Recent interest in law and religion in the UK

Evidence from 1.5 million page-reads

On 29 August 2019, the number of “readers’ views” of our posts on L&RUK  exceeded 1.5 million. It seemed only a short time since we passed the one million mark last year, but now seems an appropriate time to reflect on those posts which have attracted the greatest number of readers, and tentatively to speculate on the reasons for their popularity.

Website statistics

WordPress statistical information provides lists of all posts which have been accessed during five time periods: 7 days; 30 days; quarterly; annually; and for “all time”. The information below is based the data for 26 August 2019; this covers the 2,458 posts that have been published since we started blogging on a regular basis in 2012;

For each of the above time periods, the greatest number of hits was recorded for the “Home page/Archives” category; this was an order of magnitude higher than any individual post. Similarly, the “Recent posts” category is regularly accessed, though by a number similar to those seeking specific, named posts. Whilst indicating little with regard to readers’ area of interest or how they arrived at particular pages, these findings are of importance to us when considering the layout of our Home page, which also provides access to these other categories.

Annual and “all time” data

For those posts relating to specific topics (i.e. excluding “Home page/Archives” and “Recent posts”), the annual data identify the following “top twenty” individual items:

  1. Registration of marriage from end-2019 – Faculty Office, (8 August 2019).
  2. Church of England parochial fees 2019, (18 November 2018).
  3. Churches as charities: some basics, (4 September 2015).
  4. Church bells and the law, 13 February 2018.
  5. Churchyard Regulations – the practicalities of enforcement, 16 June 2016.
  6. Naming Children: England and Wales, 15 October 2014.
  7. “Religious” content of civil marriage ceremonies, 5 July 2013.
  8. Freedom of expression or criminal blasphemy?: ES v Austria, 26 October 2018.
  9. Churches, Minsters and Cathedrals, 17 November 2016.
  10. Marriage and burial obligations of the Church of England, 10 December 2013..
  11. Is it an offence to impersonate a cleric? – thoughts on deposition from Holy Orders, 6 February 2016.
  12. Baptism, Canon Law and the Church, 3 September 2012.
  13. Gilmour v Coats Revisited: a study in the law of public benefit, 28 November 2016.
  14. Chaplin, Eweida, Ladele and McFarlane: the judgment, 17 January 2013.
  15. Church and State – an idiot’s guide, 14 December 2012.
  16. May a parish council grant-aid a place of worship? 7 March 2017.
  17. Clerical attire, officiants and safeguarding, 9 February 2015.
  18. Burial in the wrong grave and what (possibly) to do about it, 26 October 2013.
  19. Permission to Officiate – the new policy, 23 July 2018.
  20. Paganism, religion and human rights, 20 October 2014.

Quarterly, 30 day and 7-day data

Unsurprisingly, these data include a significant number of recent posts, with the remainder comprising post which relate to items of longer-term interest. When ordered by date rather than by number of page views, as shown for the quarterly data below, the top nine posts were all published 2019; the 7-day and 30-day breakdown of posts exhibits the same trend.

  1. Church statement on marriage registration changes, 9 August 2019
  2. Registration of marriage from end-2019 – Faculty Office, 8 August 2019
  3. Clergy Discipline – Rebuke administered in “an unusual case”, 23 July 2019.
  4. Social work, controversial views and fitness to practise: Ngole in the Court of Appeal, 03 July 2019.
  5. Religious symbols in Quebec? Non, merci, 22 June 2019.
  6. Private burial vaults and adverse possession: Holy Trinity, Dalton, 17 June 2019.
  7. Blood products and Jehovah’s Witnesses: DE, 29 May 2019.
  8. Different perspectives of the CDM, 28 May 2019
  9. Church of England Parochial Fees – Changes for 2020 to 2024, 21 February 2019.
  10. Church of England parochial fees 2019, 18 November 2018.
  11. Church bells and the law – I, 13 February 2018.
  12. Re AB: Termination of pregnancy, 15 July 2019.
  13. May a parish council grant-aid a place of worship? 7 March 2017.
  14. Churches, Minsters and Cathedrals, 17 November 2016
  15. Churchyard Regulations – the practicalities of enforcement, 16 June 2016.
  16. Churches as charities: some basics, 4 September 2015.
  17. Naming Children: England and Wales, 15 October 2014.
  18. Marriage and burial obligations of the Church of England, 10 December 2013.
  19. “Religious” content of civil marriage ceremonies, 5 July 2013.
  20. Baptism, Canon Law and the Church, 3 September 2012.

Comment

Readership of posts

Until recently the most widely-read post was Sharia and the English legal system: the Government’s view, published on 29 April 2013; however, this has now slipped to second position on the “all-time” list with “Religious” content of civil marriage ceremonies, (5 July 2013), taking the top spot and continuing to feature in the “top 20” of subsequent lists. Posts on topics of general interest such as these form the majority of the “all time” and annual figures, and also feature largely in those for the shorter time periods.

Although the popularity of many posts is driven by topical events, occasionally we detect an unexpected level of interest, demonstrated either by a significant spike in day-to-day viewing, or a continued popularity of a particular post over a prolonged period. Whilst it is often difficult to identify the cause, this has been possible with some recent examples, as with Church of England parochial fees 2019. This was posted on 18 November 2018, and until the following May was highlighted in a featured snippet. When a Google user asks a question in Google Search, the algorithm sometimes shows a search result in a special “featured snippet” block at the top of the search results page, including a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage, plus a link to the page, the page title and URL.

More recently Registration of marriage from end-2019 – Faculty Office attracted significant attention in relation to the implementation of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 (“the Act”). An understandable degree of disquiet had been generated in relation to the new arrangements for the registration of marriages, particularly within the Church of England, and the timetable for implementation, which is over a far short period than that required by the Act; the mistaken suggestion that couples who do not register their completed marriage document within seven days of the wedding will be subject to a significant fine.

As with the Increased fee for issue of Marriage Certificate on which we reported in February 2019, an important factor was a lack of dissemination of relevant information on the implementation of the Act, despite its availability within the public domain; this was compounded by an apparent misreading of the provisions.

Comments and queries on posts

Since August 2017, every four or five weeks we have posted a compilation of “Quick Answers” to questions which have arisen as a result of readers’ use of the search facility of the L&RUK site, or comments made on specific posts; a recent example is here. The topics covered in these occasional posts do not necessarily represent our most-read posts, as identified above, but reflect the immediate interests of readers accessing the site on (mostly) contemporary issues. In addition to the ad hoc source of these questions, they are subject to a degree of editorial selection: it is not always possible to discern the requirements from the sometimes cryptic search terms; and some of the more frequently occurring questions are addressed through links at the bottom of the post. An analysis of these Q&As is in preparation.

Summary

Whilst it is difficult to identify the reasons giving rise to the popularity of a given post, this is sometimes possible. However, it is significant that most contact with the blog is made via the Home Page, rather than a specific post. A factor which is not evident in the above information is the fact that number of page reads bears little relationship to the number of post per month. Since 2012 we have posted between 26 and 35 posts per month, an average of 30, but the number of page reads has increased significantly: 500,000 by 27 March 2016; 1 million by 25 February 2018; and 1.5 million yesterday. We anticipate that we will reach the 2 million mark early in 2021.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Recent interest in law and religion in the UK" in Law & Religion UK, 30 August 2019, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2019/08/30/recent-interest-in-law-and-religion-in-the-uk/

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  1. Pingback: Law and religion round-up – 1st September | Law & Religion UK

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