Angus Reid Public Opinion Round-Up

Angus Reid Public Opinion (ARPO, formerly Angus Reid Strategies) is the Vancouver-based public affairs practice of Vision Critical and conducts online surveys. It was originally founded in 2006 by Dr Angus Reid, a Canadian sociologist with four decades of experience in market and public opinion research.

Following considerable success in Canada, ARPO established a British adult panel ( last autumn and obtained high visibility for its political polling in the run-up to the 2010 general election. But ARPO has also dipped its toes into British religious waters. Relevant questions are summarized below, with further details available at:

HALLOWEEN (fieldwork: 28-30 October 2009, n = 2,004)

Only 14% of Britons always celebrate Halloween (compared with 41% of Americans and Canadians), 41% never celebrate it and 45% sometimes do. 55% intended to carry out no Halloween-related activities during the 2009 weekend (against 26% in Canada and 14% in the USA), handing out sweets to trick-or-treaters being the commonest activity.

While 45% of Britons associated Halloween with fun, 35% regarded it as overrated. 30% saw it as harmless, but for 31% it had connotations with paganism and for 40% with witchcraft. Of the various faith alternatives to Halloween, 37% said they had participated in harvest festivals.   

ATTITUDES TO MUSLIMS – MINARETS (fieldwork: 9-12 December 2009, n = 2,002)

Following last November’s Swiss referendum which led to the prohibition on the construction of minarets on Swiss mosques, ARPO sounded out the publics of Britain, Canada and the USA on the issue. 43% of Britons claimed to have followed the story in the media.

Offered a précis of the arguments used in Switzerland, 44% agreed with the proponents of the ban and 28% with the opponents. However, 52% felt that it was unfair for the proponents to have used a poster depicting minarets as missiles.

37% of Britons said they would vote for a similar ban in our country (more than Canadians and Americans, 27% and 21% respectively), with 25% against a ban and 39% abstainers or unsure.

ATTITUDES TO MUSLIMS – RELIGIOUS DRESS (fieldwork: 20-21 January 2010, n = 2,001)

ARPO showed respondents pictures of three items of Muslim women’s dress – the burqa, the niqab and the hijab – and asked whether their use should be forbidden in the UK in public places, at airports and at schools and universities.

Large majorities agreed with banning the burqa in all three situations (ranging from 72% in public places to 87% at airports), and likewise the niqab (from 66% in public places to 85% at airports).

67% considered that garments which conceal a woman’s face are an affront to British values, although, somewhat contradictorily, 58% agreed that the Government should not be allowed to tell individuals what they can and cannot wear.

Far fewer felt it necessary to prohibit wearing of the hijab (from 22% in public places to 34% at airports).

CREATIONISM (fieldwork: 1-9 July 2010, n = 2,011)

Invited to explain the origin and development of human beings on earth, 68% of Britons opted for evolution (almost twice the proportion of Americans), 16% for creationism (one-third the US figure), with 15% unsure.

Creationists were especially plentiful in London (25%, perhaps reflecting the concentration of black-led churches and Muslims there) and thin on the ground in Scotland. Men were more likely to be evolutionists than women, partly because more women registered as unsure.

RESPECT FOR MINISTERS AND PRIESTS (fieldwork: 20-23 July 2010, n = 1,992)

Asked whether they had a great deal or fair amount of respect for each of 25 professional groups, 56% replied affirmatively for ministers and priests, leaving them in sixteenth position in a league table extending from doctors (91%) to car salesmen (12%).

There were no great differences by age and region, but gender was significant: 63% of women against 49% of men had respect for ministers and priests. At the other end of the scale, 39% had little or not much respect for the clergy, rising to 46% among men.

The survey replicated another ARPO poll between 13 and 26 August 2009, which showed respect for ministers and priests running at 57% in Britain, 65% in Canada and 82% in the USA.

Besides polling, the company is also responsible for the Angus Reid Global Monitor, which commenced in 2003. This includes a database summarizing 22,000 polls from around the world and from many different polling agencies. See

British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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