Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Lies, damned lies and statistics about prayer

No, I'm not casting aspersions about the validity of the Tearfund prayer report! In this (final) post about the report I want to consider some surprising stats that emerge from the report, particularly relating to the regional analysis.

London topped the charts with 73% of people saying that they ever prayed. For Scotland the figure was a disappointing 32%. Still at least we're not from Yorkshire - 24%.

Do Londoners really pray more than the Scots? Well, I'm going down there for a couple of days so I might just ask around a bit.

The report suggests that one reason why more Londoners pray than any other region is due to "the number of black and ethnic minorities, who show a higher propensity for prayer".

Well, I wonder if there might be other reasons. Is our personal spirituality shaped by the prevailing culture of our churches? In Scotland, the Calvinist, presbyterian model is based on a fairly passive congregation listening to a man preaching. The rest of the service being fairly restrained and under-stated (some might say sombre). By contrast, the Anglican tradition seems to me to be a more participative event (congregational responses, movement during the service, greeting each other) based around the liturgy. Recognising the over-simplification in this analysis - could it explain some differences in spirituality which continues into the 21st century?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of my comments, I still think that Francois Fenelon was right:

"Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer. "

1 comment:

That Hideous Man said...

Well the last big survey of religion in the UK put London as the most church-attending and believing part of the UK. This was directly related to the far-higher-than-average scored by the Black community (protestant and pentecostal) and the Poles and Eastern European Catholics.

These ethnic patterns have in fact pushed Northern Ireland in to 2nd place on these tables.