The faith schools research bank

Much of our data and statistics on education is also available through the faith schools research bank, along with summaries of hundreds of articles looking at the impact of faith schools.

Education & Schools

According to research in a 2018 report by the National Secular Society (The Choice Delusion):

  • Almost three in ten families across England live in areas where most or all of the closest primary schools are faith schools. There is significant regional variation and the problem is more prevalent in rural areas. However, even in urban areas around one in four families live in areas with high or extreme restrictions.

  • In 43.4% of rural areas restrictions on non-faith school choice are categorised as "high" or "extreme". In fact, 53% of rural primary schools are faith-based.

  • 20.6% (7,727) of those who missed out on their first choice of a non-faith primary school in September 2018 were assigned a faith school. This includes 1,398 people who had made all their preferences (typically five) for a non-faith school.

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  • Nearly half of all CofE churches send a member of their ministry into schools to lead an act of worship.
    Source: Statistics for Mission 2016

  • In a survey of 300 schools, only 35% of schools had a policy which covered the participation, invitation or behaviour of external visitors and speakers. Only 16% of schools had a policy or policies concerning the partisan promotion of religious or political beliefs by external groups/visitors/speakers.
    Source: NSS

  • No policies of schools surveyed requires parents to be informed of visitors in advance, and no policies clearly prohibited religious proselytization or required a teacher/staff member to introduce an external visitor and make clear that they are representing their religious views.
    Source: NSS

  • Studies in 2009 found that the number of dedicated school chaplains increased by 25% in five years
    Source: The Guardian

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  • Just 14% of respondents disagree with the statement: "State-funded faith schools should be obligated to teach RE in a way that is inclusive of all religious and non-religious belief systems".
    Source: Censuswide | Related: British public opposes religious influence in education, poll finds (2018)

  • A quarter of England's secondary schools do not offer RE.
    Source: National Association for RE Teachers| Related news: Schools sidelining RE, survey finds (2017)

  • In a poll asking members of the public to rank 18 school subjects based on importance, people placed religious studies 15th, ahead only of Drama, Classics and Latin.
    Source: YouGov| Related news: Majority of Britons see religious studies as unimportant (2018)

  • 55% of Brits consider it not very important (31%) or not at all important (24%) to teach Religious Studies at secondary school
    Source: YouGov

  • The majority of British adults say that RE is not as important as English, Maths and Science (62%).
    Source: ComRes (2018)

  • The majority of British adults agree that schools are increasingly restricted in what they can say about religion (59%).
    Source: ComRes (2018)

  • 45 % of British adults agree that RE should be compulsory for all children in school, compared to 28% who disagree (28%)
    Source: ComRes (2018)

  • 57% think state-funded schools should teach knowledge about the world's main faiths even-handedly, without any bias towards any particular religion, and without trying to inculcate belief.
    Source: Ipsos MORI (2011)

  • More Christians oppose (38%) than support (31%) the teaching of 6-day creationism in state-funded school science lessons.
    Source: Ipsos MORI (2011)
  • 77% of state-funded faith schools distort sex education by teaching the subject in accordance with religious scripture.
    Source: NSS (2018)

  • 94% teachers and parents feel it is important that schools teach children about LGBT identities. The same percentage feel schools have a responsibility to promote LGBT inclusion.
    Source: TES (2019)

  • 88% teachers and parents disagree that parents should have a right to withdraw their children from lessons about LGBT people.
    Source: TES (2019)

  • 88% teachers and parents agree that schools are not 'promoting a sexual orientation or gender identity' when they teach children about LGBT people and relationships.
    Source: TES (2019)

  • 76% teachers and parents agree that schools should teach children about different kinds of relationships from the age of 4. 73% agree that same-sex marriage should be taught from that age.
    Source: TES (2019)

  • 59% UK adults support age-appropriate LGBT+ inclusive education
    Source: akt (2019)

  • Only 58% of LGBT+ young people have felt safe at school on a daily basis in the past 12 months, compared to 73% of non-LGBT+ pupils.
    Source: Just Like Us (2021)

  • 18% of young people say they have received no positive messaging from their school about being LGBT+.
    Source: Just Like Us (2021)

  • 85% British Sikhs surveyed agree that there should be teaching about single-parent families in RSE and 69% that these lessons should teach about families with same-sex parents.
    Source: British Sikh Report (2020)

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Religion and the State

United Kingdom:

England & Wales:

  • 90% of adults in England do no religious activity at all on Sunday, more than 95% do none on Saturday, Fridays or Wednesdays. 98% do none on Thursdays, Tuesdays or Monday.
    Source: Brierley Consultancy| Related: New analysis shows very few people in England engage in religious activity (2013)

  • Half of those in England and Wales wants shops to be allowed to open for as long as they want on Sundays, with just over one-quarter content with the current maximum of six hours for large shops, and one in six or seven against any shop opening at all on Sundays.
    Source: YouGov (2020)


Northern Ireland:

  • 27% of the population of NI have no religion. The figure has doubled in a decade.
    Source: Sky News
  • Christians now constitute a minority in England, Scotland and Wales, while in Wales and Scotland the majority have no religion.
    Source: Office for National Statistics, 2020

  • Only 6% of adults in Britain are practising Christians, and very few of them decided to become Christians during adulthood.
    Source: ComRes| Related news: Just 6% of British adults are practising Christians, survey finds (2017)

  • Between 2001 and 2011 there was a decrease in people who identify as Christian (from 71.7% to 59.3%) and an increase in those reporting no religion (from 14.8% to 25.1%). There were increases in the other main religious group categories, with the number of Muslims increasing the most (from 3.0% to 4.8%).
    Source: 2011 Census

  • Under-40s in Britain are nearly twice as likely to be non-religious than Christian.
    Source: Lancaster University| Related news: A new secular settlement is necessary for a country where "no religion is the new norm" (2016)

  • Only 31% of 18-24 year olds say Britain is a Christian country.
    Source: ComRes| Related: Britain has no national religious identity, say 18 to 24s (2017)

  • Most Brits (52%) think that being a Christian is not at all important for national identity, with a further 27% saying it is not very important. Just 20% think it is very or somewhat important.
    Source: Pew Research Center (2021)

  • 40% of English people do not think that Jesus was a real, historical person.
    Source: Church of England| Related news: Poll: widespread indifference to Christian beliefs, but Christians feel comfortable discussing their faith (2015)
  • 85% of Britons never or hardly ever read the Bible, 79% are not interested in discovering more about it, 79% would definitely or probably not consult it when making a big life decision, 61% disagree that the Bible informs their personal lives.
    Source: Theos

  • From a list of 24 words that might possibly be used when thinking about the Bible, respondents were most likely to select 'outdated, (36.3%), 'contradictory' (32.4%), and 'judgmental' (24.8%).
    Source: Lumino (2018)

  • 69% say that Christianity has had, or would have, no or not very much influence in their choice of marriage partner, and 81% say it has no or not very much influence on whom they socialise with.
    Source: Ipsos MORI

  • 78% say Christianity would have no, or not very much, influence on how they vote in General Elections, with 16% saying it would influence them a great deal (4%) or a fair amount (12%).
    Source: Ipsos MORI

  • One person in seven in England and Wales thinks the Church should have no social role whatsoever.
    Source: Lumino (2018)

  • Most Brits paid no attention at all to messages from the Pope (71%) or the Archbishop of Canterbury (66%)
    Source: YouGov (2020)

  • 83% Brits think Christmas is celebrated more as a secular event nowadays, and 82% feel the religious aspects of observing Christmas in Britain is declining. However, only 34% think a greater emphasis should be placed on the religious side of Christmas.
    Source: YouGov (2020)

  • Although Christmas is personally important to 86% of Brits, 61% of them celebrate it in an entirely secular way.
    Source: YouGov (2020)

  • The vast majority of Brits (71%) do not normally attend a Christmas religious service.
    Source: YouGov (2020)

  • 59% of Brits think Easter is celebrated more as a secular festival in contemporary Britain, and 72% think the religious element of marking Easter is in decline. Only 31% wishing to see greater emphasis placed upon its religious aspects.
    Source: YouGov (2020)

  • Over half (55%) of non-Christians who had conversed with practising Christians about Christianity disagreed with the statement, "I felt more positive towards Jesus Christ". Even more, 60%, disagreed with the statement "I wanted to know more about Jesus", and 73% disagreed with "I felt I was missing out by not sharing their faith". Nearly a quarter (23%) indicated that the conversation made them feel uncomfortable. Over half (51%) disagreed with the statement "I felt closer to the person in question" after having a conversation about faith with a Christian.
    Source: 'Talking Jesus' | Related: Encouraging evangelism in public services will promote division, not divinity (2022)

  • The top qualities non-Christians ascribe to Christians they know are "friendly", "caring" and "good humoured". But the two traits non-Christians ascribe to the church are "hypocritical" and "narrow minded".
    Source: 'Talking Jesus' | Related: Encouraging evangelism in public services will promote division, not divinity (2022)

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  • The Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph is led by the Church of England and Anglican rituals and prayers dominate. But 83% of Brits believe the service should be for people of all nationalities who have died in war.

  • 85% of Brits believe Remebrance Sunday should primarily have a message of peace.

  • Remembrance Day is the most popular national or religious event in Britain - even more so than Christmas.
    Source: YouGov (2021)

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  • Only 34% of the UK public think future British monarchs should keep the title of supreme governor of the Church of England. Only 34% think future British monarchs should be required to be members of the C of E. 35% think future British monarchs should be required to swear a religious oath to maintain the C of E as the state church.
    Source: Censuswide | Related: Just a third of public supports royal ties with CoE, NSS poll finds

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Equality & Human Rights

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  • It is conservatively estimated that 650 million males and 100 million females living today were subjected as children to genital cutting - at least 25% of the world's males and 5% of the world's females.
    Source: INGOCGA (2022)

  • 13 million boys and 2 million girls undergo genital cutting every year.
    Source: INGOCGA (2022)

  • 62% of people in the UK said they would support a law prohibiting the circumcision of children for non-medical reasons. Only 13% would oppose it.
    Source: YouGov | Related: NSS says UK should follow Iceland's lead to end genital cutting (2018)

  • Between 1988 and 2014, there were 22,000 harms recorded by the NHS resulting circumcision. They included scarring and full penis amputation.
    Source: BBC (2019)

  • In 2011, nearly a dozen infant boys were treated for life-threatening haemorrhage, shock or sepsis as a result of non-therapeutic circumcision at a single children's hospital in Birmingham.
    Source: Aeon (2015) | Related: Let's face facts: FGM has something to do with religion

  • Between 2008 and 2014, more than half a million boys were hospitalised due to circumcision-related complications in South Africa, over 400 of whom died.
    Source: CRL Rights Commission | Related: Let's face facts: FGM has something to do with religion (2019)

  • Recent studies have found male circumcision is associated with increased risk of erectile dysfunction and difficulty in reaching orgasm.
    Source: INGOCGA (2022)

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  • Religious chaplaincy costs NHS £23.5 million a year – the equivalent cost of employing 1,000 new nurses.
    Source: The Independent| Related news: Religious chaplaincy costs NHS £23.5 million a year (2015)

  • Several NHS Trusts pay full-time chaplains from £30,764 to £40,558; part-time chaplains are paid between £25,783 and £34,530.
    Source: The Independent| Related news: Religious chaplaincy costs NHS £23.5 million a year (2015)

  • Four in ten Christians oppose the costs of hospital chaplains being met from NHS budgets rather than by the chaplain's religious organisation, with a third happy for the NHS to pay.
    Source: Ipsos MORI

  • Data provided by hospitals reveals no demonstrable clinical benefit from hospital trusts spending proportionately far more on chaplaincy services than those that do not.
    Source: NSS

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According to the 2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey by the Ozanne Foundation:

  • Over 20% of respondents had been advised to consider attempts to change their sexual orientation and nearly 15% had voluntarily considered it. 3.5% had been forced to go through attempts to change their sexual orientation.

  • Amongst respondents who said they had been advised to attempt to change their sexual orientation, over half had been told to do so by a religious leader. Just under a half had been told to do so by religious friends.

  • Those who had actual experience of attempting to change their sexual orientation were significantly more likely to have come from childhood homes with a Christian faith than those from a non-religious background. They were also more likely to come from childhood homes that had either a conservative evangelical, charismatic evangelical or Pentecostal background.
  • Of the respondents who gave reasons to explain why they had attempted to change their sexual orientation, 72% said it was because they believed their desires were 'sinful', whilst 63% said it was because they were ashamed of their desires. 54% said that it was because their religious leader disapproved.

  • Over a half of those who had attempted to change their sexual orientation had done so whilst 18 or under. Nearly a third had been aged 19 – 24.

  • The person most likely sought for advice by respondents with actual experience of attempting to change their sexual orientation was a religious leader (46.9%) while nearly 20% approached a "faith healer or specialised religious ministry" for advice.

  • Of those respondents with experience of attempting to change their sexual orientation, well over half said they had suffered from mental health issues and nearly a third said they had sought counselling to help them recover from it. Mental health issues included attempting suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety and depression.

According to the 2020 'Conversion therapy' and gender identity survey by Stonewall and other groups:

  • The majority of respondents reported that religious belief was a key motivating factor in pursuing "conversion therapy", and that members of their religious community – particularly religious leaders - were most likely to offer and practice gender identity conversion therapy (GICT)

  • The vast majority of respondents who went through GICT were from religious childhood households (46 out of 51)

  • A large proportion of "conversion therapy" attempts were done by religious or spiritual leaders.


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  • 55% of people have little or no confidence in Church groups running "Crucial social provisions such as education". Only 6% have a lot of confidence.
    Source: YouGov / Oasis UK | Related news: Faith in public services?

  • 65% have no confidence in Church groups running "Crucial social provisions such as healthcare" with only 2% of people expressing a lot of confidence.
    Source: YouGov / Oasis UK | Related news: Faith in public services?

  • Asked about the support that was available from ten different agencies, only 29% of UK adults adults claimed to feel supported (either highly or somewhat) by religious and faith groups. This was the lowest figure of perceived support from any of the ten agencies mentioned in the questionnaire.
    Source: Savanta ComRes (2021)

  • When asked "Whether a bank should, or should not, be able to insist an employee removes religious dress or symbol at work" a majority of Scots were in favour of allowing an employer to ask for an employee to remove a full Islamic face veil. 34% said they should definitely have the right to insist on this, and a further 31% said an employer should "probably" have the right to ask an employee to remove a face veil.
    Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey| Related news: New survey reveals Scots' attitudes to religious symbols at work (2016)

  • 63% of British adults think it acceptable for people like MPs, doctors, and teachers to ask Muslim women wearing a face veil to remove it when talking to them.
    Source: YouGov (2019)

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  • The Church of England handled more than 3,000 safeguarding concerns or allegations of abuse in 2016.
    Source: General Synod | Related: CoE faced 3,300 safeguarding concerns or abuse allegations in 2016 (2018)

  • In 2018, Populus undertook an online survey of 2,065 adult Britons on behalf of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. One of the questions concerned where respondents thought child sexual abuse was most likely to take place. Religious institutions were ranked fourth, after the family home (59%), the internet (50%), and a welfare institution (41%).
    Source: Populus (2018)

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