People who believe in God are more likely to be leftwing, according to a new study.
The research, carried out by think-tank Demos, rubbishes the assumption that faith groups tend to be more conservative.
Instead it argues that people with faith are more likely to take centre-left positions on issues including immigration and equality.
Jonathan Birdwell, author of the Finding Citizens report, writes: ‘The report presents two key findings.
‘First, religious people are more active citizens—they volunteer more, donate more to charity and are more likely to campaign on political issues.
‘Second, and more counter-intuitively, religious people are more likely to be politically progressive.
‘They put a greater value on equality than the non-religious, are more likely to be welcoming of immigrants as neighbours and when asked are more likely to put themselves on the left of the political spectrum.’
Based on its findings, the report recommends that politicians should work with faith groups on issues which they are engaged with, including immigration, women’s rights, international development, the environment and youth.
It also argues that faith groups will be key to any future, election-winning, coalition.
Mr Birdwell writes: ‘Many Britons continue to see faith as a moral refuge from the otherwise nihilistic, dog-eat-dog values of consumerist, capitalist democracies.
‘The arguments of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens only seemed to retrench people’s religious views, with many recoiling at the perceived arrogance and dogmatism of this so-called ‘militant’ atheism.’
The report, based on an analysis of the European Values Study, found that 55 per cent of people with faith consider themselves on the left of politics compared with 40 per cent on the right.
Forty one per cent of people who believe in a faith would place equality before freedom compared with just 36 per cent of those who are not religious.
However, religion among young people appears to be in decline with nearly two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds claiming they do not believe in a religion compared with under one third of people aged 65 and over.