Daybreak Surveys Religion

Daybreak is the new breakfast television programme for the ITV network, anchored by Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley and launched on 6 September.

It has made an early entry into surveying public opinion by commissioning YouGov to run a poll on various aspects of religion.

Fieldwork was conducted online on 12-13 September among a representative sample of 2,108 adults aged 18 and over. Full data tabulations are available at:

Asked ‘Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?’, only 49% replied in the affirmative, which must be one of the lowest levels of religious affiliation ever recorded in British polling history. 45% said they did not belong to any religion.

The 49% certainly is in stark contrast to the figure of 82% obtained in the recently-published Citizenship Survey for 2008-09 in response to the question: ‘What is your religion even if you are not currently practising?’

Even allowing for variations in methodology and question-wording, a discrepancy of 33% between two surveys is huge, underlying the challenges in measuring this most basic dimension of religiosity. BRIN will return to this topic at a future date.

Women were more likely to profess a religion than men, older people rather than the young, the ABC1s more than the C2DEs, and Londoners more than the rest of the country.

The age effect was very marked. Whereas 60% of the over-60s were attached to a religion, the figure was only 36% for the 18-29s. Indeed, 20% more of the 18-29s did not belong to a religion than did, while for the over-60s 27% more belonged than not.

Among those who regarded themselves as belonging to a religion, a majority (55%) claimed to be Anglican, 18% Roman Catholic, 13% Free Church (including Presbyterian), 7% to belong to the major non-Christian faiths and 7% to other groups.

Most (78%) agreed that it was not necessary to attend religious services to be religious, although opinion was more balanced (38% agreeing, 34% disagreeing) when respondents were asked whether regular attenders were more religious than non-attenders.

Quizzed about marriage, just 3% opposed inter-faith marriage, most having no strong opinion on the subject. Of married persons, 55% had held the ceremony in a church, including 40% of those without a religion (albeit some unwillingly), and a further 13% would have liked to marry in church but had not.

Overall, in selecting a school for their children, few (9%) attached importance to the religion of the school, Catholics (36%) and Londoners (17%) being the main exceptions.   

68% agreed with the proposition that Christianity has been pushed to the sidelines in modern Britain. The figure was naturally highest for Christians (80%), but even 63% of those without a religion agreed.

Senior religious leaders (not specified in the question) were not respected by 56% of all adults, 20% more than held them in respect. For those with a religion, 53% held religious leaders in respect and 40% not, for those without a religion 20% and 73%.

27% considered that religious leaders spoke out too much about important issues affecting society, 19% the right amount and 35% too little. Those with a faith (43%) and the over-60s (40%) most wanted religious leaders to be more vociferous.

Asked about the papal visit, 17% supported it, 29% opposed it and 49% were neutral. Support was greatest among Catholics (54%) and opposition among those with no religion (37%).

79% (including 82% of Catholics, 83% of the over-40s and 85% of Scots) wanted the Pope to apologize for the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by Catholic priests.

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

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