This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Census: How religious is the UK?

A publicity drive has started for the census, now just five weeks away, but the survey is being criticised for its question on religion. So is it even possible to accurately measure how religious the UK is?

According to the Gospel of Luke, it was a Roman census that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where she gave birth to Jesus Christ.

And more than 2,000 years later, the same kind of counting exercise is being used to gauge the religious make-up of the UK.

According to the last Census 10 years ago, more than two-thirds of people in Britain regarded themselves as Christian - 72% in England and Wales, and 65% in Scotland.

More than 1.5 million in England and Wales, more than 3% of the population, said they were Muslim and nearly eight million ticked "no religion". There were also 390,000 self-proclaimed Jedi.

But five weeks before the next census day, Sunday 27 March, some groups are questioning whether the religious numbers are at all accurate, and could ever be.

They prefer to use the British Social Attitudes survey, carried out annually by the National Centre for Social Research, which paints a picture of a less-religious country, with 51% describing themselves as non-religious and 43% as Christian.

The religious question in the census was first introduced in 2001, as a voluntary option. In some other countries such as France, state questions about race, ethnicity or religion are not permitted.

But in the UK, the vast majority of people answered it despite not having to, although the reappearance of the same question in the forthcoming census has prompted complaints.

Question 20 in England and Wales will say: "What is your religion?" In Scotland, question 13 will ask: "What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?"

The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes they are leading questions that actively encourage people to tick a religious answer, thereby inflating the numbers, especially among Christians because many people hold a weak affiliation.

Read on

TAGGED: POLLS, RELIGION, SOCIETY


RELATED CONTENT

Update - Twitter exchange - Hard...

First Aid Kit - YouTube -... Comments

First Aid Kit - Hard Believer

Why Is Everyone on the Internet So...

Natalie Wolchover & Life's Little... Comments

A perfect storm engenders online rudeness, including virtual anonymity and thus a lack of accountability, physical distance and the medium of writing

Death of scientific evidence mourned on...

Meagan Fitzpatrick - CBC News Comments

Scientists, concerned citizens hold mock funeral in Ottawa to protest federal cuts

Should Depressed People Avoid Having...

Maia Szalavitz - TIME - Healthland 39 Comments

Do people with depression or other psychological problems have any moral obligation to forgo bearing children in order to avoid passing on their "bad" genes?

2,000 protesters support gay rights

Laura Graff - Winston-Salem Journal 14 Comments

Protesters travel to speak against Pastor Charles Worley, who gave a sermon May 13 that suggested gay people should be rounded up, placed in a sort of concentration camp, and left to die.

How the Web is killing faith

Hemant Mehta - Washington Post 41 Comments

"The Internet is blind faith’s worst nightmare."

MORE

MORE BY BBC

Catholic Church in anti-gay marriage...

BBC - BBC News - Scotland 97 Comments

"Governments do not have the authority to say what marriage is or to change its nature or to decree that people of the same sex can marry."

Time travel: light speed results cast...

BBC - BBC News Science & Environment 45 Comments

Physicists have confirmed the ultimate speed limit for the packets of light called photons - making time travel even less likely than thought.

Vatican recalls Irish papal envoy after...

BBC - BBC News website 54 Comments

"The fact that I have had thousands of messages from around the world speaks for itself about the impact and the way people feel," he said.

UPDATE: FALSE STORY Jerusalem rabbis...

BBC - BBC News website 154 Comments

A Jewish rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a stray dog it feared was the reincarnation of a lawyer who insulted its judges, reports say.

BBC - Everything and Nothing

BBC - Youtube - wedontknowanything 93 Comments

BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture 1996 -...

BBC - YouTube - GodTheHypothesis 47 Comments

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment