RELIGION AND POLITICS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM
This paper offers a review of religion and politics in the United Kingdom shortly after the Scottish Referendum in September 2014 and the UK General Election in May 2015. It first provides a brief historical outline of the emergence of the four separate parts of the current United Kingdom, their different experiences of Anglo-Saxon and Viking invasions and responses to the Reformation in the fifteenth century after a millennium of Roman Catholicism. It then briefly reviews data from recent censuses and social attitude surveys about religious identities, beliefs and commitment and political party preferences which generally indicate a preference for Conservative Party support by Anglicans and Labour by Roman Catholics. Recent Church of England leaders have suggested that religion is now a major player on the public stage. This is strongly rejected. Firstly, census and survey data point unambiguously to the declining salience of religion and the public’s strong belief that religion is a private and personal matter and that religious leaders should not meddle in politics. Secondly, three examples are given where it is argued that critical interventions by religious leaders in recent years have not led to any serious changes in government policies.
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