Since its launch in November 2006 the public theology think tank, Theos, has performed valuable service in a number of ways, not least (in the cause of religious statistics) by commissioning a series of opinion polls to gauge public attitudes on a range of religious and moral issues.
With a general election in the offing, Theos has sponsored ComRes to survey the views of 1,085 British adults of voting age on the subject of religion and politics. Fieldwork was conducted by telephone on 17 and 18 February 2010. These voters and potential voters sub-divided into 674 professed Christians, 71 Muslims, 47 of other faiths and 291 of no religion.
Recall of voting at the 2005 general election showed that Muslims and those of no religion were then somewhat more inclined to support Labour than the Conservatives. Among those likely to vote this year this still remains the case for Muslims, 57 per cent of whom opt for Labour and 18 per cent for the Conservatives.
For all other groups there is a net advantage for the Conservatives over Labour, +10 per cent among Christians, +34 per cent for non-Christians other than Muslims and +8 per cent for those of no religion.
When asked which of the political parties had been most or least friendly towards particular religions during recent years, one-half of respondents were unable to express a view. Of those recording an opinion, the Conservative and Labour parties are seen as equally well-disposed to the Christian faith.
However, Labour is felt to be most empathetic to Islam (by 36 per cent of the sample, against 10 per cent who judged Conservatives as most pro-Muslim). Labour was also regarded as being more predisposed towards faith in general.
Majorities of the population disagree that religious freedoms have been restricted in Britain during the past decade (59 per cent against 32 per cent agreeing), and that the law should prevent people from expressing their religious views in the workplace (63 per cent against 31 per cent).
Most (64 per cent, with 30 per cent disagreeing) consider that the Pope and other religious leaders have a responsibility to speak out on political issues they are concerned about, a topic prompted by Benedict XVI’s recent intervention over the equality bill before the Westminster Parliament.
There is a commentary on the poll by Nick Spencer, Director of Studies at Theos, which aims to trigger an online debate on the question ‘Is Labour the Natural Home for British Muslims?’ This can be accessed at:
There is also a ComRes press release on the survey, with a link to the full data tables, at: