Could a third of MPs be atheist on 8th May 2015?

"Parliament at Sunset" by Mgimelfarb - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parliament_at_Sunset.JPG#/media/File:Parliament_at_Sunset.JPG
“Parliament at Sunset” by Mgimelfarb – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A Whitehouse Consultancy April 2015 survey found that 34% of 225 prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) contesting marginal seats describe themselves as atheists. More than four in ten PPCs (42%) have no religious denomination. The Green Party (49%) and Labour (48%) have the highest percentages of atheist candidates.

Fewer than four in ten (37%) of PPCs believe in a deity: 16% Church of England (of these, 41% were Conservatives), 12% Roman Catholic, 2% Jewish, 2% Buddhist, 2% Muslim and 3% other religions.

Chris Whitehouse, Chairman of the Whitehouse Consultancy, said:

“Given recent findings on Britain’s religious beliefs, it’s unsurprising that a majority of parliamentary candidates are either non-religious or atheist.”

Chris Street, President of Atheism UK, noted that:

“The April 2015 Whitehouse report does not identify individual PPCs.

After the last general election in June 2010, Atheism UK wrote to all 650 MPs about their religious beliefs. We asked ‘Are you Atheist, Agnostic, Religious (practising), Religious (lapsed) or Other?’. Only six of the twenty six MPs that responded said they were currently atheist. Atheism UK report suggested that ‘openly stating ones religious beliefs in the world of politics, where votes count, is still a delicate subject’.

However the coyness by politicians to say they are non-religious may be changing – in recent years both Ed Milliband (Labour leader) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats leader) have both declared they are atheists – and are, as a result, viewed more positively

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