Tuesday, January 02, 2007

British Believe Religion Does More Harm Than Good

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension - greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.

The poll also reveals that non-believers outnumber believers in Britain by almost two to one. It paints a picture of a sceptical nation with massive doubts about the effect religion has on society: 82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree. The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.

Most people have no personal faith, the poll shows, with only 33% of those questioned describing themselves as "a religious person". A clear majority, 63%, say that they are not religious - including more than half of those who describe themselves as Christian.

Older people and women are the most likely to believe in a god, with 37% of women saying they are religious, compared with 29% of men.

Religion does more harm than good - poll
. Hat tip: The O Project.


Wow. Go England.

18 comments:

CyberKitten said...

One of the reasons I like living here so much. Christianity in particular appears to be in free-fall in this country.

I have some upcoming posts around this subject that you'll probably like.

Half Sigma said...

It's well known that Europeans are a lot less religious than Americans.

before sunrise said...

I agree that religion is a cause of division and tension between people. Those who are religious, are passionate about their religion and will lash out at anyone who questions it.

I don't believe in religion in the sense of the formal structure, the way it was formed as a way to keep order in society and create laws; however, I do believe in spirituality, which is a completely different thing and is sometimes mistaken for religion.

I hope more people start questioning the religions and start thinking for themselves.

Juggling Mother said...

Yeah, i have to say - I'm glad i live here:-)

although the thing about polls, is, it rather depends on the way the questions are worded. I would certainly consider that religion can be a force for good. Most rational people would if asked directly. If asked is it more likely to be a force for good or "evil" I would probably edge towards evil, and if asked can it be a force for evil it would be an outstanding yes. That doesn't mena I think all religions are evil, or all religious people are evil etc, but that is likely the way it would be reported!

I think Europe has seen the damage religion can do to its nationas historically, and so is more wary of allowing the same situations to rise again. Americans (and I use the word in the understanding that individuals vary) seem both unaware of much of history, and under the i mpression that they are different from the rest of the world so "it couldn't happen here"

The Atheologist said...

I am wondering how much influence the rise of Islam in England and neighboring France has had on this poll. I’m betting that it had a lot.

CyberKitten said...

The Atheologist said: I am wondering how much influence the rise of Islam in England and neighboring France has had on this poll.

It has probably got as much if not more to do with the 400+ years of religious war, persecution and violence most of Europe has struggled through....

asher said...

Aren't these the same Brits who felt the most dangerous country on earth is Israel; who dispaired when the Queen was not upset enough upon the death of Lady Di, who declared war in the Falkland Islands, who helped the US fight in Iraq, who oppose capital punishment for all murderers (including Sadaam Hussien)and who keep a monarchy going despite the fact that it is bankrupting their country?

Tea and crumpets anyone?

aj said...

33% of the country is religious, yet only 16% would disagree that religious is bad...and 82% think its bad while only 63% are not religious...either I am totally misreading this, or something is fishy here...

CyberKitten said...

Asher - In what way do your coments have relevance to the report JA posted about? I'm having difficulty seeing a link between the two.

beepbeepitsme said...

Rather than bankrupting the country, the queen and the royal family are a huge tourist attraction. They also pay taxes.

Not a royalist myself, but they do drag the tourist money into the country.

david said...

That may be true now. But their next generation might be overwhelmingly Muslim.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE dave

Should we offer christianity as a religious buffer against another religious delusion? Many people would think so.

Obviously, I consider replacing one delusion with another to be less than insigthful, but religion has always been used as a means to herd people politically, which is why the 2 major herds are having continuous hissy fits at each other.

jewish philosopher said...

I never liked the damned redcoats. Nothing has changed in 250 years.

Juggling Mother said...

That's OK JP - we're not too keen on you either (in a generic sense). In fact youir personal brand of religious indoctrination of your children in prohibited in Britain (where even home schooled children have to follow the nation al curriculum to some extent) which is probably why our culture is so much more tolerant than your own. And secular - once you start looking around you a bit, religion shows its stupidity pretty quickly.

aj said...

Since when does secular mean tolerant? How does "what you do is banned" mean tolerant? And how does "his brand of indoctrination", whatever that means, preclude the national curriculum?

Juggling Mother said...

aj - secular doesn't mean tolerant. That's why I put them seperately as I consider the UK to be both more tolerant and there is no doubt it is more secular. His brand of indoctrination is homeschooling hios kids to ensure they are never taught any geology, evolution, astronomy, research abilities etc and only learn about his (frankly warped) version of Judaism. That's the Judaism that tells us Hitler was doing God's work and all gentiles are evil anti-semites. In the UK the national curriculum specifies that all the sciences are taught to a certain level, and that some comparative religion is taught through to age 14.

Anonymous said...

[Amenhotep here; having problems with the login]

Well, there's more to the UK than just England - don't forget those of us in the colonies, such as Northern Ireland (where religion arguably has done *substantially* more harm than good. However, beepbeepitsme makes an interesting point up there - should we nice atheist folks be promoting the benigns form of established religion as a firebreak against the fundies?
I'm thinking about some such issues on my own "Christian Atheist" blog: http://answersingenes.blogspot.com (sorry - I'd do the link from the post, but there's something funny with the login today).

Many people I've met consider that when you become an atheist, you deconvert, as if you were "losing" something; I feel that it's more like a *gain* - you don't have to lose your culture.

There are deep problems in the UK, and sometimes I do think that the churches (as in Northern Ireland) have a *healing* role to play, but religious observance in general needs to move beyond the notion that there is some "real" god out there who gives a monkey's about how you address it. Our brains have evolved with gods for hundreds of thousands of years; like the hygiene hypothesis, maybe a bit of "clean dirt" (i.e. functional religion) is good for us.

Tirsden Frozenrayn said...

I need to change countries apparently. One of the only reasons I can figure why my parental units are so screwed up is religion. Great article, thanks for posting it!