From Professor Linda Woodhead
Sir, - The Church of England's Communications Office is making
the C of E look ridiculous.
Last week, I published results of a survey on euthanasia which I
designed with YouGov. The findings show that a large majority of
Christians in this country - including Anglicans and Roman
Catholics - support a change in the law.
Personally, I don't agree. I think the Churches are right to be
wary of changing the law. But the survey was carefully designed,
and its findings need to be taken seriously.
A Roman Catholic spokesman made a sensible response, saying: "It
shows how little exposed even practising religious people are to
the teachings of their Church. I can only remember hearing three
homilies on the subject in all my years in church."
The C of E Communications Office simply attacked the survey
(which it did not ask to see), and concluded: "This survey adds
nothing of value to the current complex debate on assisted suicide,
but seeks to reduce to 'sound-bites' issues that deserve proper and
In fact, the survey adds considerable new knowledge. Its
findings were extensively debated at the Westminster Faith Debate
on euthanasia last week. It was also featured in The
Times, the Telegraph and Guardian, BBC News
Online, The Washington Post, the BMJ, on Radio 4,
Last week, another large poll reported in The
Independent found that many single Christians felt isolated
and out of place in their congregations. A C of E spokesperson
(unnamed) commented: "If the church doesn't fit then try another
"Get lost" is not a good message for the Church to give, whether
directed at serious research, or at the Christians whose views it
Director, AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme
Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, FASS
Lancs LA1 4YD