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AI ministry better than nothing, Church Times survey says

03 May 2024

Early results show 19 per cent would prefer a good AI sermon to a bad human one

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EARLY results from the latest Church Times survey suggest that half the Anglican respondents agree that being ministered to by artificial intelligence (AI) is preferable to no ministry at all.

More than 3000 people have so far responded to the Church 2024 survey, launched last month (News, 12 April), and which closes later this year. In an early sampling of 1772 of the responses, just three per cent felt that the Church should encourage the development of “AI ministers” — but 20 per cent thought that it was better to have AI ministry than no ministry at all.

If it came down to a choice between a competent AI minister and an incompetent human one, only 12 per cent would go for the pastoral robot. Just over 19 per cent, though, said that they would prefer a good AI sermon to a bad human one.

The survey is being organised by Professors Andrew Village and Leslie Francis.

New questions this year look at other contemporary issues, too, including the environment, racial justice, and changing views on ethical questions such as the legalisation of assisted dying. Some of the questions asked in 2001 and 2013 are repeated, to see how opinions have changed. There are also questions related to the Covid pandemic.

The aim is to provide evidence from both the lay and ordained to inform decisions about doctrine, worship, ministry, and mission.

The survey will run for several more months, and occasional updates will be given on the survey website. Participation takes about 15-20 minutes. No information held from the survey will link records to individuals.

For more information and to take part, scan the QR code, or visit: tinyurl.com/CTSurvey24

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