24 April 2015, The Tablet

One third of would-be MPs believe in God and one third are atheists

Fewer than four in 10 parliamentary candidates in marginal seats in the coming general election say they believe in God – and a third are atheists.

These are the findings of a survey of parliamentary candidates for marginal seats conducted by political communications specialist the Whitehouse Consultancy. The survey, which was responded to by 225 parliamentary candidates, found 12 per cent were Catholics, and 16 per cent members of the Church of England.

Other denominations and faiths were represented in much smaller numbers: Methodists accounted for 3 per cent; Baptists, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists each for 2 per cent; and Hindus for 1 per cent.

The number of candidates who said they believed in a deity was 37 per cent, while 34 per cent professed to be atheists. More than four in 10 candidates, 42 per cent, said they had did not identify as being members of any religious denomination.

According to other information gleaned from the poll, two thirds of candidates (66 per cent) are male, and 82 per cent claim to be “white British” in origin.

The Green Party, followed by Labour, was found to have the highest percentages of atheist candidates (49 per cent and 48 per cent respectively). The Conservatives had the highest percentage of Church of England candidates (41 per cent) and Labour had the highest percentage of “white British” candidates (91 per cent). Chris Whitehouse, of the Whitehouse Consultancy, said the survey suggested that the next parliament would continue to be dominated by white male MPs, and is unlikely to be swayed by any one religion.

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