More Islamic State Polling and Other News


Islamic State

Further polls (conducted online, unless otherwise stated) have been carried out during the past week to probe public opinion on the escalating crisis brought about by the progress of the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of the Iraq and Levant and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Iraq and Syria and by the brutalities which it is perpetrating. Here, for space reasons, we report topline findings only, although breaks by standard demographics are mostly available through the links shown. Polls are arranged in chronological order of fieldwork, reflecting the dynamism of the situation.

11-13 July 2014 [not published until 18 August 2014]

Just 7% of Britons held a favourable view of IS, compared with 16% in France and 2% in Germany, according to an ICM Research poll for the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya. British fieldwork was carried out by telephone with a sample of 1,000 adults. Opposition to IS was voiced by 64% of Britons, rising to 70% among over-65s, with 29% undecided. Data tables are at:

and a commentary at:

12-15 August 2014

In an Opinium Research poll for The Observer among 1,963 adults, 64% claimed to have been following very closely or quite closely the conflict between IS and the Iraqi government. There was strong support (85%) for air drops of humanitarian aid to Yazidi refugees in the mountains of northern Iraq and greater endorsement than in some other surveys for non-humanitarian intervention by the UK and other countries. Thus, 51% backed air strikes on IS targets and 45% the provision of weapons and military supplies to the Iraqi army and Kurdish militias in their fight against IS. However, 56% were opposed to sending in UK or other ground troops, with 28% in favour. Data tables are at:

15-17 August 2014

A ComRes poll of 2,042 adults for ITV News asked how the British government should respond to IS, taking into account the level of military action necessary to achieve a particular outcome. In reply, 20% suggested that we should attempt to defeat IS in its entirety, 29% that we should seek to prevent IS making further gains, and 30% that Britain should not get involved and leave the situation to run its course (the remaining 21% were undecided). Just over one-third believed the British government should arm Kurdish forces who were fighting IS. Only 24% agreed that Iraqi Christians at risk of persecution should be allowed to come and stay in the UK, with 50% opposed and 26% uncertain. Still fewer, 16%, approved of Iraqi Muslims being admitted into the UK, with 58% disapproving and 26% undecided. Full data tables are at:

17-18 August 2014

In a YouGov survey for The Times among 1,710 Britons, support for RAF involvement in making humanitarian air drops to assist refugee religious minorities in Iraq and for direct air strikes by the RAF against IS targets was unchanged from previous polls, at three-quarters and two-fifths respectively. However, approval of Britain supplying arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS was, at 35%, seven points up from 11-12 August. The country was divided about whether Iraqi Christians who had been rendered homeless by the conflict should be offered asylum in Britain, 39% being in favour and the same proportion against. Approval dropped to 29% when it came to possible asylum being given to non-Christian Iraqis, with 46% of adults opposed. Full data tables are at:

18-19 August 2014

In its next poll, YouGov asked 2,036 Britons to rank three current crises from three different perspectives. These were the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza; between IS and the Iraqi government; and between pro-Russia separatists and the Ukrainian government. The crisis around IS was assessed as the most serious of the three, 58% viewing it as the greatest threat to Britain, 52% as the greatest threat to world peace, and 41% as the crisis they most cared about personally. The Gaza situation was seen as the smallest of the three threats to Britain (10%) and world peace (18%), although 33% rated it as the issue they were most concerned about themselves. Data tables are at:

20-21 August 2014

Iraq has dominated the news agenda during the past week, according to a Populus poll of 2,018 Britons. The top two news stories were recalled as Iraq and IS (reported by 21% of interviewees) and the murder of American photo-journalist James Foley by an IS (possibly British) jihadist (19%). The Israeli-Palestinian war was relegated to third place (8%), with unspecified conflicts in the Middle East in tenth position on 2%.

20-21 August 2014

YouGov, on the basis of interviews with 2,028 Britons on behalf of The Times Red Box, reported that 83% had heard of the existence of a video apparently showing the beheading of James Foley by an IS jihadist, with a further 3% unsure whether they had or not. Among this sub-sample of 1,777, 47% had seen a still from the video in the media, 30% had seen or heard an extract from the video, and 3% had watched the whole video. Although 56% supported the media’s right to report these kinds of videos, 43% did not think that any part of them should be shown by social media or media organizations, with a further 32% wanting to see them shown but with the actual killing edited out. Data tables are at:

21-22 August 2014

In its poll of 1,866 adults for The Sunday Times, support for RAF air drops of humanitarian aid for people fleeing IS remained high, on 77%, with a plurality of 45% approving of RAF strikes against IS. There was less enthusiasm for Britain supplying arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS (37%) and for British troops being sent to train such forces (30%). The public took a tough line against British subjects fighting with IS; in such circumstances 76% wished to see British citizenship revoked for individuals who held dual nationality or had been naturalized (which the government is empowered to do), while 68% wanted the law changed to enable those with only British nationality to be stripped of their citizenship. Just 35% desired Britain to give asylum to displaced Iraqi Christians, which was four points down on the figure for 17-18 August, although it was higher than the 23% who felt that the group of Afghan Sikh illegal immigrants found suffocating in a container at Tilbury docks recently should be given asylum (53% wanted them sent home). Data tables are at:

Evangelical neighbourliness

Are We Good Neighbours? is the latest in a series of reports deriving from the Evangelical Alliance’s research panel. Like all the others since 2011, it is based on an opportunity sample of self-selecting respondents, in this case 1,497 self-defining evangelicals who completed an online questionnaire in February 2014. Therefore, the study is potentially unrepresentative of evangelical churchgoers and its results should be regarded as illustrative only. The report can be found at:

The scope of what is considered to be neighbourly in the survey is fairly wide, but there are some questions about neighbours in the next-door sense (as well as about more general ‘Good Samaritan’ behaviours of panellists and their churches). The answers revealed that, within the past week, 68% had chatted with someone in their street; 45% had prayed for a neighbour without letting them know (with 12% praying for a neighbour who was aware of the fact); 23% had welcomed a neighbour into their own home; and 21% had been inside a neighbour’s home. Neighbours were most commonly turned to when practical help was required: to take in a parcel (86%); to look after the home, plants, or pets while the owner was away (45%); and to hold a spare key to the dwelling in the event of getting locked out (42%). One-quarter reported that they were regularly supporting a neighbour who was lonely, ill or otherwise in need. However, two-thirds thought that people in the UK are not such good neighbours as they used to be.

More unexpectedly, perhaps, the questionnaire extended to politics, 91% of evangelicals claiming to almost always or always vote in elections for local councillors, which is apparently well above the national average (overall turnout in the 2014 local elections was only 35%). More than half (56%) claimed to know the names of their local councillors, and 38% had contacted them or a council department within the past year. On national political issues, 74% said they would feel unhappy if Scotland became independent of the rest of the UK, 73% feeling the same way about Wales and 64% about Northern Ireland. Just a plurality (46%) expressed unhappiness at the prospect of Britain departing the European Union, with 34% in favour of leaving and 20% neutral. The Evangelical Alliance’s current survey (closing date 15 September 2014) is actually focused on the broader political views and engagement of evangelicals, with the intention of generating data to inform the May 2015 general election debates.

GCSE results

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) published the Summer 2014 GCSE results for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland on 21 August 2014. The outcome for Religious Studies (RS) and all subjects is summarized in the table below:


Full course

Short course

Religious Studies

All entrants 2014



All entrants 2013



% change



% female entrants



% A*-C grades



All subjects

All entrants 2014



All entrants 2013



% change



% female entrants



% A*-C grades



Although combined entries for the full and short course GCSE in RS were down by 7.5% on the previous year, this was entirely a function of the progressive demise of short courses generally, following a range of curriculum and examination reforms under the present government. Full course entries in RS were actually up by 6.9% even though entries for all full course GCSEs were down by 4.2%, with – on one reading of the data – more than one-third of those who in a previous year might have taken the short course in RS electing to take the full course instead. Those sitting the full course in RS were also 2.7% more likely to achieve a ‘good’ grade (defined as A*-C) than in all subjects. Much more detail is available at:


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

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