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Religion

The following guidance sets out how to collect and report statistics about religion to ensure statistics about this topic are as comparable as possible across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

Questions

This section provides guidance on the survey questions to use when collecting information about religion.Where a single question on religion is required for data collection in the UK, religious affiliation is the recommended concept to measure. The following guidance sets out the harmonised country specific religious affiliation question(s) for use in the social surveys in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Interviewer notes:

It is recommended that a show card is used in interviewer-led surveys in GB. Where this is not possible (e.g. telephone interviews), the response categories should be read out by the interviewer in the same order as the appropriate show card.

The instruction ‘please describe’ should be included on the show card following the ‘any other religion’ response option. This should be in non-bold font. This instruction should also be included on paper-based surveys

Use of a show card is not recommended in Northern Ireland. The interviewer should read the question and wait for a spontaneous response. If a response is not forthcoming, the interviewer may prompt using the categories provided in Box 1 for Northern Ireland. Please note that the religion question on the Labour Force Survey for Northern Ireland asks about religious denomination, with the main difference being nine categories, where ‘other protestant’ and ‘other religion’ are combined compared to sixteen on the harmonised principle question.

Box 1. Religion question for GB, UK and Northern Ireland

Applies to All

Interviewer to read:

What is your religion?

In England

 

Interviewer to read options

  1. No religion
  2. Christian (including Church of England, Catholic, Protestant and all other Christian denominations)
  3. Buddhist
  4. Hindu
  5. Jewish
  6. Muslim
  7. Sikh
  8. Any other religion, please describe 

 

In Wales Interviewer to read options

  1. No religion
  2. Christian (all denominations)
  3. Buddhist
  4. Hindu
  5. Jewish
  6. Muslim
  7. Sikh
  8. Any other religion, please describe

 

In Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer to read options

  1. No religion
  2. Church of Scotland
  3. Roman Catholic
  4. Other Christian
  5. Buddhist
  6. Hindu
  7. Jewish
  8. Muslim
  9. Sikh
  10. Any other religion, please describe

 

In Northern Ireland Interviewer to read options

  1. No religion
  2. Catholic
  3. Presbyterian
  4. Church of Ireland
  5. Methodist
  6. Baptist
  7. Free Presbyterian
  8. Brethren
  9. Protestant – Other, including not specified
  10. Christian – Other, including not specified
  11. Buddhist
  12. Hindu
  13. Jewish
  14. Muslim
  15. Sikh
  16. Any other religion, please describe

 

 

Presentation of outputs

This section provides guidance for outputting the survey questions to use when collecting information about religion.

Data presentation of Religion question for England, Wales, GB and UK

The following data presentations should be used for the religion question.

Note: XXX indicates where data will be in the presentation table.

Use this data presentation for the harmonised religion question in England,  Wales , GB and UK):

Box 2 Data presentation for harmonised religion question for England, Wales, GB and UK

No religion XXX
Christian XXX
Buddhist XXX
Hindu XXX
Jewish XXX
Muslim XXX
Sikh XXX
Any other religion XXX

 

It is recommended that UK comparisons are not made using census data as the questions used in the censuses differ. Scotland and Northern Ireland censuses ask a question on ‘belonging’, whilst England and Wales ask about affiliation.

 

Data presentation of Religion question for Scotland

The following data presentations should be used for the religion question.

 Note: XXX indicates where data will be in the presentation table.

Use this data presentation for the harmonised religion question in Scotland

 

Box 3 Data presentation for harmonised question in Scotland

No religion XXX
Church of Scotland XXX
Roman Catholic XXX
Other Christian XXX
Buddhist XXX
Hindu XXX
Jewish XXX
Muslim XXX
Sikh XXX
Any other religion XXX

 

Data presentation of Religion question for Northern Ireland

The following data presentations should be used for the religion question.

Note: XXX indicates where data will be in the presentation table.

Use this data presentation for the harmonised religion question in Northern Ireland

 

Box 4 Data presentation for harmonised question in Northern Ireland

No religion XXX
Catholic XXX
Presbyterian XXX
Church of Ireland XXX
Methodist XXX
Baptist XXX
Free Presbyterian XXX
Brethren XXX
Protestant – Other, including not specified XXX
Christian – Other, including not specified XXX
Buddhist XXX
Hindu XXX
Jewish XXX
Muslim XXX
Sikh XXX
Any other religion XXX

 

It is recommended that UK comparisons are not made using census data as the questions used in the censuses differ. Scotland and Northern Ireland censuses ask a question on ‘belonging’, whilst England and Wales ask about affiliation.

Inputs

Where a single question on religion is required for data collection in the UK, religious affiliation is the recommended concept to measure. The previous harmonised religion question is provided in Annex A (Box A.1)

It is not recommended that a single Christian category is used across GB or the UK. Breakdown for the Christian denominations that should be used in Scotland and Northern Ireland are provided in Box 1.

It is recommended that a show card is used in interviewer-led surveys in GB. Where this is not possible (e.g. telephone interviews), the response categories should be read out by the interviewer in the same order as the appropriate show card.

The instruction ‘please describe’ should be included on the show card following the ‘any other religion’ response option. This should be in non-bold font. This instruction should also be included on paper-based surveys.

Use of a show card is not recommended in Northern Ireland. The interviewer should read the question and wait for a spontaneous response. If a response is not forthcoming, the interviewer may prompt using the categories provided in Box 1 for Northern Ireland. Please note that the religion question on the Labour Force Survey for Northern Ireland asks about religious denomination, with the main difference being nine categories, where ‘other protestant’ and ‘other religion’ are combined compared to sixteen on the harmonised principle question.

Box A.1 Previous harmonised religion question

(Spontaneous response for both questions)
Relig UK *
What is your religion, even if you are not currently practising?
Prompt as necessary
Major Christian religions include:
Anglican
Baptist
Calvinist
Christian Scientist
Church of England
Church of Scotland
Church of Wales
Congregational
Evangelical
Free Church
Greek Orthodox
Jehovah Witness
Methodist
Mormons
Plymouth Brethren
Presbyterian
Protestant
Quakers (Society of friends)
Roman Catholic
Seventh Day Adventist
United Reformed Church
Xian "Christian"
Buddh "Buddhist"
Hindu "Hindu"
Jewish "Jewish"
Muslim "Muslim"
Sikh "Sikh"
Other "Any other religion"
None "No religion at all"
Applies to all
* Whilst the harmonised religion question is also used on Northern Ireland surveys, on ONS surveys, it is only asked in England, Wales and Scotland. The Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey uses the following question on denomination instead:
IREND2 (religious denomination) Northern Ireland
What is your religious denomination?
1. Catholic
2. Presbyterian
3. Church of Ireland
4. Methodist
5. other protestant
6. other religion
7. no denomination
8. under 16 years
9. unwilling to answer
Applies to all in Northern Ireland
Other Protestant includes:
Baptist
Free Presbyterian
Unitarian
Congregational
Plymouth Brethren
Church of Nazarene
Church of England
Pentecostal
Mormon, etc.
Other religions include:
Jewish
Hindu
Sikh
Buddhist
Muslim
This is a voluntary question. Respondents who refuse to answer are coded as unwilling.

Documents

File

National Identity and Religion (PDF, 0.09MB)

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