Eight Shorts

Eight short items of statistical news feature in today’s second post, clearing a small backlog which has built up during a week’s absence from the desk.

Hate crime

The overwhelming majority of the British public (84%) consider that an attack on someone because of their religion should be treated as a hate crime, second only to those who deem an attack on someone because of their race as a hate crime (88%), and ahead of the numbers regarding as hate crimes attacks on the basis of sexuality (83%), transsexuality (81%), disability (78%), gender (75%), sub-culture (68%), age (59%), weight (56%), height (51%), hair colour (51%), and political views (51%). The proportion who do not think that an attack on the grounds of religion should be classed as a hate crime is 10% overall, but 13% for men and Conservative supporters, and 14% among the 18-24s. The survey was conducted by YouGov on 14-15 May 2013 with an online sample of 1,886 adults, and the data tables are available at:


Sunday stress

Far from being a day of rest, Sunday has become the most stressful day of the week for one-third of Britons, according to a ‘Sunday Stress Audit’ of over 2,000 adults commissioned by the Really television channel. Indeed, 65% now claim to have busier schedules on Sunday than on an ordinary weekday, and 67% report that ‘Sunday blues’ kick in at some point during the day. More than half (51%) consider Sundays to be a day ‘for getting things done’, with an average of 3 hours and 36 minutes being spent on various household tasks, and 35% admitting that they nag or are nagged by their partners to carry out such chores. Such is the level of ‘busyness’ that 34% never get a lie in bed on Sunday, and 53% never get chance to read the Sunday newspapers properly. Sunday lunch (which takes 2 hours to prepare and 26 minutes to eat) and seeing extended family remain key elements of the Sunday tradition, with two-thirds getting together with their wider family at least one Sunday each month, not always without friction. Full results and methodological details of the survey have not been released, and the above summary is largely taken from the Daily Mail for 10 May 2013 at:


Church organs

‘The traditional church organ is a must for special occasions but, Sunday to Sunday, congregations would rather have a guitar-based worship group.’ This is the conclusion drawn by Christian Resources Exhibitions International from a poll conducted between 26 April and 3 May 2013 among 2,250 UK churchgoers who are members of the Christian Research online panel (Resonate). A guitar-based group was the preference for ordinary Sunday services of 44% of churchgoers compared with 30% for the organ, while almost two-thirds of respondents disagreed with the statement that a church with no organ is like a pub with no beer. More than half the sample had experience of organists slipping ‘unrelated’ secular music into their repertoire. Detailed results of the poll have not been published, but there is a brief press release at:


Church Commissioners

The Church Commissioners, who make a substantial contribution to the finances of the Church of England (especially in respect of its ministry), published their annual report and accounts for 2012 on 14 May 2013. They demonstrate a return on investments of just under 10% for the year, almost matching the Commissioners’ average for the past 20 years. This return exceeds the Commissioners’ target of inflation plus 5%, as well as the performance of a comparator group of funds. The report can be found at:


A century and more of Catholic statistics

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has performed a useful service in collating the available national statistics of the Catholic Church in England and Wales until 2010, of ordinations since 1860, priests since 1890, and baptisms, marriages, receptions (formerly adult conversions), and estimates of Catholic population since 1913. Updating the series already available on BRIN (reproduced, with permission, from Churches and Churchgoers, 1977), they were published in spreadsheet format (as a series of tables and graphs), together with a brief and not entirely unbiased commentary, on the Society’s news blog on 17 May 2013 at:


With the exception of ordinations (where the lists of men each year have been counted), the data have been taken from the Catholic Directory for England and Wales, a commercial publication but issued with the official sanction of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Although the best source we have, it should not be forgotten that, through no fault of the Catholic Directory, these figures present a variety of challenges in terms of methodology and quality, reflecting weaknesses in the Church’s statistics-gathering at diocesan and national levels. Indeed, the Catholic Directory has recently deemed them so problematical that it has ceased to publish them entirely.

The Latin Mass Society’s principal gloss on the data is to highlight ‘the striking decline of a range of statistical indications of the health of the Catholic Church in England and Wales in the 1960s and 1970s’. According to the Society’s chairman, Dr Joseph Shaw, ‘it is not fanciful to connect this catastrophe to the wrenching changes which were taking place in the Church at that time, when the Second Vatican Council was being prepared, discussed, and, often erroneously, applied’. No mention here of wider historical and sociological debates about the secularization of British society and of what some historians view as the ‘religious crisis’ of the 1960s.


Mass-Observation was a social research organization founded by Tom Harrisson and Charles Madge in 1937, employing a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods, primarily in two fieldwork areas: Bolton/Blackpool and London. Its heyday was relatively short, just twelve years until 1949, after which it was succeeded by Mass-Observation (UK) Limited, with a focus on commercial market research. From the outset it displayed a particular interest in religion, and, although only one major religion-related project (Puzzled People, based on interviews with a sample of 500 Hammersmith residents in 1944-45) was ever published, much raw material survives in the Mass-Observation Archive, on deposit at the University of Sussex since 1975, significant portions of which have been reproduced on microform and online by Adam Matthew Publications. Despite being the subject of a considerable amount of secondary literature, there has not hitherto been a full-length history. It is, therefore, a great pleasure to welcome the new book by James Hinton, The Mass Observers: A History, 1937-1949 (Oxford University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-19-967104-5). This is essentially arranged chronologically rather than thematically, but the volume does include some brief discussion of Mass-Observation’s religious research, including an account of Puzzled People on pp. 320-4.

NatCen trustees

NatCen (National Centre for Social Research), the independent and not-for-profit organization which undertakes a wide range of surveys (including the British Social Attitudes Surveys), is looking for four trustees to join its board. The closing date for applications is 17 June 2013. Further particulars are available at:


Public understanding of statistics

Although it contains nothing specific about religion, some BRIN readers may be interested in a poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for King’s College London and the Royal Statistical Society and published on 14 May. The sample comprised 1,034 British adults aged 16-75 interviewed online between 9 and 15 April 2013. In a crushing blow to the BRIN ego, only 6% of respondents agreed that online blogs report statistics accurately. About half the population (49%) have a great deal or fair amount of trust in information provided by statisticians, but the proportion falls to 23% for pollsters, albeit it climbs to 63% for trust in academics. The twenty questions and sub-questions also included some practical tests of the public’s numeracy. The topline results can be viewed at:



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