Data collection and publication - religion/belief: guidance

Guidance for public bodies on the collection of data on religion/belief.


There are several different concepts of religion that can be measured on social surveys including affiliation, belonging, belief and practice[5]. It is important to be clear about what concept is being measured. For example:

  • religious affiliation is the connection or identification with a religion irrespective of actual practice or belief
  • religious belief includes beliefs typically expected to be held by followers of a religion and how important those beliefs are to a person's life
  • practice includes specific religious activities expected of followers of a religion
  • religious belonging can be interpreted as both loose self-identification and active or formal belonging to a religious group

The way people respond to questions on religion is sensitive to what question is being asked and how it is asked. The recommended question for surveys in Scotland measures religious belonging, in line with the question asked in Scotland's Census 2022, however in some circumstances other questions may be required to measure religious affiliation, belief, and practice.



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