Is Britain a Christian country?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
February 17, 2012, 2:36 PM GMT+0

76% Britons say they are 'not religious', but 56% say Britain is Christian, & 61% agree it should be

Most Britons say that they do not belong to any particular religion and are not religious, our poll shows, with just 5% of Britons saying that they are 'very religious'.

However, most say that Britain is a Christian country anyway, and almost three in five Britons feel that Britain should be a Christian country in any case. Just one in five people says that Britain should not be a Christian nation.

Even among those who say that they are not at all religious, there are sizeable numbers who feel that Britain is, and should be, a Christian country.

Religion in Britain

  • Half of Britons do not regard themselves as belonging to any particular religion (50% say no, 43% yes)
  • 37% say 'they are not very religious', and 39% would say that they 'are not very religious at all', making a full 76% who say that they are not especially religious
  • Just 5% say that they are 'very religious'

Is a Britain a Christian country?

  • 56% of Britons say that 'Britain IS a Christian country' compared to a third (33%) who say that it isn't
  • 43% of people who say that they themselves are not very religious still feel that Britain IS a Christian country

Should Britain be a Christian country?

  • The majority (61%) says that Britain SHOULD be a Christian country, while just one in five (22%) says that it shouldn't
  • Just over a third (34%) of people who feel that Britain SHOULD be a Christian country feel that it IS NOT one
  • Interestingly, among those who are 'not at all religious', feeling is completely split about whether Britain SHOULD be a Christian country (37% say it should, 37% say it shouldn't)

Religion in British life

The role of religion in British life has been widely debated in recent weeks, with the role bishops should play in the House of Lords coming under the spotlight following their veto of the Government's benefits cap bill, and the news that philosopher Alain de Botton plans to build a 'temple of atheism' in London.

On a similar issue, recent reports have revealed how Bideford Town Council plans to appeal a High Court ruling banning them from holding prayers prior to meetings (after the National Secular Society complained about their doing so). When we asked the public their views on this issue, 55% said that prayers should not form part of local council meetings – but the same percentage nonetheless feels that they should still technically be 'allowed'. Just 34% would ban prayers from council meetings altogether.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also defended the role of religion in the country, despite admitting that he was only 'vaguely practising'. Late last year, he said that Britain 'is a Christian country' and 'should not be afraid to say so' – continuing that 'standing up for Christianity' wasn't the same as 'doing down other faiths'.

See the survey details and full results here

Related story: Should Bishops be allowed in the House of Lords?