Nearly half the British think that religion is harmful, according to a poll carried out by YouGov. Yet more than half also believe in God “or something”.
The YouGov poll commissioned by John Humphrys, the broadcaster and writer, found that 42% of the 2,200 people taking part considered religion had a harmful effect.
“One reason might be the publicity attracted by a handful of mad mullahs and their hate-filled rhetoric,” writes Humphrys in his new book, In God We Doubt, an extract of which appears in today’s Sunday Times News Review.
Only 16% of those polled called themselves atheists; 28% believed in God; 26% believed in “something” but were not sure what; and 9% regarded themselves as agnostics – like Humphrys himself, who had a religious upbringing in Wales but calls himself a “doubter”.
He writes: “Even though the dominant faith – by a massive margin — is Christianity, only 17% thought the influence of religion was beneficial. That is even fewer than those who claim that they believe in a personal God. And yet when we asked which of the main religions was ‘most effective’ in getting its message across, most thought it was Christianity. Only 10% cited Islam compared with 32% who said Christianity.”
In the survey 43% said they never prayed, 31% hardly prayed, and 10% prayed every night. “More than half of those who say they believe in a personal God cannot be bothered to pray to him every night,” writes Humphrys.