Friday, 16 July 2010

YouGov surveys public on women and gay bishops

British Religion in Numbers has a report Gender and the Anglican Episcopate.

The Church of England has hit the media headlines again during the past week or so over its continuing internal divisions about the issues of women’s ministry and homosexual clergy. The general public’s reactions to all this have been explored by YouGov in an online survey of 2,227 adult Britons aged 18 and over on 11-12 July.

Details can be found at Support for female and gay Bishops on YouGov and in this PDF file.

The Church Mouse has also reported on this at Public perceptions of women bishops.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 10:31am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Is there any information to be had about the survey methodology? The British Religion in Numbers article refers to an "online" survey. Is this just what the trade calls 'a sample of convenience'?

Posted by: Rob L on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 2:27pm BST

The majority shouted for Barrabas.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 4:45pm BST

Rob, the term "online survey" may refer to thos statistically meaningless, self-selecting "polls" one frequently finds on webpages.

However, many legitimate polling firms now use online instruments and methodologies, while taking proper steps to create an appropriately random sample.

I would suspect, with YouGov apparently being a legitimate polling firm, that the latter would be the case here.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 6:17pm BST

No, Rob, it very much isn't a 'sample of convenience'; YouGov are a reputable and professionally run polling firm who were the first people to carry out accurate online polling in the UK. Although it is a little odd that they sampled people on Scotland and Wales on something that is an issue purely in the Church of *England*.

Church Mouse is completely disingenous in how he presents these results. While 'only' 39% support the consecration of gay bishops, a much lower figure of 27% are opposed, while 31% state no opinion, presumably in many cases because they are of another faith or no faith at all, and therefore feel that it isn't an issue of relevance to them. This is pretty solid support (net +12%, 59% of those expressing an opinion).

The support for consecration of women bishops is overwhelming - 63% for/10% against/27% nop. Net +53%, 86% of those stating an opinion.

It's also clear that opponents of gender and sexuality equality in the religious sphere are, like those in the secular sphere, disproportionately elderly. The conservatives have lost the culture war in the UK (not that there was all that much of a war to begin with). The churches look uncharitable, obsessed with sex, stuck in a timewarp and generally just a bit weird.

Why is the church so far behind what is basically an exceptionally tolerant society? Firstly, they aren't so far behind, but a generation ago the Church of England's hierarchy stuck themselves with the extremely stupid Issues in Homosexuality document which is in radical variance with how gay people are actually in parish life. Secondly, if your life is like most people's, a majority of people you work with are in their 20s and 30s, while a majority of people you go to church with are in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

This isn't of course, an argument for or against consecrating gay or women bishops. Truth is not determined by an opinion poll; but it shows yet again that opposing equality for gay people and women in church is working very much against the grain of the society in which we witness. How much importance you place to that is up to you.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 6:38pm BST

This is all very well, but most of the people asked quite simply have no interest in this question whatsoever. Personally, I support women imams, but because I'm not a Muslim I don't believe my opinion has any relevance to the question, and most Muslims would quite rightly discount my views as those of an outsider. Likewise, I would politely note the views of non-Anglicans on women and gay bishops, but we shouldn't be expected to be swayed either way by their opinions. Theological battles (and, to a large extent, that is what this is) belong to belivers to fight.

There is only one caveat: in England, of course, the Anglican Church is the established Church, and so non-believers do have a stake in our affairs. This seems to me to be just another good reason why we should not resist calls to disestablish the C of E. Being yoked to the views of the prevailing culture - and I speak as one largely supportive of the prevailing culture on the issues of gays and women - can only be bad for the Church in the long run.

Posted by: rjb on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 8:24pm BST

Martin Reynolds comments on the thread below ("Archbishop of Nigeria addresses the press") that Lambeth Palace's actions have been based on a flawed analysis of the disputes within the Anglican Communion. Lambeth believes that the US Episcopal Church is as "extremist" on one side as Nigeria and Uganda are "extremist" on the other, and that both are to be resisted. He adds: "Of course the analysis was wrong (in large part)..."

The YouGov poll shows just exactly how wrong and out of touch Lambeth Palace is, and how much it is alienating the people of its own nation. Apparently 39% of them (and as Gerry Lynch points out, that's 59% of those expressing an opinion) are every bit as extremist as any of us in the Episcopal Church.

Hmmm. Could this be why 98% of the English take no part at all in the Church of England? Could this be why the 2% who do have an average age of 60?

I do think the Prime Minister is right to be concerned for the future of the Church of England.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 9:09pm BST

"The majority shouted for Barrabas."

As I recall, the minority didn't do too well that Good Friday either.

Posted by: Counterlight on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 10:23pm BST


Nice of you to visit my blog after writing that to say that on reflection you don't think I had been disingenuous. In fact I merely stated the numbers in full as they are and linked to the full survey results.

Posted by: The Church Mouse on Friday, 16 July 2010 at 10:41pm BST

Church Mouse,

And you added some commentary - entirely reasonable of you, of course, but as I said, I felt your interpretation of the figures was unduly conservative. And as I further said, I sometimes forget, looks at poll numbers as part of their working life, so I hope no insult is assumed or taken.

I'd call these pretty good numbers for the good guys, inasmuch as they mean anything in an overwhelmingly secular society.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Saturday, 17 July 2010 at 3:38am BST

Actually, I don't remember it being the "majority" who shouted for Barabbas - rather the high PRIESTS had the crowd scattered with those to incite some to shout the *loudest* for Barabbas.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Saturday, 17 July 2010 at 4:42am BST
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