Religion in Daily Life

Only about half of Britons who claim a religious affiliation say that their religious beliefs influence their everyday lives, according to a study published on 6 December 2011 by the Centre for the Modern Family, a new think-tank launched by Scottish Widows, the leading financial services provider.

The research project was designed to deepen our understanding of the modern British family through telephone interviews conducted by the Futures Company with a representative sample of 3,000 adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain during March 2011. BRIN is indebted to Scottish Widows for supplying the findings on religion.

Exactly three-quarters of respondents professed some religion. This proportion is at the high end of the religious allegiance spectrum, analogous to the 2001 population census and Integrated Household Survey, 2009-10 and 2010-11 but far larger than the latest British Social Attitudes Survey (50%), as noted in yesterday’s BRIN post at:

Regionally, religious affiliation peaked in the West Midlands (84%) and London and the North (80% each), doubtless assisted by a concentration of ethnic minorities there (94% of Asians and 93% of blacks had a religion). Some traditional heartlands of British faith recorded the lowest figures: East Anglia (69%), Wales (67%), and Scotland (71%).

Predictably, age was a major factor, religious affiliation building steadily from 58% among the 16-24s to 89% for the over-75s. It also made a difference whether individuals were cohabiting (58%), married or in a civil partnership (80%), separated or divorced (80%) or widowed (86%); and whether they had children (79%) or not (70%), although age will have affected the latter split.

Asked whether their religious beliefs influenced how they lived their lives, just 39% overall acknowledged that they did. This is obviously rather a simple and subjective measure, and interviewees were apparently not invited to specify what sort of impact their beliefs had, so some exaggeration in their answers seems likely.

There was inevitably variation by demographics. Groups recording a majority stating that religion made a difference to their everyday lives comprised: Asians (78%), blacks (70%), over-75s (64%), the widowed (62%), 65-74s (58%), and Londoners (51%).

At the other extreme, with three-tenths or less influenced by their religious beliefs in practice, came residents of East Anglia and Northern England (29% each), 16-24s (23%), and couples living together unmarried (22%).

The survey enabled the Centre to segment the population into ten distinct clusters, defined by their characteristics, attitudes and experiences in terms of the family. Religion was a feature in shaping some of these family types, not least the ‘once upon a timers’. The segmentation is discussed in the initial report by Liz Fraser, which can be found at:

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

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