The British Social Attitudes Survey
The British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA) is published annually by the National Centre for Social research since 1983, and conducts around three thousand interviews each year with a representative sample of the British population.
The 26th report, published in 2010, includes a number of issues of interest to humanists in two of its chapters, ‘Religion in Britain and the United States’ and ‘Religious faith and contemporary attitudes’. The 27th report, published in 2011, updated a number of the statistics involved.
Voas, D. and Ling, R. (2009), ‘Religion in Britain and the United States’, in Park, A., Curtice, J., Thomson, K., Phillips., Clery E., and Butt, S. British Social Attitudes: the 26th Report, London: Sage
- In Britain, those who profess no-religion have risen from 31% to 43% between 1983 and 2008. In 2009, this was found to have further risen to 51%.
- Conversely, in 1983 66% identified as Christian, in 2008 the number was 50%. In 2009, this further declined to 43%.
- The proportion identifying as belonging to some other religion has risen from 2% in 1983 to 5% in 2009.
- In 2008 37% of the UK population are sceptical, 35% have definite or doubtful.
- In 2009 only 17% of the British population attend religious services at least monthly, and only 11% attend at least weekly.
- Those self-described as members of the Church of England consist of 20% of the population in 2009 (40% in 1983). In 2008, it was found that 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly.
- 62% of people in Britain never attend a religious service.
- 42% of all those questioned are against any form of faith school
- 52% agree that “Britain is deeply divided along religious lines”
- Religion in Britain is estimated to have a ‘half-life’ of one generation
Views on Religion and Politics:
“Three quarters (75 per cent) maintain their religious leaders should not try to influence voting behaviour while two-thirds (67 per cent) think religious leaders should stay out of government decision making”(Page 74)
“Nearly half (45 per cent) of people in Britain take the view that laws and policy decisions would probably be worse in these circumstances and only a quarter (26 per cent) think that decisions would probably be better.” (Page 74)
“There is also disquiet about the extended to which religious faith can lead to intolerance. Three quarters (73 per cent) of Britons maintain that “people with very strong religious beliefs are often too intolerant of others”. Naturally, agreement was highest among the unreligious (at 82 per cent), but even 63 per cent of religious people concurred.” (Page 75)
McAndrew S. (2009) ‘Religious faith and contemporary attitudes’, in Park, A., Curtice, J., Thomson, K., Phillips., Clery E., and Butt, S. British Social Attitudes: the 26th Report, London: Sage
- 71% of religious people and 92% non-religious (82% in total) believe that a doctor should be allowed to end the life of a patient with an incurable disease. 29% of religious people believe pre-marital sex is wrong, compared to 3% of non-religious people
- 50% of religious people believe homosexuality is always or almost always wrong
- 21% of religious people believe men should work and women remain in the home
- The non-religious are far more likely not to vote
- Religion is a weak measure of party affiliation