Bishops and Christian lobbyists don’t speak for UK ‘Christians’

14 February, 2012

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed today’s release of results from new Ipsos MORI research, commissioned by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK (RDFRS UK). In addition to analysing the beliefs and practices of people who ticked ‘Christian’ on the national Census, the data analyses the social and political attitudes of those people and shows that their views are very different from those espoused by many Christian churches and lobby groups.

Among other findings, the research, carried out in the week following the 2011 Census, showed:

  • 73% of ‘census Christians’ strongly agree or tend to agree that religion should not have a special influence on public policy
  • 92% of ‘census Christians’ support the statement that the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of religion
  • 78% of ‘census Christians’ say Christianity would have no, or not very much, influence on how they vote in General Elections
  • 61% of ‘census Christians’ agree that gay people should have the same legal rights in all aspects of their lives as heterosexual people
  • 62% of ‘census Christians’ support the right of a woman to abortion within the legal time limit
  • Only 23% of ‘census Christians’ believe than sex is only acceptable within marriage.

This data supports other surveys and polls of the past, which have shown among other things that over 70% of those identifying as ‘Christian’ support the legalisation of assisted dying and that over 50% of those identifying as ‘Christian’ think that government shouldn’t fund religious schools of any kind.

Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented:

‘There is clearly a vast gulf between the views of what we might call “census Christians” and the politicians, politicised Bishops and Christian lobby groups that claim to speak on their behalf. Those that argue for religious exemptions from equality laws, reductions in the abortion time limit, Bishops in the House of Lords, confessional education in state funded schools, or keeping marriage for a man and a woman only, do so without the support of the majority of those calling themselves Christian in Britain today.

‘The surprise results from the 2001 Census, which saw over 70% of those in England and Wales ticking the Christian box (mostly for cultural rather than religious reasons as other research has shown) have been widely used ever since by politicians and lobbyists to justify any number of divisive and discriminatory policies. Today’s research confirms that those justifications have been without foundation and future governments should recognise that fact.’


For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson, Chief Executive at or on 07855 380 633, or Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at or on 0773 843 5059, or the RDFRS UK at

Read the full research:

The BHA ran the Census Campaign, encouraging non-religious people to tick ‘No religion’ in the 2011 Census. The BHA argued that the census data on religion produced by the 2001 Census gave a wholly misleading picture of the religiosity of the UK. The BHA campaigned for an improved question on religion; however, once the same flawed question was approved again for use in the 2011 Census, the BHA’s objective was to raise awareness of the importance of responding carefully, to give an accurate picture of religious affiliation in the UK. Visit the Census Campaign website:

Read more surveys and statistics related to religion and belief:

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.