THE proportion of self-identified Anglicans who agree same-sex marriage is ‘right’ has topped 50% for the first time, according to a new YouGov poll released on Tuesday.
Commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation, the poll is based on a survey of 5,120 people last week. The sample included 1,177 people who identified themselves as “C of E, Anglican or Episcopal” – 22% of the total. Of this subgroup, 55% agreed that same-sex marriage was right, up from 48% in 2020 (News, March 6, 2020). Twenty-nine percent chose “false” and 17% “don’t know”. In 2013, the respective figures for Anglicans were 38, 47 and 15%.
In the latest poll, Anglican women were more likely to choose “good”: 62%, compared to 44% of Anglican men. Support also decreased with age. Among Anglicans over 65, 42% chose ‘wrong’ and 40% ‘right’.
Across the entire sample of the latest survey, almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) agreed that same-sex marriage was “right” – up from 46% in 2013 – and just 21% described it as “Wrong”. .
The survey is the latest in a series commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation. Its director, Jayne Ozanne, said on Tuesday the findings underscored “the urgent need for the Church of England hierarchy to come forward with proposals to accept and celebrate same-sex relationships”.
The Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Reverend Joe Hawes, who chairs the Foundation, said the findings “pose a challenge for all Church of England leaders, calling on us to understand the perspectives of the people we Attitudes have changed rapidly over the past decade, including our understanding of Scripture and science.
“It is high time we became one Church for all England, recognizing the love that exists between two individuals who wish to honor and cherish each other. As an established Church, we are now clearly out of step with what the majority in this country believes and have no problem accepting.
The survey does not indicate the practices of those who define themselves as “Anglicans”. Statistics from the C of E for Mission suggest that the Church of England worship community comprises around two per cent of the population, of which a third are aged 70 or over.
The 2013 poll was conducted on behalf of Lancaster University and included a breakdown of results by religious practice. Almost half (47%) of Anglicans in the sample agreed with the statement “I would not describe myself or my values and beliefs as spiritual or religious”, and more than half (55% ) said they did not pray. or read the Bible in the past month. Eight-five percent said they did not “engage in any religious or spiritual practice with other people, such as attending services at a place of worship.” In total, only 25% of respondents who attend a church service once a week or more agree that same-sex marriage is “right”.
A 2014 YouGov poll of C of E clergy, commissioned for the Westminster Faith Debates, found that 39% of those polled thought same-sex marriage was ‘right’; 51% chose “false”; and 10% “don’t know”.
In September, the College of Bishops will begin a discernment process that will include reviewing grassroots response to Living in Love and Faith resources designed to help the church reflect on sexuality (News, January 7) . The College’s proposals will then be considered at the February 2023 meeting of the General Synod.
During a synodal debate in 2017, the then Bishop of Norwich, the Very Reverend Graham James, said there was “very little appetite in the House”. [of Bishops] for any alteration of our doctrine of marriage” (News, February 24, 2017). With the retirement of the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, former Chairman of the Ozanne Foundation, there are no more Bishops in the House who have clearly expressed a desire to allow same-sex marriage to the church (News, February 14).
Yet a significant number of Synod members – 131 – were elected on an inclusive church platform, saying they are “committed to equality for all, at all levels and roles within the Church, regardless of gender, disability, ethnic origin, socio-economic conditions. status, mental health or sexuality” (News, October 22, 2021).
The latest YouGov poll has been welcomed by the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England. The group said Church bishops “need to recognize that the majority of Church of England members embrace and welcome LGBTQI+ people into the lives of their local churches and want to be able to perform their marriages. . .
“They must deliver real change to allow same-sex couples to marry in our churches and end unjust punishments for clergy who have married their same-sex partner.”