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Religious Brits Are More Left-Wing, Report Finds

Religious Brits Are More Left-Wing, Report Finds

A new report in the UK has come to what may be seen as a counter intuitive conclusion: religious people are more likely to hold left-wing views.

The report by the think tank Demos found that religious Britons — about 13% of the population — describe themselves as very interested in politics and are more likely than other citizens to be politically active, such as attending lawful demonstrations or to have signed a petition.

They were more likely to prioritize equality over freedom and to have positive associations toward immigrants and foreign migrants. They were also more likely to place themselves on the left side of the political spectrum.

Unsurprisingly, the report found high levels of civic engagement. It found religious people are also more likely to have compassion for the socially marginalized and economically excluded, and to volunteer their time in addressing these issues.

The Labour Party has largely distanced itself from organized religion and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, despite being an active Christian, refused to talk about it, famously saying that he didn’t ‘do God.’

Demos argues that:

Although on the whole it is in decline [in the UK], religion remains important to a diverse range of citizens, and so it must to politicians. Our report suggests that people of faith are likely to be a vital base of support for any future election-winning progressive coalition.

Labour party Member of Parliament Stephen Timms says in the report’s foreword:

The progressive cause is often cast as being in opposition to the religious one. Faith group members will be key in any future, election-winning, progressive coalition… Labour can draw new energy and inspiration from engaging with faith groups.

Progressive politics in Britain has a long connection with Christianity. Methodism in particular is connected to the origins of the Labour Party. Early leaders such as Keir Hardie came from the Christian Socialist movement.

The British prime Minister, David Cameron, in contrast to Blair, has increasingly asserted his Christianity. At Easter he told an assembly of Christian leaders that he supported their “fightback,” referring to what some British Christians have been calling their “persecution” over their now inability to discriminate in the provision of services to gay people whether as businesses or employees.

Related stories:

Welsh Vicar Resigns Over ‘Rising’ Church Homophobia

Christians May Not Wear Cross At Work, Says UK Government

Gay Marriage Plans Will Make Religious Opposition a Hate Crime Claims UKIP

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46 comments

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12:36PM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

:D
yup, Jesus always emphasized the love of humanity and advocated the social conscience of 'love thy neighbour as thyself'... (that's 'personal socialism'... which in numbers of groups, is 'humanitarian socialism')... short for Socialism
excludes anti-socialism and anti-humanitarian

4:34AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

I think it's because the religious nuts in England are more educated than the religious nuts over there, as we're always arguing with them and proving that they're naive. 
I actually don't know many religious Brits, yes I live London. But from what I know Jesus was a socialist wasn't he? He believed in equality and fairness and love, like a hippy, he was into sharing, feeding the 5000 innit? He wasn't conservative or republican or even a capitalist, he wasn't very materialistic at all!  It seemed he liked to drink a bit, and from that painting looked like a quite good dinner host. He went around healing people for free so we know he'd approve of the National Health and Obamacare. He didn't like the temple making money from the poor, and he wasn't too keen on them in the way they looked and acted too. And he didn't have a problem with anyone, as far as I heard, whether you were a Jew, Gentile or a Philistine, so he wasn't a right wing racist either. Mohammed and buddha and the rest, I don't really know about them so I have no opinion except to say... I approve of any religion that gets me a day off work.

9:21PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

The near opposite of the US?!?

5:11PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Although Pagan by conviction I was brought up in a British Christian household. I don`t think the expressions of Christianity as mentioned in the article as being particularly left-wing, just normal ! After all, aren`t the Salvation Army and St John`s Ambulance (a descendant of the medieval Order of St John) also Christian organisations ?

Also, the rules of medieval Orders of Chivalry were an influence on my own personal upbringing and behaviour. These rules often included Defence of the Weak, Upholding the Right (as in right and wrong) against Injustice and Evil, and exercising of Charity to those less fortunate.

It`s a shame that many of the medieval knights and lords became corrupt and somehow forgot these basic tenets ! Spirituality in any form requires frequent self-inspection to keep one in the light !

4:47PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

The Brits use religion for the good of the people. America uses religion for special treatment.

2:48PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

At least one of the reasons for this is that the Brits no longer have the Puritans to contend with. Much to the detriment of America, the Puritans emigrated here and we have had to contend with their legacy ever since, not to mention other forms of religious nonsense.

2:08PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Very intelligent discussion here everyone! I agree with those who have commented on the article, who say that we need to recognise that "religious Britons" include the non-Christian faiths as well.

1:56PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Very true. It seems as if the liberal agenda is very Christian in the literal sense of the term. Compassion, charity, social values, etc. On the other hand conservatives, especially in the US, tend to confuse Christianity with the warrior masculine religion of the Old Testament that worships a jealous and vengeful Aries Age god. Fundamentalist and Catholic Christian religions tend to be remnants of the Old Testament religion while current mainstream Christianity seems more liberal and New Testament Christ religions.

12:46PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

No surprise as Jesus was a real hippy left-winger, peace lover, friend of the poor, sick and destitute, the aged and all women. So if you like Jesus, and it's difficult not to like him, you'll probably end up trying to emulate him.
The problem arises when churches use his name... they are not followers of Jesus. Quite the contrary.

10:39AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Don't why this is a surprise - Jesus was the ultimate socialist after all.

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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