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Poll: lack of trust in Synod

07 February 2014

FEWER than one quarter of respondents to the Church Times readership survey have confidence in the General Synod's leadership. In contrast, nearly three-quarters have confidence in the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Out of 4620 respondents, polled last summer and autumn, 73 per cent agreed with the statement "I have confidence in the leadership given by the Archbishop of Canterbury." Only seven per cent disagreed.

When it came to the General Synod, however, only 23 per cent agreed. Forty-one per cent were uncertain, and 37 per cent disagreed.

Readers were asked about other forms of leadership. The next most popular category was "My local clergy", approved by 69 per cent (71 per cent among lay respondents); then came "my diocesan bishop" (63 per cent). The Archbishops' Council scored 37 per cent. Nearly half those responding were unsure about it.

The survey also asked about lay involvement in leading services. There was widespread approval of lay people leading morning and evening prayer (91 per cent) and preaching at the (83 per cent); leading the first part of a communion service (70 per cent), and preaching at it (76 per cent).

The figures reversed, however, when it came to lay presidency at communion services. Overall, only 20 per cent approved; 68 per cent disagreed. Slightly more lay people were in favour (24 per cent). The clergy, however, were more strongly opposed: only 13 per cent were in favour; 79 per cent were against.

Question of the week: Do you trust the leadership of the General Synod? 

Sexual-morality divide exposed

THE Church Times survey has exposed a huge divide on sexual morality which church policy-makers may wish to deal with.

Professor Andrew Village, who helped devise the survey with Professor Leslie Francis, correlated the answers given in the morality section with the respondents' church tradition, classed loosely as Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, and "Broad", i.e. those between the two poles.

Roughly 60 per cent of Anglo-Catholics agreed with ordaining practising homosexuals as priests and bishops (62 per cent and 59 per cent respectively). Among Broad Anglicans the figure was still 57 and 54 per cent. For Evangelicals, however, the figures dropped to 20 per cent and 19 per cent. Nor were there many don't-knows among the Evangelicals: 63 per cent were against practising gay priests, and 65 per cent against gay bishops. If the gay priest or bishop was celibate, 67 per cent of Evangelicals would approve.

Regarding same-sex marriage in church, Anglo-Catholic and Broad Church respondents mildly  disapproved (40 and 37 per cent approved of it; 43 per cent in both parties disapproved). Among Evangelicals, 75 per cent disapproved; 12 per cent voted for it. And 51 per cent of Evangelicals disagreed with even the idea of a blessing of some sort.

About one quarter of Anglo-Catholics and Broad Churchpeople agreed that it was wrong for men and women to have sex before marriage. More than half (58 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively) disagreed. Among Evangelicals, 66 per cent agreed it was wrong, and only 20 per cent disagreed.

Sixty-two per cent of Anglo-Catholics disagreed with the statement that it was wrong of people of the same sex to have sex, and 21 per cent agreed; in the Broad category, the figures were 54 and 24 per cent; for Evangelicals, 20 per cent disagreed, and 66 per cent agreed.

All groups agreed strongly that divorced people should be allowed to marry again in church. Only five per cent of the Broad Church category disagreed, compared with 11 per cent of both Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals.

In the light of this, one part at least of the agenda of next week's General Synod seems less contentious: women bishops were approved by 76 per cent of Anglo-Catholics and 77 per cent of Evangelicals. Those in the Broad Church category were 93 per cent in favour.


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