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Nearly a million Welsh adults have a humanist approach to life, YouGov research shows

Outside the Senedd, Cardiff Bay. Credit: Wikimedia.

Outside the Senedd, Cardiff Bay. Credit: Wikimedia.

Nearly a million adults in Wales have a humanist approach to life and morality, according to YouGov research released at the launch of Wales Humanists at the Senedd in Cardiff today.

Respondents in Wales were asked to select which statement most closely matched their views in three areas of beliefs and values. The results showed that:

  • 66% of Welsh adults agreed that science and evidence provide the best way to understand the universe, while only 12% said that religion is needed for a complete understanding. 
  • 57% of Welsh adults agreed that what was right and wrong depended on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world, rather than being unchanging (24%) or just a matter of personal preference (13%).
  • 74% of Welsh adults agreed that our empathy and compassion give us an understanding of what is right and wrong, rather than religious teachings.
  • 35% of Welsh adults (translating into around a million people in Wales) believed all three of these.

In addition, the YouGov research showed that  just over half of Welsh adults (51%) say they belong to no religion. This includes 73% of 18-24 year olds and 69% of 25-34 year olds. Only 26% identified as Anglicans and Episcopalians, 5% as Roman Catholics, 3% as Baptist, 3% as Methodist, and 6% as of some other religion.

‘Wales is a majority non-religious country and one in which many share humanist beliefs and values,’ said the Chair of Wales Humanists, Ben Morris, who will be part of the launch of Wales Humanists at the Senedd, this week. ‘Wales Humanists will provide community services, advocacy, and support to this new majority,’ he added.

The launch is being sponsored by humanist Julie Morgan AM and will introduce key priorities – specifically Humanism being accorded equal status in the school curriculum and an end to the requirement for ‘broadly Christian’ collective worship in all state schools in Wales. It will also be an opportunity to learn about other campaigns in the pipeline for Wales such as non-religious pastoral care in hospitals, prisons, and universities; legally recognised humanist marriages; and the right to die.

BHA President Shappi Khorsandi and Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association will be speaking at the event introducing Humanism and its goals in Wales.

‘Humanists in Wales have already achieved great things,’ said Khorsandi. ‘The research shows Wales is the least religious part of the UK, and leads the way on so many ethical issues. Wales Humanists will help galvanise that movement.’

Also attending will be BHA patrons, the Wales Humanists Committee, along with representatives from Welsh Government, interfaith groups, and other non-profit organisations. Wales Humanists is part of the British Humanist Association, the UK organisation working on behalf of non-religious people, who seek to live ethical lives on the basis of reason and humanity, and is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year.

‘Nearly a million people in Wales have a humanist approach to life so it’s the right time to be offering an alternative to religion,’ said Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association. ‘We will be providing non-religious ceremonies, talks and care services in hospitals, universities and prison, and promoting equal treatment regardless of religion or belief.’

Note 

For more information, please contact Kathy Riddick, Wales Humanist Development Officer on kathy.riddick@humanism.org.uk, or Sarah Gillam, Director of Communications and Development on sarah@humanism.org.uk on 020 7324 3079 or 07534 248 596.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1000 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17-21 November 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+). See the full dataset: YouGov, 17-21 November 2016

35.08% of All Welsh adults ‘selected the humanist answer in all three statement questions’ and the official figure from the ONS suggests that there are 2,507,896 Welsh adults (those 18+), therefore 879,770 Welsh adults have a humanist approach to life and morality.

The three answer statements which are classed as a ‘humanist approach to life and morality’ were: ‘Science and evidence provide the best way to understand the universe’, ‘What is right and wrong depends on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world’ and ‘Our empathy and compassion give us an understanding of what is right and wrong’.

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