Religion And Statistics

Thanks to an email from my friend Pete Phillips I have found the British Religion In Numbers website, a project based at Manchester University. Before anyone trots out the old ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’ line, may I say that

(1) while I resist any idea that numbers and material measurability can completely interpret faith, this is a fascinating site; and

(2) Lies, Damned Lies are or were a very fine rock band.

There is a useful ‘news‘ section on the site, which functions as a blog.  Take, for example, this news story today, ‘Christians and the General Election‘. It reports an opinion poll sponsored by Premier Christian Media on Christian voting intentions. My instinct is that the likely figures are at least partly way off: 37% of Christians see David Cameron as the best choice for Prime Minister, 20% Gordon Brown and 6% Nick Clegg. 22% are undecided and 12% have no faith in any of the leaders. The figure for Clegg seems surprisingly low, even if the poll was conducted before his performance in last Thursday’s first ever televised leaders’ debate. Apparently, ComRes interviewed 423 Christians and balanced the results to reflect the 2005 Church Census. Does this reflect Christian disquiet about Clegg’s atheism, or are the stats just bonkers? Whatever, I look forward to more stimulating material from this site.


  1. I wonder if this tells us something about the 2005 Church Census, and how the figures were balanced. There is a very strong traditional association between the liberal party and, especially, some of the free churches. I’d be amazed if the headline figure reflects reality.

    May thanks, though for the site reference…


    1. Yes, that’s not far from what I wondered. It seems so far divorced from even pre-leaders’ debate polls, and given that other stuff I’ve seen suggests Christian voting patterns are usually not very different from the populus at large, I do wonder what has gone on. Also, the poll sample was 423. Normal opinion polls for newspapers on voting intentions tend to sample around 1000 people.


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