail embedded in 11 tables, but its subsequent application to produce estimates for religious change in England and Wales in 2011 inevitably raises some doubts, with Brice himself conceding that some of the estimates are ‘far from robust’. As Voas suggests in his afterword, perhaps greater recourse to the potential of sample surveys for measuring religious change would have been revealing.

Church growth

Further to the release of its substantive findings at the beginning of 2014, the Church Growth Research Programme of the Church of England has been conducting some follow-on work. Particular mention should be made of a new report from Fiona Tweedie entitled Stronger as One? Amalgamations and Church Attendance. She finds that in urban areas benefice structure does not have any statistically significant effect on the likelihood of growth or decline in attendance, and that in other areas the relationship between the two variables is complex, but with no evidence to suggest that the more churches are amalgamated, the greater the chances of numerical decrease. Moreover, attendance patterns in parishes with a team ministry do not differ substantially from those without. In letters to the Church of England Newspaper (17 October 2014) and Church Times (24 October 2014), her conclusions have been challenged by David Goodhew and Bob Jackson, who point to ‘problematic data’, ‘technical statistical issues’, and failure to distinguish between different sizes of church as the source of their misgivings. The 45-page Stronger as One? report can be read at:

http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk/UserFiles/File/Reports/Stronger_as_One1.pdf

A further conference in connection with the Church Growth Research Programme has now been scheduled for 4 December 2014, at the Cutlers Hall, Sheffield, with BRIN’s David Voas as one of the keynote speakers. Entitled ‘From Evidence to Action’, conference details can be found at:

http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk/news/23

Islamic State

The so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria was the fifth most noticed news story of last week, mentioned by just 7% of 2,038 Britons interviewed online by Populus on 22 and 23 October 2014. It had been in second position the previous week and in the top spot (currently occupied by the Ebola outbreak) for several weeks before that. In third place last week was the (Islamist-related) shooting in Ottawa, noted by 9%.

In another newly-released Populus poll for We Believe in Israel and the Jewish Leadership Council, and principally concerned with British attitudes toward Israel, 77% entertained a very cold and unfavourable view of IS (the bottom of a 10-point scale), with a further 11% regarding them unfavourably (points 1-4). Nevertheless, 5% held IS in a favourable light (points 6-10), rising to 14% among the 18-24s. The word most often used to describe Israel was Jewish (40%), 63% endorsing Israel’s right to exist as a majority Jewish state, albeit more than two-thirds of these qualified their support with the proviso that Israel should agree to the existence of a separate Palestinian state. Fieldwork was conducted online between 10 and 12 October 2014, among a sample of 2,067. Data tables are at:

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/OmIsrael_BPC.pdf

The latest Ipsos MORI Political Monitor asked a half-sample of 501 adults, interviewed by telephone on 11-14 October 2014, what role the British military should play against IS. In reply, 59% backed their deployment abroad to fight IS, 17% giving as their reason the direct threat to British interests and 42% the threat to other people’s rights and freedom. Opposition to the intervention of Britain’s armed forces against IS stood at 34%. The question was somewhat ambiguous because intervention could have been interpreted to mean RAF bombing of IS, the engagement of British troops in Iraq to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS, or the commitment of British ground troops in direct combat with IS, the first two of which are already happening. Data tables are at:

https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/Oct2014_PolMon_Tables_Web_foreignpolicy.pdf

In its most recent poll for The Sunday Times, undertaken on 23-24 October 2014 on the basis of 2,069 online interviews, YouGov found that 76% of the population supported the removal of British citizenship from those who possess dual nationality or are naturalized Britons and who have been fighting with IS, with only 10% opposed. Two-thirds (with 19% against) also wanted to see Parliament change the law so that British citizenship could be removed from people born in Britain and who have no other nationality but have been fighting with IS. Responding to the Islamist gun attack on the Canadian Parliament, 77% thought there was a risk of a similar attack occurring in this country. Data tables are at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/tg001pwhwn/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-241014.pdf

Media coverage

Thanks and congratulations are due to regular BRIN contributor Ben Clements for his two recent posts on religion data in the British Election Study 2015 panel. These seem to have excited some media interest, with coverage thus far in The Catholic Herald, 24 October 2014, p. 6 (also quoting BRIN co-director David Voas); The Tablet, 25 October 2014, p. 29; and The Times, 25 October 2014, main section, p. 92.

 

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Trojan Horse Plot and Other News

 

Trojan horse plot

Two-thirds of the British public think there is substance behind the allegations of a ‘Trojan horse’ plot whereby hardline Muslim groups have attempted to take over certain schools in Birmingham. However, opinion is divided about where blame for this state of affairs lies. These are among the findings of a poll conducted by YouGov for The Sunday Times, in which 2,134 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online on 5 and 6 June 2014 (i.e. before the formal release of Ofsted’s reports on the 21 schools on 9 June). The data tables were published on 8 June at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/lwiuydgoju/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-x140606.pdf.pdf

The opening questions were generic, YouGov’s panellists initially being asked whether it was acceptable for state schools with a majority of pupils from Muslim families to set rules reflecting their interpretation of Islamic religion and culture. Overwhelmingly (85%), this was deemed unacceptable, with still higher proportions among UKIP supporters (95%), the over-60s (93%), and Conservatives (91%). Overall, only 7% defended the operation of Islamic rules in these circumstances, and no more than 11% in any demographic sub-group.

Interviewees felt almost as strongly (70%) that Government should limit the freedoms of individual schools to ensure that they do not make decisions which are bad for their pupils and that they are not taken over by extremists, with just 11% wanting maximum discretion for headteachers and governors to determine policies and practices in accordance with the needs of their local areas.

In the case of the Birmingham ‘Trojan horse’ allegations, a mere 7% believed they were false, with 28% undecided, and 65% convinced they were probably true, rising to 87% among UKIP voters, 83% of over-60s, and 77% of Conservatives. Blame for the situation in Birmingham was variously attributed to Muslim activists (32%), school governors (15%), central government (13%), Birmingham City Council (10%), and headteachers (5%), with 25% unable to express an opinion.

The survey also returned to the question of whether Britain is a Christian country, the subject of a recent public and media debate to which Prime Minister David Cameron made a major contribution. At the height of that debate, in late April 2014, the majority of respondents agreed that Britain was still a Christian country: 55% according to YouGov and 56% according to ICM Research. Now, however, only 40% do so, with a plurality of 44% claiming Britain is no longer a Christian country (the latter figure up 11% on YouGov’s previous poll). What a difference a few weeks (and the ‘Trojan horse’ affair putting Islam centre-stage) can make to the tide of public opinion! Only among Conservative voters (52%) does a majority subscribe to the reality of a Christian nation.

Marriages in England and Wales

The proportion of marriages in England and Wales solemnized in religious ceremonies is continuing to fall. It stood at 29.7% according to the provisional figures for 2012 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 11 June 2014, 0.2% less than in 2011. This was notwithstanding a rise of 4.6% in the number of religious weddings between 2011 and 2012, which was outstripped by a 5.5% growth in civil ceremonies. However, the Church of England and Church in Wales did improve their market share by a small amount (0.2%, reflecting the fact that Anglican weddings rose by 6.2% over the year). Until 1976 religious weddings surpassed civil ones. Selective trend data are shown in the following table:

 

1981

1991

2001

2011

2012

Civil

49.0

49.3

64.3

70.1

70.3

Church of England/Wales

33.6

33.5

24.4

21.9

22.1

Roman Catholic

7.4

6.4

4.2

3.4

3.2

Other Christian

9.5

10.1

6.1

3.5

3.3

Non-Christian

0.4

0.6

1.0

1.1

1.1

ONS also reported on the number of non-Anglican certified places of worship and those registered for the solemnization of marriage in England and Wales, in both cases as at 30 June 2011. Statistics are summarized below (it should be noted that registration of places of worship for marriage is not required in the case of the Society of Friends and Jews):

 

Certified

buildings

Registered

for marriage

% registered

Roman Catholic

3,623

3,269

90.2

Methodist

6,990

6,127

87.7

Baptist

3,261

3.046

93.4

United Reformed

1,604

1,542

96.1

Congregationalist

1,355

1,241

91.6

Calvinistic Methodist

1,144

1,052

92.0

Brethren

942

733

77.8

Jehovah’s Witnesses

927

838

90.4

Salvation Army

887

721

81.3

Society of Friends

364

NA

NA

Unitarian

176

161

91.5

Other Christian

6,469

4,442

68.7

Muslim

930

205

22.0

Jew

377

NA

NA

Sikh

229

170

74.2

Other non-Christian

516

301

58.3

The ONS statistical bulletin with supporting tables in Excel format (including full trend data back to 1837, when civil registration began) can be found at:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/marriages-in-england-and-wales–provisional-/2012/index.html

Charitable giving

The 26% of Britons who say they practise a religion are more likely to have donated money to a charity during the past month than the 73% who do not practise a faith, according to a ComRes poll for BBC Religion which was published on 8 June 2014. The sample comprised 3,035 adults interviewed by telephone between 28 February and 23 March 2014.

Practising a religion was defined as praying, reading a holy book weekly, or attending religious services at least once a month. Those most likely to do so were women (31%), the over-65s (35%), and Londoners (39%). The split between practising Christians and non-Christians was 19% versus 7%.

Of those practising a religion, 78% claimed to have given to a charity during the past month. This compared with a national average of 70% and with 67% of the non-practising. Not unexpectedly, the practising were also more likely to have seen or heard something from a place of worship or religious group during the previous month about donating to charitable or social causes – 39% against 12%.

Overall, 19% of respondents had been encouraged to give by a church or religious group, and this was especially true in London (30%). This was a greater proportion than had received encouragement to give money by government (8%) or a local political organization (9%), but it was far less than the 72% who had been exposed to an appeal by a charity.

Data tables from this survey are at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/BBC_Religion_Charitable_Giving_March_2014_Great_Britain.pdf

Methodist statistics

The Methodist Church has just published its latest Statistics for Mission report, for the year to 31 October 2013, including a number of new measures. The report, which extends to 33 pages, is for consideration at the Church’s annual Conference, to be held in Birmingham from 26 June to 3 July 2014. Overall, the document does not make for encouraging reading (from the Methodist perspective). Indeed, an editorial in the Methodist Recorder (6 June 2014, p. 6) baldly states that the statistics ‘offer no cause for hope’ and that ‘even the most accomplished masseur of numbers would be unable to put any positive spin’ on them.

The picture for the past ten years can be summarized in tabular form as follows:

 

2003

2013

% change

Churches

6,229

5,071

-18.6

Ministers

2,108

1,815

-13.9

Members

304,971

208,738

-31.6

New members

4,483

2,496

-44.3

Deceased members

8,513

6,181

-27.4

Non-members

556,600

237,900

-57.3

Community roll

861,600

446,600

-48.2

Adult attendances

248,500

191,800

-22.8

Children’s attendances

77,900

32,700

-58.0

Baptisms

14,963

10,043

-32.9

Marriages/blessings

7,272

3,101

-57.4

Funerals

33,261

21,057

-36.7

Additionally, Methodism’s demographics remain skewed relative to society as a whole. A one-off survey of Methodist members in 2011 showed that only 31% were male and 69% female. In terms of age, just 7% were under 40, with 24% between 41 and 65, 51% from 66 to 80, and 18% 81 or over. The likelihood of ongoing decline is also suggested by the fact that two and a half times as many members now die each year as are recruited. On the other hand, 43% of churches seem to have recorded an increase over the triennium 2010-13 in either their membership or their attendance or both. The report is at:

http://www.methodistconference.org.uk/media/228157/conf-2014-37-statistics-for-mission.pdf

 

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