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Three In Five 'Believe In God'

Published:9 September 2003
Fieldwork:8-17 Aug 2003
Source:BBC Heaven and Earth Show
Keywords:God, Religion, society
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Three in five Britons (60%) say they believe in God, according to a new survey from the MORI Social Research Institute. The research, conducted for the BBC's 'Heaven and Earth Show', shows a small drop over the past five years (down from 64% in February 1998) in the percentage of Britons who say they believe in God.

One in five British people (18%) say they are a practising member of an organised religion, with a quarter (25%) a non-practising member. A further quarter (24%) are spiritually inclined but 'do not really belong to an organised religion', whilst 14% are agnostic and 12% are atheist.

Most people in Britain say their own life experience has the most influence on their views and outlook on life. Of those asked, three in five (62%) say their views are most influenced by their own life experience, while more than half (56%) say their parents and almost a third (30%) say their education most influence their views. As far as religious teaching are concerned, 17% say these have the most influence on their views or outlook on life.

Technical details

Results are based on 1001 interviews conducted by telephone with a representative sample of British adults, aged 16+. Interviews were conducted between 8-17 August 2003. Data have been weighted to match the known population profile. Trend data is taken from a 'Paranormal' survey conducted by MORI on behalf of The Sun newspaper between 4-5 February 1998 with a representative sample of 721 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain (Q2B, Q2C) and a BBC Heaven and Earth Survey conducted by MORI between 15-17 December 2000 with a representative sample of 999 adults aged 15+ across Great Britain (Q1B).

What We Believe In Now?

Q2a Which, if any, of the following would you say best describes you?

  %
I am a practising member of an organised religion 18
I am a non-practising member of an organised religion 25
I am spiritually inclined but don't really "belong" to an organised religion 24
I am agnostic (not sure if there's a God) 14
I am atheist (convinced there's no God) 12
None of these 7
Don't know 1

Q2b Which, if any, of the things I am going to read out do you believe in?

  February 1998 August 2003
  Yes No Don't Know Yes No Don't Know
  % % % % % %
God 64 26 10 60 29 11
Life after death 45 42 13 47 43 10
A soul 67 24 9 68 27 6
Heaven 54 37 9 52 40 8
Astrology 38 53 9 31 66 4
Ghosts 40 52 8 38 56 6
Telepathy 54 37 9 42 51 7
Guardian Angels 31 61 8 40 56 4
Premonitions/ESP 64 29 7 54 41 6
Fortune telling/ Tarot 18 75 7 13 83 4
Deja-vu 66 30 4 57 38 5
Out of body experience 31 58 11 32 61 7
Reincarnation 24 64 12 23 68 9
Hell n/a n/a n/a 32 62 6
Near-death experience 51 37 12 60 34 7
Psychics/ Mediums 28 63 9 28 66 6
Faith healers 32 56 12 24 68 8
That dreams can predict the future 30 60 10 25 69 6

Q2c And have you had any personal experience of …, or not.

  February 1998 August 2003
  Yes No Don't Know Yes No Don't Know  
  % % % % % % % of total population saying yes
Astrology 17 82 1 30 69 * 9
Base 2003: All those who believe in Astrology at Q2B (306)
Ghosts 37 59 4 49 48 2 19
Base 2003: All those who believe in Ghosts at Q2B (390)
Telepathy 35 64 1 41 59 1 17
Base 2003: All those who believe in Telepathy at Q2B (427)
Guardian Angels 31 66 3 43 52 4 17
Base 2003: All those who believe in Guardian Angels at Q2B (393)
Premonitions/ESP 41 57 2 48 50 2 26
Base 2003: All those who believe in Premonitions/ESP at Q2B (545)
Fortune telling/ Tarot 60 40 0 64 34 1 9
Base 2003: All those who believe in Fortune telling/Tarot at Q2B (137)
Deja-vu 79 20 * 83 16 1 47
Base 2003: All those who believe in Deja-vu at Q2B (582)
Out of body experience 21 79 * 26 72 2 8
Base 2003: All those who believe in Out of body experience at Q2B (330)
Reincarnation 8 90 2 10 88 2 2
Base 2003: All those who believe in Reincarnation at Q2B (229)
Near-death experience 17 82 1 20 80 0 12
Base 2003: All those who believe in Near-death experience at Q2B (599)
Psychics/ Mediums 37 63 1 46 53 1 13
Base 2003: All those who believe in Psychics/Mediums at Q2B (289)
Faith healers 24 56 0 33 66 * 8
Base 2003: All those who believe in Faith healers at Q2B (244)
That dreams can predict the future 42 60 3 58 41 * 14
Base 2003: All those who believe in That dreams can predict the future at Q2B (248)

Who Or What Inspires You?

Q3a I am going to read out a list. From the list, please can you tell me which two or three, if any, of these you find most inspirational?

  %
Close friends 46
A walk in the country 41
Music or poetry 27
Jesus 24
Nelson Mandela 20
Princess Diana 13
A sacred text 6
Ellen McArthur 4
The Dalai Lama 3
Other 4
None/Nothing 3
Don't know 1

Q3b Please can you tell me whether you can name any of the following, or not?

  Yes No
  % %
Any of the 4 New Testament Gospels? 55 45
The sacred book used by Muslims? 60 40
The name of the Archbishop of Canterbury 18 82
The name of the Pope 62 38
The name of the last Conservative Prime Minister 65 35
The winner of the most recent Big Brother series 28 72
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