Religiosity and Political Alignment in the UK

April 9, 2012

There was a piece in the Guardian recently with the headline “Religious people are more likely to be leftwing, says thinktank Demos”

new research suggests… people with faith are far more likely to take left-of-centre positions on a range of issues… The report found that 55% of people with faith placed themselves on the left of politics, compared with 40% who placed themselves on the right.

The figures given here are unhelpful. The relevant comparison is of course not the percentage of people with faith who identify as left, versus the percentage of people with faith who identify as right – but, rather, the political positions of those with faith compared to the political positions of those without.

So – let’s look at the report – specifically figure 7. “The social and political views of people who belong to religious organisations and those who do not, in western European countries and the UK”

The cluster of bars C indicates that 55% of people in the UK who belong to a religious organisation (not “people with faith” as the article says, but so it goes) place themselves on the left in politics. So far so good. What about people in the UK who do not belong to a religious organisation – what percentage of this group places themselves on the left? Well, the chart is a bit hard to read, but we can go to Appendix B and look at table 17a to find that it’s 62%. [Chi-square p = 0.0125]

I.e. those who belong to religious organisations in the UK are on average considerably less likely to identify as left of centre than those who don’t. The headline is precisely wrong – it should read “Religious people are more likely to be rightwing…”

There’s plenty else wrong with the report and its coverage, but that’ll do. Fucking Demos.

[ PDF of the report here: http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Faithful_citizens_-_web.pdf?1333839181 ]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: