Research for the Commission for Racial Equality found that more white respondents felt that religion divided than unified people, but more people from ethnic minorities thought religion unified people.
Asian people were, on balance, more positive and black people were, on balance, neutral. It is likely that this negative perception among white people was very much a reaction to events happening around the time of fieldwork.
Older participants were more positive than younger ones about the role of religion in relation to integration, however they were still more likely to think that religion divided than unified (23% of those aged 65+ saw religion as a unifier, compared to 14% of 35-54 year olds).
This no doubt reflects the fact that the majority of Whites are not religious and so for them religion is a clear marker of the other – an alien characteristic (although of course antipathy and objective assesment of the very real religious conflict that exists in the world will play a part). Ethnic minorities onthe other hand are overwhelmingly religious and so have first hand experience of the bonding qualities that religion has within their communities (although of course positive bias will play a part). As long as we rely on exclusive concepts like ‘religion’ (as opposed to say ‘belief’) any uniting qualities it might have will never be expereinced by most people. Read research