Scottish Religion and Other News


Scottish religion

The continuing decline of religion in Scotland is documented in two publications from the Scottish Government this month. The first, published on 26 August 2015, is Scotland’s People Annual Report: Results from the 2014 Scottish Household Survey, based on interviews with 9,800 adults in private households in Scotland. The question on religious affiliation revealed that 47% of Scots professed to have no religion in 2014, 7% more than in 2009. There has been a corresponding reduction in affiliation to the Church of Scotland over this five-year period, from 34% to 28%. Other categories in 2014 were: Roman Catholics 14%, other Christians 8%, and non-Christians 3%. The report is available at:

The other publication, released on 20 August by the National Records of Scotland, was Vital Events Reference Tables, 2014, showing, inter alia, the mode of solemnization of marriage in Scotland. Results are tabulated below, with comparisons for 2004 (the year before ceremonies by humanist celebrants were permitted) and 2009. It will be seen that civil marriages now account for the majority, that the Church of Scotland has lost half its market share in the space of ten years, and that one-quarter of ‘religious’ ceremonies are now conducted by humanist celebrants. Full details are at: 

Form of marriage ceremony, % down








Church of Scotland




Roman Catholic




Other religious (excluding humanist)








Committed Christians and moral issues

Committed Christians remain more conservative on moral issues than the British public but less than might be expected, according to an analysis of YouGov Profiles data published on 27 August 2015. The sample of committed Christians (1,707 Protestants, apparently Anglicans, and 863 Catholics) comprised members of YouGov’s online panel who both identified as Protestant or Catholic and strongly agreed with the statement that ‘my faith is important to me’. As the table below indicates, so-called ‘religious Catholics’ are more likely to favour same-sex marriage than ‘religious Protestants’, whereas for the legalization of assisted dying the position is reversed, with majorities of both groups wanting to see restrictions on abortion tightened. YouGov’s blog is at: 

% down

Religious Catholics

Religious Protestants

British public

Same-sex marriage












Assisted dying
















More restrictions




No more restrictions




Evangelicals and British values

The September-October 2015 issue of Idea: The Magazine of the Evangelical Alliance exclusively reveals the results of the Alliance’s online polling earlier in 2015 of a self-selecting sample of 1,730 self-identifying UK evangelicals on the subject of ‘British values’, a subject of ongoing political debate. Respondents were asked about the attributes which they judged important for being truly British, with ‘to be a Christian’ ranked only seventh on 43%, albeit 19% more than for all Britons as recorded in the British Social Attitudes Survey. Top of the list for evangelicals were ‘to respect Britain’s political institutions and laws’ (96%) and ‘to be able to speak English’ (95%), much the same priorities as for the general public. Although 93% of evangelicals thought that, historically, British values have been strongly shaped by Christianity, only 31% considered they were today, with 79% agreeing that the state’s view of British values is based on secularism rather than Christianity. Notwithstanding, 71% believed the Government right in principle to try to define and promote British values. Just 18% of evangelicals regarded Britain as a Christian country. Seemingly by way of illustration, they identified many negative traits in the population at large, notably consumerism (65%), obsession with celebrity (58%), and sexual licence/promiscuity (51%). The article can be found at: 

Jews and Jeremy Corbyn

British Jews tend not to be natural Labour Party supporters (only 14% of them voted for it at this year’s general election), but two-thirds (including three-fifths of Jewish Labour voters) are apparently viewing with some apprehension the prospect that Jeremy Corbyn may be elected the next Labour leader. This is according to a telephone poll of 1,011 self-identifying Jews conducted by Survation on behalf of the Jewish Chronicle on 17-19 August 2015, the headline results of which were published in that newspaper on 21 August. More than four-fifths of Jews were concerned about reports that Corbyn had referred to Hezbollah and Hamas as his friends, and about allegations that he had donated money to an organization run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. Seven in ten thought that politicians such as Corbyn who described themselves as anti-Zionist were in reality often or always anti-Jewish. Full data tables, including breaks by gender, age, region, and voting, are at:

BBC Radio 4 programmes

Programmes on religion are the least listened to genre of programming on BBC Radio 4, according to a survey of 601 medium to heavy Radio 4 listeners in the UK interviewed online by ICM Unlimited on behalf of the BBC Trust between 23 February and 10 March 2015. Just 15% claimed to listen to religious programmes, the lowest proportion of the eight categories investigated, the list being headed by news programmes (88%) and current affairs programmes (87%). Moreover, programmes on religion received the lowest ratings of the same eight categories, only 63% of their listeners evaluating them as good against 90% for listeners of news programmes. Data are extracted from ICM’s report on the survey and available at:

GCSE O Level results

Provisional results for the June 2015 GCSE O Level examinations in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland were published by the Joint Council for Qualifications on 20 August 2015. Those for Religious Studies (RS) are tabulated below, with comparisons for 2005. It will be seen that the number of students taking either the full or the short course in RS has fallen by 3% over the decade, a modest decrease when set against that of 13% for all subjects (or 8% for full courses alone). Moreover, this net figure disguises a doubling in entries for the full course in RS and a two-thirds reduction in candidates for the short course, which is equivalent to half a GCSE, in line with the progressive disappearance of short courses in general. For both short and full courses there has been a decennial increase of 3% in the proportion of male students taking RS, contrasting with the continuing preponderance of females at A Level RS. Full results can be found at: 




% change

Full course




All entries




% female candidates




% with A*-C grades




Short course




All entries




% female candidates




% with A*-C grades




Full and short course




All entries




Anglican clergy career patterns

The career paths of Anglican clergy are affected by their gender, age, and type of theological training. So concludes Kelvin Randall in his ‘Twenty Years On: The Continuing Careers of Anglican Clergy’, Theology, Vol. 118, No. 5, September-October 2015, pp. 347-53. He tracked, by means of Crockford’s Clerical Directory, the subsequent careers of those ordained to the stipendiary ministry of the Church of England or Church in Wales in 1994 (the year in which women were first ordained as priests in the Church of England). The three factors analysed especially affected the proportion still working as stipendiary clergy in 2014. The article appears in a subscription-based journal, and access options are outlined at:

Church of England cathedral statistics

Church of England cathedral statistics for 2014 were published on 19 August 2015. Including Westminster Abbey (a royal peculiar), the touristic appeal of English cathedrals remains impressive, visitor numbers exceeding 10 million. In terms of worship services, Christmastide continues to be the biggest draw, with 630,600 people attending during Advent and 124,800 on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, including 32,300 communicants. Easter attendees were 53,100, among them 27,100 communicants, with a further 89,300 attendees in Holy Week. Average weekly attendance was 36,600, 22% more than in 2004, the growth being in weekday rather than Sunday congregations (albeit they were down on 2013 levels). The full report is available at:

Living with cancer

Older people living with cancer do not receive much in the way of religious or faith-based support, nor would they find it particularly useful. This is according to a report from Ipsos MORI on 24 August 2015, for which 1,004 people aged 55 and over in Britain who had received a diagnosis of cancer at any stage in their lives were interviewed online on 6-13 May 2015 on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support. Only 12% of this sample reported that they had received religious or faith-based support for their cancer, the eighth in a list of sources of support headed by information and advice (53%). Over-75s were twice as likely as those aged 55-64 to claim to have received religious or faith-based support, 19% against 10%. Asked which types of assistance they would find most useful, religious or faith-based support dropped even lower, to eleventh place for the 55-64s, being preferred by 9% of that cohort and 13% of over-75s. When the health chips are down, apparently, religion is a consolation for only a small minority. The report can be found 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, Ministry studies, News from religious organisations, Official data, Religion and Politics, Religion in public debate, Rites of Passage, 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.