In 1960, John Highet surveyed the religious demographics of the nation in one of Scotland’s earliest full-length works of sociology. Highet was a devout member of the Church of Scotland and was effectively their ‘in house’ sociologist. Yet his statistics revealed that even in the immediate aftermath of a large-scale religious revival, the number of Scots who were affiliated with churches was surprisingly low at around 66% of the adult population. Highet was keen to mitigate this perhaps embarrassing statistic, recruiting into the number of the absent 34% an unknowable number of ‘four door Christians’ – those whose only attendance at church might be when they were delivered for baptism in a pram, were driven in a taxi for their wedding and finally, arrived in a hearse for their funeral. He further asserted – without recourse to evidence – that in any theological dispute most Scots would be ‘found on the side of the angels.’
In pre-war days, cinema was a popular Scottish pastime. Admission charges were very low, making it a relatively affordable leisure option. It was especially popular with the working classes and with youths, demonstrated by a 1937 survey that found 36% of West Lothian children attended the cinema at least once a week. During the war, cinema continued as one of Scotland’s most popular forms of entertainment. In response to a 1943 questionnaire on cinema habits, Scottish respondents mentioned the pleasure of being able to lose oneself in a film featuring a favourite actor, going to the cinema ‘for a good laugh’, and using film as a way of avoiding ‘the usual fit of depression of a Saturday afternoon’.