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← RDFRS UK/Ipsos MORI Poll #2: UK Christians oppose special influence for religion in public policy

RDFRS UK/Ipsos MORI Poll #2: UK Christians oppose special influence for religion in public policy - Comments

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 1 by Steve Zara

This changes everything.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 00:36:04 UTC | #917413

Ohnhai's Avatar Comment 2 by Ohnhai

Indeed. Money well spent.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 00:45:30 UTC | #917417

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 3 by Ignorant Amos

I just had a very large grin on my bake while reading this.....the worm has turned and that's almost official.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:01:00 UTC | #917427

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 4 by AtheistEgbert

The survey is interesting in that it shows Christians don't really have any firm values at all. Although almost all claim to be secular, large minorities still retain attitudes that are based on equalities. They seem to reflect mainstream culture, rather than actually having any firm moral or political convictions from their religion.

Where do these incoherent and contradictory inequalities come from? While Christianity does not establish any coherent values, it does establish prejudices, and that is why it acts as a kind of anti-morality system that actually interfere with coherent liberal or secular values.

Atheists aren't immune to prejudices and inequalities, but secular cultures are based in a coherent political philosophy, or at least they are supposed to be, and so the general direction is toward better societies. But only If it were not for the general human instinct to follow authority, which is why so many weird atheists want religion and its inequalities and privileges to continue.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:08:36 UTC | #917432

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 5 by potteryshard

Despite the usual furor regard the theistic backwardness of Americans, I rather suspect (or maybe desperately hope) that real attitudes are not terribly dissimilar with these results.

I feel that it is likely that because of the self-interests of the politicians, churches, and the overly-excitable little-old-lady sector, it just hasn't been possible to design and perform a reasonably honest religious attitudes survey. Surveys here seem to be of the quick and dirty kind, and to feature questions with stock catch phrases that lead to an desired answer.

How can we go about getting a reasonably true evaluation of attitudes? So often, behaviors don't seem to mesh with the expressed beliefs. I sincerely hope that we aren't as hopelessly ignorant as we appear.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:10:16 UTC | #917434

RDfan's Avatar Comment 6 by RDfan

But wait: isn't this apparent decline in Christian belief in the UK the cause of the moral malaise that we see in the country today?

Need I remind everyone of the ravenous gang riots of last summer; the cringe-worthy creaming of state coffers by politicians; the daylight thievery of city bankers; the immoral phone-tapping of the gutter press? Shall I go on?

Isn't this moral decline, this Broken Britain, this Un-Cool Britannia a sign that what we need is more, not less, good-old-fashioned Christian virtue?

(You can almost hear Anne Widdecombe now, can't you?)

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:19:12 UTC | #917440

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 7 by Mark Jones

There is overwhelming support for religion being a private, not public, matter. Asked how strongly they support the statement that governments should not interfere in religion, 79% strongly agree or tend to agree, with only 8% strongly disagreeing or tending to disagree.

It seems that the majority of Christians are as strident as those naughty militant new atheists, and as "aggressively secularist"!

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:21:54 UTC | #917442

tdcolvin1's Avatar Comment 8 by tdcolvin1

A wonderful counter-argument to Sayeeda Warsi's latest comments... http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/13/militant-secularisation-christianity-lady-warsi

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:31:02 UTC | #917449

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

But wait: isn't this apparent decline in Christian belief in the UK the cause of the moral malaise that we see in the country today?

I know you were being sarcastic, but there is a case to be made that corruption and inequalities still persist in Britain. Societies might have gotten fairer and freer (although this is reversing fast) but morality springs from the individual, not societies. Socialism has created a society that has devalued the individual and created dependency and widespread irresponsibility by putting the economy above people.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:32:04 UTC | #917451

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 10 by Steve Zara

I was going to leave this site alone for a while to write, but this is not just very big news, but irresistible fun. It was quite a risk taking this poll, but it's hit pay dirt. Those who believe in belief now see there is not that much belief left for them to believe in, even amongst believers, and furthermore, believers generally want to be left alone and not have the state anywhere near their religion.

One of the most interesting results of these surveys is that it shows that both politicians and clergy who have been protesting about encroaching secularism are quite astonishingly out of touch with the country. Which is odd, as one might have thought that someone in the position of an Archbishop might have gone to the trouble to find out what believers believe.

Keeping the state out of religion is shown to be a major vote-winner.

Congratulations and well done to Richard and everyone involved at RDFRS - this is a major achievement, something that has a chance of changing politics in the UK.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:38:09 UTC | #917455

Hernan's Avatar Comment 11 by Hernan

Has this been sent to the media yet? How long before xtian retaliation?

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:39:22 UTC | #917457

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 12 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 10 by Steve Zara

One of the most interesting results of these surveys is that it shows that both politicians and clergy who have been protesting about encroaching secularism are quite astonishingly out of touch with the country. Which is odd, as one might have thought that someone in the position of an Archbishop might have gone to the trouble to find out what believers believe.

You'd think wouldn't ya?

These results should make the up and coming soirée between RD and the Archbishop a lot more interesting, that's for sure.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:45:43 UTC | #917459

RDfan's Avatar Comment 13 by RDfan

Actually, the details of the survey make for some hilarious reading. For instance, 4 percent of those who claim to be Christians don't actually believe Christ ever really existed; too funny :D

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:48:25 UTC | #917461

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 14 by Cartomancer

It makes one wonder why nobody has done something like this before.

Well, okay, the catholic church tried it in Europe as a part of their counter-reformation attempts to get their act together (and found people similarly oblivious with regard to what they were supposed to believe according to the hierarchy) but you would think that collecting such information on a regular basis would be a veritable goldmine for politicians and spin-doctors. Not to mention the churches themselves.

Unless... no... surely not? Unless most politicians habitually work on their own unexamined ideological prejudices and don't think to check them against reality for fear of self-examination...

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 02:48:17 UTC | #917477

Tridhos's Avatar Comment 15 by Tridhos

So much for Lady Warsi today warning of what she calls the "militant secularisation" of society and proposing that Christianity is given a central role in public life.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 02:54:46 UTC | #917480

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 16 by Bernard Hurley

I can't say I find any of this surprising. Obviously I had no ideas of the exact figures. However the real problem is still the number of people who identify as Christian because they think of it as "being a good person." This essentially turns the clergy into "goodness experts." I have been convinced for decades that it is this not belief in dogmas that gives the Christian religion a psychological hold over people.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 02:54:59 UTC | #917481

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 17 by Steve Zara

Comment 16 by Bernard Hurley

I can't say I find any of this surprising.

Me neither. I'm just very pleased that RDFRS decided to get evidence about it.

However the real problem is still the number of people who identify as Christian because they think of it as "being a good person." This essentially turns the clergy into "goodness experts." I have been convinced for decades that it is this not belief in dogmas that gives the Christian religion a psychological hold over people.

Now that does raise more interesting issues. I read a recent survey that shows that the majority of Catholics in the UK disagree with the teachings of that church on matters such as contraception, gay marriage, abortion and so on.

So, it seems likely that a majority of Christians don't rely on the clergy, or at least official church teaching, as the source of their moral views. There are some admirable clergy who similarly reject the official teachings as well.

So, it becomes increasingly mysterious as to why so many people identify as Christian. Perhaps it's nothing more than habit.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:12:17 UTC | #917487

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 18 by Cartomancer

Contrary to many here, I actually do find it slightly surprising.

I'm actually starting to warm to British christians a little more because of this. They're not nearly the pinch-faced conservative killjoys their vociferous public representatives make them out to be. I don't actually know any christians myself, so I was kind of under the impression that those outspoken extremists like Stephen Green and Lilian Ladele were closer to the norm than turns out to be the case. My appreciation of the underlying strength of human decency has been restored a little.

Well, most of them aren't that bad. I'm still a little shocked to find that only 61% support equal rights for gay people. 61% of 70% is 42% of the UK population, so even if all the non-christians are in favour (and the chances of the 5% who are muslim being in favour seem slim) that's still only 72%. It's a majority, but that means slightly more than one in four people is opposed to gay equality. I was rather hoping we were doing better than that.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:18:34 UTC | #917489

Greenforest's Avatar Comment 19 by Greenforest

This is excellent work.

A couple of questions I would have like to have seen asked:

"Do you believe the U.K. should legally prosecute and punish those who "blaspheme" or "insult" your religion or God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?"

"Would you vote for a generally well qualified person for prime minister if the candidate were an atheist?"

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:20:24 UTC | #917491

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 20 by Paula Kirby

Bernard Hurley: I can't say I find any of this surprising.

I did and I didn't.

I wasn't surprised that most UK 'Christians' take next to no notice of Christianity in any aspect of their lives, nor was I surprised that most UK 'Christians' share the modern, liberal, humane views that have become prevalent in UK society. But I was surprised - and delighted - to find that the results were so unambiguous. There were several questions where I had expected the results to be less dramatic than they were, but there they were all the same: one question after another, all showing remarkable support for secular principles and policies and very little demonstrable commitment to Christianity at all - certainly not in its power-wielding form.

But the point is not really whether the results are what we were expecting or not. The point is that we now have evidence. Real, proper, independently and professionally gathered hard evidence to support our position.

Next time the anti-secularists try to claim that most Christians share their views, or that they are representing the will of the population at large, we will not need to justify our doubt, or argue why it is unlikely they are right. We now have the evidence. Facts. Although the pro-Christian lobby will doubtless still try to get away with pretending they speak for the majority of Christians, the simple fact is that, now, they won't be able to get away with it. The secret is out, their pretence has been exposed for what it is.

And what's more, this research sends an unambiguous message to our policy-makers too. Not even Christians want religion to have special influence in public life. And there are no votes in pandering to the endless yammering of organisations like Christian Concern or the Christian Institute either: not only do those organisations NOT represent the views of most Christians, 78% of Christians aren't influenced by religion (or not very much) when it comes to voting in General Elections in any case.

Surprises or no surprises, we are now armed with a huge amount of detailed data that gives us all the clearest possible view of what UK Christians really think. Which means that it's time to consign the tired old claims about the UK being a Christian society to the Book of Myths, along with the water that turned into wine ...

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:25:39 UTC | #917493

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 21 by Cartomancer

Somebody had best check that Nadine Dorries has her heart medicine to hand before she reads tomorrow's papers...

... nah, on second thoughts I find myself remarkably indifferent to whether she has it or not.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:46:32 UTC | #917499

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 22 by Paula Kirby

Cartomancer: I'm actually starting to warm to British christians a little more because of this. They're not nearly the pinch-faced conservative killjoys their vociferous public representatives make them out to be.

I think this is a very important point. The highly vocal Christian lobbyists who keep screaming 'Persecution!' every time they are required to follow the same law as everyone else have given Christians a bad image. They have made them seem mean-spirited and self-righteous and petty and bigoted. If I were still a Christian, I would resent their antics bitterly, and feel they were bringing my faith into disrepute. But it's the same old issue we keep encountering in one guise or another, isn't it: the moderates in any religion don't speak up enough.

I'm still a little shocked to find that only 61% support equal rights for gay people. 61% of 70% is 42% of the UK population, so even if all the non-christians are in favour (and the chances of the 5% who are muslim being in favour seem slim) that's still only 72%.

You're using the wrong figure there for the total % of UK Christians, Vincent: 70% (or thereabouts) was the 2001 figure. It's now down to about 54%, according to this research. And of course, you can't assume that all non-Christians will be in favour of full equality for gay people. Still, I think this is encouraging. The most vocal opposition to the extension of full rights is coming from the Christian lobbyists. Now we can show that the majority of Christians support equal rights, that makes their case very much weaker.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 03:49:08 UTC | #917500

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 23 by Cartomancer

The highly vocal Christian lobbyists who keep screaming 'Persecution!' every time they are required to follow the same law as everyone else have given Christians a bad image. They have made them seem mean-spirited and self-righteous and petty and bigoted.

I do wonder whether there are some christians out there, perhaps a significant number, who feel somewhat conflicted in their convictions because of this. They are not bigoted and do not hold similar views to the vociferous mouthpieces like Stephen Green, but since those people get most of the coverage (not to mention the firm stances of the catholic hierarchy, the Africans in the anglican communion and the US evangelicals), there must be a certain nagging sense in which they feel they're not being proper christians by behaving in a humane, secular and civilized way. Many would indeed shake their heads or get angry at being misrepresented thus, but I suspect many others may instead feel that they're not doing it properly, and may worry that their liberal views are a personal indulgence at odds with how they should be behaving.

Furthermore, I wonder whether the figures in the survey might be ever so slightly skewed AGAINST showing christians to be as secular-minded as the rest of us because of this assumption. The respondent, presumably, knows that they are being interviewed because they claim to be a christian, so to what extent are they thinking "I should answer as a christian would answer" and having to wrestle with this widespread cultural assumption that homophobia, conservative morality, pro-church policies and the like are the natural christian things to support?

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 04:02:07 UTC | #917505

Slippy's Avatar Comment 24 by Slippy

Bloody blinkin brilliant news. How does this information now get absorbed by the people who should be paying attention?

I'm not really in the know when it comes to interpretation of survey results and statistical relevance so I'd appreciate it if someone could answer this..

In a census survey of the UK, were 50 odd% of the population identify as xtian, how relevant are the results of this survey when performed on 1136 people?

Is this an avenue for the results to be marginalised?

Cheers

Chris

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 04:48:20 UTC | #917508

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 25 by Alternative Carpark

Results do not surprise me at all.

But a lot of fuss needs to be made with these results, so that come next census, people can make a conscious decision not to tick any religious box if they are effectively only cultural Christians.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 05:04:17 UTC | #917512

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 26 by Steve Zara

It may be worth mentioning that there is even more reason why religious leaders and religious views deserve vastly less respect than they are given now in the UK. I have dug up the figures from the YouGov survey of Catholics I mentioned earlier. They are quite astonishing: 70% support abortion, 90% support contraception, 89% believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable.

It's clear that for the majority of Catholics in the UK, the Pope is not a moral leader, in fact his views are simply ignored. So, inviting the Pope here and calling him a leader of UK Catholics is nonsense.

Comment 24 by Slippy

I'm not really in the know when it comes to interpretation of survey results and statistical relevance so I'd appreciate it if someone could answer this..

In a census survey of the UK, were 50 odd% of the population identify as xtian, how relevant are the results of this survey when performed on 1136 people?

Actually, that is a good number. The survey companies are statistical experts and really know what they are doing!

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 05:42:46 UTC | #917515

Sample's Avatar Comment 27 by Sample

I think the term compartmentalization where reason and faith occupy two seperate places in the human psyche is too weak. The religious mind is more like an infinite matryoshka doll whereby just when you think you've uncovered the last bit of madness, one more inanity appears.

Mike

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 05:57:30 UTC | #917516

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 28 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 24 by Slippy :

Bloody blinkin brilliant news. How does this information now get absorbed by the people who should be paying attention?

Suppose everybody who reads this were to send it (don't forget Press Release 1 as well as 2) to their MP.

Richard

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 06:05:01 UTC | #917519

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 29 by Vorlund

Comment 24 by Slippy :

In a census survey of the UK, were 50 odd% of the population identify as xtian, how relevant are the results of this survey when performed on 1136 people? Is this an avenue for the results to be marginalised?

Cheers Chris

It will not be long before an Xtian deliberately claims that only 1136 people were asked and that does not represent a correct view, however, statisticians have to work with a confidence level which shows the resuts cannot have occurred by mere chance and that they are representative of a potentially larger population.

This survey is great news and a powerful weapon to wave in the faces of those who claim we are a christian nation. We aren't and clearly haven't been for some time, however I can see xtians now renewing the old arguement that some 'moral turpitude' like rioting and teen pregnancies &c is a direct result of ungodliness.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 07:49:03 UTC | #917532

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 30 by Stafford Gordon

One splendid element of this is that politicians will, in all probability, hopefully, loose a stamping ground for VOTES!

I look forward to seeing which way the opportunistic gits will jump.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 08:08:29 UTC | #917536