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.
Picture of Occupy London by duncan