FAR from being the Christian nation that so many politicians insist it is, Britain is fast distancing itself from Christianity, according to two significant polls recently published.
The National Secular Society points out that the two large-scale polls indicate that our country is not, by any stretch of the imagination, religious.
Indeed, we are a nation of secularists who want religion and politics separated.
The findings come in the wake of claims from the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that Britain is a Christian nation and that the Government intends to find a greater role for religion in policy-making.
A poll conducted by Yougov together with the Government-sponsored British Social Attitudes Survey reveal a nation averse to “faith” and hostile to religious leaders seeking political power.
Of the Yougov-Cambridge poll carried out among 2,027 adults, an overwhelming 81 percent of respondents agreed with the statement:
Religious practice is a private matter and should be separated from the political and economic life of my country.
Only six percent disagreed.
- When asked “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?” 53 percent said no while 42 percent said yes.
- 76 percent said that religious leaders should NOT influence how people vote in elections (6 percent thought they should)
- 71 percent said that religious leaders should have NO influence over the decisions of the government (8 percent said they should)
- 65 percent said that Britain would NOT be a better place if more religious leaders held public office. (7 percent said it would)
The same set of questions was asked in some other countries and the results can be seen here.
The 29th edition of the British Social Attitudes Survey, which was published on Monday, confirms these trends. It has been analysed by the BBC which concluded along the following lines:
- In the thirty years since the British Social Attitudes survey was first produced, religious affiliation amongst people in Britain has dropped from 68 percent (in 1983) to 53 percent (in 2011).
- 85 percent of people aged 66 plus say they were brought up in a religion, compared to 60 percent of 18-25 year olds. And the gap is even greater when people are asked if they are religious now. 77 percent of people aged 66+ say they are religious compared to 35 percent of people aged 18-25.
- The likelihood of young people aged 16-25 being religious varies widely by ethnicity. White British are the least likely to be religious (24 percent of White British of this age group describe themselves as religious), while Bangladeshis are the most likely (at 97 percent). In descending percentage: 95 percent Pakistani, 89 percent Black African, 87 percent Indian, and 58 percent Black Caribbean.
- Young people were asked whether religion made a difference to their lives. Muslims were the most likely group to think so (68 percent of them). In contrast, self-defined Catholics were the least likely to, (only 12 percent).
Wales emerges as the least religious nation in the UK, with 58 percent saying they have no religion. Greater London (once one of the least religious part of the UK but now home to tens of thousands of religiously devout immigrants) has only 42 percent non-religious. The Midlands, another centre of immigration, recorded 41 percent
But, say the NSS:
There are grounds to suggest these particular figures should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is well known amongst statisticians that respondents often overstate their religiosity. This trend is well demonstrated by the fact that 14 percent of respondents claimed to attend a religious service once a week or more. This is at least double the figure borne out by church attendance figures. 58 percent said that they never attended public worship (up from 53 percent in 1991). Thirteen percent of the irreligious stated that they sometimes attended religious services.
Anglicans had the highest total non-attendance (56 percent), with Roman Catholics on 28 percent, other Christians on 39 percent, and non-Christians on 29 percent. Men (65 percent) were more likely never to attend than women (54 percent).
Hat tip: BarrieJohn