Thinking Anglicans

some survey information

The Church of England Newspaper trumpeted a new survey on its front page last Friday (you can see this partially on their website front page this week only):

THE GOVERNMENT is failing to defend the place of religion in public life, the results of the inaugural Church of England Newspaper survey of General Synod members has shown.
More than half of Synod members who took part in the poll, 57 per cent, said the government was currently unsuccessful in upholding the place of Christianity in the UK today, with another 23 per cent of respondents saying it was ‘not particularly successful’.
The results come as another blow to Gordon Brown’s Government, already reeling from the lost data fiasco and questions over donations…

And so on and so on. And finally:

The survey, carried out by religiousintelligence.com, canvassed a total of 102 members of General Synod between December 7-17, 2007, representing a response rate of 21 per cent, and included clergy, laity and bishops.

This was the same survey which The Times reported as follows:

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has been named “Anglican of the Year” by members of the Church of England…

…In the survey, 29 per cent of Synod members named Dr Sentamu in response to the question: “Which Anglican figure do you think has done most to help the Church in 2007?”

Dr Williams was nominated by 24 per cent, Archbishop Tutu by 12 per cent, Dr Nazir-Ali by 6 per cent and Dr Akinola by 3 per cent.

More than half those surveyed, 57 per cent, said the Government was unsuccessful in upholding the place of Christianity in Britain today, with a further 23 per cent saying the Government was “not particularly successful”.

For the exact wording of the survey, see below in the Comments.

37
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
37 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
16 Comment authors
Erika BakerPat O'NeillFord ElmsMerseymikeGöran Koch-Swahne Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

It is not the role of Government to uphold Christianity. That is the role of the Church. It is for Government to ensure that those of all religions and none are not unduly discriminated against, but Government is secular. As a State with an established Church, there are ceremonial underpinnings of Christianity, but that clearly is separate from ‘government’, which is not theocratic. And given that only 6-7% ever attend church and more of them are RC than CofE, why does the Churech assume its interests should dominate – it is really so arrogant and fails to appreciate the low… Read more »

Tom Allen
Guest
Tom Allen

It is worth looking at “who” took part in the poll which claims (or is reported)as being representative of “the General Synod” or of ” members of the Church of England” – was it (as was suggested) a poll was of 100 members of Synod who subscribe to the CEN of whom 82@ bothered to reply – if this rumour is correct then it would severely question the validity or balance of the poll? Can 82 CEN reading members of the General Synod really be representative of the Church of England?

John Bassett
Guest
John Bassett

In the U.S. campaigns engage in what is called “push polling.” These are not real polls, but an effort to advance a partisan agenda in the guise of a poll. This seems like a push poll to me. What exactly is the point of polling members of the Synod anyhow? They seem to meet and vote quite a bit. It does seemed aimed at pushing the Church to push the government to more aggressively place conservative Protestant Christianity as a state religion. And I agree with Merseymike that this pretty arrogant when Roman Catholicism appears to be the dominant faith… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

At risk of my being completely obvious: Religions which wish to claim a public place in our public square conversations must be willing to abide by the common decencies of the rules of discourse. At minimum, these might include: (1) being willing to identify and spell out your positional best practices, including being explicit about how you apply these practices; (2) being willing to listen carefully and accurately to others who will spell out their own best practices, leading to their views; (3) being willing to presume a level playing field where conversations across publicly aired differences are hardly ever… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“In the survey, in response to the question: “Which Anglican figure do you think has done most to help the Church in 2007?”

29 per cent of Synod members named Dr Sentamu,
Dr Williams was nominated by 24 per cent, Archbishop Tutu by 12 per cent,
Dr Nazir-Ali by 6 per cent
and Dr Akinola by 3 per cent.”

And that should be about it ;=)

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

I’m with Merseymike and John. Governments are meant to provide justice for all citizens and visitors within their borders. Churches are meant to represent themselves. This so reminds me of the duck-shoving scene in the Garden of Eden. First, do the wrong thing, then hide, then when busted deny responsibility and then scapegoat someone else. Similar to how churches have handled pedophilia and misogyny over the centuries. They claim their reputations would be fine if no one had aired their complaints in a public forum. This excellent Torah study went up overnight http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfrand/5761/bo.html It is titled An “‘Inspiration From Below’… Read more »

Sue Slater
Guest
Sue Slater

I was emailed on 7 December with the questions in this survey, so perhaps those surveyed were General Synod members with an email address published in eg The Church of England Year Book. I am a lay member of General Synod, but not a reader of the CEN. The email was from Michael Zera michael.zera@religiousintelligence.com copied to Colin Blakely, and read as follows: Dear Synod member, We are writing to ask your opinions on a small range of issues facing the Church of England and society at the present time. Your participation is very much appreciated, and the survey should… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest

This was not a poll – it was a survey. The questions are a trifle borad, but it isn’t a “push poll” per se. A “push poll” would use a series of questions with extremely biased wordings in order to generate the desired answer(s) to subsequent questions. A poll requires a random sample. The size of the random sample determines the margin of error. Note that, in general, the size of the population is being sampled is irrelevant. A sample of 1,000 will have a margin of error of +/-3.2% regardless of whether it is 1,000 citizens of Saskatchewan –… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

In other words, Malcolm, useless, rubbish and then useless.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Not being a General Synod member I didn’t receive the survey, but I’m always very wary of surveys like this which tend to push big issues into simple yes/no answers. Examine, for example, the controversial question “Should gay clergy be allowed to have sexual partners?” which looks straightforward. Yet it begs a number of questions which are submerged in the rhetoric of debate. For example, some gay clergy are married (and this has certainly been the case in the past). “Partners” is ambiguous, because some would argue for permanent, stable and faithful relationships, and the plural here does not allow… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Its the sort of survey which would fail a research methods course!

Realist
Guest
Realist

As secularism is not value free but is itself a system of belief then why should it be given a privileged position in our society and used as a designation for the state? We should work towards a pluralist state which is much more tolerant than a secular one. The secular states which have existed have had rather a bad reputation.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

A pluralist state has to be secular. In a secular state, religion can then be followed in one’s personal life. When religion starts to direct the state then you have theocracy.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Merseymike I agree with you. Having said that – I am what I am as a whole person and that includes my beliefs, which inform my thinking and my actions. I’m not saying that a secular humanist couldn’t do and think what I do, but I know that what matters deeply to me is informed by how I understand the world to function and by God’s role in it and in my life. A pluralist state has to be secular…. but isn’t that another word for having a tolerant “faith” that allows others their own expression? If I became a… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika: This is a constant argument here in the states. No, you need not cease being a committed Christian to be a politician…but you DO have to realize that you cannot enact your beliefs into law, at least not in such a way that you force others to violate their own beliefs or consciences. This is the crux of the abortion debate in the US. A legal decision that says “abortion may be performed” forces no one else to do or not do anything. But a law (or constitutional amendment) that says “abortion may not be performed” DOES force others… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pat
that makes it sound as though anti-abortion legislation was at all times unacceptable because it imposes restrictions on others, and that everyone who might wish to restrict others does it out of religious beliefs.

With that argument you can only ever allow extreme liberal positions on any subject.
Even as an extremely liberal person I find that quite an intolerant and undemocratic thought.

I must have misunderstood you!

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Pat- ‘Human life begins at conception’ is not remotely ‘a religious statement’ – whatever a ‘religious statement’ is. It is a scientific assertion (whether true or false). For example: is the DNA template (nature’s greatest, most intricate, and most utterly precious masterpiece) present at conception? Is the baby breathing at conception? When we use the word ‘conception’ that means ‘beginning’: the beginning of whom or of what? Is there any occasion of entrance of a foreign body into the mother at any time after conception that would be an alternative candidate for the designation ‘initiation of human life’? These… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“In each case (correct me if I am wrong) the only watershed moments are conception and birth.” These are indeed the most logical places, I grant you, but not the only ones. The Christian debate about abortion has gone on for centuries, with the beginning of life being set at various points: conception, birth, quickening, recognizability as human, capacity for extrauterine survival, etc. These have been debated within Christianity, so it is obviously not clear cut. What’s more, other religions come to different conclusions. In this discussion, the definition of “human life” is assumed. Without this definition, any statement that… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Erica: I actually agree with Pat. the thing is that liberal legislation still allows someone to be conservative. Allowing abortion still gives people the right to reject it for themselves. Banning abortion does not allow people to do what they believe to be right for them if that decision is termination.

So, it does suggest that liberal laws are best because they offer a genuine choice. They still allow conservative views and actions, though.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika: As merseymike says, I am firmly in favor of the greatest latitude in human behavior. As the old adage says, “Your rights end at the tip of my nose.” I force no one to act (or not act) on my beliefs; I expect the same in return. Christopher: Yes, “life” begins at conception. (Arguably, it begins before that–are not the sperm and the egg both living things?) But whether that life is “human” is another matter entirely, and not a scientific judgment. It is a moral/religious one. Further, there is the matter of determining who has the right to… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Isn’t the rabbinic tradition that life begins at the first breath (as when the LORD breathed life into Adam)?

Insisting that a microscopic cluster of cells is & has all the rights and responsibilities of a human being is certainly an act of faith (although not necessarily “religious”).

Generally speaking, statistics from various countries indicate that legalizing abortion does not make it more common, but simply reduces the numbers of women killed during the procedure. The suggestion that women should not be allowed to terminate unwanted pregnancies as a punishment for their having had sex is one that I find repellent.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Merseymike Taking this view to the extreme you end up with no laws at all, because every law imposes some kind of restrictions on others, and you have to rely on everyone to kindly respect everyone else and make their own moral choices without implicating those who might make other choices. Clearly, that doesn’t work, so some legal restrictions have to apply. In the case of abortion they do, too. You cannot, for example, abort up to the day before birth. You cannot have active euthanasia, you cannot have unrestricted working hours etc. There always has to be a balance… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

The Venerable Prior wrote: “Insisting that a microscopic cluster of cells is & has all the rights and responsibilities of a human being is certainly an act of faith (although not necessarily “religious”).”

I’m not so sure about that…

To me this seems a very clear example of the Parody of Faith; the Posings, people refer to when they put “religious” within inverted commas.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika:

Yes, conservative voices should have a say–but not to the point where they cut off discussion entirely…which is the “pro-life” position in the US. There is no discussion of “boundaries” in their position, there is only a flat “no”.

Ford elms
Guest
Ford elms

“to do what they believe to be right for them” But is this the arbiter of what’s right? I believe it is right for me so I should be allowed to do it? Numerous belief systems have thought it mankind’s duty to sacrifice other humans. In these societies, it was not considered in any way how we would consider it. Victims did not feel like victims, but honoured members of the society. They were blessed, above the common folk, and many went joyously to their deaths. Would it be right to sacrifice a willing human being to the Gods because… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I would refer you back to Pat’s comments – I think the problem is that conservatives start from the position of wanting to restrict others who disagree with them.

I do believe in active euthanasia…and I can’t really see the connection with working hours. Its a different type of issue.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I do believe in active euthanasia” Who decides who dies and what are the criteria? The individual? What if that person’s decision making processes are interfered with by depression? How do you define what is depression that precludes making that decision? I have been in a position to at least think about this, and it is not nearly so easy as saying someone should have the right to terminate their own life if it has become intolerable for them. How do you justify trying to stop anybody from killing themselves? I’m not going on the attack here, just asking for… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I didn’t say whether I believed in active euthanasia or not, all I said is that it is not possible at the moment because the majority of society has set a limit. I gave the example of working hours to show that this is not just about life and death decisions, but that laws restricting the rights of individuals affect all aspects of life. Different it may be, but just as important when you look at global trade issues. And competing interests are just as strong. I agree that I strongly dislike the conservative approach of just saying No. But… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pat,
another question is whether a firm No, Never can’t also be justified at times.
I would certainly say that with regards to the death penalty and I would be happy for my views to be imposed without fail in the whole world.

The only difference is that it’s my firm No, not theirs.

The only solution is a consensus/majority decision from the whole of society.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika:

Again, the question, for me, is who is harmed by the prohibition. No one is harmed by a prohibition against capital punishment. No physical damage is done to anyone if criminals are not killed by the state.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“No physical damage is done to anyone if criminals are not killed by the state.” I am opposed to capital punishment on religious grounds, but I would (sorry, Pat) argue that there are more kinds of damage than physical ones. In areas where CP is allowed, many, mind-bogglingly even Christians, take the attitude that they will get “closure” once they see “justice” (ie vicarious vengeance) done. I doubt if any one has gone back ten years later and studied these people’s lives to see if they have had any healing at all. I doubt they would be shown to have… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pat,
but that’s exactly what pro-lifers would say about not allowing abortion.

I mean, I agree with you on both issues, I just don’t think that in a pluralistic society you and I should have the right to make all the laws just because we think they’re fairer and more moral.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika:

If a woman cannot have an abortion at any time for any reason (as the most adamant pro-lifers would insist), she is most definitely physically harmed. Pregnancy is not without risks, even to the most healthy of women (as I’m sure you know).

OTOH, permitting abortions for those who choose them does no harm to those who choose NOT to have them.

But–capital punishment very definitely harms someone every time it is carried out. But NOT having capital punishment harms no one. I understand Ford’s point about psychological harm, but I’d argue that we cannot legislate based on such amorphous concepts.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pat,
yes, I know you can make a very good case for liberal laws. I make it too!
The point is that the others believe they have a very good case for their views too.
Of course you and I would say they haven’t. But where is that getting us?

We cannot disenfranchise those we disagree with simply because we disagree with them and believe they’re wrong.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Pat,
“permitting abortions for those who choose them does no harm to those who choose NOT to have them.”

But it does do “harm” to the foetus.

We may agree that it may be persmissible to abort, but I hope we never get to the stage where we genuinely believe there is no massive ethical dilemma and that no-one gets harmed.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“But it does do “harm” to the foetus.

We may agree that it may be persmissible to abort, but I hope we never get to the stage where we genuinely believe there is no massive ethical dilemma and that no-one gets harmed.”

My position–and that of most pro-choice Americans I know–is that abortion should be legal, safe, and RARE. The best abortion preventative is honest sex education and contraception. Here in the US, at any rate, the same forces who fight legal abortion also fight honest sex education (insisting on “abstinence only” curricula) and contraception.

The contradiction is appalling.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“The contradiction is appalling.”

Couldn’t agree more!
What’s more, it’s well documented that it doesn’t work, so it’s really hard to understand why they keep insisting on this.

It’s all bound up with this religious purity drive that wants to punish all sexual activity outside a supposedly god given framework. And I believe it’s deeply unethical.
Morally it’s on the same inexplicable level as Catholics banning contraception even in countries that are being destroyed by AIDS.

But that really goes beyond the topic of this thread now, sorry!