Thinking Anglicans

News stories about British religious statistics

British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) has a round up of some recent news stories about British religious statistics with summaries and links to the full data: Respect for Clergy and Other News. Stories included are:

Evangelicals and Money
“Evangelical Christians are not immune from the economic downturn…”

Respect for Clergy
“Ministers and priests enjoy a lower standing in Britain than in Canada or the United States…”

Current Issues in the Church of England
“…Anglican churchgoers rate the performance of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury more highly than practising Christians as a whole…”

Pastoral Research Centre
“…an independent trust for applied socio-religious research, and focused primarily on the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales…”

Joking Apart
“…significant numbers [of UK Christians] apparently hold ambivalent or contradictory positions…”

Heritage at Risk
“A higher proportion of England’s religious heritage assets appear to be at risk than is the case with any other type…”

These round-ups are a regular feature of BRIN.


  • Susannah says:

    74% of Anglicans support women bishops.

    While I wish that figure was higher, that is still a decisive and pretty conclusive figure.

    Imagine if any political party polled 74% of the vote in a General Election.

    That wouldn’t be a landslide, it would be a political tsunami.

    Now can we please have not 1 female bishop but 50% of bishops female as soon as practically possible?

    The time has come.

  • Tristan says:


    I’m concerned that you view that popular opinion alone can make something right or wrong. Particularly when it applies to Church order.

    I find this matter – honestly – troubling. We’re called to be counter-cultural, to follow the ways of God, and not of the world, or of the age.

    Or at least that what I was told at Confirmation class! 🙂

  • Jennifer says:


    I don’t recall being taught that God was counter-cultural. There must be times when culture/society/the world (whatever you call other people)get it right in his eyes and I would suggest that on this question they have.

  • ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2)

    ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ (1 John 2:15)

    John qualifies this. Of course, we must love people (‘For God so loved the world’), but adamantly oppose the spirit of the age: ‘For all that is in the world, the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.’ (1 John 2:16)

    Wikipedia defines counter-culture as ‘a subculture whose values and norms of behavior deviate from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores’. Is that not true of the Christian faith, especially as it was said of the apostles: ‘These men who have turned the world upside-down have come here also’ (Acts 17:6)?

    Tristan may therefore mean that that the fact that a majority of nominal Anglicans support a proposal is not the chief determinant of whether it is approved by God. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite. Luke records Christ saying: ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’ (Luke 16:15) Hmm…

  • david rowett says:

    I’ve come to avoid the term ‘counter-cultural’ since it can cover too wide a spectrum of meaning, baptising everything from prophetic insight through to bloody-minded reaction. I prefer the words ‘culture critical’.

    A minor thought, but there it is.

  • peterpi - Peter Gross says:

    “We’ve always done it this way, it must be God’s plan!”
    Opposing women bishops is counter-cultural?!? In which Universe?
    For 2,000 years, the “culture” has been to suppress women’s minds, to deny women their equality, to deny women certain vocations that God has given them the gifts to explore.
    I’d say women bishops are VERY counter-cultural.
    Last night, my wife and I watched the movie “Pope Joan” on American TV. Even if the plot — a woman disguised as a man became Pope, and a horrified Vatican suppressed her very existence — is merely a myth, the movie still rings true. How many women throughout history have been denied their full potential because “they’re just a woman”? How many women of towering reason, knowledge of Scripture, and faith have been blocked by a “stained glass ceiling”? Shunted aside into “women’s work”?
    For every Teresa of Avila, how many hundreds of women died or were executed, never having a chance to have their wisdom heard? The Church might have benefited from a Pope Teresa.
    The “Pope Joan” story reminds me of a Barbra Streisand movie, based on a 19th Century tale by the author Sholom Aleichem, about a girl who disguises herself as a boy, so that she can attend a yeshiva, a Jewish religious school for intensive religious study, argument, and debate. By doing so she freed herself, in a way, and allowed her full mind to develop.
    Why must a woman become like a man to do that?
    Two last thoughts:
    As the character Johanna/Johannes Anglicus in “Pope Joan” says, “Why would God give womankind a reasoning brain if she isn’t supposed to use it?”
    Considering where the men of the Church or Religion have led us, women can’t have done any worse.

  • Erika Baker says:

    I doesn’t matter how Wikipedia defines something.
    Being on two opposing sides of a topic debated in our culture does not make either side counter cultural.
    It makes them two opposing sides of a topic.

    Being truly counter cultural would mean not getting trapped in the same debate with the same kinds of arguments.

    James Alison defines cultural as being focused on those who are either on our side or who oppose our side, but obtaining our sense of identity from that debate, whether we’re “for” or “against” it.

    Being counter cultural mean stepping out of the framework where we’re facing each other like dogs in a fight and getting our validation and identity from God alone.

    That doesn’t mean that we necessarily come to different conclusions.

    But please, let’s not think we’re being counter cultural by simply supporting 50 year old social mores against a current trend. Or by simply following current thinking.

    Hold your views because you genuinely believe them to be true.

    Don’t hold them because they are minority and therefore supposedly counter cultural, as if that alone gave them any credibility.

  • Erika:
    ‘Don’t hold them because they are minority and therefore supposedly counter cultural, as if that alone gave them any credibility.’

    Unfortunately, you’ve presented Tristan’s self-same argument to address minority views. He’s essentially saying, ‘don’t hold them (views) because they are majority and supposedly mainstream cultural, as if that alone gave them credibility’.

    Quoting statistics that prove a majority agree (74% of Anglicans), as Susannah did, implies no more credibility than holding to a minority view. So we both now agree that the ‘movement of history’ argument that undergirds a progressive view of human culture is a flimsy one.

  • Erika Baker says:

    I take your point.
    I have to say, I have never supported a view just because it was tradtitional or just because it was new.
    I am often persuaded by the justice of new movements and then appalled by some of the chaos they can bring with them.

    Opposed to that is the superficial calm of traditional views that covers up a lot of injustice many of us have simply got used to and are quite comfortable with.

    So my personal conclusions are usually that “back to the future” does not solve anything but that new solutions have to be found for current problems.

    We have to base our views on a deep sense of where God is and of how we can reconcile our faith and its demands with the realities of life around us.

    We do come to different conclusions. And that is how it should be – change or preservation are a continuous process.

    My gripe is with the idea that simply being on the other side of any topic makes one counter cultural.

    If a Christian who lived, say, 500 years ago, came to observe our debates today, she would conclude that we are all trapped in the same culture, that we are all obsessed by sex, sexuality and gender roles at the moment in a way that no culture before us has been.
    We are not being counter cultural, not a single one of us.

    What unites us with those Christians of old is not our obsession with our current topics but that which is truly counter-cultural.

    To use counter-cultural as short hand for conservative is to misunderstand what the requirement to be counter-cultural is asking of us.

  • Feria says:

    I’m sure we can all agree that, all other things being equal, the fact that a moral proposition has majority support among what the Catechism calls “the elect people of God” makes it more, not less, likely that the moral proposition is correct. The same goes for majority support among the general public: after all, the Catechism is very clear that Christ has redeemed “all mankind”, not just our fellow Christians.

    Of course, David will continue to argue, as he is perfectly entitled to do, that in this case, all other things are not equal.

  • Erika:
    Thoroughly valid.

  • serena says:

    There’s always the chance that those 74% are guided by prayer and an understanding of God which leads them to hold that women should be full members of church and clergy.

    Just saying.

  • Cynthia says:

    In TEC USA we LOVE our female clergy and Presiding Bishop. It can not possibly be more obvious that they have brought a beautiful, and most holy, spirit to the church. Jesus included women in shocking ways. It was taboo in his time to speak to women, let alone include them in his circle, or make Mary Magdalene the first witness to the Resurrection. Just sayin’ that clinging to tradition might not be the same thing as clinging to the example of Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *