Thinking Anglicans

civil partnerships: AM and some statistics

Updated 9 January
“Anglican Mainstream” has issued a press release. The text of it is not currently on at last posted to the AM website but meanwhile it can be found here. It says in part (emphasis added):

Following the passing of the Act, the House of Bishops of the Church of England released a pastoral statement on July 25 2005. Anglican Mainstream, the Church of England Evangelical Council, and Reform all issued responses to the Bishops’ statement between July and September. Between them they represent people in over 1000 churches and 2000 clergy throughout England. The Anglican Mainstream letter… has since been personally signed by over 1700 people, including 290 clergy and two Bishops from 260 churches in 38 dioceses. It has today been presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury as evidence of the deep disquiet within the Church about the pastoral situation which the Civil Partnership Act has created.

The statistics included in this press release are rather interesting. (Of course, any AM-originated statistics warrant caution in interpretation.)

Anglican Mainstream UK (which covers Wales, Scotland, and Ireland as well) has a Steering Committee which includes representatives from: Reform, CEEC, Church Society, and New Wine. It is curious that the latter two organisations are not mentioned in the press release.

If this coalition represents only 1000 churches and 2000 clergy in the Church of England then it would seem to be very far indeed from representing “mainstream” evangelical opinion within the Church of England.

What is even more significant is how few signatures AM has managed to obtain, even after several months of active solicitation.

According to the CofE official website, there are:

“… more than 9,000 paid clergy; more than 2,000 non-stipendiary ministers;… around 5,000 active retired clergy; and 1,100 chaplains in colleges, universities, hospitals, schools, prisons and the armed forces.”

and from here:

“The Church of England has some 16,000 church buildings, in 13,000 parishes covering the whole of England…”

And AM obtained less than 300 clergy signatures from only 260 churches.

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Augustus Meriwether
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So, consistent with the principle of consensus or majority rule (despite any ongoing injustices, persecution, diminishing/diluting of the Gospel, and cheerful ignoring of the broad and well established consensus in the psychological, biological and sociological sciences that would lead any rational and compassionate creature to different conclusions than those held by ‘reasserters’) that has been exposed and clarified by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent Q&A session at the Egyptian ‘encounter’, this means they should be completely and forever ignored. Completely ignored, apart from being tutted over and then patronised with some loving smiles and prayer – then ignored. Hey, maybe… Read more »

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

I made a lovely little chart of your figures at

http://frontparlour.blogspot.com/2005/12/anglican-fringe-dribble.html

Dave
Guest
Dave

Augustus Merriwether wrote: “Hey, maybe they should be actively persecuted too; maybe telling them they should not be allowed to have sex or they will be excommunicated and/or go to hell. Yes, that makes sense. And why not prevent any of their number from becoming bishops, too? Maybe we should let our witness to the world be that they and their practices (I don’t know what those sorts do in private) are gravely disordered and evil or something. It doesn’t matter if it results in ‘reasserter’-bashing or murder or other civil cruelties and injustice, because they are in the minority.”… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Simon

You omitted Fulcrum’s statement which you can find here: http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2005/20050917cpa.cfm?doc=6&CFID=3808646&CFTOKEN=9c8488b1c36901b3-2945E802-00BB-E1E4-21696478E9ABD6C7

And Forward in Faith here: http://www.forwardinfaith.com/artman/publish/article_248.shtml

I think that covers the whole of the non-liberal end of the Church of England! (For non-UK readers, you might like to know that CEEC is the main umbrella organisation for all Evangelicals in the CofE)

Anglican Mainstream is the organisation set up in the face of the recent “innovations” to represent the views of all Anglicans (Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic or other) who wish to uphold scriptural/apostolic/traditional teachings of Christianity.

Dave
Guest
Dave

And while we’re at it, the liberal “Inclusive Church” petition is rather dishonest in that it doesn’t actually say anything that most people would disagree with – it even goes so far as to reaffirm obedience to Holy Scripture!! I guess for this reason there was, until recently, a section on their website for people who signed up and then realised they didn’t agree (with what IC was really saying)! See for yourself: “INCLUSIVE CHURCH”‘S DECLARATION OF BELIEF We affirm that the Church’s mission, in obedience to Holy Scripture, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every generation.… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think that Anglican Mainstream represent a particular hard-line minority, evidenced by their wish to prevent gay lay persons in partnerships from being communicants within the Church of England.

I certainly don’t think they represent ‘mainstream’ opinion in the UK, but then, I have always seen them as an organisation set up to gather people together for departure from Anglicanism should the split take place.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Is it just me, or do the asides and ‘spin’ on these posts always ‘spin’ in one direction – this post being a good example, with the asides on stats? If so,that is not what one expects from unbiased reporting, nor from this otherwise excellent blog.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Don’t be surprised Christopher, the information on this site is informative and of value to all members of the christian church. But it is not value neutral – its purpose is clearly presented here: http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/000065.html

Notice that it presents information from a “liberal christian perpective” which is a blessing “In a world where the voices of fundamentalism and conservatism are frequently heard”

Now to hear conservative spin you can visit http://www.anglican-mainstream.net or http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net
and I think I know what to expect at your own http://www.kt.org/

By contrast I value this place because I value “tolerant, progressive and compassionate Christian spirituality”.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Kensington Temple?

That well-known Anglican church?

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

So all members of a given body think in the same way? About every conceivable topic? And to think that I respected MPs who defied their whips….

There is manifestly such a thing as being less biased rather than more biased: to prove it, we all know people who are more biased, so by definition we know people who are less.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Simon’s research into the figures seems pretty accurate – his comments simply and gently point out the relevance of these for the claim that the “Anglican Mainstream” response to the bishops’ pastoral statement represents the mainstream of the Church of England. I too respect MPs who are willing to buck the party line – but hey, perhaps in saying this you are subtly telling us that you don’t go with the KT party line on loving faithful homosexual relationships, if so – well done, Christopher but such a stance can be costly, I don’t think that Colin Dye values those… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Ray, As I said before, I think that all the non-liberal groupings in the CofE have made similar responses to AM’s.

Anyway, the discussion is not about majority opinion but theological truth… these are not always the same!

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

So, when it’s about the Anglican Communion accepting gay bishops and gay blessings, it IS about majority opinion and consensus because that somehow indicates a theological truth or even the mind of God (woooooh).

But, when it’s about an extreme, puritanical, hard-line traditionalist faction – who at 1.7% of the English Church clergy, are very much a minority – it is NOT about majority opinion and consensus because that somehow indicates that the teeny puritanical reasserter faction are sole possessors of theological truth or even knowers of the mind of God.

I see.

Thank you for that; it must indeed be ‘classic’ Anglicanism.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Yes Dave, in your previous response you added FiF and Fulcrum to the statements noted by Simon. And I note in checking the list of signatories expressing agreement with the Anglican Mainstream statement from my diocese (Chelmsford)that a number of these come from parishes linked with Reform (some of these parishes seem to have prompted a number of their members and the church cat to sign) This discussion seems to show that despite such concerted efforts the number of parishes represented is only a very small proportion of the Church of England. But numbers don’t settle matters – even if… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Augustus and Ray, No, the numbers of people who hold particular views is always a secondary issue. The fact that grace can be manifested in all sorts of relationships is a property of grace – it doesn’t depend on our obedience!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I think that Augustus Meriwether has (finally) got it ;=)

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Ray- Actually, on the contrary, my views are strongly anti active homosexuality. But this is not based on the Bible, which was merely reporting and commenting on what was already apparent. In any case arguments from the Bible can be circular. It is based on the available statistics on things like life-expectancy levels; promiscuity levels; abuse levels; and of course the way that heterosexuality is so obviously natural and fruitful (it ‘fits’) in a way that homosexuality is not. Other factors are the association of the rise of gay rights with the rise of promiscuity and the overall highly… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Addendum:
I missed out the most important statistical point: namely (proportional) STD levels. Smoking is an example of a lifestyle which inevitably has negative effects/fruits because it is intrinsically negative. Or one could see it the other way round: the fact that it is intrinsically negative is demonstrated by its negative effects/fruits. And the same goes for any other lifestyle or practice: by its fruits we shall know it.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Re the statistics, the proportions you give would only be valid if every single Cof E clergyman/woman had been asked their views, or had responded in one way or the other. Clearly, only a small minority gave any kind of response,either positive or negative. We are always being told that statistically (a) the largest and (b) fastest growing group in the C of E is the evangelicals. I don’t know precisely how true the statistics are (though there is a limit to how untrue they can be);nor do I deny the need to differentiate between numerous different types of evangelicals,… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“Actually, on the contrary, my views are strongly anti active homosexuality . . . It is based on the available statistics on things like life-expectancy levels; promiscuity levels; abuse levels; and of course the way that heterosexuality is so obviously natural and fruitful (it ‘fits’) in a way that homosexuality is not. Other factors are the association of the rise of gay rights with the rise of promiscuity and the overall highly damaging 1960s ideology, with the former of which it so clearly overlaps.” I’m sorry, Christopher: if these comments were designed as an intentional PARODY (see, for example, “This… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

JCF-
As my old teacher used to say: ATQ -or ‘answer the question’.

Here in England we enjoy Willans & Searle’s Molesworth books. Molesworth answers exam questions with answers like ‘larfably easy’. What he doesn’t do is answer the question.

Now – which sort of people avoid answering questions? Those who don’t want to face up to them?

Statistics are the only relatively objective way of making a decision on most topics. Zeitgeist and social trends, because they are so changeable, are one of the less good ways.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Incidentally, JCF’s answer is of a common type in modern debate: namely, changing the subject from ‘is it true?’ to ‘is it funny?’. The former is the essential matter in hand, whereas the latter is irrelevant.
People will always find things funny that would be taboo in their own circles. Whereas people concerned for truth don’t mind in the least being laughed at. Funniness and truth are -as everyone knows- two separate questions. So it beats me why people treat them as the same question.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Hi Christopher, Thanks for your comments but I’m with JCF on this; your statements do read rather like attempted spoof. But for fun let’s pretend that they’re intended to be taken seriously. Christopher, having wisely abandoned any attempt at providing a Biblical basis for your anti-homosexual stance recognising that “arguments from the Bible can be circular” you now tell us that you subscribe to what appears to be approaching statistical foundationalism . But this begs so many questions, what are the statistics and how are they to be interpreted? You have concluded that whatever statistics you have in mind tell… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Ray- Once again: the issue is (as I’m sure you’re aware…?) not whether it’s funny, but whether it’s true. Of course, we are talking averages/large-scale trends. All responsible government decisions are made on the basis of averages / large-scale trends. There are of course smokers who live to a ripe old age in rude health. But they are not the norm, and the same applies to other averagely-unhealthy lifestyles. Surely the multiple-angles approach which you advocate, and which I agree with, includes the statistical approach. Indeed, the statistical approach has in its favour that it is less open to… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Ever heard of “lies, damned lies and statistics” ;=)

Dave
Guest
Dave

Ray wrote: “Sadly the Church, therefore, sometimes lags behind the world in moving toward the just and loving treatment of excluded minorities.”

Dear Ray, That’s very loose language! It is “just and loving treatment” to lock up paedophiles, who could be said to be an “excluded minority”! You need to spell out how you decide what are acceptable “orientations”, how justice and love should be applied, and why!

Blanket assertions might sound virtuous, but don’t engage with the issues – and are open to abuse and ridicule!

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“JCF-
As my old teacher used to say: ATQ -or ‘answer the question’.”

Christopher: *you* ain’t my teacher (I doubt you have credentials I would trust—anymore than I do your “statistics”). Answering your questions would just waste my time (and are unlikely to change your faulty presumptions in asking them).

In the long run of ecumenical relations, Anglicans and “Kensington Templars” need to have that basis of trust for full-communion (presuming you’re Christian). As it is now, it’s just not my priority (though, as always, “Thy will be done”: God may have other plans?).

Adios!

augustus meriwether
Guest

Dave, in response to your question about acceptable ‘orientations’:

A very simple criteria that most people use now-a-days in distinguishing whether an act is ‘wrong’ or not, is CONSENT.

I have not, btw, consented to being associated with paedophilia or disease as you and Mr Shell have just done.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Augustus Merriwether, If you use Consent as the sole grounds for determining right and wrong sexual behaviour, that means that you must believe that adultery, promiscuity and group sex are all ok.

Is that what you believe ? If so you are further away from biblical Christianity than the standard position espoused by liberal Anglicans (at the moment) – that they just want the blessing of the church for monogamous life-long sexual relationships between any two people who love each other.

Dave
Guest
Dave

ps I was not associating you with paedophilia. And I would be pleased if you would stop associating people with conservative moral values with violence against gays.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Either people debate on the basis of maximally hard facts (of which statistics,however imperfect, are the obvious example) or they don’t debate at all. Discourse on the basis of opinion and ideology is not debate, and it has a foregone conclusion. That is why Simon was right to make the points he did based on statistics rather than on anything more nebulous.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Augustus You wrote above: ‘A very simple criteria that people use now-a-days in distinguishing whether an act is wrong or not is consent.’ (1) Whether people use a criterion nowadays is irrelevant – unless one believes that whatever happens nowadays is good. Which no-one believes. The question is, rather, whether people are justified in using this criterion. (2) Consent between whom? All affected parties? So someone’s family (wife, husband, children, parents), and loved ones, and all (Christians etc) who have concern for their welfare are not affected? In fact all of these are affected, and not all of them… Read more »

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

I said ‘a’ criterion, not ‘the sole’ criteria. I focussed on consent to address your categorizing (and so associating) paedophilia along with homosexuality (referenced by Ray, to whom you were responding) as identifying characteristics of two ‘excluded minorities’ whose exclusion is to be justified by your interpretation of the Bible. Your implication is that they are both aberrations from the heterosexual norm that is held up as an ideal by puritanical Christians and so barely distinguishable from each other in their wrongness. The frequent use of paedophilia in debate around homosexuality helps to create a climate of scapegoating homosexuality for… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear AM, It is quite possible to think something is wrong and still respect people who do/believe it! Otherwise, given that we are all sinners, we would all disrespect everyone ! – including ourselves!!

Morals are not prejudice…

Augustus Meriwether
Guest

My previous comment was directed at Dave, btw.

This to Mr Shell: I very much believe in consent applying to the wider picture. I do not believe that is reason to persecute and oppress a minority because of society’s prejudices or another minority’s misinterpretation of corrupt statistics.

Can I just remind people that Anglican MAINSTREAM’S own statistics reveal that they represent only 1.7 % of all Church of England clergy? Thank you. I love saying that: 1.7 % = mainstream. mainstream = 1.7 %

What’s a minority, Daddy?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dave wrote: “Morals are not prejudice… “

Now, I very much wonder how you distinguish the one from the other.

And, by the way, you need explain how you “apply” “justice and love”.

“and why!”

And why not?

And how you decide which is which.

“Blanket assertions might sound virtuous, but don’t engage with the issues – and are open to abuse and ridicule”

FriarJohn
Guest
FriarJohn

I’m reminded of the line about using statistics the way a drunk person uses a light pole. More for support than for illumination.

bls
Guest

Interesting that people so often cite “statistics” in defense of their arguments without actually offering any….

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Maybe there is no such thing as an Anglican Mainstream, given that Anglicanism is intrinsically diverse.

Out of the available candidates, the evangelicals, being (a) most numerous and (b) most in tune with Anglican (and, more importantly, foundational Christian) tradition have a better claim than any other. But let’s remember that people frequently use the term ‘mainstream’ in their own propaganda.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Göran wrote: “Morals are nor Prejudice. Now, I very much wonder how you distinguish the one from the other.” Dear Göran, Sometimes I wonder whether many people with a liberal world-view have in fact liost the ability to distinguish morals and prejudice due to such concepts relative (situation) ethics. The danger is of course that you begin to think that because you are “right” (ie liberal) you are not prejudiced! To understand the subtle difference between them I’d suggest we start with some definitions. How about: Morals: “the principles that determine the quality of human behaviour” Prejudice: “an adverse judgment… Read more »