There was a great deal of comment in the media on Tuesday about a poll undertaken by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
You can read the survey results for yourself. Here is the Ipsos MORI summary:
A poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) in the week after the 2011 Census focused on the beliefs, attitudes and practices of UK adults who say they were recorded as Christian in the 2011 Census (or would have recorded themselves as Christian had they answered the question).
UK Christians are overwhelmingly secular in their attitudes on a range of issues from gay rights to religion in public life, according to new research.
Religion and government
Three quarters (74%) strongly agree or tend to agree that religion should not have special influence on public policy, with only one in eight (12%) thinking that it should.
More oppose than support the idea of the UK having an official state religion, with nearly half (46%) against and only a third (32%) in favour. The same pattern is repeated with the question of seats being reserved for Church of England bishops in the House of Lords: 32% of respondents oppose, with only 25% in favour.
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…
Some informed comment about all this comes from Linda Woodhead in Richard Dawkins has uncovered a very British form of Christianity.
There’s nothing new in Richard Dawkins’s findings about the British way of being religious. But it’s always good to be reminded of the findings of a poll commissioned by his Foundation for Reason and Science: that most of us are not “true believers” in either religion or in secularism, and that Britain is neither a religious country nor a secular one, but an interesting mix of both. That doesn’t make us muddled, or woolly, or confused – it just makes us British.
We have always been instinctively wary of the bright-eyed, fanatical enthusiast, of whatever hue. We don’t really do big ideologies or revolutions – and when we do, we never see them through to their conclusion. We prefer modest proposals, pragmatic solutions, and a bit of muddle – so long as it works. As Kate Fox rightly observes in Watching the English, our natural response to anyone who believes in their own propaganda too much is: “Oh come off it.”
And see also Ekklesia ‘Census Christians’ not very committed, opinion research suggests.