Cohesive Societies: Faith and Belief
This report explores the different ways in which faith and belief interact with societal cohesion. (2020)
Nick Spencer and Ben Clements examine the true relationship between religious and political commitments in Britain.
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Voting and Values in Britian seeks to rectify
that. Drawing on a decade’s worth of detailed
survey work, from the British Election Study and
British Social Attitudes surveys, as well as from
other sources, Ben Clements and Nick Spencer
examine the true relationship between religious
and political commitments in Britain.
The first two chapters look at the religious vote,
yesterday, today and tomorrow. Is there such
a thing? Do different denominations express
a meaningful preference for different parties
and, if so, which? Alternatively, is electoral
behaviour shaped more by the level of religious
commitment, such as the frequency of religious
attendance? Chapters 1 and 2 answer these
questions with reference to electoral survey
data from the 1970s to 2010 and beyond.
Chapters 3 to 5 move on to look at the political
values that underpin electoral loyalties. In the
US, ‘values voting’ has come to signify people’s
attitude to a relatively limited number of personal
‘moral’ issues. This is not the case in Britain, where
‘issues’ polling shows that religious and nonreligious
voters are thinking about broadly the
same issues when they vote.
What, then, of the bigger values, that underlie
all political commitments? Where do different
groups sit on the left–right political scale? Who is
more authoritarian and who is more libertarian,
and over which issues? Which groups favour a
more ‘welfarist’ approach to politics, and which a
Voting and Values in Britain examines these issues,
looking at what Anglicans, Roman Catholics,
other Christians, people from other religions,
and people of no religion think, and whether the
level of people’s religious commitment makes a
If, as many claim, class is declining as the
determining factor in electoral behaviour,
identities and values such as those analysed in
this report may play an ever greater role. Voting
and Values in Britain is a major contribution to
this issue and will help politicians, strategists,
journalists and all other interested parties get an
accurate and reliable idea about how far religious
and non–religious commitments count in 21st
Image from wikimedia available in the public domain
Nick is Senior Fellow at Theos. He is the author of a number of books and reports, most recently The Political Samaritan: how power hijacked a parable (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Evolution of the West (SPCK, 2016) and Atheists: The Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014).
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Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.