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GSS > Policy and guidance hub > Religion harmonised principle

Religion harmonised principle

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:10 September 2020
Author:Callum Allison
Approver:Claire Pini
Who this is for:Users and producers of statistics
Type:Harmonisation guidance and principles
Contact:

gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk

What is harmonisation?

Harmonisation is the process of making statistics and data more comparable, consistent and coherent. Harmonised principles set out how to collect and report statistics to ensure comparability across different data collections in the Government Statistical Service (GSS). Harmonisation produces more useful statistics that give users a greater level of understanding.

 

What do we mean by religion?

Religion can encompass different concepts including affiliation, belief and practice. Where a single question on religion is required for data collection in the UK, religious affiliation is the recommended concept.

Religion is a protected characteristic which means it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their religion. It refers to any religion, including a lack of religion.

 

Questions and response options (inputs)

The harmonised question on this topic is designed to collect basic information, for use in the majority of surveys. They are not designed to replace questions used in specialist surveys where more detailed analysis is required.

The questions

The harmonised questions and response options for this topic are UK-country specific. This means that there is an individual question for each of the UK countries to suit the demands of that country.

Country Question Response options
EnglandWhat is your religion?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
WalesWhat is your religion?1. No religion
2. Christian (all denominations)
3. Buddhist
4. Hindu
5. Jewish
6. Muslim
7. Sikh
8. Any other religion, please describe
Scotland What is your religion?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
Northern IrelandWhat is your religion?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

Using this principle

Guidance for data collection

It is recommended that the interviewer reads aloud both question and response options where possible.

There are also recommendations about how show cards should be implemented when using the harmonised principle:

  • showcards should be used in interviewer-led surveys in Great Britain
  • showcards should include the instruction ‘please describe’ after the ‘any other religion’ response option; this should be in non-bold font
  • where this is not possible, for example, telephone interviews, the response options should be read out by the interviewer in the same order as the harmonised principle
  • use of a showcard is not recommended in Northern Ireland; it is advised that the interviewer should read the question and wait for a spontaneous response
  • if the response is not forthcoming, the interviewer may prompt using the response options for Northern Ireland in the harmonised principle

Types of data collection this principle is suitable for

This harmonised principle is for self-completion, interviewer led and telephone surveys.

Presenting and reporting the data (outputs)

When presenting data separately for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, presentation order should be the same as the response options in the religion question.

If presenting data for religion in Great Britain and the UK:

Religion Data
No religion X
Christian X
BuddhistX
HinduX
JewishX
MuslimX
SikhX
Any other religion X

Comparability

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

 

Examples of when this principle has been used

Surveys that used this principle

A review in 2019 identified surveys that follow the religion principle. These were:

  1. Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport (2015/2016)
  2. Census – England and Wales (2011)
  3. Continuous Household Survey (2016/2017)
  4. Health Survey Northern Ireland (2017/2018)
  5. Household Assets Survey – Wave 5 (2014 to 2016)

Use in the census

As mentioned, religion can encompass different concepts including affiliation, belief and practice. The Census in England and Wales focusses on ‘affiliation’, whereas the Census in Scotland and Northern Ireland focusses on ‘belief’.

Please note: where a single question on religion is required for data collection in the UK, religious affiliation is the recommended concept.

 

Further information

Related harmonised principles

 

Contact

We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce statistics based on this topic, get in touch: gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk.

 

Review frequency:

This page will be reviewed annually.

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