The Spectator

How many people are switching religions? 

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Rough drafts

Ian Lavender, who died aged 77, was best-known for playing Private Pike, an out-of-place young man in a group of elderly Home Guardsmen in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army. Yet in reality Pike was much closer in age to the majority of those who served in the Home Guard. A sample analysed for a project at the National Archives has revealed that 50% were aged below 27 and 28% were 18 or younger.

– Any male aged between 17 and 65 was eligible to join. As well as those too old for normal military service, the Home Guard included many medically unfit for regular military service (like Pike, ruled out because he had a rare blood group), those in reserved occupations like wartime factory production, and 17- to 18-year-olds who were not yet of age to serve.

Losing my religion

It was reported that 40 asylum-seekers living on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset are seeking to convert from Islam to Christianity, possibly in the hope of it improving the outcome of their asylum applications. How many people are switching religions?

There are few statistics on religious conversions, but in 2017 the Pew Research Center in the US estimated, from a study of 70 countries, that between 2015 and 2020:

12.2m people would convert to Islam and 4.6m people away from it.

4.9m people would switch to Christianity and 13.1m away from it.

– Along with a higher birth rate among Muslims, it would mean Islam becoming the world’s largest religion in about 2060.

Butterfly effect

How are butterfly numbers doing?

– According to the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, 46% of species have seen a decline since 1976, 23% have had no change and 31% have increased. Taking numbers as a whole, and using 1976 as a baseline:

– The decade 1976 to 1985 saw an average of 76.9%

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