Thinking Anglicans

Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?

Harry Farley of Christian Today reports on a New Poll: Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?

The question whether gay people are accepted in church has dogged Christian leaders for decades.

But a new poll out on Thursday reveals the same proportion of people think gay people are welcome in UK churches as those who think they are unwelcome. A YouGov poll highlighted that 30 per cent of Brits believe churches are welcoming towards gay people with 33 per cent saying they are not welcoming.

Younger people were more likely to think LGBT people are unwelcome in church, with 38 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds saying churches were not hospitable to gay people and 36 per cent of 25 to 49-year-olds agreeing. Those over 60 were almost twice as likely to think the LGBT community was welcome in church than unwelcome…

The Church of England Newspaper has also looked at the poll: Public don’t believe the Church offers a welcome to all in society.

The poll was commissioned by Jayne Ozanne, who has issued this press release:

Status of established church queried as poll reveals few believe Church of England serves whole nation.

Less than half of British adults believe that the Church of England is there for everyone, with only a third of adults believing UK Christian churches are welcoming towards the LGBTI community.

A recent YOUGOV poll has shown that only 47% of British adults agree that the Church of England is there for everyone who wants to go to Church. Of equal concern is the fact that less than a third (30%) believe that Christian Churches are welcoming towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual community…

The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.

The full results of the poll can be viewed here.

STATUS OF ESTABLISHED CHURCH QUERIED AS POLL REVEALS FEW BELIEVE CHURCH OF ENGLAND SERVES WHOLE NATION.

LESS THAN HALF OF BRITISH ADULTS BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IS THERE FOR EVERYONE, WITH ONLY A THIRD OF ADULTS BELIEVING UK CHRISTIAN CHURCHES ARE WELCOMING TOWARDS THE LGBTI COMMUNITY.

A recent YOUGOV poll has shown that only 47% of British adults agree that the Church of England is there for everyone who wants to go to Church. Of equal concern is the fact that less than a third (30%) believe that Christian Churches are welcoming towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

Christian LGBT campaigner, Jayne Ozanne, who commissioned the research said:

“What is of greatest concern is the fact it is those who the Church is most keen to reach – the young and those of “no religion” – who believe that the Church is not there for everyone, and that they are not welcoming to the LGBT community. If the Church is serious about its commitment to mission, it needs to heed the concerns and perceptions of those it wants to attract, otherwise no one will want to listen.”

Commenting further, the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, said: “A national church should serve the whole nation, irrespective of creed, colour, class – and identity. It is a tragedy for our mission and ministry that the Church of England continues to denigrate and discriminate against lesbian, gay and transgendered people. The church cannot afford to cling to its establishment whilst colluding with its own institutional homophobia, and also continually capitulate to reactionary conservative lobby-groups. The manifest injustice of this will continue to impede all efforts to evangelise future generations, and will consign the church to an inevitable irrelevance.”

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, who has been a key advocate for LGBT equality added:

“The Church of England must learn to listen to those it seeks to serve.  It is interesting to note those who are most likely to think that the Church is there for everyone and that it is welcoming are Christian conservatives over the age of 50 – our traditional heartland.  However, if we want to be a national church for everyone we need to understand and respond to the concerns people have, and recognise the fact that many think we are not there for them.”

The research was commissioned to understand how national perceptions towards the Church of England are changing, particularly in the light of its attitude towards the LGBT community. It follows a question on October 13th 2016 in the House of Commons by Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, to the Second Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, regarding the pastoral care of LGBT people in the Church of England in which she stated:

“Does (the Second Estates Commissioner) agree that now is the time for those of us who are Christian but not of the LGBT community to give more careful consideration to these issues?”

With less than half (47%) of those who identified as Anglican and just over a third (37%) of those identifying as Roman Catholics believing that Christian Churches are welcoming to the LGBT community, it appears that many are starting to do just that.

NOTES

1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,669 adults (of which 415 identified as Anglican and 120 identified as Catholic). Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 12th October 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Full results of the survey can be viewed here.

2. Susan Elan Jones MP question to the Second Estates Commissioner can be viewed here.

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Doug Chaplin
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Would it be fair to suggest that the age groups least likely to have first-hand experience of the Church of England believe (presumably on the basis of its media image) that it is not welcoming towards gay people, while the generations more likely to have first-hand experience of the C of E seem to think it is welcoming? This then props the question, do older people and the church share the same prejudices, or do those who have some experience of the situation in actual parishes find that there is a greater welcome on the ground than the public media… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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MarkBrunson

Instead of asking the amorphous “public,” why not specifically ask gay people? I know, it’s a wild idea, asking the people involved directly, but it might just be the kind of shot-in-the-dark, outside-the-box thinking that could work!

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I suspect that an honest answer would be ‘Some churches are, and some aren’t’. Perhaps a more relevant question would have been ‘Is your local C of E church welcoming to gay people?’

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Doug, I’m not sure that I agree with your opening premise. Among those in older age brackets is likely to be a high proportion of people who have never encountered openly gay people in their churches and who have no idea how they would have been treated. And gay people themselves didn’t expect particularly favourable treatment in a time when society itself wasn’t particularly welcoming either. What has changed is the visibility of gay people and the normalisation of that. With that, the (hardening) treatment of gay people in the CoE is becoming more and more apparent. While I agree… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mark,
because asking gay people only is beside the point. The majority of people is not gay, and if the majority of people is no longer interested in our discriminatory attitudes, we really have some serious thinking to do.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘this is how the people we want to get back into our churches are viewing us’.

I suspect you might be a generation or two beyond ‘back’. There are a couple of generations now in which the majority have never been in your churches. At least, that’s the way it is here in Canada, and most of my friends in the UK tell me it’s the same there.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The statistics can be interpreted in different ways.

But they key for me is that Jayne has got the issue back in the spotlight and in a way which offers counterpoint to the refrain that acceptance of LGBT issues would reduce Church numbers. All credit to her. A smart piece of PR.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

An awful lot depends on the local Vicar and how – or whether – s/he encourages the Vestry and others to accept those in the parish who may possibly be LGBTI. If the Vicar does not approve, the likelihood is that the parish will not welcome such people.

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

Absolutely, Tim. I’m in my mid-forties and going to church was already an oddity among people my age when I was a teen. I once rather gloriously corrected Lord Carey who was bemoaning the fact that my generation could not pass on the faith. Well, blimey, his generation did not do a very good job.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Would it be fair to suggest that the age groups least likely to have first-hand experience of the Church of England believe (presumably on the basis of its media image) that it is not welcoming towards gay people, while the generations more likely to have first-hand experience of the C of E seem to think it is welcoming?”

I think it more the case that older generations see any *softening of bigotry* as “welcoming”, while younger generations will not accept anything less than full EQUALITY in the church as actual welcome.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

This manifests the spirit of welcome.

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/10/28/this-christian-grandma-wrote-an-amazing-song-about-the-rainbow-flag/

Church of England PCCs and congregations wishing to be be truly welcoming are truly hampered by the policies of the national body, which denies marriage etc to lesbian or gay couples.

Need one say more ?

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

I think it’s interesting that the age group that is most likely to say gay people are welcome in the church is the same age group that is most likely to be hostile to gay people.

Kinda reminds me of holocaust deniers.

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

Daniel–bad taste? Unfair. What we are talking about here is the standard human thing of seeing the world the way you’d like it to be, rather than the way it is. To compare that with holocaust denial is both silly and offensive.

However these stats do show that the church’s propaganda isn’t convincing its target audience. Wishful thinking won’t change that.

Susannah Clark
Guest

My experience has been that church members in the pews (and I attend an evangelical Anglican church) are increasingly open and welcoming (if not necessarily all affirming) to a degree that reflects social attitude changes in society at large. People in the pews live out there in society, experience friends and relatives who are gay, and have become increasingly tolerant/accepting of gay relationships (if not always totally celebrating them). Same obviously can apply to some priests – certainly ones I know – who have been on a journey because of friends or family members who live valid, loving gay or… Read more »

Daniel Berry
Guest
Daniel Berry

@ Turbulent Priest: I rather think my posting makes the opposite point from the one you’ve extrapolated: those who wish the church not to be welcoming of GLBT people are, to their dismay, seeing the church as more welcoming than it actually is because any welcome is too much welcome. But they could never be convinced that such an attitude runs counter to the Gospel. Similarly, holocaust deniers are fabled for their anti-Semitism while refusing to acknowledge that any attitude they themselves harbor could actually harm anyone. Both cases are tidy ways of keeping oneself convinced of her or his… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Amen, JCF.

This speaks to the whole problem of trying to find “two integrities” in the CoE. Young people find anything less than full equality to be morally abhorent.

The brouhaha about gay marriage and the “quadruple lock” is a serious stumbling block, let alone the discrimination against the married clergy and lay readers.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Daniel, reference your comment at 8.36 on Saturday. There is an analogy here to surveys on the quality and effectiveness of the National Health Service. If you ask people who have had actual experience of NHS hospital treatment, a large majority will be very happy with the treatment they have received. But if you do a general survey, and therefore include many people whose only knowledge of the NHS are the stories the read daily in the Daily Mail and Daily Express, then the message is much more critical. There is a difference here between A – “the quality of… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Simon Your example of the NHS leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The NHS service for LGBT people needing help with gender reassignment is pretty dire. Many GPs refuse to help. Some NHS trusts have imposed (illegal) blanket bans on prescription of hormones. The waiting time for first appointments can be two years in some cases. Then there are the problems of after gender reassignment being turned away from a hospital because they don’t deal with people who have had gender reassignment. From everything I read, it is better than it used to be and depending on geography and… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Kate, Please don’t project into my post meanings that are not intended by me. I made no specific comment on NHS services related to gender reassignment surgery. Mine was a more general comment asking people to be careful about what a survey is measuring, and how views can be influenced by the media. I know that NHS gender reassignment services are inadequate, but that does not detract in any way for the comments that I made. There is a balance to be made here. Yes it is right to describe where things are not good, whether in the NHS, the… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I was going to make the same point as Kate: NHS treatment of trans people has historically been dire. My own experience was that the people on the ground – the nurses, the practitioners – provided a quality service in a totally outstretched system. But the system itself is institutionally creaking on the verge of collapse. I’m a nurse, and I can assure you that on so many shifts we are disastrously understaffed and pushed to the limit, trying to do our best, but patient care compromised and sometimes endangered by the system itself. Trans people have suffered psycho-pathologisation for… Read more »

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

Daniel. The bad taste is bringing the holocaust into this discussion at all.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

But, Erika, the question is if the churches are welcoming to LGBT’s, and those are the only ones that can tell you that.

Asking heterosexuals makes no sense. If they are anti-theist/anti-church the answer will be “No.” If they are church-goers, the answer will be “Yes.” It doesn’t concern them, except in the way it affects them directly. It’s like asking someone sitting in a chair if the person across the room is comfortable.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Perhaps the analogy holds good after all.” But not Simon’s conclusion: ” Going back to the survey on the attitudes to LGBT people in the church. I think it is entirely possible that young people who do not go to church, and base their answers only on what they read or hear in the media, will tell you that the church has a poor record here. Whereas the elderly who base their answers on their own knowledge of church life will have a more positive view. And I would support that.” It is the other way round. The young tend… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

@ Simon Dawson: I can entirely believe what you say to be the case. Often older people have seen enough of the world and reflected on it to have forumlaled solid idea of their own on what’s important in the world.

I fear that the social-religious culture in the US may be less given to such outcomes, however.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

@ Turbulent Priest: considering the church’s complicity–if not out-and-out participation in–hideous crimes against gay people, I can’t help being struck by your being stuck on the idea of referring to the holocaust as in bad taste. But I’m the last person to insist that anyone else must share my sensibilities when it comes to such things. Nevertheless your reduction of my rhetorical device to a matter of taste while ignoring its point and substance is, well, bizarre.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mark, about half of all members of the CoE now support marriage equality. For every single lgbt person there is a family and a friendship group. Not a single member of our family will go to church any longer and genuinely can’t understand why we still do. And if you ask them why, the church’s treatment of lgbt people comes high on their list of reasons for not even exploring what church might have to offer. If the issue was about 5% of churchgoers not liking how they’re being treated, the church could happily ignore us. The reason it is… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

That’s about it, Erika. Society has grown up and moved on. And why would it want to identify and associate with people who seem to champion discrimination? Even though the Church *does* have so much good to offer, it is alienating a generation right out of the door. People recoil from what they regard as repulsive values in the Church. This blinds them to the good things the Gospel says, about the power of love and the inclusion of the outsider, the ‘other’, the helpless and the poor. It’s a PR disaster, and then people wring their hands at declining… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

No, Erika, black equality doesn’t concern just blacks, but only blacks can tell you if they are being treated equally and that’s what this question is analogous to – it simply isn’t possible for anyone but glbt’s to tell you if they are welcomed. No amount of verbal or philosophical gymnastics change that. Others can see they try to welcome or don’t, but they can’t see if the welcome is effective – only glbt’s can do that. Sorry. Look at it like this – I say hello to my black neighbors, enjoy their company, find them more congenial and friendlier… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Society has grown up and moved on. And why would it want to identify and associate with people who seem to champion discrimination?” It is not just support of LGBT people. I suspect a fair few like me recoil from a church which gets involved in services of remembrance which concentrate more on “brave” service men than on the innocent children who have been the collateral victims. I am pretty sure there are others who struggle with a church which wrings its hands at having a billion or two less in endowments than it would like while moving on homeless… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Seekers after truth (who God delights in) have already concluded that demonstrable evidence contradicts a fundamentalist assertion of the creation story and Noah’s ark. And rightly so” It is like those questions which ask you to choose the next shape or the next number. There are usually two or three (at least) possible answers and it’s an exercise not in picking the next item but in working out which of the possible relationships is probably the one the person setting the question had in mind. There’s no absolutely right answer, just an answer that the person setting the question believes… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mark, if I believe that we have racial equality and then black people tell me that we haven’t, I have to sit up and take notice. But if I agree with black people that we don’t have racial equality, then I absolutely have the right to point that out and I’m not wrong in pointing it out. It’s bizarre to say that our straight allies, looking at Jeremy Pemberton, should have the right to say that how the church treats him is discriminatory and that it only counts if he or we say it. And the other thing is that… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

It is quite astonishing that as far as I can make out from the results the survey did not ask for respondents’ sexual orientation and therefore any analysis is not able to break it down that way. What I would have thought would have been very instructive would not be to just ask LGBT people (sorry Mark- I do get your point) but to ask LGBT and non-LGBT people as well. Then we would be able to compare the perceptions of heterosexuals with those of LGBT people. LGBT people would give you the reality: non-LGBT the non-participatory perception. I can’t… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

‘Then we would be able to compare the perceptions of heterosexuals with those of LGBT people.’

I know what you mean, but remember that some LGBT people are heterosexual.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

You live too much in your head, Erika, which is something of a pandemic in Anglican circles. I didn’t say they don’t count, I’m saying the REALITY is they can’t really know.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr Andrew,
it’s not “quite astonishing” that the survey did not include more questions, it’s to do with the cost of surveys. This one was financed by a small group of private individuals. Adding more questions, although really interesting, does increase the cost considerably.
The survey was intended to be a follow-up to the one Linda Woodhead carried out in 2013.

It would be great if anyone who would like to see a more detailed breakdowns commissioned their own survey with YouGov.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“It is quite astonishing that as far as I can make out from the results the survey did not ask for respondents’ sexual orientation and therefore any analysis is not able to break it down that way.” Many people won’t answer that so more people would have had to be approached which increases the cost. Then you would still have only had those who are “out”. I can’t open the. Xls to check the question asked but anyway LGBTI is about much more than sexual orientation. Even if that was ignored, there’s a vast array of sexual orientations which makes… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mark, for the purpose of this survey it is completely irrelevant whether straight people can actually know lgbt discrimination or not. What matters is how the church is perceived. Because cis and straight people who believe the church to be homophobic are as unlikely to go to church than gay people who have experienced that homophobia, or affirming parents of lgbt children, or affirming children of lgbt parents. This is a church that wants to remain established and that is about to go bankrupt if it cannot increase bums on pews in the next decade or so. That’s the point… Read more »