57% of British adults agree that the Government should provide financial support to churches in order to protect their heritage and history for future generations, according to a new ComRes opinion poll commissioned by the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church buildings support charity.
This is now an annual survey undertaken by the NCT to ascertain the public’s attitudes to church heritage.
Half of British adults (49%) say that churches, chapels and meeting houses should be used for communities use in addition to being used as places of worship. Just 7% of Britons say that churches, chapels and meeting houses should not have uses other than as a place of worship.
Other key findings
- More than four in five Britons (83%) agree that the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses are an important part of the UK’s heritage and history. The proportion of adults agreeing ranges from 89% for adults aged 65+ to 71% for 18 – 24 year olds.
- The majority of British adults (80%) agree that churches, chapels and meeting houses are important for society as they provide a space in which community activities can take place, as well as worship.
- Churches, chapels and meeting houses are seen by British adults as providing a range of important benefits for the UK. The top three most important perceived benefits are as places of worship (52%), as examples of beautiful architecture (51%) and as an important part of local identity (42%). Only 9% of Britons do not think that churches, chapels and meeting houses have any important benefits for the UK.
Church visits in 2016
- The poll also asked people about whether they had visited a church in the last year and why. And 57% of British adults said they had visited a church, chapel or meeting house in the last year. That is equivalent to 33 million people. This figure is consistent with the findings of a similar poll in 2015.
- 37% of British adults say that they have visited a church, chapel or meeting house for a religious service (such as Sunday worship, weddings and funerals) in the last year; 24% as a visitor or tourist; and 16% have visited a church, chapel or meeting house for a non-religious activity (such as playgroups, cultural events, meetings and lunch clubs) in the last year.
- Women (40%) are more likely than men (34%) to report having visited a church, chapel, or meeting house for a religious service in the last year, and are also more likely to report having visited one for a non-religious activity (19% vs 13%).
- Adults aged 65+ are almost twice as likely as those who are aged 18-24 to report having visited a church, chapel or meeting house for a religious service in the last year (51% vs 27%).
The findings come as the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, commissioned by the Department of Culture Media and Sport and due to report in April 2017, is considering how best to finance the repair and maintenance of churches and cathedrals and to find ways of opening up church buildings for wider community, cultural and heritage use.