Religious freedom is not a British value, poll finds

Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland was asked to create a cake bearing a slogan with which the owners disagreed.Twitter

Only a small minority of Britons regard religious freedom as an important British value, according to a recent poll.

The ComRes survey for Grassroots Conservatives involved online interviews with 2,017 people. It found that only 13 per cent see religious freedom as important, a figure dwarfed by the number who see freedom of speech (46 per cent) and respect for the rule of law (33 per cent) as important.

The value of religious freedom was also outranked by a sense of humour (29 per cent) and politeness (27 per cent. Twice as many people thought that tolerance of others was important (26 per cent).

Support for religious freedom was highest among the over-65s at 20 per cent. Broken down by political allegiance, Conservatives valued religious freedom significantly more highly than Labour voters, at 17 per cent to only 12.

However, Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, told Christian Today that the low value placed on religious freedom in the poll did not reflect other surveys in which people were given concrete examples to consider.

"We've just done a poll on specific cases and got practically unanimous results," he said. Among the examples used in the Christian Institute's survey were whether a Muslim printer should be obliged to print an image of Muhammed or whether Ashers Bakery should be required to make a cake with a slogan promoting same-sex marriage.

"If you ask people about specific cases they understand very well what religious freedom means," he said.