Thinking Anglicans

College of Bishops discusses Pilling report today

Timed to coincide with the meeting of the College of Bishops today, to discuss the Pilling report, there are several new items:

Andrew Brown has written this piece at Comment is free Bishops must reject these wicked homophobic views.

These are not the views expressed in the report, but rather the views expressed by Anglican churches in Nigeria and Uganda:

…The bishops are meeting in the wake of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which represents an irrevocable move towards the acceptance of gay people in this country. But they are also meeting in the shadow of astonishingly homophobic laws supported by two of the largest Anglican churches in Africa – in Nigeria and Uganda.

The Nigerian law has passed with overwhelming support (1% of the Nigerian population is in favour of “society accepting homosexuality”, according to the Pew Foundation). The marginally more liberal Ugandan government (where 4% of the population accepts homosexuality) has just rejected a similar law.

In Britain, where the Pew figures say that over 70% of the population is pro-gay rights, a number of conservative evangelical churches have aligned themselves with Uganda and Nigeria as a pre-emptive strike against the C of E recognising same-sex marriage. Although tomorrow’s meeting will dodge the question, there will be clergy queueing to marry their same-sex partners when this becomes legal in April, when the question can no longer be dodged…

The data from Pew Research mentioned by Andrew in his article can be found here: The Global Divide on Homosexuality and there is also a world map here. The divide is stark.

And there is further survey data illustrated in the latest article from Changing Attitude: Infographics about attitudes in the Church of England.

Changing Attitude is publishing three infographics today about attitudes in the Church of England on the day the College of Bishops meets to discuss the Pilling Report.

The survey results provide a glimpse of where the church is, both within itself and as it is viewed by society. These aren’t partisan statistics – we haven’t hunted around for the figures most favourable to our cause. We have used the YouGov surveys produced for the Westminster Faith Debates 2013 because they are the most rigorous, very recent, and based on a large sample and with no attempt to influence the response by skewing how questions are asked.

Here is a snapshot of what reality actually looks like at the moment for the Church of England. (There’s a wealth of other information in the Westminster Faith Debates stats, and you can see the whole dataset here: http://faithdebates.org.uk/research/)

The survey shows remarkably strong support for same-sex marriage in the Church of England – 40% in favour, 47% against – given the reluctance of the bishops and General Synod to show approval for same-sex relationships, let alone equal marriage. If non church-going Anglicans are included, there is a slim majority for same-sex marriage, 44% with 43% against. In the population as a whole, 52% are in favour, 34% against…

There are three infographics, here is a direct link to the third one:

And finally, although far from new, as noted in the comments on an earlier article, Changing Attitude’s own submission to the Pilling review group was based in large part on the earlier Osborne report. This should have been published in 1989 but was suppressed. It was “re-published” by the Church Times two years ago: CofE’s Osborne report finally published. The comparison between this and the Pilling report shows how little change there has been within the CofE.

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Andrew Brown
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And there is a lot on related matters and the “Values Gap” in my analysis programme tonight at 8:30 bbc.in/1j0b5cX should be the link!

James Byron
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James Byron

I disagree with the assertion, in Andrew Brown’s article, that “there are virtues on both sides.” As I see no virtue in racism, I see no virtue in homophobia. This has nothing to do with free markets vs. obedience, as Andrew frames it. It is, quite simply, a question of justice.

The “two sides” fence-sitting is a cancer that’s stopped liberals within the church from standing up to injustice.

Any who take that stance, read MLK’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail,’ and keep reading it until his denunciation of moderates who seek to set the timetable for another’s freedom sinks in.