ONS counts homosexuals in the whole UK but the Christians of Great Britain alone
There has been widespread coverage and much excitement/surprise/dismay at the recent ONS Integrated Household Survey, which informs us that 1.5 per cent of the UK has is either homosexual or bisexual, while 71.4 per cent of Britons call themselves Christian.
Richard Dawkins will doubtless be very disappointed. No matter how much he froths and foams at the mouth, no matter how many enlightening books he writes, no matter how much he foments religious hatred, the British public remained deluded by spiritual darkness and stubbornly steeped in mediæval superstition.
But the gay figure is far lower than the estimate used as a basis for the distribution of millions of pounds in public money to sexual equality causes. The survey showed that 94.8 per cent of adults call themselves heterosexual or straight. Another 0.5 per cent described themselves as other than straight, gay or bisexual.
His Grace is puzzled to know what this ‘other’ sexual identity might be.
The full religion statistics are as follows:
No religion: 20.5 %
In the 2001 census, the professed faith adherence of the population was 71.6 per cent Christian, so it has barely changed in a decade. While the ‘no religion’ figure is sharply rising, there is no breakdown between the ‘aggressive secularists’, moderate atheists, agnostics or total apathetics. The figure which grabs the headlines is that 71 per cent of the population identify themselves as Christian, while 80 per cent of the entire population view religion as a distinct part of their identity.
An interesting bit of trivia from this survey is that Slough is the ‘most religious’ town in England, with 93 per cent of its population professing a religious belief, while Brighton is the lowest, with just 58 per cent of its residents professing a particular religion.
His Grace will leave his intelligent readers and discerning communicants to put two and two together.
But he would also like to reveal a slight ONS sleight of hand in these figures.
When you examine the tables and charts in the report, those on sexual identity are for the whole UK, ie, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:
Yet when you get to the tables and charts on religious affiliation, they are for Great Britain only, ie, specifically excluding Northern Ireland.
His Grace enquired of the ONS why this should be so, and it appears to be a bizarre consequence of devolution.
In England, Scotland and Wales, its parliaments and assembly request the ONS to enquire into their populations’ religious affiliation; the Northern Ireland Assembly, however, seeks to enquire into people’s religious belonging.
Affiliation, which may be an expression of anxiety about national identity, can be interpreted much more as a straightforward cultural expression than a notion of belonging, which has connotations of active belief and practice.
Clearly, in Northern Ireland, if you subscribe to the Grace Davie doctrine of believing without belonging, you are not a ‘proper’ Christian.
At least for statistical purposes.
If one factors in the Northern Ireland figures, whilst acknowledging that ‘belonging’ is quite different from ‘affiliating’, the 2010 figure for Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic) adherence is a colossal 93 per cent.
And no doubt if the question had been a more ‘relaxed’ enquiry into affiliation, it would have been higher. So, from this data, a conservative estimate of Christian affiliation in the UK as whole (using 2001 population census data) is at least:
England: 71.4% (of 49,138,831 = 35,085,125)
Wales: 69% (of 2,903,085 = 2,003,129)
Scotland: 72.3% (of 5,062,011 = 3,659,834)
Northern Ireland: 93% (of 1,685,267 = 1,567,298)
Which yields a total population expressing Christian affiliation of at least 42,315,386 or 72 per cent.
If the UK is 1.5 per cent homosexual or bisexual and 72 per cent Christian, might we have a Speaker’s Conference to ensure that homosexuals are not over-represented in Parliament and that Christians are fairly represented?
Or is that being phobic?
Or does none of this matter because homosexuals tend to be far more committed in their affiliation to an identity and more expressive about their sense of ‘belonging’ than millions of nominal, unregenerate Christians?