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God bless this mess: Study says UK's Christian beliefs had 'important' role in Brexit

Church of England first left the European bloc in the 16th century

If you need something else to direct your Brexit-induced rage towards, look no further than the big guy upstairs and a subset of people who believe in Him.

In their recently published book, Religion and Euroscepticism in Brexit Britain, Brunel University academic Dr Stuart Fox and the University of Exeter's Dr Ekaterina Kolpinskaya investigate how religious beliefs in Britain influenced the vote to leave the EU.

Their research suggests that one in five Brits' faith made them more likely to vote Leave, while a quarter of voters' beliefs helped place them in the Remain camp.

Catholics, Presbyterians, regular churchgoers, and those with the strongest religious beliefs were most likely to oppose Brexit, but "Anglicans were very likely to vote Leave," according to Dr Fox, a British Politics lecturer and expert in voter behaviour.

Explaining this observation, he said: "A typical Catholic would vote to remain in the European Union. Catholics are used to the idea of a cross-national authority as in the Pope and the Vatican, so for them, the idea of being governed by an international body like the EU is quite normal.

"Anglican history, meanwhile, is defined by trying to remain separate from the European superblock, and to do that you need a strong independent nation state. For them, anything that challenges it isn't going to be something they're a fan of."

The Church of England was founded after King Henry VIII couldn't get papal approval for the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so they decided to make a spinoff from Catholicism, which came to be known as Anglicanism. Old habits die hard, the political boffins said, and it also seems the perfect moment to dredge up this golden oldie from children's television.

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The authors also reckon religion will influence the UK's local elections next month, suggesting that Labour's traditional support among Catholics has crumbled and "virtually all" Christian denominations in the country are now more likely to vote Conservative.

"There is still a substantial 'religious vote' in British politics," said Dr Kolpinskaya. "Our study shows the nature of a religious vote change – with formerly strong ties between Labour and Roman Catholics, for example, weakening. The Conservatives, by contrast, have consolidated much support among Christians by growing their Protestant vote and adding Catholics to it."

Concluding, the authors argue that religion played a larger part in the UK voting to Leave than expected. "Faith also contributed to the rising Euroscepticism that pressed David Cameron to hold a Referendum in the first place," added Dr Kolpinskaya, "and the stunning victory for Boris Johnson's Conservative Party in the 2019 General Election."

So there you have it. If you're still sore about Brexit and the current state of British politics, blame theists and their belief in a creator who intervenes in their universe but is unbothered by a lot of stuff you'd think would be concerning. Apparently that leaves poor old pastafarians out, but you can't have everything. ®


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