Christianity and the Coronation

Britain has little appetite for a secular or multi-faith coronation, research for Bible Society suggests.

The polling was conducted by YouGov following the death of Queen Elizabeth. Responses from 3,000 people in England and Wales show overwhelming support for the presence of Christianity in the funeral events, with 79 per cent saying it was appropriate given the Queen’s personal faith and 72 per cent agreeing it was appropriate for a British royal event.

And this approval carries over into a Christian presence at royal events in general. Asked whether a state royal event should be wholly secular, just 15 per cent agreed; while asked whether it should be multi-faith, just 16 per cent thought it should. Thirty-one per cent thought it should be wholly Christian, while 21 per cent disagreed; 48 per cent said they didn’t know.

Thirty-seven per cent agreed a state royal event should feature the Bible, two-and-a-half times more than those who disagreed (14 per cent).

Fifty-five per cent of respondents said they were happy that the funeral events were wholly Christian, with only 12 per cent saying they found this alienating. Twelve per cent among the non-religious said they should have instead been wholly secular; this figure was only slightly higher than the national average, which was nine per cent.

The research also found very high levels of favourability towards the Queen and majority support for remaining a monarchy. Interestingly, Christians of all ages are more likely than the general population to be pro-royalty.

Dr Rhiannon McAleer, co-author of Bible Society’s report Mourning Elizabeth: Christianity and the Bible in the funeral of the Queen, said: ‘The latest census revealed that less than half  the population of England and Wales now identify as Christian, but this doesn’t translate to a desire to see Christianity banished from the public sphere.

‘Even many people who might not practise Christian faith themselves appear to recognise it as part of the social fabric expressed by the institution of monarchy. Many are also receptive to the Bible, which was quoted extensively during the funeral events.

‘Far from people finding the presence of Christianity alienating at royal events, it is widely regarded as appropriate.’

She added:

These are indications that Christianity is still regarded as a significant factor in public life, and isn’t to be dismissed as irrelevant or outdated. There are also challenges for the Church, though, in engaging those who did feel that the Bible readings and rituals didn’t speak to them.

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