London is more religious than the rest of the country. This research project seeks to map and analyse this phenomenon. (2020)
London is often perceived to be different from the rest of the UK – more liberal and more secular. However, Londoners are not just more likely to belong to a particular religion, but to actively participate by, for instance, attending services on a regular basis. London’s religious micro–climate is paradoxical: a secular, liberal and cosmopolitan city in which religion is becoming more visible and significant.
The research found that London is more religious than the rest of Britain (62% identify as religious compared to 53% across the rest of Britain ex. London)
Londoners are more intensely practicing (more likely to pray and more likely to attend a religious service) than those outside the capital.
• 1 in 4 attend a religious service at least once a month vs 1 in 10 in rest of Britain (ex. London)
• Religious Londoners are twice as likely as religious people in other parts of the country to attend a service twice a month or more (31% vs 15%)
• 56% London Christians pray regularly compared to 32% of Christians in the rest of Britain
Londoners are more socially conservative than the rest of Britain on some key moral questions:
• Londoners are nearly twice as likely to say that sex before marriage is at least sometimes wrong (24% vs 13%)
• Londoners are more likely to say that same–sex relationships are at least sometimes wrong (29% vs 23%)
• Londoners are more likely to say that assisted suicide is at least sometimes wrong (38% vs 27%).
Religious Londoners are more civically–minded than non–religious Londoners:
• Christian Londoners are more likely to say that they will donate to a charitable initiative than non–religious Londoners (76 vs. 68%).
• Christian Londoners are more like to say that they would help their neighbours with a simple task than non–religious Londoners (92% vs. 86%)
There is a significant sense of religious discrimination and civic discomfort in the Capital:
• 26% of Londoners feel marginalised or threatened because of their religious background, and 27% feel that governments have passed legislation which makes life more difficult for people with their beliefs
For religious communities: curate ‘religious infrastructure’ by creating and encouraging participation in structures and networks that enable intra– and inter–religious cooperation and engagement in public life.
For public bodies: sustain ‘social infrastructure’:
• create the conditions and structures that enable faith communities to participate fully as partners in community life and service.
• Increase the level and quality of religious literacy
• London boroughs and the next London Plan should give proper attention to the space needs of religious communities
For the next mayor/Assembly: champion ‘religious London’:
• Acknowledge and celebrate the city’s vibrant religious communities
• Embrace religious groups as community assets and partners
• Encourage ‘practical multiculturalism’
Researchers: Paul Bickley and Dr Natan Mladin
You can watch the launch event recording here.
NB. This report was completed in February 2020 before the London Mayoral election was delayed by the COViD–19 pandemic and we have left the text in original form for clarity.
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