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More Muslims than Anglicans back C of E status quo

08 March 2013


Welcomed: Canon Julia Peaty is installed as Dean of Women's Ministry by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner

Welcomed: Canon Julia Peaty is installed as Dean of Women's Ministry by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner

MORE Muslims than Anglicans approve of the Church of England's current policies towards women, a new poll suggests.

The poll, which was carried out by YouGov, was commissioned for the third Westminster Faith Debate, which takes place next Thursday on the question: "Is it right for religions to treat men and women differently?"

A total of 4437 people were polled, of which 1261 identified themselves as Anglican and 201 identified themselves as Muslims. The remainder identified themselves as Roman Catholic (354), Jewish (162), Baptist (58), and of no faith (1649).

Of those who identified themselves as Anglican, 11 per cent said that they approved of the Church of England's "current policies towards women". Of the Muslims polled, 26 per cent said that they approved. Just eight per cent of respondents as a whole expressed approval.

Fifty-five per cent of Anglicans and 36 per cent of Muslims said that the "major religions" would be "better" if more women held senior positions.

Professor Linda Woodhead, director of the Religion and Society Programme at Lancaster University, said that the poll results showed "that the Churches are seriously out of step, not only with society, but with their own members".

The working group that has been convened to advise the House of Bishops on breaking the deadlock over women bishops met again on Monday to consider responses from General Synod members to a consultation document published last month ( News, 15 February).

Reform published a response to the document from its chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, on its website, on Monday. The response noted that women clergy had been invited to participate in meetings of the House of Bishops ( News, 15 February). "We hope that a similar gesture will be made for conservative Evangelicals." The House of Bishops had "no member able to articulate the doctrine [of male headship] from a position of personal conviction".

The Dorset Echo reported last week that the Revd Jacquie Birdseye, Rector of the united benefice of Moreton and Woodsford, in Salisbury diocese, had refused to wear her clerical collar since the fall of the women-bishops legislation in November ( News, 23 November).

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Birdseye said: "The day after the vote I woke up and said: 'I'm just ashamed to put my collar on. How can I go out and promote a Church that's supposed to be about everybody being equal in the sight of God?'"

A conference on women bishops is scheduled to take place next Saturday (16 March) at Christ Church, New Malden. It is organised by Fulcrum and the Yes2WomenBishops campaign.

And lay people in the diocese of Manchester have launched Mrs Purple Mitre, a protest group in support of women bishops. It is organising purple campaign-ribbons and "Purple Hat Sunday" after Easter.


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