Young people in Britain say they live in a country with no specific religious identity, but think that religion plays an important role in people’s lives, according to a new ComRes poll.

The poll, published to launch the new Faith Research Centre, asked people in Britain about their levels of understanding of religion in the UK. Adults aged 18-24 were the least likely age group to describe Britain as a Christian country (31%) and most likely to describe Britain as a country with no specific religious identity (41%), from the list of options tested.

Statement Age

18-24

Age

25-34

Age

35-44

Age

45-54

Age

55-64

Age

65+

Britain is a Christian country  

31%

 

43%

 

46%

 

58%

 

67%

 

74%

Britain is a country with no specific religious identity  

 

41%

 

 

33%

 

 

29%

 

 

28%

 

 

23%

 

 

20%

 

When asked about the importance of understanding religion, the majority of adults aged 18-24 agreed with these statements:

  • It is important that UK politicians and policy-makers have a good understanding of religion(s) in the UK (52%)
  • Understanding religion is important to tackling terrorism around the world (50%)
  • Understanding religion is important to understanding the world, regardless of whether you are personally religious or not (54%)

‘In some of the questions we asked, adults aged between 18-24 and adult aged 65+ answered at opposite ends of the scale, indicating marked differences between generations in perceptions of religion and belief,’ says Katie Harrison, Director of the new Faith Research Centre at ComRes.

‘This is consistent with some of the projects we’ve recently been commissioned to carry out. We’re seeing a strong interest in understanding the attitudes and needs of people in their 20s, especially in our faith research work.’

Strategic research consultancy ComRes will launch a new Faith Research Centre this year to help improve the quality of knowledge about religion and belief by providing robust and impartial evidence of current religious identity, belief, practice and behaviour.

Leading the centre is Katie Harrison, who arrives at ComRes with eighteen years’ experience of corporate communications and media relations in local government and international development, including seven years leading communications at the Christian global charity Tearfund.

“Having worked in local communities in the UK as well as in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa in refugee camps, urban slums and rural villages, I’m clear that religion and belief plays a huge part in many people’s lives, and to overlook it is to misunderstand important drivers of behaviour and culture,’ Katie said.

‘We don’t yet have easily accessible authoritative data in the UK and Europe, and this is a gap in knowledge which we aim to fill.”

Andrew Hawkins, ComRes Founder and Chairman, said: “We have become the first choice for clients seeking to research attitudes, perceptions and behaviour relating to religion and belief and already have a strong client base within academic, media, commercial, faith and public sectors. Demand has increased and we are very well placed to create a centre of excellence in this area. We believe that this is the UK’s first dedicated commercial capability with specific expertise in researching religion and belief.”

Based in Westminster, the Faith Research Centre will launch later this month with a remit to help organisations understand their audiences, workforce and stakeholders, and will provide research in the UK and across Europe. Thought leadership events and programmes will give opportunity for publicly available data to be disseminated and analysed, and ComRes consultancy services will help clients to interpret and use research effectively to meet their strategic objectives.

Follow Faith Research Centre on Twitter at @faith_ctr


See data tables here. ComRes interviewed 2,048 British adults online between the 4th and 5th January 2017. Data were weighted by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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