Comments: Everyone Counts 2014

And how many of the 100 are gay? Presumably the question wasn't asked; so much for diversity,let alone one of the more significant questions of our time where church memebership is concerned.Personally,I'm feeling airbrushed out.

Posted by peter kettle at Wednesday, 22 July 2015 at 9:58pm BST

"Celebrating Diversity"... I wish.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 22 July 2015 at 11:44pm BST

Everyone Counts? It would almost be funny if it weren't so tragically deluded. How can anyone in 2015 carry out a diversity audit that omits, and thereby excludes, the "difficult" cadre of people. Give me strength.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 5:50am BST

"What have we missed? What else, and who else, do we need to ask?" So says the chirpy speech bubble on the final page.

Who else indeed? Perhaps the LGBTI people who have been so carefully airbrushed from the entire 'diversity' process might be a start.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 7:34am BST

While it is always good to comment here perhaps it might be even more effective to write to those who researched and published the survey. I think this link is the one needed: jacqui.philips@churchofengland.org

Posted by Tim Newcombe at Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 12:32pm BST

The intent of monitoring ethnic diversity is decent and honest in itself.

However, the term 'diversity' can't really be colonised to exclude inconvenient or politically problematic groups.

"What should we ask ourselves?"

Well for a start, what groups need protection and support, welcome and celebration, if the Church is to be truly diverse?

"Who is missing from our church?"

I have met so many people who exclude themselves from an organisation they consider institutionally homophobic. And that is not just lesbian and gay people.

"What can our church do to welcome people and make sure we are accessible?"

Give acknowledgement, welcome and affirmation on diocesan websites. Don't ring-fence marriage just for heterosexual people. Champion justice issues instead of airbrushing them out, for fear of annoying people.

"What have we missed? What else, and who else, do we need to ask?"

Well exactly. That is my point. Two people independently used the term 'airbrushed' earlier on this thread. Invisibility needs to be repudiated, not embraced. Erasure is de-humanising.

"How can dioceses and deaneries support different needs of varying localities and communities?"

I refer again to diocesan websites. The vast majority do nothing to champion or even acknowledge the LGBT community, or to offer support. It is erasure at an institutional level, carried out for fear of offending biblical zealots.

"Celebrating Diversity" can't be done on a pick-and-choose basis. And 'celebration' means celebration, not patronising tolerance up to a point. Like TEC in the US, our church needs to become a beacon for justice, not a last bunker of cultural conservatism. Diversity should be an indivisible principle, which is why the celebration of female bishops this week cannot be seen as an ending, and why the Church cannot yet afford to be self-congratulatory.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 12:58pm BST

Completely meaningless - and useless, without any reference to racial diversity or LGBT presence.

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 6:15pm BST

"Diversity should be an indivisible principle, which is why the celebration of female bishops this week cannot be seen as an ending, and why the Church cannot yet afford to be self-congratulatory."

Couldn't agree more, Susannah, which is why, when (not if, when) the church stops discriminating on the basis of sexuality, there'll be no grounds for complacency. Justice for all demands eternal vigilance.

To take just one example, I've seen Christians who affirm women and LGBT people without reservation attack Christians who are nourished by liberal theology. My respect for Jeffrey John nosedived when he, of all people, had the nerve to condemn John Shelby Spong for lack of orthodoxy!

Diversity isn't a tick-box exercise, but a state of mind. We all have our blinkers, our biases, and we must all work against them.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 11:32pm BST

I asked my diocese why sexuality was not included and received the following reply from Sarah Barter-Godfrey, project officer for Everyone Matters at Church House, Westminster (published here with her permission). Note that this is her reply, not a formal response from Archbishops’ Council.
“Yes, sexuality was omitted in this survey. There are several cumulative issues: 1. The original aim and remit of the “diversity audit” programme was to monitor ethnicity, as a long term response to reports coming out of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, institutional racism and cultural inclusion. It has expanded a little to include age and gender, and this year to also include health and disability. These clearly intersect with each other and socio-economic status and raise similar challenges for inclusion and equality. 2. There is a wider diversity agenda that does need to be considered, including sexuality. To explore this in a congregation survey there needs to be a similar remit – the administrators cannot simply add in questions, it needs to come from the top-down. I encourage clergy to raise these points with their Bishops or other leadership within their diocese, to extend the conversation on diversity. 3. There have been serious concerns raised that introducing sexuality in a congregational survey prior to carrying out an equivalent clergy or institutional survey is problematic. In context of the threats of ‘outing’, there are concerns that reporting even aggregate sexuality questions could lead to people/churches being targeted or pressured into disclosing their sexuality. More groundwork would need to be done to make sure that the process was carried out respectfully and appropriately and with adequate leadership. 4. The other questions have baseline community figures from Census or other government data, or can correspond to Statistics for Mission, for comparison and adjustment. There is no similar source of information for sexuality at a parish level. Whilst this is not a complete barrier, particularly if good quality groundwork is carried out, it does raise further limitations of what could possibly be done with any data collected beyond raw proportions of respondents. All of these points are open to debate and counter-point, of course, but put together it means that sexuality is not part of the diversity survey at this time. I’ll pass on any comment to the steering group, so if anyone wants to discuss this further they are welcome to contact me directly too.”

Posted by Mark Hart at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 2:29pm BST

OK James Byron, in this thread I find myself agreeing with you wholeheartedly! (ps thanks for your comments - and everyone else's - whether I agree with them or not!)

Posted by ExRevd at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 2:31pm BST

Thank you Mark Hart.
In that case, though, the survey should not have been called "Everyone Counts", but "Survey on race, gender and a little bit of half baked disability thrown in" survey.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 3:54pm BST

"2. ... the administrators cannot simply add in questions, it needs to come from the top-down. ..."

So there you have it. Hell will freeze over first.

Posted by RPNewark at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 4:29pm BST

Sarah Barter-Godfrey's answer makes a lot of sense - especially regarding her point 3.

The whole issue of sexuality is such a hot potato that I don't think the compilers could realistically put in a 'What is your sexuality?' question without a lot of fall-out from all sides - and it may well jeopardise the worthy aims of the rest of the project.

Posted by Peter K+ at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 6:37pm BST

What person why opens her or his eyes upon awakening, does NOT think of gay people when the question of diversity in church life comes up? Even if that weren't the case, the attempt at an "explanation" given by Sarah Barter-Godfrey is pure rubbish. Considering the volume and density of the verbage in her reply, I'd hazard that even she knows it.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 7:03pm BST

I thought Sarah B-G's response was extremely frank and even courageous. Nobody should shoot the messenger.

Obviously a diversity audit should contain sexual orientation, cross classified with marital and relationship status, and the other demographic variables. But Sarah explains the difficulties.

We know that church central is rigidly hierarchical and authoritarian. Good leadership and management would insist on quantifying diversity among staff of various grades to check against unwitting discrimination. The civil service do this, but then each civil servant records their own diversity information on a confidential part of their personal employment website. However, since the church consciously and deliberately discriminates on grounds of sexual orientation and marital status, what is there to find out? So not surprisingly the diktat from on high seems to be "don't ask in case somebody tells"! An interesting variation....

Incidentally the resistance to monitoring ethnic diversity 15 years ago was not pleasant. Vasanta Gnanadoss had to push very hard for it.

Posted by Turbulent Priest at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 8:03pm BST

The concerns about outing as reported by Mark Hart are an admission that LGBT folk are not generally safe in the church. A fact we all know in many instances and have experienced. Clearly there is no pressure from above to address this

Posted by sjh at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 8:07pm BST

Did I read that response right? It would be hard to survey diversity in sexuality in part because the church is too homophobic for people to risk being honest about it? Well that's pretty awful in itself.

Posted by Jo at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 8:26pm BST

There has been an official statement this evening about the lack of a question on sexual orientation in the survey. I have copied it into my article.

Posted by Peter Owen at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 9:48pm BST

"In context of the threats of ‘outing’, there are concerns that reporting even aggregate sexuality questions could lead to people/churches being targeted or pressured into disclosing their sexuality."

This is a very interesting sentence!

At first I thought, hang on, can a church be 'outed'? Does a church even have sexuality?

But then I realized, that's exactly the point.

I'm sure that under its present leadership, the Church of England would very much rather not disclose the (diverse) sexuality of its members.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 24 July 2015 at 10:12pm BST

"The whole issue of sexuality is such a hot potato that I don't think the compilers could realistically put in a 'What is your sexuality?' question without a lot of fall-out from all sides - "

May I suggest the courageous and fully Christian leadership is there precisely in order to face up to hot potatoes and to fall-out. True, some LGBT's might not want to answer the question, but equally many of us would. A true count is probably impossible, owing to justified fear, but *some* attempt at a count is only just. Otherwise it is "AlmostEveryone Counts," which I do not think is Jesus' way.

Posted by Nathaniel Brown at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 12:20am BST

We should never let it slip from our minds that our top leaders are truly dreadful. How shameful it is.

Posted by John at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 6:19am BST

Well, that didn't take long. Credit to Bev Botting for holding her hand up.

However (you knew that was coming), she is a statistician, and was only doing her statistical job. What the C of E does not have working alongside its statistitians is someone whose job is Head of Equality and Diversity for the Church of England, and who can advise on ways of collecting statistics and information that can help with the development of policy in ways that are truly inclusive. But then, if the church did that, the cat would be out of the bag.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 7:59am BST

For as long as the Church of England teaches that homosexuality is a sin, equality and diversity inclusive of sexuality is a dead letter, since it presupposes that the diversity in question is positive.

In the church's eyes (categorically not mine), asking "How many LGBT people are there amongst us?" is equivalent to asking, "How many potential thieves are there amongst us?" Yes, the comparison is, of course, grossly offensive and unjust, but so too is the teaching behind it. So far as the church is concerned, "same-sex attraction" is nothing but a propensity to sin, and acting on it is to be met with a call to repentance.

Only when that teaching's changed will we see LGBT inclusion on surveys like this. Until then, the church doesn't want to know, and asking would put a lot of people in a very difficult position.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 9:25am BST

"some LGBT's might not want to answer the question, but equally many of us would. A true count is probably impossible"

Nathaniel, I think you've hit a key problem. Bev Botting is a statistician, and from that point of view the statistics the survey would produce would be so inaccurate to be meaningless. And you've just included the LGBT people - there are plenty of straight people, I'm sure, who would say 'none of your ....business'. I certainly would.

there's no perfect method, but I think you'd have to use different methods than this mass survey if you wanted more accurate stats on to survey sexual orientation - interviews, smaller surveys etc.

Posted by Peter K+ at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 9:39am BST

Although this survey misses a fair number of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 - a pretty dismal attempt, in short - the other thing that it misses is the opportunity to discuss embracing diversity of opinion. That is one thing which appears to me to be becoming rarer in the Church of England. Jeremy P. sums it up well that there needs to be the will to develop truly inclusive policy. The notion of 'Dignity at Work' could usefully be resurrected in dioceses.

Posted by Adrian Judd at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 10:01am BST

Jeremy Pemberton: "Head of Equality and Diversity for the Church of England" needed.

That is exactly what the Church of England needs.

For a start, because of sheer pastoral responsibility.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 11:31am BST

Handing control of surveys over to statisticians is a risky exercise when the establishment wants to manipulate the findings. That's why Pilling and the Facilitated Conversations involved a carefully selected number of participants with the results mediated and moderated by its authors. A full blown diversity audit might prove too much for the executive to handle.

Posted by Andrew at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 12:23pm BST

Along the lines of developing the will to be inclusive....

There seems to be a Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns.

That's a horrendous, othering name -- both "minority" and "ethnic" -- might as well call it a Committee for Anglicans Not Like Us.

That aside, how about a Committee for LGBTQI Concerns?

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 12:59pm BST

'Bev Botting is a statistician, and from that point of view the statistics the survey would produce would be so inaccurate to be meaningless.'

... though the attempt to collect them would be highly meaningful.

However, I think this statement is not true. It smells rather strongly of making excuses.

Yes, in the social sciences, collection of data on sexual orientation is notoriously problematic and prone to inaccuracy : however that hasn't stopped many people- including the ONS (via the Integrated Household Survey) and others doing it. It seems to be a case of where there's a will, there's a way.

I'm sure Bev Botting is a good statistician and is more than capable of devising a reasonable way of surveying this, or perhaps just copying the ONS. If it's beyond the ken of our episcopal leaders (who are after all called to be pastors not scientists) I'm sure there are many in the C of E with the necessary knowledge or experience to help.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 2:34pm BST

I'd be interested to know how they counted 'membership', which is a concept I personally have no problem with, but I know a lot of people on TA do.

Also, as far as the percentage of churches in rural or urban areas is concerned, another interesting statistic would be 'percentage of members who travel more than x number of miles to get to church in (a) rural and (b) urban. 'X' would be bigger here in western Canada as distances are so much greater.

Theological diversity would also be interesting. How many of the 100 would self-identify as evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, liberal, charismatic etc. and how would this correlate with their age?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Saturday, 25 July 2015 at 8:01pm BST

I think the Church of england hierarchy would be better occupied in listening to the eirenic sermon of +Paul, Bishop of Liverpool, to a congregation of the Outcast at St. Hilda's Church, recently.

His sermon on hospitality reflects the need of the Church to include all who aspire to the experience of God's Love, in a world of indifference. All of us in the Church are meant to extend the extravagant hospitality of Jesus to ALL people.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 27 July 2015 at 12:52am BST

I would count this a victory for Thinking Anglicanism.

The CofE's staff are being sensitized to the issues that the Archbishops would rather ignore.

This is good.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 28 July 2015 at 7:23pm BST

Hm. It seems unconscionable to omit LGBTQ people. If the concern is about "outing" people, the question could ask about openly gay people who are members. Sadly, it seems like a passive aggressive ploy to further marginalize and exclude gay Anglicans in the CoE. Clearly, everyone does not count.

I also have questions about the category of "minority ethnic Anglicans." It is likely my lack of knowledge about diversity issues in England. I just know that in the U.S., especially in TEC, that would be far too broad and likely insulting. We would break up the category into Blacks, Latinos/Latinas, Asians, Native Ameicans, and perhaps more. Each group has its own history, cultures, and unique identity and needs. So from my viewpoint, it doesn't seem productive to lump them all together. Perhaps England is different?

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 29 July 2015 at 10:13am BST

On minority ethnic issues, first of all here is a recent report on the national picture
http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/images/publications/a%20portrait%20of%20modern%20britain.pdf

Second here is the background paper on CofE figures for the recent presentation on this topic at General Synod
https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2256537/gs%20misc%201108%20-%20cmeac%20presentation.pdf

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 29 July 2015 at 5:58pm BST

The "Everybody Counts" question on ethnicity was the same as that used in the 2011 census, which you can find on page 8 of this questionnaire:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/census/2011/the-2011-census/2011-census-questionnaire-content/2011-census-questionnaire-for-england.pdf

There are 18 categories to choose from.

The findings available so far are only an outline, and more detailed results will be published later.

Posted by Peter Owen at Wednesday, 29 July 2015 at 8:41pm BST

Thank you for the info! It's very telling. One extreme difference between the US and UK is that we have a "new" category, voluntary minorities vs. involuntary minorities. I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem as if the UK has involuntary minorities. Ours would be our African-Americans and Native Americans. The outcomes of the involuntary minorities are vastly different, for a wide range of tragic reasons. I note that the UK's Black Caribbeans seem to struggle more than the other minority groups, and they didn't travel to the Caribbean voluntarily...

I pray that someday soon, everyone actually will "count" as Children of God in the eyes of the law and the church.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 29 July 2015 at 10:16pm BST

The census survey uses the word "ethnic." It does not use the word "minority."

Further up the questionnaire is the question about same-sex or civil partners.

Perhaps the CofE could take several pages from the census book.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 31 July 2015 at 9:29pm BST
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