A research of Christian think tank Theos, also shows that Londoners are “more conservative and civically engaged”, and “26% feel marginalised because of their beliefs”
The Christian think tank Theos, has released the research 'Religious London', which “seeks to explore not only London’s religious demography, but its religious practice, and to begin to consider some of the public and civic implications thereof”.
They surveyed online 2,023 British adults between 17 and 20 January 2020, and 1,005 London adults between 17 and 23 January 2020, “testing a series of statements on faith, economic questions, traditional moral issues, the role of religions in their local communities, and civic engagement issues”.
According to the research, “London is more religious than the rest of Britain. 62% identify as religious, compared to 53% across the rest of Britain excluding London”.
“Londoners are more likely to pray and to attend a religious service than those outside the capital: 38% attend a religious service at least once a month, compared to 17% in rest of Britain, while 56% pray regularly, versus 32% of Christians outside the capital”, it adds.
Theos found out that “Londoners are more conservative than the rest of Britain on moral questions such as sex before marriage, same-sex relationships, and assisted suicide”.
Furthermore, “frequently practising religious Londoners are more civically engaged than non-religious Londoners, being more likely to donate to a charitable initiative (76 vs. 68%),to help their neighbours with a simple task (92% vs. 86%), and to volunteer regularly for a local charitable initiative (49% vs. 40%)”.
The research also points out that “there is a significant sense of religious discrimination and civic discomfort in the capital […] Christians and believers from other religions respondents feel this sense of marginalisation, the latter much more strongly”.
“26% of Londoners feel marginalised or threatened because of their religious background, and 27% feel that governments have passed legislation which makes life more difficult for people with their beliefs”, Theos explains.
The conclusions of the study shows that “London is simultaneously the most religious place in the Britain and the least Anglican. The Christian community is itself far more pluralistic and diverse, reflecting patterns of migration and confirming London’s status as a gateway and global city”.
“While the overall number of Christians has declined only slightly over the last couple of decades, London’s Muslim population has grown from just over 700,000 in 2004 to over 1.2 million in 2018”, it underlines.
Furthermore, “Hindu and Jewish populations have also grown, though these are much smaller in their total size. And, without a doubt, the fastest growing group in London is the religious nones. In the last decade, this has increased by almost a million”.
“What we can say with confidence is London is not currently a secular city, or if it is, its secularism is not popular but elite”, the research states.
After analysing all these data, Theos researchers argue that “London’s systems and cultures of governance do not reflect the religious intensity and diversity of the city. Engagement is too often piecemeal and crisis-driven”.
That is why they “make a limited set of recommendations to religious communities, public bodies, and future mayors and assemblies”.
Theos recommends religious communities “to curate ‘religious infrastructure’ by creating and encouraging participation in structures and networks that enable intra- and inter-religious cooperation and engagement in public life”.
Public bodies should “structure opportunities for faith-based public action and engagement ; improve religious literacy, and make plans with religion in mind”, the research points out.
“The next mayor/London Assembly should acknowledge the city’s religious life; embrace religious groups as friends not foes, and encourage practical multiculturalism”, the research concludes.
You can read the whole research here.