Religiosity is often thought of as inherently conservative. But new analysis by Demos reveals that religious people are more likely to support equality, be welcoming of immigrants and self-identify as left-wing. Today Demos publishes Faithful Citizens - the first in a three-report series investigating the role of religion in the 21st century.
Religiosity has always been closely associated with conservatism: the Church of England is sometimes described as "the Conservative party at prayer". In the United States, the Republican party and the religious right have become increasingly interdependent, but a similar trend has not occurred on this side of the Atlantic. This report, based on original analysis of the Citizenship Survey and the European Values Survey, investigates the different relationship between religion and politics in the UK and Europe.
The report presents two key findings. First, religious people are more active citizens – they volunteer more, donate more to charity and are more likely to campaign on political issues. Second, and more counter-intuitively, religious people are more likely to be politically progressive. They put a greater value on equality than the non-religious, are more likely to be welcoming of immigrants as neighbours and when asked are more likely to put themselves on the left of the political spectrum.
Based on this, Faithful Citizens recommends that progressive politicians should work with faith groups on issues which they are particularly engaged, including immigration, women's rights, international development, the environment and youth work. Faith group members, the report argues, will be key to any future, election-winning, progressive coalition.
You can download a free PDF copy of Faithful Citizens from the Demos website. As well as the report itself, you can read an entry about the research on the Demos blog.
Demos is a think-tank focused on power and politics. Their unique approach challenges the traditional, “ivory tower” model of policymaking by giving a voice to people and communities, and involving them closely in their research.