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Nominals and practitioners are broadly similar in party support

Nominals and practitioners are broadly similar in party support

Church attendance may be declining in Britain, but religiosity and spirituality persist. 83% of self-defining Anglicans are non-churchgoers. Many of these ‘nominals’ may continue to hold similar religious beliefs to churchgoers. In terms of values and opinions on particular socio-political issues, however, our report Voting and Values shows that level of religious activity does make a difference within different groups.

How similar or different are nominals and active practitioners within a religious group when it comes to party allegiance?

In 2013 a Westminster Faith Debates/YouGov survey asked how respondents would vote if an election was held the next day, and whether they “currently engage in any religious or spiritual practices with other people, for example attending services in a place of worship or elsewhere, or taking part in a more informal group?” The graph shows the results for different religious groups. Those in the 'Yes' categories responded affirmatively to the question on religious practice.

As the graph shows, practising and nominal respondents within most religious groups showed only minor differences in party loyalties.

For example, among Catholic respondents, active practitioners were slightly more likely to support the Conservatives (29%) and slightly less likely to support Labour (43%) compared to nominal Catholics (26% of whom supported the Tories, 48% Labour).

Anglican practitioners and nominals were almost equally likely to say they would vote for the Tories (44% to 43%). This contrasts with other studies which suggest that practising Anglicans have historically tended to be more likely to vote for the Conservatives than nominals (as discussed in Voting and Values).

But there were bigger differences among Presbyterians and those of ‘Other’ religious affiliations.

In 2013 inactive Church of Scotland members were less likely than active ones to support the Tories – 23% to 37%. Instead, inactive Presbyterians were more likely to support Labour or ‘other’ parties (most likely the SNP) – 33% to 26% in the Labour case, and 32% to 26% in the case of other parties.

Those of ‘Other’ religious affiliations were much more likely to vote Conservative if they were engaged in some form of group religious/spiritual activity – 43% compared to 21% for those who were not.

(N.B. Respondents who selected ‘other’ or ‘prefer not to say’ when asked their religious affiliation are omitted here for clarity. Individual traditions within the 'Nonconformist' and 'Non-Christian religion' categories are grouped together due to small sample sizes).

This snippet is taken from our report Voting and Values in Britain: Does religion count? (pp. 64-65).

See the full report here and an Executive Summary here for further analysis of voting behaviour and religious identity.

Data source: Westminster Faith Debates/YouGov survey, January 2013. The survey consisted of 4,437 adults. Weighted data. See

For further information and enquiries on Voting and Values and the 2015 General Election, please contact or 0773648107.


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