Spirituality and mystical beliefs are taking over from religion in Britain, according to the spin being put on the results of a new poll. It was commissioned to support a major marketing and publicity campaign launched by HarperCollins on 17 October 2011 for Paulo Coelho’s new novel, Aleph, a story of spiritual renewal and growth in the face of a grave personal crisis of faith.
As is often the case with such marketing-led surveys, it is exceedingly difficult to track down details of methodology and results, and the following blog, posted mainly ‘for the record’, has mostly been pieced together from second-hand reports in the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph. It would appear that 2,000 adult Britons were quizzed online.
Exactly one-quarter of interviewees described themselves as religious and almost the same number as spiritual, with avowed atheists at 17%. Other responses are not available, nor were any comparative data given, so the headline spin cannot be evidenced. There were certainly 10% fewer professed ‘spirituals’ in this survey than in a recent YouGov poll featured by BRIN at: http://www.brin.ac.uk/news/?p=1437
When asked ‘What do you believe happens when we die?’ one-half the sample said that we go on to another existence, much the same proportion as in a Populus study for The Sun in 2005. This total included 20% who mentioned heaven or hell, 18% reunification with loved ones, 11% reincarnation, and 5% reappearance as ghosts. But 37% thought that we simply rest in peace or there would be nothing after death.
36% subscribed to Karma, the idea that bad behaviour in this life may result in a less favourable afterlife. The figure was similar to the 32% obtained by Populus six years ago.