Britain’s attitudes to faith in public life – June 2024

The Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life (IIFL) commissioned a ground-breaking, nationally-representative survey into the British public’s attitudes to the role that faith plays in different aspects of life. Respondents were polled on topics including personal faith, faith in public life, faith in education, faith literacy, faith in the media and how Britain’s relationship with faith has changed.

This survey was carried out by Whitestone Insight. They interviewed 2,064 UK adults on-line between 31st May and 2nd June 2024. Data were weighted to be representative of all UK adults. Whitestone Insight is a member of the British Polling Council (BPC) and abides by its rules.

Key points

  • Exclusivist beliefs: 80% of Muslims identified as “exclusivist,” meaning they believe their faith is the only true religion. This compares with 37% of Hindus, 25% of Christians, and 10% of Jews. Interestingly, despite the Quran’s inclusive references to “people of the book,” Muslim exclusivity is higher than expected.
  • Impact of Faith on Daily Life: The 18-24 age group is continues to be the most likely to consider their faith impactful in their lives, with 54% reporting a significant impact within the last four weeks, compared to 23% of the 65+ age group. Among exclusivists, 79% of Hindus, 69% of Muslims, and 63% of Christians reported recent impacts of their faith. For non-exclusivists, 66% of Muslims and 54% of Hindus reported an impact, contrasting sharply with 26% of Christians. This highlights a significant disparity between exclusivist and non-exclusivist Christians compared to a relatively small difference among Muslims.
  • Regional variations in attitudes to personal faith: London (but not the South as a whole) scored highest when asked how they value faith in their personal lives. Londoners also, however, were the most reluctant to discuss talking about their faith in public, with 22% reporting they had avoided talking about their faith in the last 4 weeks. Londoners are also most likely to vote in line with their faith (36%), but this did not reflect the South because the South West was least likely to do so (6%).
  • Tolerance of faith in political life: Agreement was high across the board age and faith-wise for believing that someone of any faith should be allowed to be Prime Minister. With 64% of Christians agreeing and 77% of Muslims and 72% of Hindus. Considering the current Prime Minister is Hindu this shows high levels of tolerance for this from Muslim respondents. Hindus and Muslims are most likely to learn about other faiths from persons of other faiths at 72% and 64% respectively, compared with 35% of Christians.

Faith and public life

  • In the last four weeks, 11% of Christian respondents prefer not to tell people about their faith compared with 22% of Muslim respondents, 29% of Hindus and 49% of Jews. 
  • 33% of Christians oppose talking about faith in the workplace, compared with 30% Muslim respondents, 43% of Hindu respondents and 35% of Jewish respondents.
  • 50% of Christian respondents agree that politicians talking publicly about faith is a positive thing, compared to 65% of Muslims, 54% of Hindus and 63% of Jews. 
  • When asked if they agree of disagree that British politicians should listen to what faith leaders have to say on social and political issues, 52% of Christians agree, compared to 70% of Muslims, 50% of Hindus and 63% of Jews. 

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