Muslim Stories and Other News


Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

One important international reference work which BRIN has hitherto failed to mention in our regular round-ups of British religious statistical news is Yearbook of Muslims in Europe (ISSN 1877-1432), published by Brill since 2009 with Jørgen Nielsen as editor-in-chief. The core component of each volume is a country-by-country survey of the situation of Muslims throughout Europe, defined in its broadest sense. The most recent edition (Vol. 6), published towards the end of 2014 and reviewing developments in 2013, covers 45 countries. There is a chapter on the UK by Dilwar Hussain (pp. 625-48) which briefly mentions the results of the 2011 official census of religious affiliation (p. 625) and of opinion polls among and about Muslims (pp. 646-7). The first three volumes also included research articles and book reviews, but these have now migrated to Brill’s Journal of Muslims in Europe. Unfortunately, doubtless reflecting its high cost, there are relatively few UK holding libraries for the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe. Anybody interested in finding locations should consult the online catalogue COPAC for details.    

Regulating supplementary religious schools

Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment, made in his recent speech to the Conservative Party conference, to regulate supplementary religious schools (such as Islamic madrassas) seems to have gone down well with most of the electorate, according to a Survation poll for the Huffington Post UK. The Government intends to consult on making these institutions in England register with the Department for Education and become subject to a light-touch inspection regime, closure being the promised fate of those found to be teaching intolerance. In the poll, conducted online on 7 October 2015 among 1,031 adult Britons, 62% endorsed Cameron’s plans, including 70% of over-55s and 77% of Conservative voters, while 13% were opposed and 24% undecided. Data tables were published on 8 October at:

Muslims in the labour market

British Muslims are proportionately less well represented in top managerial and professional jobs than any other religious group. They are also disproportionately likely to be unemployed and economically inactive, and to have the lowest female employment participation rate of all religious groups. So claim Louis Reynolds and Jonathan Birdwell in their Rising to the Top, a new research report from think-tank Demos, based upon a review of the academic literature and secondary analysis of data from the census, Labour Force Survey, Higher Education Statistics Agency, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, and other sources. Demographic, cultural, and other factors contributing to Muslim under-representation are explored, and a series of recommendations made to help redress it. Although the official launch of the report is not until 21 October 2015, the text is already available online at:

Travel to Islamic countries

A ‘summer of discontent’ has transformed the travel plans of Britons, according to a press release from travel deals company Travelzoo on 1 October 2015 and based on a survey among 2,000 UK adults by Censuswide in September 2015. The Islamist terrorist attack on British tourists in Tunisia, the migrant crisis, and the disruption at the Channel Tunnel/Eurostar are causing us to rethink where to holiday in future. Over half (54%) of respondents admitted that the events in Tunisia had put them off holidaying anywhere abroad, while 75% said that they would actively avoid all Islamic countries as destinations in future. Less than 1% would be prepared to visit Tunisia, even if the Government travel ban is lifted in the next few months. The press release is at:

Islamic State (1)

A trio of online polls of adult Britons by YouGov on behalf of YouGov@Cambridge, and published on 2 October 2015, has explored public attitudes to British involvement in military action against Islamic State (IS) in three Middle Eastern countries. Fieldwork was conducted on 4-5 August in the case of Iraq (n = 1,707), 5-6 August about Libya (n = 1,972), and 24-25 September about Syria (n = 1,646). A few topline results are tabulated below, with the full data tables available under ‘Latest Documents’ on the YouGov@Cambridge website at: 

Approval (%) of these British actions against IS

In Iraq

In Libya

In Syria

Air strikes by RAF planes




Air strikes by aerial drones




Missile strikes from Royal Navy ships




Sending heavy weapons to local forces




Sending small arms to local forces




Sending regular UK troops




Sending UK special forces to fight




Sending UK special forces to rescue hostages




Sending UK military advisers to local forces




It will be seen that there is marginally more public appetite to engage IS in Iraq and Syria than in Libya, and that past reservations about involvement in Syria have weakened. British air strikes against IS, whether by plane or drone, find majority support in all three theatres of conflict, but there is some reticence about supplying military hardware to local armies to help them fight IS. The deployment of British ground troops appeals to under one-third, but there are fewer concerns about committing special forces in an offensive or hostage-rescue context.  

Islamic State (2)

Notwithstanding serious tensions between Russia and the West elsewhere in the world, 59% of Britons would approve of Anglo-American co-operation with Russian military forces in the fight against IS, support peaking among men (72%) and UKIP voters (75%). This is according to a YouGov poll published on 1 October 2015 for which 2,064 adults were interviewed online on 29-30 September, presumably mostly before news broke of the start of Russian air strikes against IS in Syria. Significantly fewer (38%) are willing for Britain and the USA to work with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria against IS, with disapproval running close on 32% and as many as 30% undecided. Endorsement of RAF participation in air strikes against IS in Syria has risen to 60%, three points more than at the beginning of July, with only 20% opposed. However, the potential deployment of ground troops against IS in Iraq continues to divide public opinion, with two-fifths in favour and the same proportion dissenting. YouGov’s own analysis of the survey, with a link to the data tables, is at:

Sociology of prayer

Two of the eleven research chapters in A Sociology of Prayer, edited by Giuseppe Giordan and Linda Woodhead (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015, xiv + 239pp., ISBN 9781409455851, paperback, £19.99) offer quantitative and qualitative content analyses of prayer requests in the British context. Tania ap Siôn, ‘Prayer Requests in an English Cathedral and a New Analytic Framework for Intercessory Prayer’ (pp. 169-89) reports on 1,658 prayer requests left at the shrine of St Chad in Lichfield Cathedral in 2010. Peter Collins, ‘An Analysis of Hospital Chapel Prayer Requests’ (pp. 191-211) considers 3,243 requests from chapels in two Middlesbrough acute hospitals over the period 1995-2006. More details about the volume, including ‘look inside’ previews, available at:

Congregational bonding social capital

A seven-item measure of congregational expressions of Robert Putnam’s theory of bonding social capital is proposed and empirically tested (on 23,884 adult churchgoers in the Church of England Diocese of Southwark) in Leslie Francis and David Lankshear, ‘Introducing the Congregational Bonding Social Capital Scale: A Study among Anglican Churchgoers in South London’, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2015, pp. 224-30. The research data support the internal consistency reliability and construct validity of the scale. No significant differences in congregational bonding social capital were found between the sexes, but levels did increase with age and frequency of church attendance. Previous attempts to develop measures of congregational bonding social capital are also briefly reviewed. Access options to the article are outlined at:

Pastoral Research Centre publications

On 2 October 2015 the Pastoral Research Centre Trust, which undertakes socio-religious research into Roman Catholicism in England and Wales with particular reference to statistical sources, posted on its website an up-to-date list of its own reports and those of its predecessor, the Newman Demographic Survey (1953-64), the latter documents only declassified by the Catholic Church in recent years. These publications provide a much sounder basis for the quantification of the Catholic community during the past half-century than the data to be found in successive editions of the Catholic Directory. The list can be found on the Trust’s homepage at:

Education and secularization

In our post of 12 June 2015, we highlighted an article by James Lewis in Journal of Contemporary Religion in which, utilizing census data from Anglophone countries, he reasserted the thesis that higher education appears to have a secularizing effect. That article has now elicited a response from David Voas: ‘The Normalization of Non-Religion: A Reply to James Lewis’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2015, pp. 505-8. In it Voas reiterates his own previous argument, that religious ‘nones’ are becoming normalized in their characteristics. He suggests that the approach adopted by Lewis, a cross-sectional snapshot of the whole population undifferentiated by age together with an over-dependence on write-in replies which are the census exception rather than the rule, misses the generational dynamics of religious change. His own analysis of the 2011 census for England and Wales, one of the sources drawn upon by Lewis, demonstrates that, whereas older ‘nones’ are more educated than Christians of the same age, younger ‘nones’ have fewer qualifications than their Christian counterparts. Access options to the Voas article are outlined at:

Scottish Gaelic and religion

On 30 September 2015 the Scottish Government published a report and data tables relating to the results of the Scottish Gaelic questions in the 2011 Scottish census. Five data tables give breaks by religion for Scottish Gaelic for the population aged 3 and over. They are: 

  • AT 250 2011 – Gaelic language skills by religion (council areas)
  • AT 251 2011 – Gaelic language skills by religion (civil parish bands)
  • AT 275 2011 – Use of Gaelic language at home by religion (council areas)
  • AT 276 2011 – Use of Gaelic language at home by religion (civil parish bands)
  • AT 277 2011 – Gaelic language skills by religion by age (Scotland)

These tables can be accessed, in Excel format, under the ‘language’ heading of the 2011 Scottish Census Data Warehouse at:

The national-level picture by religion from AT 250 2011 is summarized in the table below. It will be seen that relatively few Scots, just 57,600, now speak Gaelic and that those who do are disproportionately from Protestant denominations other than the Church of Scotland (although they equate to only one in seven Gaelic speakers in Scotland, two-fifths of whom affiliate to the Church of Scotland).  

% across

Speaks Gaelic

Does not speak Gaelic




Roman Catholic



Church of Scotland



Other Christian



Other religion



No religion



Religion not stated



Jewish grandparents

In anticipation of the Jewish festival of Sukkot and UK Grandparents Day (4 October 2015), World Jewish Relief recently commissioned Survation to conduct a telephone poll of self-identifying Jews in Great Britain about grandparents and grandchildren. Unsurprisingly, Jewish grandparents overwhelmingly said they would like to see more of their grandchildren, 92% ideally at least fortnightly, although in practice fewer (70%) saw them that frequently, while nearly one in five saw them less than a few times each year. One-third of Jewish grandchildren aged 18 and over also reported seeing their grandparents a few times a year or less. The principal information about the survey currently in the public domain is a press release dated 1 October 2015 from World Jewish Relief at:


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

This entry was posted in church attendance, News from religious organisations, Religion and Politics, Religion and Social Capital, Religious Census, Religious prejudice, Survey news and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.