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.

 

Posted in church attendance, News from religious organisations, Religion and Ethnicity, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Religious Census, Survey news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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Lenten Intentions and Other News

With Lent starting next Wednesday, 13 February, our lead story this week concerns what people say they will be giving up this year, but there is the usual miscellany of other religious statistical news items, too.

Lenten intentions

One-quarter (24%) of British adults said that they intended giving something up for Lent this year, when they were interviewed online by YouGov on 16-18 January 2013, about four weeks before the start of Lent. Chocolate (10%) headed the list of forfeits, followed by alcohol (4%), smoking (3%), and meat (2%).

The poll, of 2,222 persons, was commissioned by the Church Times as part of its sesquicentennial celebrations and is published (with the full data table) in the 8 February issue of the newspaper (p. 5). The article is freely available online at:

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/8-february/news/uk/(tropical)-fish-for-lent-%e2%80%94-young-to-give-up-most

The proportion planning to give something up for Lent varied by demographics, perhaps most interestingly by age. Whereas only one-fifth of the over-35s had abstinence on their mind, the number rose to 30% for the 25-34s and 35% for the 18-24s. Women (27%) aimed to be more observant than men (21%), and non-manuals (26%) more than manuals (22%). Geographically, Scots were least inclined to make any sacrifices (16%) and Midlanders the most (29%).

It would seem reasonable (if cynical) to assume that many of these good intentions will not translate into reality once Lent begins. Certainly, a YouGov poll on 22-23 February 2012, when Lent had already started, discovered that only 12% had actually given anything up. However, in age terms, it also found Lenten observance peaking among the 18-24s (19%), albeit the most dutiful group of all last year was the self-proclaimed very or fairly religious (28% of whom had given something up).   

Respondents this year were additionally asked to write down, in free text, what they understood Lent to mean. Only 10% had to admit that they did not know what it was. A plurality (49%) described it as a time for giving things up, 43% as the period before Easter, 40% as a Christian festival, and 28% mentioned that it lasted 40 days or six weeks. These answers were not mutually exclusive. Possibly the most intriguing definition to be offered was that Lent is ‘a type of tropical fish’.

Opinion formers and same-sex marriage

An online survey of UK opinion formers (or ‘influentials’, drawn from politics, business, media, academia, non-governmental organizations, and the public sector), undertaken by YouGov in late January 2013, has revealed a division of view about the provisions of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as regards the marriage of sex-sex couples in places of worship. Essentially, the Bill permits most religious organizations to conduct such marriages but on an opt-in basis, the exceptions being the Church of England and Church in Wales who are effectively banned from marrying same-sex couples.

Among influentials, 39% are in support of these provisions regarding same-sex marriages in places of worship, 38% are opposed, and 23% undecided. This spread of opinion was found to be consistent across political party lines. The proportion opposed to these provisions is lower than reject the whole concept of same-sex marriage (27%), perhaps suggesting that many influentials favour same-sex marriage but feel it should be possible to be conducted in places of worship without restriction, and not just in civil venues. Overall, 58% of influentials back same-sex marriage, a similar number to the British public in other recent YouGov surveys.   

Full data are not yet available online, but there is a YouGov press release at:

http://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/02/07/uk-influentials-back-gay-marriage/

Catholic MPs and same-sex marriage

Notwithstanding the strong opposition to same-sex marriage of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, the majority of Catholic MPs voted for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the crucial Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 5 February 2013. This is according to an analysis by The Tablet (9 February 2013, p. 30). Out of at least 82 Catholic MPs, 57% voted for the Bill, 34% against, and 9% did not register a vote. The figures of Catholic MPs for the three main political parties are:

 

Con

LibDem

Lab

For the Bill

12

2

32

Against the Bill

11

2

15

Roman Missal

It is over a year since Catholic parishes in English-speaking countries started to use the revised English translation of the Missale Romanum edition tertia, which aimed to offer a more literal rendition of the Latin, replacing the translation introduced after Vatican II, with its emphasis on capturing the sense of the words.

However, ‘Catholic opinion remains split down the middle over the new English text of the Mass, an online survey by The Tablet has revealed. Catholics in the UK and Ireland are more critical of the document than their counterparts in the United States. Overall, 70 per cent of the clergy who responded to our questions are unhappy with the new text and want to see it revised’. The survey ran from 5 December 2012 to 9 January 2013.

A self-selecting (and thus potentially unrepresentative) group of 5,795 persons completed the questionnaire. Virtually all described themselves as practising Catholics attending Mass at least once a week. Of these 2,538 lived in the UK and Ireland.

A summary of the survey by Abigail Frymann and Elena Curti appears in the print edition of The Tablet for 9 February 2013 (pp. 8-9), as well as on the magazine’s website. On the latter will also be found eight detailed reports, of results for: all respondents; UK and Ireland; USA; Australia; clergy; religious and consecrated; those preferring the Ordinary Form; and those preferring the Extraordinary Form. These can be read at:

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/blogs/468/26

Focusing on the UK and Ireland data, we find that 63% of Catholics dislike the new translation against just 35% who like it, with 2% not noticing much difference. There has been some changing of minds: before its introduction, 5% were looking forward to the translation but now do not like it, whereas 7% were previously apprehensive but have grown to like the new translation. On the other hand, given the choice, only 22% elect for the new translation, 63% wanting to revert to the old translation, and 15% to the Latin version in either the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.

Among the more unpopular features of the new text in the UK and Ireland are the ‘obsequious and distracting florid language’ (disapproved of by 64%), the ‘special language’ used to address God (60%), and the more formal style (59%). Three-quarters (76%) report that they always or sometimes see people around them in the pews struggling to follow the text, and 57% that the priest had experienced difficulties in saying the new eucharistic prayers (31% that he continues to do so). Three-fifths (62%) agree that the new translation requires urgent revision. 

Mapping the 2011 religion census

The Office for National Statistics has released a searchable interactive map for the 2011 religion census of England and Wales, which will enable BRIN users to visualize the high-level (nine-category) religious profile of their local areas and to make comparisons with 2001. Go to:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/interactive/census-map-2-1—religion/index.html

Meanwhile, Alex Singleton (Lecturer in Geographic Information Science at the University of Liverpool) has launched the 2011 Census Open Atlas, utilizing the Key Statistics variables from the 2011 census of England and Wales to generate an atlas of vector PDF maps of the results for each local authority area. The high-level (nine-category) religion variable (KS209EW) is one of those to be mapped in each atlas. For more information, and to download each local atlas (note: the files are necessarily large), go to:

http://www.alex-singleton.com/2011-census-open-atlas-project/

 

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Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

The increasingly heated controversy over the Coalition Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales shifts to Parliament tomorrow (5 February 2013), with the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. It therefore seems a good point to take stock of what we know about the religious dimensions of the same-sex marriage issue.

Attitudes of faith groups to same-sex marriage

In terms of British public opinion overall, most recent polls are reporting that an absolute majority of adults now favours the legalization of same-sex marriage. YouGov’s last three polls (between December 2012 and February 2013) have all recorded 55% for and 36% against. The latest surveys (December 2012) by Survation, ICM, and Ipsos MORI found majorities of 60%, 62%, and 73% respectively. Where trend data exist, holding question-wording constant, they reveal that support for same-sex marriage has been building slowly but steadily over time.

Notwithstanding there have been many polls on the subject, and that religious leaders have been at the forefront of opposition to same-sex marriage, few data exist about the attitudes to it of adherents of particular faiths. A notable (but limited) exception has been YouGov, whose surveys in March and November 2012 both included breaks for professing Anglicans, who were less positive than average about same-sex marriage.

For example, in November 2012, when 51% of all adult Britons wanted the law changed to permit same-sex marriage, the proportion among Anglicans stood at only 41%, with a plurality of Anglicans (47%) actually opposed to the legislation. Back in March 2012, a mere 24% of Anglicans said that they would support same-sex marriage, against 46% who endorsed civil partnerships. Moreover, 65% vindicated the Church of England’s stance in defending marriage as an institution for just heterosexual couples (18% more than in the population as a whole).

Another YouGov poll (November-December 2011) contrasted the views of those professing some religion and those who had none. At that stage, 71% of Britons agreed with Government plans to ‘extend the legal form and name of civil marriage to same-sex couples’, but the number rose to 82% among those with no religion and fell to 58% for those professing some faith. Similarly, 15% more of the former than the latter (88% versus 73%) backed civil partnerships.

Beyond that, at least in terms of poll data which have fully entered the public domain, one has to go back to the British Social Attitudes Surveys in 2007 and 2008 for a full profile of attitudes to same-sex marriage by religion. Different questions were asked in each year, so direct comparison is not possible. However, in 2007 people of no faith had an 11% more positive attitude to same-sex marriage than the norm and in 2008 9% more. Almost at the other end of the spectrum, Anglicans had, respectively, 27% and 22% less positive views than those without a religion. Christians other than Anglicans and Catholics were also relatively unsympathetic to same-sex marriage at that point.

An even firmer line has been taken by regular churchgoers, surveyed by ComRes in October 2011 and June-July 2012. At the former date, 83% declared their opposition to Government plans to legalize same-sex marriage, 93% fearing that ministers of religion would have to conduct gay marriages against their conscience, 88% that schools would be required to teach children that same-sex relationships are on an equal footing as heterosexual relationships, and 85% that the value of marriage would be further undermined.

As many as 57% of regular churchgoers in October 2011 claimed that they would be less likely to vote Conservative as a result of Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to legalize same-sex marriage, and the figure was still 58% in June-July 2012. At this second date, 75% reported that their perceptions of Cameron had worsened in the light of his Government’s desire to change the definition of marriage, while 65% said the same about Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The suggestion that the threat to the institution of marriage posed by same-sex unions might have been overblown was dismissed by 69%.

Same-sex marriages in places of worship

In an endeavour to placate religious opinion, the Government, in drafting the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, has tried to ensure that no religious body would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings in places of worship against its will. The measure contains a so-called ‘quadruple lock’ to guard against this possibility, including clarification that the duty of the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry parishioners ‘does not extend to same-sex couples’, thereby (it is claimed) protecting them from legal challenge.

The ‘compromise’, albeit most faith bodies do not necessarily regard it in that light, seems to have muddied the waters somewhat so far as public opinion is concerned. In its latest poll (January-February 2013) YouGov charted a spread of views: 9% feeling that all religions should be required to conduct same-sex marriages; 40% that all religions should be empowered to perform such ceremonies if they wished to; 24% that religions should be so empowered but that the law should protect the freedom of those bodies who wished to prevent same-sex marriages occurring on their premises; and 20% that no religion should be entitled to conduct same-sex marriages.

Ipsos MORI’s poll in December 2012 revealed a bigger proportion (28%) wanting the law to require religions to provide weddings for same-sex couples, but far more (45%) wished to see no such requirement, the residuum of 24% opposing same-sex marriages in any location. On the other hand, as many as 40% of Britons in the OnePoll study in May 2012 wished to see same-sex couples having the opportunity to get married in church if that is what they desired to do.

In another YouGov survey (December 2012), which predated publication of the Bill, the topic was approached in a different way. British adults were then inclined, in the matter of religious marriages, to put the interests of faith bodies above sexual equality: 46% believed that, ultimately the right of Churches to restrict religious marriages to men and women should take precedence over the rights of same-sex couples, with only 27% taking the opposite line. A slim plurality (45%) wanted the law to keep religious weddings to those between a man and a woman, just 4% ahead of those who disagreed. However, a majority (53%) also wanted religions to have the legal option to offer same-sex marriages, if they wanted, albeit this was 18% down on the level in the YouGov survey of November-December 2011.

As for the position of the Church of England, Survation found in December 2012 that a majority (58%) defended its entitlement to oppose same-sex marriage, twice the number in disagreement, but in a YouGov poll in November 2012 more said that the Church was wrong (48%) than right (39%) to oppose same-sex marriage. At the same time, certainly by December 2012, most Britons wanted individual Anglican clergy to have the discretion to offer religious weddings to same-sex couples if they could do so in good conscience: 62% expressed this desire in a ComRes poll and 54% in the Survation one (with 35% arguing the opposite, that the Government should make it illegal for any Anglican clergy to conduct same-sex marriages until such time as the Church’s governing body approves the idea).

The concern for faith bodies, of course, is that however confident the Government may be about the security of its ‘quadruple lock’, the courts – whether British or European – might have other ideas. The public feels that there may be some ground for this anxiety, 34% in YouGov’s poll in December 2012 considering there was a risk, following legislation, that the courts would force places of worship to conduct same-sex marriages whether they wanted to or not; 43% deemed the prospect unlikely, with 23% undecided.

Regular churchgoers have particular concerns in this regard. In the ComRes survey of June-July 2012, 79% disbelieved Government assurances that places of worship would not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages, and 86% were apprehensive that the courts in Britain or the European Court of Human Rights would overturn any legal protections.

These churchgoers will be further discouraged by the fact that 50% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (LGBs) interviewed by ComRes in January 2013 fully expected the European courts eventually to remove any statutory restrictions on access to same-sex weddings in places of worship. Three-fifths of LGBs at that time, and in another ComRes poll in April-May 2012, contended that true marriage equality would only be achieved when same-sex couples had the identical choice of marriage locations as heterosexuals. Indeed, 35% of LGBs at the earlier date wanted the Government to force faith groups to offer religious ceremonies from the start.

Conclusion

Although more research is needed into the attitudes of members of faith groups to same-sex marriage, it seems undeniable that the opposition to the Government’s plans does come disproportionately from people of faith, and that the more committed that faith (for example, in terms of regular churchgoing), the stronger the defence of the ‘traditional’ concept of marriage between a man and a woman. Even 42% of all Britons interviewed by Survation in December 2012 recognized that ‘marriage is a sacred act between a man and a woman and cannot be a sacred act between same-sex couples’.

The opposition to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on the part of most major faith bodies (the exceptions are really quite small in terms of their active memberships) has undoubtedly been accentuated by fears that the ‘quadruple lock’ would not withstand serious legal challenge, particularly from Europe, and by what appear to many to be the muddying of the divide between civil and religious marriages in the provisions of the Bill. The latter undoubtedly seem to have triggered quite a wide range of views.

In practice, most pundits expect that, notwithstanding the prospect of blood on the Conservative benches, the Bill will clear the House of Commons, thanks to Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs’ support. In its blog of 16 January 2013, the Coalition for Equal Marriage, the pro-same-sex marriage lobby, reported that ‘for the first time, a majority of MPs have committed to vote for a change in the law to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in England and Wales’. The Bill’s passage in the House of Lords is less predictable. As BRIN noted on 12 January, the latest ComRes survey among peers suggests there could be major resistance on the Conservative benches.

It is hopefully superfluous to caution that it would be potentially misleading to generalize from attitudes to the specific measure of same-sex marriage to opinions of gay rights as a whole. It does not follow that, because faith bodies have significant objections in principle to what they see as the undermining of the traditional view of marriage, they are homophobic. We will have to leave for another day a broader review of the changing perceptions of homosexuality among faith groups. In the meantime, interested readers could start with the research by Dr Ben Clements of the University of Leicester, which was posted on BRIN on 12 June 2012.   

In order to keep this post relatively brief and uncomplicated, source references have not been given to the many opinion polls mentioned above. In most cases, topline and/or disaggregated data can be found on the websites of the polling agencies concerned. BRIN has collated all recent opinion polls on the subject of same-sex marriage, not just those pertaining to the religious aspects, in connection with research for the 2013 series of Westminster Faith Debates. This collation will eventually appear on the BRIN website.

 

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Respect for Clergy and Other News

Herewith some news stories about British religious statistics which have come to hand during the past fortnight; they are arranged in order of release date.

Evangelicals and Money

Evangelical Christians are not immune from the economic downturn, with 15% feeling their absolute income has dropped considerably and a further 24% slightly during the last three years. Taking inflation into account, one-fifth contends their income has fallen a lot behind the cost of living and one-half a little below. One-fifth also has a household income of under £20,000 (against 54% with between £20,000 and £50,000, and 25% with more than £50,000). 7% have no savings at all and 18% have less than £1,000 in savings. 43% try to find a bargain whenever possible, and 28% use charity shops frequently because they are cheaper. In the past, 56% have turned to family and friends to borrow money, 25% have received financial help from their church or another Christian, and 11% have been refused credit or a loan after a credit check. 42% currently have some form of debt, although only 3% are concerned about it. 12% sometimes find themselves asking God for more money. At the same time, 63% of evangelicals believe in tithing (and more so among the over-55s), with 14% being the estimated proportion of their income (after tax) which is given away to the church and to Christian and charitable causes.

Source: Online questionnaires completed, in May 2012, by 1,237 members of the Evangelical Alliance’s self-selecting research panel of UK evangelical Christians, a response rate of 43%. A 20-page report, Does Money Matter?, was published by the Alliance on 10 September 2012 in its 21st Century Evangelicals series. It is available at:

http://eauk.org/church/resources/snapshot/upload/does-money-matter-lower.pdf

Respect for Clergy

Ministers and priests enjoy a lower standing in Britain than in Canada or the United States. Whereas 76% of Americans and 66% of Canadians have a great deal or a fair amount of respect for the clergy, the same is true of only 54% of Brits (marginally down on two previous polls, 57% in August 2009 and 56% in July 2010). Of 25 professions evaluated, ministers and priests ranked joint sixteenth (with actors and artists) in Britain, well behind nurses (93%), doctors (90%), scientists (88%), and engineers and veterinarians (both on 86%). Still, at least the men and women of the cloth outperformed journalists (20%), bankers and politicians (each on 15%), and car salesmen (14%), whose reputations really are in tatters.

Source: Online interview with 2,010 adult Britons on Angus Reid Public Opinion’s Springboard UK panel on 30 and 31 August 2012. Press release, with topline findings only for all three countries, published on 2 October 2012 and available at:

http://www.angus-reid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2012.10.02_Professions.pdf

Current Issues in the Church of England

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Anglican churchgoers rate the performance of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury more highly than practising Christians as a whole. Three-fifths think that he has been a good leader of the Church of England (against 44% of all churchgoers); 48% of Anglicans say Williams has been clear in telling people what he believes and why (versus 37% of all churchgoers, with 41% disagreeing); and 49% against 38% respectively regard him as having helped the Church of England to remain relevant in modern Britain. Anglicans are also more likely than all churchgoers to support women bishops in the Church of England (74% compared with 57%, with 66% of Catholics opposed), 38% of Anglicans being poised to take a less favourable view of the Church if it fails to move in this direction.

Source: Online interview with 510 UK adult churchgoers via the ComRes Cpanel between 14 and 28 September 2012. Full data tables, published on 5 October, available at:

http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/ComRes_Women_Bishops_Oct2012.pdf

Identical questions were put by ComRes to a general population sample of 2,594 adults aged 18 and over in England between 24 August and 9 September 2012. The results have already been summarized by BRIN at:

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/september-snippets/ and

http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/2012/rating-rowan-williams-and-other-new-sources/

Pastoral Research Centre

The Pastoral Research Centre (PRC), an independent trust for applied socio-religious research, and focused primarily on the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, launched a website on 9 October 2012. Current content includes a potted history of both the PRC and its predecessor organization, the Newman Demographic Survey (which was established in 1953). There is also a brief description of the PRC’s Newman Collection (comprising archival and library material), much of which will eventually go to Durham University. Details of PRC publications (mostly with a statistical bent) will be added in due course. The site is at:

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

Joking Apart

Although churchgoing Christians in the UK are mostly supportive of freedom of expression at the level of principle, significant numbers apparently hold ambivalent or contradictory positions in practice. On the one hand, 74% agree that freedom of expression should not be curbed even if it offends those with deeply-held religious convictions; 76% praise tolerance in the face of aggressive anti-religious attacks; and 69% accept that ‘strong anti-Christian opinion provided opportunities to exchange ideas’. On the other, 61% believe that UK Christians are too tolerant of anti-Christian expression; 40% are unhappy with the portrayal of the Christian faith in the media or popular culture; and the reinstatement of the offence of common law blasphemy or blasphemous libel is opposed by just two-fifths. In the wake of the international controversy surrounding the Innocence of Muslims film, 84% are willing to defend believers of another faith from anti-religious sentiment even though they personally disagree with the basis of that faith; 34% think that the film should not have been allowed to enter the public domain.

Source: Online survey of 2,100 churchgoing Christians via Christian Research’s panel, Resonate. Fieldwork apparently took place in September 2012, following the furore over Innocence of Muslims. The foregoing topline data have been abstracted from reports in the Daily Telegraph, 10 October 2012 and on the Christian Today website. The full data have yet to be released by Christian Research.

Heritage at Risk

A higher proportion of England’s religious heritage assets appear to be at risk than is the case with any other type. Some 17.4% of places of worship appearing on the national listed buildings register and which have been surveyed to date (the work is incomplete) have been designated as at risk by English Heritage. This compares with 16.6% of scheduled monuments, 14.0% of registered battlefields, 8.7% of protected wreck sites, 6.6% of conservation areas, 6.1% of registered parks and gardens, and 3.0% of all grade I and grade II* listed buildings.

Source: Summary report of the Heritage at Risk, 2012 survey, published by English Heritage on 12 October 2012, and available at:

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/har-2012-national-summary/HAR-2012-national-summary.pdf/

 

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LGBT Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage

The Government’s public consultation on ‘equal civil marriage’, which closes this Thursday (14 June 2012), continues to excite controversy. According to today’s The Times, there have already been more than 100,000 formal responses.

Much of the opposition to these proposals to legalize same-sex marriage has come from religious groups, both Christian and non-Christian, who regard them as an attempt to redefine the nature and meaning of marriage.

This is notwithstanding the fact that Government, in an effort to placate religious viewpoints, intends to restrict the marriage of same-sex couples to a civil ceremony conducted on secular premises. No eligibility is mooted for them to have a religious marriage ceremony on religious premises.    

However, religious leaders (including in the Church of England, which has today published its submission to the consultation) have suggested that this proposal wrongly implies that there are two categories of marriage, civil and religious; ‘this is to mistake the wedding ceremony for the institution of marriage’.

They also doubt whether the distinction would withstand legal challenge, in the form of discrimination claims, and fear that places of worship will eventually have to offer religious ceremonies for same-sex couples.

It has now emerged, from hitherto unreported results of an online poll commissioned by Catholic Voices, that gay people are also dissatisfied with the Government’s compromise in offering same-sex marriages in secular venues only.

The survey was carried out between 27 April and 20 May 2012 among 541 adult Britons aged 18 and over who self-identified as LGBT – gay, lesbian, bisexual or other non-heterosexual – in a screening question asked of 10,139 persons. Full data tables are available at:

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

Among the various questions and statements put to LGBTs were two about same-sex marriage in places of worship, the first being ‘true marriage equality would mean that same-sex couples could marry in places of worship as well as in civil locations’.

Three-fifths (61%) of LGBTs agreed with this proposition, rising to almost three-quarters in South-West England, Wales and Scotland. Women (67%) were more in favour than men (58%). Only 15% of all LGBTs disagreed, with 24% undecided.

The second statement was that ‘faith groups should be forced to allow gay weddings in places of worship’. This split LGBT opinion down the middle, with 35% wanting faith groups compelled to permit same-sex weddings in their places of worship, peaking at 46% among the 35-44s, 51% in Scotland, and 53% of those agreeing with the first statement. 38% dissented and 27% were uncertain.

There are two interesting methodological aspects of this poll. First, the percentage of the initial ComRes screening sample self-identifying as gay was three times that in the Government’s Integrated Household Survey, which is conducted by a combination of face-to-face and telephone interviews. ComRes suggests as a possible explanation for the discrepancy that ‘online polls tend to attract younger, urban populations where numbers of openly gay people are higher’.

Second, ComRes admits to having weighted the data ‘to be representative demographically of the wider GB adult population’. This rather implies that heterosexuals and LGBTs have the identical demographic profile, which is probably not the case.

 

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Metal Theft

2011 was the worst year on record for the number of claims received by the specialist Anglican insurer Ecclesiastical (founded in 1887) arising from the theft of lead and other valuable metals from churches, according to a press release issued on 1 January 2012.

The total of such claims received by Ecclesiastical in 2011 exceeded 2,500, surpassing the previous record of 2,400 in 2008. The Diocese of Chelmsford headed the list for metal-related claims, followed by Lincoln, Lichfield, London, and Southwell.

Such thefts from churches were denounced by the general public in an online survey conducted by YouGov for Ecclesiastical on 13-15 December 2011, in which 2,058 UK adults aged 18 and over were interviewed.

In answer to an apparently somewhat leading question, 49% of adults claimed they were ‘appalled’ by the systematic destruction of places of worship through metal theft, with a further 37% ‘saddened’ by the crime.

79% supported tougher sentences for those convicted of stealing metal from churches (analogous to the 82% wanting harsher punishments for thefts from war memorials in a separate YouGov poll on 1-2 December 2011).

The full YouGov data have not been put into the public domain, but Ecclesiastical’s press release can be found at:

http://www.ecclesiastical.com/general/press-office/index.aspx

 

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