British love churches, new opinion poll shows

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2015

 

The British love their churches, according to the results of a poll for the National Churches Trust by ComRes.

The National Churches Trust is the only UK-wide independent charity dedicated to promoting and supporting church buildings of historic, architectural and community value. A major part of the work of the National Churches Trust is providing grants to pay for the repair and restoration of churches and the provision of modern facilities such as toilets and kitchens.

Key findings show that:

· Four in five (79%) British people think that churches and chapels are an important part of the UK's heritage and history.

This view is held among British adults of all religions and none with more than three in five British adults of non-Christian religions (72%) and of no religion (71%) agreeing that churches and chapels are an important part of the UK's heritage and history.

· Three quarters of British people (74%) say that church buildings play an important role for society.

Three quarters of British people (74%) say that church buildings play an important role for society by providing a space for community activities, such as playgroups, cultural and social events and meetings. This view is held among British adults of all religions and none with more than three in five British adults of non-Christian religions (67%) and of no religion (64%) agreeing that church buildings play an important role for society by providing a space for community activities.

· More than two in five (45%) British adults have visited a church or chapel over the past year.

The ComRes poll shows that more than two in five (45%) British adults have visited a church or chapel over the past year. Religious services are the primary reason given by British adults for visiting a church or chapel in the last year (28%), followed by visits made as tourists or visitors (19%) and visits made to take part in non-religious community activities (13%) including playgroups, cultural and social events and meetings.

Church buildings and chapels play a role in the lives of those of all religions, and none. Three in five (60%) Christians, two in five (40%) British adults from non-Christian religions and more than a quarter (27%) of those who do not consider themselves a member of any religion say that they have visited a church or chapel building for one of the religious or non-religious reasons tested over the past year.

· Keeping churches in good repair benefits society

The poll shows that the British public see a clear need for the repair and restoration of historic church buildings. Keeping churches in good repair is seen by the British public as of benefit to wider society, with three in five (59%) British adults disagreeing with the idea that 'repairing and restoring historic church buildings only benefits churchgoers'. More than half (55%) of British adults of no religion disagree with the statement that 'repairing and restoring historic church buildings only benefits church goers.'

· Churches and chapels should have modern facilities

The ComRes poll also shows that three quarters (75%) of British adults agree that it is important that churches and chapels have good access and modern facilities such as toilets to make it easier for people to use them.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:

 “This poll shows that the British public see churches and chapels as major national assets of benefit to all, both as a vital part of the UK’s heritage and history and as playing an important role for society by providing a place for community activities. “

“It also shows that the British public agree that repairing and restoring church buildings and making sure that they have modern facilities benefits the whole of society and not just churchgoers. “

“At the National Churches Trust we help fund urgent repairs and the installation of community facilities at places of worship, but can only ever help a small proportion of those who come to us for assistance.”

“I hope that the widespread public support for church buildings demonstrated in this poll will help to ensure that other funders, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, continue to make the repair of churches and chapels a priority in their allocation of grants. “

“With the numbers of active churchgoers falling in parts of the country, question marks have been raised over the future of some of the UK’s church buildings, with closures taking place in some areas. “

“But churches continue to be used by many people, with 45% of British adults reporting  having visited a church building in the last year for worship, for community activities or as a tourist or visitor. “

“In good repair and with the right facilities to allow greater community use, churches and chapels can continue to play a vital role in the life and well-being of the nation for many, many years to come.”

 “They may be historic buildings. But they can be part of our future, too.”

ComRes interviewed 2,061 GB adults online between the 12th and 14th December 2014. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at www.ComRes.co.uk