Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Changes in British Social Attitudes

Updated Friday

The annual British Social Attitudes Report has been published. You can find the key findings, the whole report, and related materials at this website.

Media reports on this:

John Bingham at the Telegraph has Marriage ‘no longer the foundation stone of family life’ and Revolution in attitudes to homosexuality is biggest change in generation

The Guardian has
Britons more liberal, cynical and individual than 30 years ago, says survey
Changing British attitudes: rise in support for benefits since last year
Changing British attitudes: can you guess them?
Changing British attitudes: press and politicians out, royal family in

The Conversation has this: British social attitudes report finds trust is in freefall and specifically mentions the Church of England:

…Over the past 30 years, the hold of that the country’s religious institutions have on the British public has similarly weakened. In 1983, 69% classified themselves as “belonging to a religion”, whereas in 2012 this figure was 52%.

This fall was not spread over all religions, however. The drop is driven by the declining popularity of the Church of England. Those who affiliate themselves with the Anglican Church has dropped from 40% to 20% in the same period.

Linda Woodhead, Director of Religion and Society at the University of Lancaster, said, “11% of 20 year olds identify themselves as Anglican, compared to 50% of over 60s”. The Church of England, like political parties, is failing to retain or attract young people.

However, the drops in these figures do not signal a correlative increase in levels of atheism. “In fact, levels of atheism have not grown a great deal in the past 30 years, and stand at under 20%” Woodhead explained. “People are just less likely to associate with, or relate to, a particular religion.”


The Church Times has Christians more liberal, survey finds.

…The survey suggests that Christians have also become more accepting of pre-marital sex over the past 30 years. In 1983, for instance, 31 per cent of Anglicans who were surveyed said that pre-marital sex was “always” or “mostly” wrong; in 2012, only ten per cent thought this.

When first asked, in 1989, whether “people who want children ought to get married”, 71 per cent of all those surveyed agreed, and 17 per cent disagreed. By 2012, the proportion agreeing had dropped to 42 per cent, and the proportion of those disagreeing had risen to 34 per cent.

In 1989, more than three-quarters of Anglicans surveyed (78 per cent) thought that people should marry before having children. In 2012, just over half of Anglicans (54 per cent) thought this. Roman Catholics have become even more accepting of having children outside of wedlock: in 1989, 73 per cent thought people should marry before having children; in 2012, just 43 per cent thought this…

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Categorised as: Church of England | statistics

That Mrs. Thatcher has a lot to answer for!

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 10:56am BST

Probably not, Father David. Table 1.1 of the new British Social Attitudes show that the % identifying as Anglican/C of E was still 37% in 1990, Mrs T's last year in office.

Unless you mean, as has sometimes been claimed, that Mrs T was instrumental in getting George Carey instead of David Shepherd chosen as ABC. In that case, you may be right, Father David.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 12:42pm BST

Religion dropping in popularity, Anglicanism by about half.

Homosexuality has moved from something most disapproved to something that only a minority disapprove of.

Anglican Church is openly homophobic in its official pronouncements.

Perhaps there's a link? Perhaps younger people, whose view of homosexuality is positive and regards it as entirely unexceptional, are reluctant to join an openly homophobic organisation which does everything in its power to deny equal rights to homosexual people, and whose recently appointed Archbishop aligns himself with the most hardline bigots in order to impose that denial on the whole population? Perhaps?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 1:08pm BST

Or how about George Carey with his ridiculous 'Decade of Evangelism' and open homophobia and the public relations disaster otherwise known as Rowan Williams? Justin Welby has already come in for some stick on this site but at least he seems a little bit more aware of how the C of E comes across to an (on the whole) tolerant and increasingly liberal general public!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 1:10pm BST

Iain - I was thinking more of the concentration in Mrs. Thatcher's period of office on the concentration upon the individual rather than upon the corporate or communal. Nay, surely the first name on the list when she chose George Carey was that of John Habgood and not David Shepherd?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 2:33pm BST

Habgood, yes, not Shepherd. Sorry I misremembered the story. Can anybody here confirm that it is true?

Posted by: Iain McLean on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 3:10pm BST

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

And how did it profit the Church of England that it hung on to the worldwide Anglican Communion and lost the English?

Posted by: badman on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 6:19pm BST

Iain and Fr. David, what official role, if any, does the PM have in advising the monarch (Queen Elizabeth, in the case of every PM since 1953) about whom to select as Archbishop of Canterbury?
Does the PM have an unofficial role?
As long as the CofE is an Established Church, it should expect State intervention/interference along with its State privileges. S/he who pays the piper names the tune.
Whatever people think of disestablishment, in modern times, I have yet to see any reaction by the US Congress or the US president to how or in whom the Episcopal Church (USA) chooses its presiding bishop. Considering the ideological make-up of the members of Congress from one of the two major political parties, they're more aware of who the moderator of the Southern Baptist Convention is than who is presiding bishop.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 at 8:07pm BST

I have been waiting for a lawyer to answer Peterpi's question. As none has, here goes. Any 'Crown' appointment (including all C of E bishops) is made by the monarch on the advice of her ministers: i.e., the Prime Minister of the day. Traditionally, for diocesan bishops, the C of E supplies two names in order of preference. In the case that Father David and I have highlighted, Prime Minister Thatcher chose the second name on the list. There were rumours at the time that the Church had nominated an exceptionally weak second candidate in order to ensure that Mrs Thatcher chose the first name. But she exercised her right not to.

However, in 2007, Prime Minister Brown (whose heritage is Church of Scotland) announced that he was abandoning that discretion, so that the PM just becomes a postbox for the Church's choice. Although PM Cameron has said nothing, it is understood that he has continued Brown's practice.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 10:36am BST

The Church of England is, institutionally homophobic.

No amount of dissembling can erase that- ever.

The Church of England remains not only complacent, but unrepentant. I can see no easy way out of the hole into which it has dug itself. But to cease digging forthwith would help it.

The next step encourage services of Thanksgiving or blessing after a civil partnership to be held locally. Do not seek to regulate these prayers and - Do Not Delay !

Lgbt are getting on with our lives.

Posted by: Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 12:04pm BST

"Britons have not grown any less spiritual, but in line with their relationship with other institutions, more individualistic." CSA Report

'Spiritual' is one of those words that is so vague as to be almost meaningless. I suspect that this response will cover anything from dream-catchers to "I know Nan is looking down on me".

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 3:28pm BST

' 'Spiritual' is one of those words that is so vague as to be almost meaningless. I suspect that this response will cover anything from dream-catchers to "I know Nan is looking down on me".'

Religion covers everything from animal / human sacrifice to combinations of RC-indigenous beliefs and practices, to sacraments, to prayer-wheels, to meditative practices. We seem to have long coped with that, and will, I warrant cope with 'spiritual'/ spirituality covering so many beliefs, ideas, feelings and practices.

I don't have a dream-catcher apart from my note-book, and I do believe in the communion of saints including 'my nan.'

I'd say The Church of England is in no position to discriminate.

Posted by: Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 5:47pm BST

Iain McLean on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 10:36am BST,

Thank you! The idea of the PM's office just being a letter-drop for the CofE's choice(es), to be simply delivered to Her Majesty, I rather like.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 9:23pm BST

George Bernard Saw. " there are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics."

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 15 September 2013 at 7:45am BST
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