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The YouGov poll on same-sex marriage

welby-m_3562981bJayne Ozanne, former director of Accepting Evangelicals, commissioned YouGov to undertake a poll of attitudes to same-sex marriage, and has done a good job of getting the results out in the media yesterday and today. It featured on Radio 4 this morning, and is reported in The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Peter Ould, who is a professional statistician, makes observations about the actual polling, and then I offer some reflections about the wider process.


Last night the internet was abuzz with a YouGov poll[1], commissioned by the revisionist campaigner Jayne Ozanne, that was purported to show that a majority of Anglicans now supported same-sex marriage. It did no such thing.

The survey questioned 6276 British adults on their religion and attitude to same-sex marriage. The first question of interest to us was their “religious affiliation”. We don’t have the actual question asked given us (very poor practice) so the best assumption is that the internet questionnaire asked “What is your religious affiliation?” 1652 of the 6276 respondents answered “Church of England”, “Anglican” or “Episcopal” (Episcopal probably refers here to the Episcopal Church of Scotland). Reweighted (the poll adjusts the numbers to reflect the actual British population) that is 1786 Anglicans out of 6276.

At this point we get out our calculators and start stroking our beards. 1786 out of 6276 is 28.5%. Out of a Great Britain population of around 62 million, that equates to almost 18 million people who are “Anglicans” under this definition of the word. Given that in the last fortnight the Church of England published 2014 attendance figures that told us that the number of people at church service every week was just under 1 million[2], this means that a staggering 95% of the “Anglicans” in Jayne Ozanne’s survey do not attend church as part of their regular weekly pattern.

But it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective). On the Changing Attitude Facebook page Jayne claims,

The rather unfortunate (fortunate?) thing is that Ian [Paul] didn’t take time to look at the YouGov results himself, if he had he’d have seen we asked two questions to define Anglicans – one which asked “what affiliation” and then one that asked “where do you practice/belong” … both had the same results, although the second group was obviously smaller.[3]

What’s interesting about this question is that not only did it achieve the same results in favour of same-sex marriage for Anglicans as the first question did, it also achieved the same results (within the margin of error) for Roman Catholics, Jews, Baptists etc. Why was this? Well quite simply, because the question doesn’t ask anything meaningfully different than the first one. Asking about which group or community you are involved in or whose gatherings you would attend isn’t in any sense a different question to religious affiliation.

The one question that is missing in this survey, I suspect deliberately, is a stratification question about church attendance. What do I mean by this? Look at some of the opinion polls conducted before the General Election last year. As well as asking for party affiliation they will also ask a number of questions that attempt to quantify and stratify (and hence qualify) opinions. So for example, the opinion poll might ask something on the lines of “How likely are you to vote?” or even “Did you vote in the last Election?” The respondent then grades their likelihood to vote on a scale of 1 to 10 and the voting intention is weighted accordingly. And of course this makes perfect sense. It doesn’t matter if someone says that they are going to vote Tory if they also tell you that they are very unlikely to actually bother going to the polling booth on Election day. You don’t want to count them as a full Conservative voter do you?

In the same way, this YouGov poll needs some form of proper stratification to qualify the “religious affiliation”. A further question should have been asked along the lines of “How often do you attend a place of worship connected to your religious affiliation?” or even “When was the last time you attended a place of worship connected to your religious affiliation?” You then stratify this question with options like “In the last week”, “In the last month”, “In the last 6 months”, “In the last year” and “More than a year ago”. For each of these subdivisions you then also have the same-sex marriage support question.

I suspect that you would see some remarkable differences between the group that attended church once a week and the other 95% of “Anglicans” in Jayne Ozanne’s panel. I also suspect that this is the very reason that Jayne Ozanne didn’t ask YouGov to put this question to the panellists.

The bottom line is this – Jayne Ozanne’s questionnaire tells us absolutely nothing about the opinion of the Anglicans who sit in the pews week after week and actually make up the core membership of the Church of England, who support it financially and are worshipping and praying in their local parishes as a witnessing community. A staggering 95% of her “Anglicans” don’t actually attend church regularly, if at all. The opinion poll is just a puff piece to support a political agenda and it specifically avoids asking the one key question which might tell us something about what Church attenders actually think on the subject of same-sex marriage.

Peter Ould is a Church of England Priest and works as a Banking Consultant, delivering mathematical modelling projects into Financial Institutions across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


Peter’s analysis is enough to make us wary of headlines based on polls when it comes to a complex issue like the theology of marriage. The headlines become even more suspect when you look at the poll questions in detail.

Those who said they believed same-sex marriage was ‘right’ were asked a further series of questions:

Poll questions

How would you answer those questions? I don’t think I would have any hesitation in answering the first four questions ‘Yes’, and I would have to think hard about the fifth one, since it all depends on what you mean by ‘natural’ and whether you think ‘nature’ is as it ought to be. (It is perfectly ‘natural’ for men to be aggressive, for example.)

But the most striking question for me was the sixth. It is worth noting that the question doesn’t at one level tell us very much; if I had never actually read the Bible, then I would probably be happy answering ‘yes’ to this. (There isn’t a ‘don’t know’ option). But more striking is the fact that a full 77% of those who believe that same-sex marriage is ‘right’ would not state that ‘There is nothing in the Bible’ to contradict this view. I am conscious that there is a danger in over-interpreting this (the question asked ‘which would best describe your position). But it suggests very strongly that, for those supporting same-sex marriage, the Bible is either mistaken in what it says, or is not actually very relevant. If Peter’s analysis above is right, then this is not very surprising, since most of the people here don’t actually attend the Church.


This raises two questions. First, what is the relation between theological reflection and popular opinion when it comes to forming the doctrine of the Church? Jeff Astley and Ann Christie have done some serious research on what they call ‘ordinary theology’, looking at what lay people ‘in the pews’ actually believe. (You can read a helpful summary in their Grove booklet P 110 Taking Ordinary Theology Seriously.) What they uncover is that many ordinary Anglicans neither believe in the divinity of Christ, as expressed in the gospels and the creeds, nor believe that in any objective sense Jesus death has “saved” us. (Interestingly, this was more prevalent in “liberal” churches, much less the case in “evangelical” churches.) What is Astley’s response to this?

Should we not acknowledge this ‘multi-dimensional’ nature of Christian belief? And therefore the multi-dimensional nature of the person and work of Christ? This perspective would permit many christologies and soteriologies, and this may be a strength rather than a weakness in the church.

Faced by the evidence of the ordinary theology of other people, the reaction of many of us (not only clergy) is to strive to amend it. With a little more humility, and a lot more patient theological listening, might we not come to feel that—sometimes, at least—another’s theology can correct our own?

In other words, ‘orthodox’ understandings of who Jesus is and what he does are not shared by many in the pews, and they can be a barrier to admitting people into membership of the church. So the obvious thing to do is to abandon them—or at the very least be highly flexible. This is where we get to when we do ‘theology’ by opinion poll—and it doesn’t look very Anglican to me.

The evidence of the poll appears to reinforce the notion that those pressing for change do so on the basis of a theology based on something other than the Anglican commitment to the primacy of biblical theology.

Second, I am trying to work out what Jayne is up to. She continues to claim the label ‘evangelical’, but I am not sure what evangelical would prioritise opinion polls over biblical theology. The headline in the Guardian article (‘Church of England members back same-sex marriage’) is thoroughly misleading, since the people surveyed are not ‘members’ in any meaningful sense. I was going to lay the blame for this on poor reporting—until I realised that that was the wording Jayne had supplied in the press release.


To date, this blog has only commented on the question of sexuality in about 9% of posts. I would dearly love that to continue; there is a process of conversation underway in the Church, and I want to focus on the other 91% of important issues in theology and ministry. Will we be given any breathing space to do this—or are we now braced for a media onslaught on the same issue?


[1] https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/pwwbcqwbmx/JayneOzanne_Results_SameSexMarriage_160121_GB_Website.pdf

[2] https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2432327/2014statisticsformission.pdf

[3] https://www.facebook.com/groups/12180773894/permalink/10153826894203895/?comment_id=10153827067628895&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R5%22%7D


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167 Responses to The YouGov poll on same-sex marriage

  1. Martin Reynolds January 30, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    I find polls mysterious, as Is God and my friend Peter Ould!
    But it wouldn’t at all surprise me if the move to accepting equal marriage had shifted considerably in just a short time.
    Here in Wales the popular vote was in favour of accepting all marriages as of equal value. The sample was exclusively us as it was the Governing Body and was at the 50+ end of the spectrum too. The diocesan results also showed a majority in favour of moving forward and our bishops are divided five to one in wanting to see recognition and celebration of marriage as we now understand it.
    Many years ago there was a Sunday Telegraph poll that showed 52 percent of pew sitters were comfortable with their parish priest being gay and partnered. It would be strange indeed if the figures of support for equal marriage had not moved on since this 2003 poll.
    The Irish poll shows that a majority of church going Christians also supported changing the constitution and the trend everywhere amongs Christians, particularly the young, is moving in a positive direction.
    Religious groups embracing a view hostile to equal marriage push themselves firmly to the margins of society and are identified with violent, murderous extremist positions or outright buffoonery. Even those of us who are faithful but not similarly prejudiced are finding ourselves looked upon as tacit supporters of the persecution visited upon gay people worldwide.

    • Pete January 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

      Martin
      I don’t think using terms such as equal marriage, moving forward, and positive direction helps. These are loaded, and suggest that Evangelicals who hold to a traditional view of marriage are bigoted, antiquated and conservative. And if holding an opposing view to yours makes me an outright buffoon (I’m not a violent extremist) then so be it – 1 Cor 4:10

      • Martin Reynolds January 31, 2016 at 12:32 am #

        Thank you Phil for sharing your view on my comment.
        I understand how language can make one feel uncomfortable and alienated.
        I experienced many examples of “godly men” comparing us to animals and even expressing contentment in moderate and careful language at our being castrated or otherwise mutilated and murdered. I am not quite sure you would want to claim them as Evangelicals but, sadly, they would mostly claim that description for themselves.
        But, you must forgive me if I enthusiastically affirm that which I celebrate, experience and enjoy, that which, in part defines me. It is a natural and proper thing for me to do.
        It is not offered to intimidate, but it is interesting that you say my quite normal positive language is in itself an accusation that others are bigoted etc.
        My comment was mainly to point out that here in Wales the majority of Anglicans are already in favour of affirming my marriage and that in other places the majority of Christians have supported the change in marriage law. I was using that to support the view that an increase in approval for the recent legislation on marriage is to be expected in England too.
        Even though I really do find it a mystery I am convinced by Peter’s expertees that this poll is not a reliable poll. But that is not to say that there has not been a substantial shift, indeed Ian acknowledges there has been a shift and has several suggestions to account for it. The actual support may be somewhat higher in the pews on Sunday.
        The problem is, the introduction of equal marriage has created a paradigm shift and I think that some find that difficult and their language implies that we must pretend it hasn’t happened if we are to have a conversation. You more than hint at this impasse in what you say elsewhere.

        • Clive January 31, 2016 at 7:40 am #

          I also live in Wales and no the majority of Anglicans are not in favour. Our diocese voted against SSM in church and General Synod has not changed the services.

          • Martin Reynolds January 31, 2016 at 8:03 am #

            But, Clive, the facts are as I stated, there was an overall majority in the diocese accross the country and there was an overall majority in the Governing Body. There was not the super-majority needed to change the Canons by Bill Procedure, at this time.
            However, services can be introduced without Bill Procedure and the bishops are presently considering their options.

          • Will S January 31, 2016 at 2:45 pm #

            Martin Reynolds is correct of course in saying that a majority in all three houses at the Church in Wales Governing Body debate expressed an opinion in favour of either full same-sex marriage (Option 3) or the blessing of same-sex relationships (Option 2). But:
            1) The surprising thing was that the majority was not greater. Previous discussions suggested that it would be and I believe the Bishops may have assumed that either Options 2 or 3 would gain the needed two-thirds majority. Noticeably it was only in the House of Bishops that such a majority was registered..
            2) The diocesan voting figures are virtually worthless for gauging opinion, as each diocese conducted the process in very different an incompatible ways.
            3) Very few actually wanted the blessing of same-sex relationships (which I certainly thought would be the majority view). The GB seemed polarised on principled grounds between Options 1 and 3.

          • Clive January 31, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

            I am sorry Martin but the facts are NOT as you have stated. ++Morgan decided after consultation in each diocese that there is insufficient support for SSM.

        • Pete January 31, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

          Martin,
          Thanks for your considered response, and I agree that the church has to start from a position of welcoming all comers, and accepting that in many situations harm and hurt have been caused by prior treatment of homosexuality.
          I hope you can see that in using terms such as a moving in a positive direction, it is suggesting that those who can’t see a Biblical justification for same-sex marriage are not positive – I think perhaps supporting the assumption that change is always a good thing.
          I would also argue that the term equal marriage is also a loaded expression… suggesting that those who are against SSM are not for equality. I firmly believe that I can fully love a Christian brother or sister, but hold that their view(s) or lifestyle choice(s) are not in line with God’s will for our lives. If not, then how could we rebuke or challenge one another, as commanded (Col 1:28).
          It’s a complex subject, and Ed Shaw does a better job of tackling it than I ever could, in his book The Plausibility Problem. I would recommend it.
          In love

          • Martin Reynolds January 31, 2016 at 8:49 pm #

            Those who follow this debate closely will tell you, Pete that I am not at all happy with the present legislation and believe it has created a different status of marriage for gay people, particularly those who were previously in a civil partnership, so there will be some who will see a large tongue sticking through my cheek when I write “equal marriage”.
            I am not sure that there can be an easy accommodation here, the situation post the introduction of marriage does not lend itself to the conversation you want to have. It reminds me of the days when people wanted to challenge the principle of adoption by same sex families when we already had two children.
            Nothing shocked me more in that debate than the Roman Catholic Church suddenly saying that all children deserved a mother and father, when all bar one of their many adoptive parent providers had been presenting single people as prospective adopters for decades.

            Will Strange tells an interesting tale.
            I had not known that the bishops thought it would achieve a two thirds majority for blessing.
            My genuine surprise was that it got the majorities it did. But then I have been away from the coal face for some time!
            This sort of support in the Church of England General Synod would, I think be seen as a “mind of House” matter. Not of any legislative significance but certainly dictating a new policy direction.

            Clive, I was not aware the Welsh bishops had decided not to move ahead on this issue. I thought that Barry had said it would take a foolish or brave person to take it forward ……..
            I suspect that there might be an interim rite or experimental liturgy on the drawing board in the not too distant future. Unless I have missed something …. If so please, Clive, point me to the correct statement.
            While I agree with Will that the diocesan votes were as he describes the majority of this ramshackle arrangements did support change.

          • Clive February 1, 2016 at 8:05 am #

            Martin, I think you have the correct understanding. Something experimental might appear under one of the liberal bishops, but that is not the same as approval to apply for a change in the law.

            I didn’t say that there wasn’t a small majority in Synod but having participated in the consultation and listened to what was said our diocese was clearly supportive of Jesus’ words and NT Scripture and against change.

            Funnily enough NOBODY ever mentioned Leviticus at all yet the diocesan paper reported as if someone had – it was if it had been pre-written.

    • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      Martin if 52% of pew fillers were happy with church leaders being gay and partnered as long ago as 2003, then this poll shows little change..?

      • Martin Reynolds January 31, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

        That’s interesting.
        It would sort of fit with my expectations Ian.
        In 2003 the issue of our marriage was not even on the distant agenda.
        So the laissez-fair attitude present in the 2003 poll hardened and divided just as the matter hardened and divided around the two extreme options in Wales leaving the Blessing option apparently favoured by the bishops foundering.
        So then what we see is that the marriage issue hardened hearts and we are only back to 2003 acceptability. I think that sort of fits my intuition and experience ……

      • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 1:20 am #

        Gay and partnered is quite a different question than in an SSM, is it not? The arguments most commonly made against SSM have often been quite different to those that had been made concerning LGB sexual relationships in general. With Martin, I don’t recall SSM being a major issue on the agenda back in 2003. The most relevant figures are previous polls specifically on SSM.

  2. Coates January 30, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Well done Ian – I did not for a moment believe the stats. Liberal churches have been in decline throughout my life-time.

    Evangelical churches are growing slowly or rapidly, church planting, evangelising – with all mega churches (HTB, KICC, Redeemer, Hillsong) teaching what you and I are!

  3. Steve Walton January 30, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks Ian and Peter. A major problem, as Peter observes, is that the poll provides no accurate measure of how many of those ‘Anglicans’ are actual churchgoers, and that Jayne and her supporters seem to be assuming doctrine is decided by polling. Both are serious problems. Thanks for a measured response.

    • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      In contrast, Steve, to some other rather unmeasured responses…!

    • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 11:49 am #

      Huh? Jayne is arguing the Church needs to change its doctrine of marriage on the basis of this.

    • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 12:01 am #

      Peter Ould’s demand for stratification according to how regularly people attend would have meant a great deal more expence, for Jayne Ozanne/Accepting Evangelicals. The research we have is comparable to three years ago, so probably more valuable. It would be interesting to be able to see what Peter Ould’s asking for, but the absence of it does not discredit the survey. It’s just something that could be used to get a bigger picture of things. Peter Ould must be aware that quantitative surverys could *always* ask more questions which would be of use, but every survey has to have a remit that stops somewhere!

      There are data in this research that allows people to self-identify as participating in CofE/Anglican/Episcopal churches. I for one am satisfied that this measures “actual churchgoers.” It doesn’t tell us exactly how often they attend, but this does not call-into-question the validity of the entire survey. It is simply an additional point of information.

      • Peter Ould January 31, 2016 at 8:14 am #

        “I for one am satisfied that this measures “actual churchgoers.””

        So you believe their are up to 20 million people in GB who attend an Anglican church regularly? Because that’s what you’d have to defend to prop up your ridiculous notion.

        You’re not engaging with the facts, you’re just responding with defensive emotion, backing up your lobby’s spokesperson without ever looking for yourself at the evidence.

        • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 10:36 am #

          I can believe a much larger number than the one million the CofE measures as attending each week attend either regularly or irregularly. Again, the poll measures the rate of change. Even if a substantial number of the respondants are irregular attenders, it is still worthwhile information.

          • Peter Ould January 31, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

            So are you or are you not sticking with your original assertion that there are 20 million “actual churchgoers” in GB attending Anglican churches? Yes or no?

            Or are you going to obfuscate because you know the notion of 20 million regular worshippers is utter nonsense?

          • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

            What is quite amusing in all this is that, when the bishops 10 years ago claimed there are 25 million Anglicans because that is the number of baptised, they were laughed to scorn.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

            You made the assertion, not me.

            The weighted sample on page 4 of the YouGov survey gives the figure 1203 out of 6276 identify as involved in Anglican worship (so 19%). 19% of a population of roughly 65,000,000 people is 12.35 million. A figure roughly around this area seems entirely reasonable to me. Many churchgoers are irregular; certainly far more people will attend over the course of a year than one million.

            Your figures are based on page 2, which is measuring the number of people who identify as Anglican/CofE/Episcopal. I’m afraid you’re extrapolating ‘actual churchgoers’ from the wrong set of data!!!

            https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzMyH8nMD_OdLWJEdDJ3WmR1OHc/view?pref=2&pli=1

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

            What is also quite amazing is that, as I have just pointed out, the survey doesn’t suggest at all that there are twenty million people worshipping in Anglican churches in the UK.

          • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

            Actually David, your numbers don’t come anywhere close to adding up.

            If 12 million attended occasionally, but the average weekly attendance is less than one million, then that would mean that, on average, all these people attend only once every three months.

            That means that almost no-one attends weekly, and for most people, they wouldn’t recognise anyone else because the others also hardly ever came.

            If you know *any* church like that, let alone it describing the whole C of E, I would (to coin a phrase) eat my biretta.

            The simple point is: without the kinds of questions Peter proposed, no survey like this tells us anything about people who actually go to church, because it did not ask whether they did.

            And contrary to several observations, it would not have cost anything to revise the second question to ascertain this. But it appears it didn’t suit the commissioners to do so.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

            Not my numbers, the numbers in the survey.

            It doesn’t mean anything of the sort, Ian. Many people attend church only on occasions like Remembrance Sunday, Carol Services, Christmas, Holy Week, Easter – and Harvest Services in village churches. That too in the CofE, Church in Wales, Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland (in Northern Ireland). And of course it doesn’t mean no one attends weekly – not everyone is going to be a mean average!

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

            “And contrary to several observations, it would not have cost anything to revise the second question to ascertain this. But it appears it didn’t suit the commissioners to do so.”

            What, didn’t suit the commissioners to ask a different question than had been asked in polls on SSM before? When has the question been asked before? When I asked Peter Ould this on another thread on this post, instead of answering my question he said he wouldn’t talk to me because I’m not someone who “has some credibility.” So did all the pollsters before have a political/theological bias towards showing Anglicans to be pro-SSM (even the though the polls didn’t show such a thing). We’re in the realm of conspiracy theories, but where we’re not sure what the conspiracy we are theorising about is.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

            Or put it another way, we could make up whatever speculated figures we wanted. Say mean weekly attendance is one million (I imagine it’s a little higher as we must include Wales, Scotland and N.I., for which I don’t have figures to hand, but this is the lowest-scenario). Say 500,000 go every week. This would mean 11.5 million people or so going an average of twice a year. Not inconceivable considering how much fuller some of churches are on occasional services. Or say 500,000 people are the regulars and they go an average of once every fortnight. Then the rest of the people attendees would go an average of roughly four times a year.

            The more we go into what the figures in the survey actually say, the less surprising it sounds.

  4. Phill January 30, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi Ian (and Peter),

    Thanks for publishing this. I for one was surprised and somewhat disappointed by this publicity, as I think it is misleading and damaging to the process the church is undergoing. You cannot simply force a change in doctrine by opinion poll, and to do such a thing strikes at the heart of what it means to be the church. It’s not the first time this has been attempted… I think Arius of Alexandria also tried to drum up popular support for his (heretical) views.

    I have been reflecting recently on the nature of ‘good disagreement’… it’s becoming increasingly clear that good disagreement is a complete nonsense. If we were to take it to its logical conclusion, we would – as you highlight – need to disagree not just on sexuality but on the person of Christ himself. If I were a betting man, I would be willing to bet substantial sums on the fact that as soon as same-sex marriage became allowed by the church, those in favour of ‘good disagreement’ now would change their tune and want traditionalists eliminated from the church. It’s interesting that this is more or less what’s happened in EC USA.

    I do find it interesting that for Jayne and other ‘evangelicals’ (such as VIcky Beeching), the gospel seems to have shifted. It’s no longer ‘repentance for the forgiveness of sins’, it’s now ‘repentance for the forgiveness the sin of not allowing gay marriage’. It’s all people like Jayne, Vicky etc talk about now. The gospel has become an ‘LGBT gospel’. It’s not surprising they resort to using tactics like this in getting what they want.

  5. Phill January 30, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    Incidentally, I would be very interested in seeing a poll of actual churchgoers (e.g. a survey which was only given out to those in church on a Sunday morning) on this matter. I’m sure there would be a range of views, I bet it wouldn’t look much like the YouGov poll results though.

    Not sure how one would organise this, though!

  6. Simon Butler January 30, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    Rather than the methodological criticism, I wonder if Ian or Peter might like to comment on the most significant thing in this survey, which is the apparent change in opinion over a relatively short space of time.

    Of course doctrine is not determined by public opinion – Jayne is not claiming that it is – but this does underline the increasing gap between official and grassroots opinion in the church and makes it much harder for the ‘faithful’ to claim the support of the silent majority.

    • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

      Simon, that’s a really odd comment to make. The press release says that changing the teaching of the Church is precisely what Jayne is looking for—and I guess she herself wrote it.

      ‘She said that the rapid acceptance of the reality of same sex relationships and in particular same sex marriage meant that Church thinking had to change.’

      As director of Accepting Evangelicals that is what she was campaigning for.

      While we are on that, Simon you will probably have seen the stream of bile, invective and misrepresentation on the CA Facebook page, which Jayne has contributed to—or at least appears happy not to challenge. Any thoughts on that?

    • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Simon

      On your other point, I am not surprised attitudes are changing. They are bound to when a. there is not much good teaching in churches b. the gay agenda so dominates the media and c. there is little coming centrally from the C of E to set out its case.

      However, there is a problem with YouGov. I hadn’t realised it, but apparently their respondents are self-selecting. On questions of sexuality and sexual morality, I would have thought this would invite a significant sample bias into the surveying (as it does with other things people might feel ashamed of, like voting Tory).

      And a proper survey would also need to cover a wider range of issues too, such as whether or not people think sex should be confined to marriage. I suspect the Church’s teaching is out of line with the wider population on a whole raft of ethical issues…

      • Penelope January 30, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

        Ian, that’s Paul Eddy’s defence. If you can’t discredit the poll, attack the church for not teaching your version of biblical theology.

        • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

          Penny, it would be great if you could address the issues, rather than constantly lobbying personal attacks.

          The article is not about ‘discrediting the poll’, it’s about whether the methodology is robust (it isn’t) and whether we should make decisions about theology and doctrine by taking opinion polls (we shouldn’t)

          Or would you like to make the case for either of these positions?

          • Penelope January 30, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

            C’mon Ian, motes and beams. That wasn’t a personal attack. Well not compared with some of the things you and Peter have said about Jayne. I was simply remarking that you seemed to have moved on from the ‘methodology’ to respondents not being ‘biblically orthodox’ because they weren’t being taught ‘properly’.

          • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

            Do please substantiate your accusation about things I have said.

            And, er, are you going to address any of the issues?

  7. Paul Eddy January 30, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    Simon. Jayne has publically said she believes there is no point discussing/debating Scripture on this issue. Which a) is bizarre if you call yourself an Evangelical and b) leaves you only with things like Polls for your base.

  8. Peter January 30, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

    Ian and Peter,

    Thank you so much for this. These types of press release (whether released by liberals or conservatives) so often have an air of saying what the campaigners want to say, but I appreciate you doing the ‘hard yards’ to show exactly why we should take things with a pinch of salt.

    Simon, I’m quite surprised that you say it highlights the growing gap between the leadership and grassroots opinion in the church – because as the article amply shows the survey says next to nothing about grassroots opinions of churchgoers.

    I see that Jayne & Simon are part of the new ‘Synod Evangelicals for Good Disagreement’ that’s launching this February…..but this slippery survey/press release makes me wonder: is this group really going to be modelling good disagreement, or is it just another campaigning arm for same-sex marriage? If so, please stop pretending it’s about ‘good disagreement’ and give it a different name at least!!

  9. Drew_Mac January 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    The Church of England has long been a church which doesn’t limit its membership only to regular worshippers so I see nothing wrong in a poll of the self-identifying membership as is.

    If someone wants a poll of ‘churchgoing Anglicans’ go ahead and organise one, though it will be hard to avoid bias without polling carefully across the diversities of theology and churchmanship – though even there things are rather unpredictable.

    • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

      Actually Drew, the Electoral Roll form makes it pretty clear that ‘habitual worship’ is what is expected of members, and the Baptism liturgy also makes that clear.

      • James Byron January 30, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

        Yes, inclusion on the electoral rolls, and habitual worship (at least one Sunday a month, probably more) are simple and necessary definitions of “member.” There’d be a good case for adding regular donations to the list.

        I wouldn’t claim to be a member of, say, the Democratic Party, or the Labour Party, if I’d never signed up, and had never attended a meeting!

        • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 1:24 am #

          So would Andrea Williams, a member of General Synod, but who states her regular church is not an Anglican one, count as a “member” of the Church of England.

          One can legally be registered on the electoral, and stand for elected office in the CofE, and only attend church three times a year.

      • Drew_Mac January 30, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

        I am fully aware of that – but are you saying actually saying, Ian, that people who do not do that are therefore not Anglicans, or are they Anglicans who are not doing all that they should? I’ve always had a more inclusive and, I trust, gracious approach which doesn’t eject folk for not meeting some standard – even one I seek to recommend.

        • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

          I don’t mind what anyone calls them, but they aren’t ‘members’ which is what Jayne is claiming.

          • Drew_Mac January 30, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

            OK, let’s just call them Anglicans then.

            We can wait for someone else to commission the poll to tell us what proper ‘member’ Anglicans who are on the Electoral Roll, worship every Sunday, tithe, attend the weekly Bible Study, believe in Biblical inerrancy and accept the substitionary theory of the atonement think about same-sex marriage.

        • David Shepherd February 1, 2016 at 4:30 am #

          Drew_Mac,

          Without resorting to the expense of a survey, she could have made use of previous polls, which don’t distinguish Anglican membership, as proof that the CofE leadership is out of step with the wider society.

          In contrast, Ozanne believes that the outcome of the YouGov poll supports her assertion that: The Church of England leadership is seriously out of step with its membership.

          James Byron is right on this. If the poll had examined a political movement, the implication would have been of a leadership which, on this issue, is significantly at odds with the rank-and-file grass-roots members of the party.

          Membership would not comprise those of the general public who merely favour a party’s policies and would probably vote for them in the next General Election. How is the latter synonymous with membership?

          I can’t see how a survey that examines opinion among those who fit the Ozanne’s fairly indiscriminate breadth of Anglican membership can ever yield proof in support of her assertion when such a poll cannot significantly distinguish membership, as understood in every other walk of life, from the wider society.

      • Angela Brown April 13, 2017 at 11:48 am #

        In many rural churches, there is only a service one a month, or even less. So weekly or fortnightly attendance isnt possible. But they are also regular church goers and attend as often as it possible.

        • Ian Paul April 15, 2017 at 8:31 am #

          I am sure it would be possible to take that into account in a survey. But the key thing is deciding to ask the question…if you are interested in the truth, that is!

  10. Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Andrew, you appear to be reading with tinted glasses. Our analysis is pretty factual, and has nothing whatever to do with the Primates.

    As I said, I would really like to focus on other things…it is shame that folk feel we have not had enough PR battles already this year.

    • Andrew Godsall January 30, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

      Ian you were overjoyed when you thought your ‘side’ had won the PR battle after the Primates meeting and it is a shame that rug was pulled away by one of your own orthodox primates – even if they are just pretending to be a primate. But the real point about PR is that it is understood and the public relate to it. They clearly relate to this, even if you find it hard to admit.

      • Peter Ould January 30, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

        For the record, two comments from Andrew G, accusing Ian and myself of sour grapes because he cannot refute anything we have written.

        I suggest that in his next comment Andrew addresses one of the points we have made. I suspect we’ll just get the same emotional personal attacks.

        Don’t expect anything from a revisionist.

        • Penelope January 30, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

          Peter you clearly think ‘revisionist’ is deeply insulting. Perhaps you don’t know that Ian used the term of himself recently.

        • Peter Ould January 30, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

          I’m not trying to insult anyone. Andrew G is a revisionist. That’s a fact, not an insult.

          When you get offended by people pointing out simple truth, you really need to take a break Penelope.

        • Andrew Godsall January 30, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

          Peter: I’m really not interested in refuting or substantiating anything you claim here. The issue, as Simon Butler puts is so well, is the rate of change.
          I am interested in the way that Foley Beach shot the Primates meeting in the foot and holed that below the waterline though. And the two are connected.

        • Penelope January 31, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

          Where did I say I was offended Peter? I was amused.

  11. James Byron January 30, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    Major thanks to Peter for using his statistical know-how to decode the survey. 🙂

    Although I agree with its aims, I must agree with Ian on this: a survey of self-identified “members” is meaningless; we need a substantive definition of CoE member.

    Accuracy helps everyone, including progressives. If, say, 35% of weekly attenders supported equal marriage, while it wouldn’t have the same splashy impact in the headlines, it would, I suspect, be taken a lot more seriously by those in the know.

    • Peter Ould January 30, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

      James,

      I really appreciate it that you can cut through the emotion and understand the argument for what it is. That’s why you’re always good to debate with.

      • James Byron January 30, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

        Thanks Peter, and right back atcha! 🙂

        • Chris Bishop January 30, 2016 at 11:02 pm #

          I actually think James is one of the few liberals here who understands both sides of the issues and is honest about what the scripture says -even if he does not always agree with it.

    • David Shepherd January 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

      James,

      Much respect for your integrity in debate. There’s no sense in others trying to scoring cheap points here which don’t sctually stand to reason.

      As Scripture puts it; ‘And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.’

    • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 12:19 am #

      It isn’t a meaningless survey. It shows that people who identified as CofE/Anglicans/Episcopalians and people who said they participated in this church were considerably more likely than three years ago to support SSM.

      It would be an additional point of information, giving a clearer picture, if people were stratified according to how often they attend church. But every survey has a limited remit and therefore limitations – indeed, limited funds with which to pay pollsters for an infinite possibility of questions. This doesn’t mean every survey is meaningless.

      Peter Ould, if you wanted to pay for a survey of the kind you’re calling for, I’d be very interested to see it. And I would aim not to claim it meaningless by thinking up a lot of additional questions that could be asked. Are they baptised and confirmed in the Church? Have they read the Catechism? Do they attend Communion on the four days of Obligation? Do they agree with the Lambeth Quadrilateral? Does the church they attend follow the canons on ordinals used, and on the times the Eucharist is given? Have they been taught the Bible ‘properly’? Are they loyal to their Diocesan Bishop? How often do they pray? Do they read the Bible? &c &c

  12. Jonathan Tallon January 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    Perhaps the main reason the poll doesn’t ask about regular worshippers is because it would be prohibitively expensive to get a proper weighted sample, and Yougov would refuse to do it if they weren’t happy with the methodology. A sample of over a thousand is a decent size. A sample of 80-100 (the weekly worshippers) would tell you nothing. Increasing the sample size to 60,000 is impractical.

    Yougov use panels which are weighted to be as representative as possible of the population. It is not in their interest to have a sample that differs.

    The other advantage of the questions asked is that it was comparable to earlier polls.

    It’s coming across as you don’t like the result, so you’re trashing the poll.

    • James Byron January 30, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

      Jonathan, I’m overjoyed if a majority of the CoE support equal marriage, but I also want it to be accurate. A poll that gets dismissed by the very people it seeks to persuade is a wasted effort. And, if nothing else, truth matters. I want to know what English Anglicans truly feel about this.

    • Peter Ould January 30, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

      Not quite true. Even if there were only 100 “regular worshippers” in this sample, we could interpolate from the standard errors on each subgroup whether there were significant differences between them.

      • Jonathan Tallon January 30, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

        No you couldn’t because the ‘cross breaks’ would not be weighted properly. The figures would be meaningless.

  13. Christine Quinn-Jones January 30, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    Thank you, Ian and Peter for this. I like Peter’s comment about 18 million ‘Anglicans’…if only 🙂 Our CofE church has been described as the ‘default’ church for the town. People who don’t normally come to church do sometimes come for weddings, baptisms and funerals…and on Christmas Eve. Some of the Christmas Eve visitors merrily describe themselves as ‘regulars’, which means that they come to church once a year…regularly 🙂 No doubt these people would be amongst the 18 million who might describe themselves as ‘Anglicans!
    This poll is a farce!

    • Phill January 30, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

      Your comment reminds me of our stats: in our parish of about 28,000 people, there are – according to the last census – 18,000 Christians. It’d be lovely to see them in church from time to time… (Normal Sunday attendance – about 200.)

  14. MyThreePence January 30, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    I really appreciate and value this article, as someone that has studied a bit of statistical modelling and market research. As it addresses the skewering and manipulation of the poll, as well explaining the context and truth.

    I would even expatiate to a broader issue of free speech and the hostility shown to anyone who does not overtly support the ‘liberal’ agenda. It is no longer considered safe to really respond freely and give honest opinion nowadays and this wider aspect will consciously or unconsciously affect polling on topics of this nature.

  15. Don Benson January 30, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

    In one sense the result of opinion polls on the SSM issue is clearly of no significance for Christians because we all know that truth is not discovered that way. Moreover, to spin the results (in any particular direction) of such a vague questioning method is absurd, as has easily been demonstrated by Peter Ould above. But it’s even worse than that: once again no sensible argument is had, no engagement with implications for Biblical authority (which you would expect from an evangelical), no account of the nature and causes of homosexuality, no recognition of the unique aspects of heterosexual marriage, no consideration regarding the social implications for wider society and children in particular. It’s purely a tool of persuasion based on group emotion rather than reason or exposition of truth.

    But where this type of poll could have significance (presumably what its commissioner hopes) is by its effect on the ‘don’t knows’ or ‘undecideds’ – those who don’t have the time or inclination to think through the issue and its implications. There is a subtle pressure to accept the inevitable, go with the flow, stop being a bigot and a dinosaur, admit defeat. Well that is no way for Christians to engage with each other on serious issues. I, for one, have had enough of assertions and accusations – they are the mark of a campaign that has run out of arguments but intends to win by tactics. That this kind of thing is happening within our church is a cause for real sadness.

    • Ian Paul January 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

      Thanks Don—sadly, I think you are right.

    • James E Pennington January 30, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

      I am fully agreed with you on this Don, if I might say so. Polls like this are not designed to measure opinion but to shape it, not to engage with the issues, but to avoid them. They are to proper engagement and debate what Eddie Kidd was to double decker buses. Citing popular opinion is generally considered a poor means of debating, so misrepresenting popular opinion can only be poorer. As a church, we really need to be better witnesses to the world than this, and this kind of public engagement doesn’t bode well for the future.

      • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 12:28 am #

        For what it’s worth, I don’t personally think the poll proves anything doctrinally or about what the CofE should do with its rules on mariage. But it does show that the House of Bishops far from speaks for everyone in the church on this issue. And that those of us who disagree should be taken seriously as a part of this conversation. And (saying this as someone who participated in the Shared Conversations), I don’t think these go anywhere near taking us seriously.

        There is frequent ill-treatment and bullying in the church of those who express affirming views of same-sex marriage and/or relationships. People are denied ordination or preferment for speaking out (Jeffrey John being just one very prominent example). As a gay pro-SSM, pro same-sex relationships person in the Church of England, who has experienced homophobia in the church in spite of attending worship at a Parish “liberal” on these issues, I find it quite extraordinary to hear that the “liberals” are bullying people into silence.

  16. David Shepherd January 30, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    Oh, really? So, it’s ‘sour grapes’ to objective scrutinise a survey, which purports to validly reflect a sea change in Anglican opinion, but suffers from selection and funnelling bias and only polls nominalism.

    Yeah, I can see how hideously skewed and self-serving it must seem for Ian to reject (or to use your phrasing, discredit) Ozanne’s assertions, with truth!

    Reminds me of hack journalists not letting the truth stand in the way of a ‘good’ story!

  17. Andrew Bell January 30, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    As clearly explained by Peter and Ian, this survey can’t be taken to reflect the opinion of Anglicans who attend week by week. However it gives some sort of impression of the opinion of those who self-identify as Anglican. So it does serve to remind us (if we need reminding) that if and when we aim to uphold the biblical pattern of marriage between one man and one woman, we will face disagreement and opposition from many who call themselves Anglican.

    Even if they don’t think that “there is nothing in the bible … to prohibit same-sex marriage” many will be vociferous in insisting that the church should move with the times.

    Ian, I share the sadness you express in your closing comment that there are more important things that we should all like to make a noise about – like proclaiming the good news and growing God’s kingdom. I fear that there’s a lot more noise to come on this one though.

    • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 12:33 am #

      I dearly, dearly wish I did not have to put energy into campaigning from an affirming opinion on this issue. I have done so at quite a cost to myself. And there are simple ways for it to stop. So long as my brothers and sisters in Christ are being bullied, spiritually-abused, abused homophobically, discriminated against for expressing views held after deep-searching study of scripture and theology, hounded out of their vocations, denied proper safeguarding, diminished as human beings, and so on and so forth I will not stop.

      • Clive January 31, 2016 at 7:57 am #

        David, I dearly, dearly wish you’d realise just how bullied people who stand by Jesus’ words and stand by Scriptures are being when they are being treated as homophobic and bigoted etc. It is all absolute lies but that is exactly what the media and items like this so-called survey are doing.

        The bullying in all sides needs to stop immediately but at the moment the bullying of the orthodox is far greater than the bullying og LGB group.

        • Penelope January 31, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

          Even if that were true Clive, which it clearly is not – how many ‘orthodox’ people have committed suicide or self harmed because of bullying? – you are being criticised because of your opinions and beliefs; LGBT people and LGBT Christians are being bullied because of who they are.

          • Clive January 31, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

            Your response is a very good example of the bullying of orthodox Christians.

            A serious study of suicide and self-harm shows a much wider set of reasons few of which have anything to do with LGB issues.

            The idea that you can blame suicides and self-harming on orthodox Christians is just very, very silly

          • Penelope January 31, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

            Goodness, Clive, if you think my comment was ‘bullying’ then you are, indeed, a sensitive soul and no wonder ‘orthodox’ folk think they are being bullied. On the other hand, I suggest you look at the stats for LBGT people (especially young people) who self harm and attempt suicide, or read the Diverse Church Twitter feed.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

            If this sort of comment is a good example of the bullying those who call themselves “orthodox” have to endure, then things really can’t be very bad for you. I’ve had stronger comments directed to me already on this thread, and I certainly wouldn’t consider those to be “bullying.”

          • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

            I don’t understand this linking of traditional teaching on marriage with bullying. I certainly accept that LGBTIQ people experience bullying, and that leads to all kinds of self harm.

            But to believe in traditional marriage is not the same as bullying. It is something akin to saying that opposition to abortion ’causes’ people with guns to kill abortion doctors.

            I would be happy to join anyone in a stand against bullying—but I keep being told it is my fault.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

            Ian I didn’t mean to say that bullying and homophobia is your fault, and I apologise if what I said came across this way, though I don’t think teaching and response can entirely separated. My point is that bullying and homophobia very much exists in the church, and on an institutional level. That’s one reason why this issue won’t go away.

            Another reason is that so long as those of us whose considered beliefs are that we ought to be able fully to participate in the church are being told we cannot, we are fighting for our place at the table, before we can even be considered on an equal footing when it comes to anything else in the church. So even if you consider us to be wrong, we will hardly lose our focus on campaigning for a church that is fully inclusive of LGB people in just the same way as it is inclusive of heterosexual people.

        • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

          Well, Clive, I’ve experienced things somewhat from both “camps” (though not entirely). As a Christian, I’ve often been treated differently in secular society, and especially before I was “out” assumed to be homophobic. I’ve also been “out” and gay in a church, and can tell you that for me persoanlly the hompohobia and bullying has been far, far worse, and I have had it very lightly indeed compared to many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course not everyone with conservative views is a bully and a homophobe, of course not, but it would be mad to deny there are not many who are.

          Honestly, until you’re being locked up in a Nigerian prison, beaten up, forcibly exorcised and “healed,” turned out of your congregation, having psychological explanations for sexual orientation being forced upon you, interrogated persistantly about your sex-life, or even plain being barred from full participation in the life of the church for what you call your “orthodox” views, forgive me for detecting tears a tad crocodile-sized. Those who hold the power in the church cannot credibly claim to be the victims.

          • Clive January 31, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

            David and Penelope,

            I will stand up to your bullying and I do expect to be beaten for it but I am strong enough to srand up against your bullying.

            Your pretence that what you said wasn’t bullying is merely part of the bullying technique.

            Penelope, instead of asking people to look at stats, trying dealing with facts instead and asking genuinely searching questions about every sad suicide case.

            David, you speak about being locked up in a Nigerian prison etc at the same time as we remember the Holocaust in which Jews were killed for simply being Jews and the same time as thousands of Christians have been killed for simply being Christians mainly by Muslims.
            What do Muslims do to LGBT people? (As opposed to Christians).

            Yes, I am strong enough to stand up to your bullying

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

            Clive, please can you explain how I am bullying you? I don’t wish to bully anyone, and so I would like to know if I am, so that I can stop doing it.

            “David, you speak about being locked up in a Nigerian prison etc at the same time as we remember the Holocaust in which Jews were killed for simply being Jews and the same time as thousands of Christians have been killed for simply being Christians mainly by Muslims.
            What do Muslims do to LGBT people? (As opposed to Christians).”

            What point are you making, Clive? I don’t understand how the holocaust and Muslim actions against Christian and LGBT people means that “being locked up in a Nigerian prison, beaten up, forcibly exorcised and “healed,” turned out of your congregation, having psychological explanations for sexual orientation being forced upon you, interrogated persistantly about your sex-life, or even plain being barred from full participation in the life of the church” is any less being bullied or a victim of homophobia.

          • Clive January 31, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

            Dear David,
            You only have to review your entries of 12:33 and 4:19 and reflect as you do so on just how those who believe in Jesus’ words and believe in the Scriptures are treated when they are simply treated as homophobic, bogotted etc etc.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

            Clive, I’ve not accused you personally of bullying or homophobia in either of those posts, nor have I accused those who have a “traditional” view of marriage or sexuality in general of bullying or homophobia. I’ve simply pointed out some of the things that happen to LGB people in the church which are incontestable facts.

            You have made the jump to my posts demonstrating that “those who believe in Jesus’ words and believe in the Scriptures are treated when they are simply treated as homophobic, [bigot]ed etc etc”. You have assumed I’ve made a comment about the people with whom you identify, and therefore accused me of bullying.

            You have also not provided a single substantial example to back up your assertion that “at the moment the bullying of the orthodox is far greater than the bullying [of] LGB group.” Penelope and I, by contrast, have provided many examples of bullying and homophobia against LGBT people.

          • Penelope February 1, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

            Clive, I can’t find the reply link to your comment about being bullied by David and me so I’ll just have to use David’s tab. I shall ignore what you said about the Holocaust, Xians dying in the Middle East and Muslims, because none of it is pertinent to this issue: whether you and other ‘orthodox’ Xians are being ‘bullied’. I will reiterate my shock that you can think criticism of your views or disagreement in debate is bullying. You clearly are not interested in statistics but, as I suggested, you might care to look at some of the stories from those in Diverse Church who have experience homophobic bullying from churches, or, indeed, some of those tragic stories from Africa, which David has cited. Of course ‘orthodox’ Christians are being persecuted, but they are not, general. those enjoying white, middles class, heteronormative privilege in our churches in England.

  18. Amos January 30, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

    This is the right time for all believers to stick together and openly express their faith in Christianity.False doctrines nowadays are campaigning to destroy the true image of Christians in order to find justification of the current worldwide crisis and other human failures.The Anglican communion shouldn’t sit aside and look while the church is being willingly harmed by secular thoughts forged by some atheist fanatic movements and sometimes expressed in churches or in church schools in the name of tolerance.

    We,Anglicans of Africa,are proud of our church and all heroic contributions it brought to make our World a better place exempt of slavery,colonialism and idolatry. The result of opinion polls doesn’t bring authentic reality ’cause there is still scientifically a controversy on how a line between subjective and objective research can be drawn.

  19. Peter Gamston January 30, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    Sir, you are right about one thing – that homosexual marriage is not the big question we need to be focussing on – although it is paramount to the unfortunate few so tragically affected. The big questions do however lie in the largely un-addressed questions behind the issue. It is, I believe, the failure of the church to address the real issues that largely accounts for the huge discrepancy you note in the numbers who still call and consider themselves to be Christian (of any stripe) and those who regularly attend church (of any denomination).

    A couple of those big issues are hinted at in questions five and six of the supplementary questions and your own responses to them. Lets take the question of ‘natural’ – you” would have to think hard about… since it all depends on what you mean by ‘natural’ and whether you think ‘nature’ is as it ought to be”. Happily we have two great benefits over those who lived in Biblical times – firstly we have dictionaries. It means ‘based on the state of things in nature; constituted by nature’. Secondly we have science and therefore know that sexuality is genetically pre-determined – or at least pre-disposed (depending on the particular genetic make up – there isn’t a single gene involved – it is much more complex).

    I am among the 80%+ of the population genetically pre-determined as heterosexual; therefore, for me, any heterosexual act would be unnatural. So the first big question behind the issue that raises for me is what (if anything) does it mean in 2016, knowing what we know of both evolution and genetics, to claim we are ‘created’ by God. (We know what it meant in the Bronze Age). Does it, for example, relate to humanity in general or individuals in particular and, if the latter, how in particular to our genetically pre-determined features.

    This brings us to the real question behind the superficial one about “explicit prohibition” of same sex marriage. The question itself is fairly irrelevant. I’m pretty confident in saying that marriage and homosexuality are nowhere mentioned in the same, what in plain modern English, we would call paragraph. So the straight answer is an unequivocal no. It does however say, quite unequivocally, (while happily endorsing polygamy) that homosexual acts are an abomination to God (specifically Yahway) and anyone found to have participated Must be Killed. Pretty clear implicit prohibition I’d say, strong enough surely to render any “explicit prohibition” quite unnecessary.
    Now, as I understand the fundamentalist inerrant Biblicist position (correct me if I’m wrong) the first part of Leviticus 20:13 is “the word of God” and hence applies today (and as a generous concession to the spirit of the age might even be extended to women in a gesture of equality) but the second part may be a bit over top – we are just a touch uncomfortable with the “They must both be put to death” bit. Thus the deeper questions concern Biblical interpretation – is it not possible, nay imperative, to accept the “usefulness” referred to in 2 Tim 3:16 does not imply timeless or inerrant; to claim that it does is surely to admit your God has stopped breathing.

    • Drew_Mac January 30, 2016 at 10:25 pm #

      Whether there is a ‘discrepancy’ in support for same-sex marriage between self-identifying, perhaps nominal, Anglicans and those when regularly attend church, remains to be seen. Perhaps someone will do the survey, perhaps not. Maybe they will be fearful of knowing the answer.

      • Peter Gamston January 30, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

        Sadly my fear is that there would be a significant ‘discrepancy’ – the vast majority of liberals having been driven out.

        • Drew_Mac January 31, 2016 at 10:07 am #

          My experience doesn’t back that up, but we’ll have to wait for someone to do the survey. However, things are shifting – if high profile evangelicals are changing their views (as some clearly are) then it is likely that the rest are doing so as well. Two-thirds of Church Times readers didn’t support the Bishop of Salisbury’s discipline of a Canon in a same-sex marriage. Opinion is clearly moving in favour of same-sex marriage in the church as well as in society.

          • Peter Gamston January 31, 2016 at 10:16 am #

            I hope and pray you are right; God Bless you.

          • Peter Ould January 31, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

            So now we think that voodoo polls tell us what the Church of England members think? Even worse than saying there are 20 million regular attenders.

            You revisionists do spout some utter nonsense, but what do you expect when your stock in trade is twisting meaning in Scripture?

        • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

          Talk of ‘liberals being driven out’ sounds to me like pure paranoia. There are plenty of liberal churches around, and they are hardly full to busting, so who’s driving anyone out?

          • Peter Gamston January 31, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

            Not driven out in the sense of the good Lord with the money changers in the temple; driven out by not wanting anything more to do with users of language like ” stock in trade is twisting meaning in Scripture”. Just had enough thanks. The real issue hidden behind the irrational complaints about the poll is why over 90% of people who identify themselves as Anglican don’t attend church. The answer will be found in the tenor of much of the comments to this blog.

    • David Shepherd February 1, 2016 at 7:13 am #

      You statement that ‘sexuality is genetically pre-determined’ is pure bunkum. Most of us here have read the scientific journals and we would readily admit that genetic factors are implicated. That is not the same as pre-determined, since environmental factors have been shown to have far more influence on sexual orientation. Of course, you’re welcome to present other findings which we may not have seen.

      Now, as I understand the fundamentalist inerrant Biblicist position (correct me if I’m wrong) the first part of Leviticus 20:13 is “the word of God” and hence applies today (and as a generous concession to the spirit of the age might even be extended to women in a gesture of equality) but the second part may be a bit over top – we are just a touch uncomfortable with the “They must both be put to death” bit.

      It’s about the authority of biblical revelation. You might as well insinuate the same argument of contradiction against Christ’s forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery:

      the first part of Leviticus 20:10 is “the word of God” and hence applies today (and as a generous concession to the spirit of the age might even be extended to women in a gesture of equality) but the second part may be a bit over top – He was just a touch uncomfortable with the “They must both be put to death” bit.

      Christ’s specific command was that, despite the Levitical penalty, none of us actually has the moral authority to exact it from others on God’s behalf.

      Oh, and in respect of that offence, Jesus forgave her saying: ‘Go and sin no more’. Perhaps, that was a bit fundamentalist inerrant biblicist of Him too!

      • Peter Gamston February 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

        It is not ‘pure bunkum’, it is rather a gross over-simplification. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois specialising in the field writes : “While genes do contribute to sexual orientation, other multiple factors play a greater role, perhaps including the levels of hormones a baby is exposed to in the womb… We found evidence for two sets [of genes] that affect whether a man is gay or straight. But it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved.” But, Bailey rightly asserts “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice,” That is the important point and why I made the simplification rather than going into detail.

        I would use the instance of Christ’s forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery in favour of my superficial argument. Jesus saying ‘Go and sin no more’ is the very antithesis of fundamentalist inerrant biblicist rhetoric. But none of that was the point of my argument. The completely lost point of my argument is that all of the debate is about specifics and there is no real deep engagement with principle. The real question is “Should we understand homosexuality to be an ‘abomination to God’ and; if so, given “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice” what does that tell us.

        You will, I’m sure, tell me it is all due to ‘The Fall’ – God created us male and female, heterosexual and healthy (although I wonder why the happy couple remained childless when they remained in the garden). But I and my fellow liberals are not offspring of a fallen Adam – We are evolved over eons from non-sentient creatures, evolving still. Our fall is not inherited – it is here and now, a falling short of what God intends for Our lives, my failure to be what I could be – it is my fall, my responsibility.

        I digress but it does illustrate a second principle concerning “the authority of biblical revelation”. Since that revelation is completely different to you and I (and I have no doubt of the sincerity of yours or desire to impose mine) what does that tell us about authority?

        My point is that until the church (on which I am in the agonising process of giving up) engages in these deeper issues the puerile slanging match will continue on the specifics and our LGBT brothers ans sisters will continue to suffer the consequences.

        • David Shepherd February 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

          Oh, I get it now. It’s a mere over-simplification to state that: ‘sexuality is genetically pre-determined’ [emphasis mine], when your cited authority states that ‘it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved’.

          In fact, if it wasn’t for the prefix ‘pre’, your gloss might well have been justified. As it stands, in Appropriate Responses to Sexual Orientation, the American Psychiatry Association clearly distinguishes sexual orientation from sexual orientation identity by describing evidence that the latter exhibits fluidity (as the research of Lisa Diamond also showed).

          Of course, I understood the point that you were trying to make, but what you highlighted as a selective fundamentalist reading of Leviticus is actually a caricature of those who oppose revision. Your attempt thereby to deride opposing views was as puerile as those of the fundamentalists whom you decry.

          All I did was to expose the weakness of your caricature, since Christ Himself treated the self-same verses of Leviticus as the ‘word of God’, while sparing the guilty of its penalty. There would be no need to say ‘go and sin no more’ if adultery didn’t offend God.

          The gospel is that God’s mercy in Christ extends forgiveness and opportunity of repentance that results from our acceptance of where we have fallen short of God’s will.

          • Peter Gamston February 2, 2016 at 12:16 am #

            I don’t recall using the word ‘mere’, I thought I said ‘gross’. I confess I should have said pre-determined by genetic and other environmental factors. I didn’t because it was not germane to my point. No one denies adultery offends God, adultery hurts and damages.
            But I am old, tired , trained in micro-biology not theology and apparently paranoid to boot – so what do I know?

  20. James E Pennington January 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA I may get told off for posting youtube links, but this oldie and goldie Yes Prime Minister clip sheds a humourous light on the supposed impartiality of opinion polls.

  21. David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 12:38 am #

    A question to people criticisng the poll on here, and one to which I’m genuninely in knowing the answer.

    Would any poll on this subject be meaningless, or is the problem that you think the poll’s methodology is fundamentally flawed? I have seen people make both points in this discussion, but if the former is the case, the latter is surely irrelevant?

    • Peter Ould January 31, 2016 at 8:25 am #

      I don’t think there’s anything flawed in the underlying methodology of the poll (sampling, weighting etc).

      The issues are:

      i) No attempt to qualify what “affiliation” actually meant. Instead of doing this thread poll wasted a question asking what was essentially a constrained repeat of the first question. Contrary to what others have said here (all of whom do NOT have any academic or professional credibility in the area of quantitative analysis) it would have been very easy to ask such a question. That leads us to the presumption that the decision to not ask such a question was political.
      ii) The blatant falsification of the poll result in the press release by referring to those polled as “members”. This is actually more egregious than the first issue.

      • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 11:00 am #

        Surely the decision as to which questions to ask was based on making the poll comparable with previous polls on SSM. I rather think YouGov, who agreed to conduct the research, does have “academic and professional credibility in the area of quantative analysis.” How many previous polls on SSM, which take account of beliefs/religion, have asked the additional question for which your calling?

        • Peter Ould January 31, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

          I don’t see anyone from YouGov telling me that my criticism is incorrect. Find me someone criticising my analysis who has some credibility and then we’ll talk.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

            Peter, engage with the arguments rather than in personal attacks. Being qualified at quantitative analysis does not make you immune from talking nonsense about it. And you have talked nonsense about it, as I’ve shown by reference to the data, rather than a mystifying appeal to my profession. In your argument with me above, you claimed that the survey suggests there are twenty million people in the UK who are churchgoers. It says nothing of the sort because you extrapolated that figure from the table measuring which religion people identify with, rather than the table measuring which religion people say they are involved with or whose gatherings they attend.

            I may not be professional in quantitative analysis, but in this instance I managed to read tables.

            If you’re refusing to answer my criticisms because you’re a statistician and I’m not, I think you’re rather losing the argument.

          • Martin Reynolds January 31, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

            I find what you are asking interesting, David.

            I am sure Peter will respond clearly to your claim that his analysis was flawed.

          • Peter Ould February 1, 2016 at 9:18 am #

            David,

            I’m not sure what your criticism is. Even if we take the smaller subset of Anglicans, that still equates well into double figures of the millions of people in GB who are “members” (this is the exact language that Jayne O used) of their local Anglican church. That is just arrant nonsense (as Ian Paul has demonstrated in a more recent blog post). Under one million people attend a CofE church and even if we include those who attended at Christmas or Easter, we’re still barely scrapping at 3 million. If you want to suggest that another 10 million people who NEVER attend their local church and who don’t contribute any financial support to it get to be called “members” then I’m looking forward to strolling into my local Labour Party meeting and demanding a vote.

            This is the point of my criticism. Jayne O has made absolutely no attempt to properly qualify whether these “Anglicans” are anything more than people who call themselves by that name but actually have no engagement whatsoever with the Church of England. Furthermore, the official attendance and engagement figures of the Church of England flatly contradict the numbers that Jayne O has produced for “members” (remember, SHE used this word, not me). Are you now going to accuse the CofE stats department of not doing their job correctly because their figures so clearly contradict the number of “members” that Jayne O says the CofE has?

            There’s a huge amount of cognitive dissonance going on around this poll. All it tells us is what people who choose a label of “Anglican” think, it doesn’t actually tell us whether these people are actually “Anglican” in any meaningful sense of the word.

            I look forward to you writing me into your will. As of today I proclaim myself to be your natural son.

          • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 11:21 am #

            OK Peter, if I understand you correctly, you’re making three points here, to which I’ll respond in turn.

            (1) You are still saying the figures for those who claim involvement in the Church of England are wildly out with the CofE’s own figures. You go on to say: “[are] you now going to accuse the CofE stats department of not doing their job correctly because their figures so clearly contradict the number of “members” that Jayne O says the CofE has?”

            The answer is “no.” I responded to a similar question from Ian Paul above. I don’t have figures to hand for SEC, CinW or CofI in Northern Ireland. But taking a lowest case-scenario, let us assume for the sake of argument that an average one million people per week attend an Anglican Church. We don’t know how often all these people attend but there are multiple plausible scenarios. If, as can be extrapolated from the survey, roughly 12 – 12.5 million people list involvment in an Anglican church, it may be that 500,000 attend every week. This would mean the others attending an average of twice a year. Or say 500,000 attend an average of once every fortnight. By my reckoning this would mean an average attendance of about three times a year for the others. These scenarios (as would be plenty of others) are perfectly plausible if we consider that many people will only attend occasionally, going (e.g.) to carol services or Easter or Christmas or Remembrance Sunday or Holy Week or Harvest/pet services in many of the villages. There are all kinds of possible scenarios, and the figures are congruent.

            2) You make the criticism that Jayne has described people who state involvment in the CofE as members. It’s pretty clear from Ian’s latest post and the thread, that ‘members’ is not a clear term when we talk about the CofE, insofar as we can mean different things, but it equally it is not clear that yours and Ian’s. The legal definition doesn’t seem to involve either membership of a Parish electoral roll nor church attendance, given that someone can state themselves already to be a member of the CofE or church in full communion with it in order to join an electoral roll, without already being on an ER and without attending church. Once cannot be a member with full participation rights (which is something different) without being a communicant member of a Parish (though this only need involve recieving three times a year, I think?)

            Regardless of the legal meaning of ‘member’ in practice we probably are meaning different things when we use it of the CofE/Anglican churches. So I would accept that it’s not the ideal word to use (what word would be better to use?) However, I don’t think anyone’s being disingenuous, they’re simply using a commonly-spoken term that has different meanings to different people.

            3) You say you don’t understand what my criticism is. My criticism is that you’ve said the motivations behind the questions the poll asks are “political” (your word, not mine) because it doesn’t ask the question you want it to ask. You have failed, when challenged, to provide an example of any poll on SSM in the past asking this question. Have they all been political? Don’t you think that if you’re t question the professional integrity of YouGov and all those involved in the poll you ought to provide better evidence than that they haven’t asked a question which was not generally (if ever) asked in the past?

            I also object to all the immediate negativity to the poll. Of course, like any research it has limitations. But it measures a change over three years, to which the question you want would have made no difference, because it wasn’t asked in the poll of three years ago. Let’s talk about the limitations, yes, but let’s not just dismiss the poll because we can find things it doesn’t measure.

            If you and Ian Paul want research on the attitudes of Anglicans in the UK to SSM, stratified according to regularity of church attendance, rather than carping at Jayne for not finding out what you want, why don’t you find it out yourselves. Do as she has done: raise funds, and commision an indepenent polling company to find out the answer. Then we would be able to compare your data with the data YouGov produced here, and lots of people I’m sure (me included for what it’s worth) would be interested to see how far they correspond. And, as I have said, I hope we would all have the grace you have sadly been lacking in your response to the poll, and would not snipe at you and Ian Paul, and accuse you of ‘political’ distortion, for not including a question that’s never been asked in a poll like this before but which we think essential for our own personal definition of being an Anglican ‘member.’

          • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 11:37 am #

            P.S. Where do you get a figure from the CofE of only three million unique individuals attending a church each year? This would mean hardly anyone not attending on Christmas Day attending the rest of the year round, including Advent. So far as I can see “Statistics for Mission” doesn’t attempt to work out unique individuals, probably wisely as any estimation will be extremely speculative. So I can’t see that you’ve found any reliable figures in order to question the rough extrapolation to 12 – 12.5 millian unique individuals in the UK at least occasionally attending an Anglican church.

          • Peter Ould February 1, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

            (1) Church congregations are NOT made up of half those who attend always and half those who attend only twice a year. Church attendance (frequency) tends to be shaped like a Poisson distribution with a low mean.

            (2) I’m glad you recognise that the use of the word “members” is not appropriate

            (3) The results have been spun (“members”) to serve a particular political purpose.

            A similar survey in 2013 (same methodology, same definition of religious affiliation) found that support amongst Anglicans for the following was as such:

            Pornography : 60%
            Sex before marriage : 85%
            Adultery : 35%

            That’s right – 35% of these nominal Anglicans thought there was nothing wrong with adultery.

            If Jayne O is so keen that the Church of England should adapt it’s doctrine to fit the views of its membership, why isn’t she asking for these other things to be changed? Either one believes that the CofE should change it’s mind on a matter because it is out of step with the views of nominal affiliates (in which case apply that argument consistently) OR you believe that the CofE should not do doctrine by majority vote, in which case why spin this poll the way it has been spun. Jayne needs to make up her mind what her underlying position is.

          • David Beadle February 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

            “Members” as a term, is not “spinning”; it’s just been used in one way among a number that it’s used in common discourse. Yes, it’s a problematic word.

            “Church congregations are NOT made up of half those who attend always and half those who attend only twice a year. Church attendance (frequency) tends to be shaped like a Poisson distribution with a low mean.”
            Do you have any evidence for this claim, or for your claim that only three million unique individuals will attend the CofE each year? And can you show this also applies to SEC, CiW and CiN in Northern Ireland?

            “Either one believes that the CofE should change it’s mind on a matter because it is out of step with the views of nominal affiliates (in which case apply that argument consistently) OR you believe that the CofE should not do doctrine by majority vote, in which case why spin this poll the way it has been spun.”

            That’s a false dilemma. My personal view is that doctrine should NOT be based on popular opinion. However, if a significant number of people involved with the church (in whichever capacity) hold beliefs different to those of their leaders, then they need to be engaged and listened to seriously. Which in spite of facades such as the “Shared Conversations” is emphatically not happening.

            I would also suggest you engage with the reasons Jayne O has actually given for commissioning this research, because it is neither of those you have listed.

    • David Shepherd January 31, 2016 at 9:00 am #

      You ask: Would any poll on this subject be meaningless?

      Well, no. If actual Anglican membership was discernible among those responding to the survey, it would lend credence to Ozanne’s assertion that: the Church of England leadership is seriously out of step with its members’

      I suspect that Ozanne’s inferences from the poll are aimed squarely at the new General Synod members, who are both keen to discover whether opinion among Anglican membership has significantly shifted on this, if only to ensure that there is no repeat of the outcry against the House of Laity which followed the narrow defeat of the first Women Bishops vote in 2012.

      A valid poll might even spur enough support for a Private Members Motion on same-sex marriage! whereby it would be prioritised for early debate.

      And, of course, getting an earlier General Synod debate on the Church’s position regarding same-sex marriage is exactly what Ozanne wants.

      • Peter January 31, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

        David, in July this year General Synod will be having its own chapter in the ‘shared conversations’, with I think at least a day devoted to it. Therefore the sexuality issue is already on the agenda, and any motions will emerge from wide-ranging discussions, not because Synod’s been bounced into it.

        • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

          Peter, all this means is that Synod members, elected by Deanery synod-reps who are often on there because no one else from their church wants to do it (and a lamentable number of whom don’t bother to vote) are discussing it. Yes, it’s important that they do. But the consultation is not nearly as full as it ought to be. Those of us who participated in the Shared Conversations have, in most dioceses, been given no funds, resources, or support in order to disseminate the conversations more widely. Nothing is in place to facilitate conversations in the Parishes, PCCs and Deanery Synods. I can only conclude that the Church of England either doesn’t want to hear the views of “the person in the pew” or considers it to be a very, very low priority.

        • David Shepherd January 31, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

          Peter,

          According to GS Misc 1083, General Synod will participate in the Shared Conversation (SC) process for two days. I doubt that motions for amending the Church’s current position will emerge from the wide-ranging discussions themselves. The paper states itself that the SCs will provide an opportunity to evaluate the ‘direction and impact of the whole process.’

          However, if the YouGov poll actually reflected a significant change of opinion among Anglican membership, it would send a far stronger message in support of revising the Church’s current stance in respect of same-sex sexual relationships than just achieving ‘good disagreement’ on it.

          • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

            I don’t think the discussions are aimed directly at influencing policy either, David, and that does indeed include the GS Conversations. There hasn’t been any affective process for engaging the church at large in discussions around sexuality.

  22. David Shepherd January 31, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    I’m sure that, over the next five years, the current debate on the Church affirmation of same-sex sexual relationships will evolve in a way that mirrors the 1927 Prayer Book controversy.

    In the House of Commons vote on the Prayer Book Measure, Sir John Simon identified the true cause for which revision, including Reservation of the Sacrament, was proposed: ‘I was rather sorry to hear the First Lord of the Admiralty use some of the phrases he did, because he did not seem to be addressing himself to the thing which everybody knows was the real cause.

    The real cause, admittedly, was that, notwithstanding the comprehensiveness of the Church of England—the Noble Lady opposite pointed out most justly how admirable that comprehensiveness was—notwithstanding that, the leaders of the Church are in a position of the greatest difficulty as to how to deal with a body of people of saintly lives, deep convictions, and intense determination, a body of people claiming to remain as members of the Church of England who none the less refuse to accept the discipline of that Church.

    While the Measure accommodated a liturgical diversity at which the Church already connived, Sir John asked the House to reflect upon whether the Measure would cause injury to those Anglicans, whom he described by saying: ‘inside the Church of England, whether it is a minority or a majority, there is a substantial, reasonable, loyal body of people who feel themselves to be deeply aggrieved by what is now proposed.’ A majority of the House of Commons agreed.

    He also explained about the Measure that: ‘The question is, how could it, without absurdity and without exaggeration, be used by those who are anxious for still further extension’

    As we all know, after much debate, the motion for the Revised Prayer Book was defeated, but although Sir John was addressing Parliament and not Synod, these questions remain as pertinent to the CofE today as they were to the Church and wider society back in 1927.

    • Ian Paul January 31, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

      That’s a fascinating and pertinent analogy.

      • David Shepherd February 2, 2016 at 7:44 am #

        Thanks, Ian. It’s interesting to see how in 1927, after years of connivance at liturgical rituals that contradicted the Reformed character of the Church of England, the Bishops were convinced that they could stem the more flagrant departures from Common Prayer by authorising what they viewed as the far less egregious alternatives, such as the Alternative Consecration Prayer and Reservation of the Sacrament.

        Despite the Commons defeat of the 1927 Measure and its subsequent amended version, the Bishops strove to authorise the Prayer Book without Parliamentary Approval.

        These excerpts from Sir W. Joyston-Hicks’ eloquent speech echo my own misgivings about Synod conceding ground to today’s revisionists in the current climate of ecclesiastical connivance:

        ‘The whole reason, said the Bishop [of Durham], why revision was undertaken was because the situation had become literally intolerable. Because the Bishops could not cope with the clergy who took a different view; because they could not attempt to deal with these illegalities in our Church, they ask, in order to bring these illegal men into line with the law, that the law should be altered.

        They have been trying to get the upper hand in this so-called Protestant Church of our’s and because the Bishops cannot deal with them—I absolve the Bishops from any intention deliberately not to deal with them—because they have failed to deal with them, they say, “No we will not try to enforce the law, we will change the law in order to bring it into consonance with their ideas.”

        The Primate himself signed the Report of the Royal Commission, and in his first charge
        as Bishop of Winchester, 30 years ago, said The Bishops and clergy have been of late years too lax, or, to use a colloquial expression, too casual. These are not my words, they are the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury:Episcopal authority will now be exercised decisively, and, if need be, sternly, wherever in England any difficulty arises. It has not been exercised either sternly or decisively.

        As far as he was concerned, he hoped they would give him, the Archbishop, a little time. It is now 24 years since the Archbishop said this. The sands are still running out today, and nothing has been done. We are asked to trust the Bishops. Therein lies the difficulty. It is not a question of trust. It is a question how so many of them can possibly deal with these offences when they have connived at their existence for 20 years past, and from time to time, have appointed men who they knew to be guilty of these illegalities to offices in the Church.

  23. David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    Well, regardless of the fact I can’t see how the lack of questions Peter Ould wishes to be in the survey invalidates the poll, I agree that it would be interesting to see a poll showing the answers to them, which could be compared with the figures in this poll. Does anyone with the means to raise finances or pay for such a survey want to make a constructive move forward?

    • Penelope February 1, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

      As I understand it, this poll asked the same questions as the previous poll, which didn’t seem to generate this heat. I wonder why?

      • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

        Extrordinary, that, isn’t it? Nor, so far as I’m aware, has it been accused of political bias, or of producing wildly wrong statistics. Funny old world.

      • David Shepherd February 2, 2016 at 8:02 am #

        The ‘heat’ is just a perfectly valid response to Ozanne’s faulty inference that ‘Church leadership is seriously out of step with its membership’.

        I’m not aware of revisionists contrasting leadership with membership on the basis of the previous data; for instance, inferring that revisionists were, at the time of the earlier survey, seriously out of step with both the leadership and membership of the CofE.

        • Andrew Godsall February 2, 2016 at 8:20 am #

          Well, we are all revisionists in the C of E David, so that’s why. It’s basic church history. We just put different emphasis on different bits of revision. You think Andrea Williams is a revisionist because of the way she deals with scripture. She probably thinks you are one for the same reason. We just revise a bit differently.

          • David Shepherd February 2, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

            There is a clear line of distinction between reform, which is part of the Church’s tradition, and revision.

            The contrast is explained in terms of ‘reception’ by Peter Toon:

            ‘In its present form, Anglican ‘reception’ is not an appeal to the sureties of the past, or even to what has been. Instead, it is an appeal to what might be someday, with the associated permission to test or experiment with the proposed possibilities of the future. This kind of ‘reception’ is, thus, a novelty in itself. It is no longer a ‘reformation’ (an effort to achieve the original, pristine form). Rather it is a ‘reformation forward,’ so that the true form of the Church may not have been seen or achieved yet.

            That is not, however, an eschatological consideration, according to which we are not completely sure of what Christ will make of us. Rather, it is an inversion, an experiment to determine what we will discover of Christ and his Body, the Church.

            In the end, one is faced with this question: Is there justification provided in the Scriptures for a principle of experimentation?

            No previous effort at reformation or renewal has looked to the future, rather than to the settled past. It may even be said that the reformation forward is contrary to every basic principle of church polity. For the experiment to proceed, it must be permitted by human authority. But until the experiment succeeds, it cannot be known if the human authorities granting permission have the divinely given authority to allow the experiment.’

            Revision is therefore self-affirming speculation for one’s favoured bias without any mooring to consistent principles, which admit of the scrutiny of the OT prophetic nor NT apostolic witness.

  24. Deborah Salmon January 31, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

    Why is Jayne Ozanne now a former representative of Accepting Evangelicals? Who is she representing now or is this a thing she has commissioned herself?
    I find it hard looking at those questions on this poll. Very inadequate and wanting pat easy answers when this involves discussion and the reasons why life, sexuality and humans don’t fit into nice easy boxes!
    It is quite odd when the first question talks about sexual orientation and people being able to live their lives as they wish and yet a lot of the gay rights campaign has focussed on just gay marriage and not the rest of those people who wish to live their sexual orientation as they wish.
    you can not build a movement on things that don’t hold up to scrutiny, dont measure up to what is promised and arguments that fail time and again.
    having said that it must be so hard giving your whole life and being to something only to find it doesn’t work, or it hasn’t been accepted, and what you have believed or been told for so long people are beginning to question. That is hard and sad! I hope Jayne comes to understand fully why the primates gave the decision they did, the full reasons why and that she still finds a full welcome in church and has a place still to use her gifts! x

    • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      Jayne Ozanne is no longer director of Accepting Evangelicals, as I understand it, but she was when she commissioned the poll.

      There are, in fact, many people associated with gay rights movements who are concerned about “the rest of those people who wish to live their sexual orientation as they wish.” Diverse Church run by Sally Ozanne includes young evangelical LGB people who wish to remain celibate or abstinent. LGBT+ rights movements are increasingly including asexual people, who often have difficult expectations put on them in our society.

      • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 10:04 pm #

        Edit: “Sally Hitchener,” not “Sally Ozanne.”

      • Deborah Salmon January 31, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

        I hope heterosexual people are included in that too? That too is an orientation?

        • David Beadle January 31, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

          If heterosexual people are being denied civil rights, and bullied and denigrated for their sexual orientation, and if there’s rampant heterophobia in society, then it should of course be something people are campaigning against. Is there any evidence that their is heterophobia on social and systematic levels?

          • Deborah Salmon February 1, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

            We are not talking about abuse but inclusivity arent we. Isnt that what inclusive church is about! Dont other people struggle with their sexuality and get coerced by society to do and live in ways which are not good for them and harmful?

          • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

            It’s awful when that happens. There are many movements, secular and spiritual addressing that. Unless you’re thinking of something in particular which is not addressed.

    • Penelope February 1, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

      Peter, that is arrant nonsense. Do stop being libellous because you don’t agree with people.

    • Alastair Newman February 2, 2016 at 9:37 am #

      You might want to check that with the other trustees who were there. Jeremy Marks took the minutes – he’ll tell you what happened.

    • Andrew Godsall February 2, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

      “I’m sure if someone from Accepting Evangelicals wants to correct me they’ll jump to your defence.”

      I’m very pleased they have now done so. It clearly was not ‘perfectly true’.

  25. Drew_Mac February 1, 2016 at 12:14 am #

    What I don’t understand is why when Peter makes unfounded accusations in a post here there is no reply link?

    Anyway, Peter, for the record, I don’t believe in ‘Voodoo Polls’ nor do I think there are 20 million regularly attending Anglicans. That poll tells us only what ‘self-identifying Anglicans’ think. I’m very happy for someone else to do a better poll of people in the pews week by week and genuinely interested, indeed hopeful, about what the result might be.

    Nor, I might also add, do I accept the title ‘revisionist’, etc.

    I’m perfectly happy with the teaching of the CofE about heterosexual marriage.

    • David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 1:49 am #

      Well said. From the data in the poll it can be extrapolated that roughly twenty million people in the population as a whole identify with the CofE/Anglican/Episcopal church. It can also be extrapolated that roughly 12 -12.5 million people identify as participating in it (not necessarily regularly). There are two sets of data in the survey, but there’s been a lot of confusion between the two, including from those who have been viciously attacking Jayne Ozanne over it. I agree with you, it’s nothing to do with “voodoo polls:” when we strip back all the false claims, all we’re left with are complaints that the poll didn’t ask something that was outside its remit, or use the term “members” according to Ian Paul and Peter Ould’s definition.

      A poll has been commissioned which is comparable with data from three years ago. When I asked Peter Ould, further up, whether there were any previous polls which asked the questions he thinks the poll should have asked, he said he didn’t want to talk to me, because I’m not someone who’s “credible.” Unless polls have generally asked for what he’s calling for before, then I think claims about his ideal question being left out for political motivation/bias are extremely far-fetched. Such a conspiracy theory doesn’t work anyway, because when the question was not asked three years ago, more of those who identified as Anglican were opposed to SSM than in favour of it.

      I’m interested in dealing with figures, as well as recognising their limitations, without unpleasant attacks on people for their speculated political biases, and conspiracy theories about the pollsters’ motivations. Those who think it essential to stratify answers according to how often people attend an Anglican church could do as Jayne Ozanne did: raise money in order to pay an independent pollster to investigate this.

      This would be a constructive way forward, which would actually answer the questions Ian Paul and Peter Ould are putting forward. I would hope that those of us who think that poll already conducted did have value would not carp about other things we thought up that the poll didn’t answer, with a grace which some have not extended to those who conducted this poll.

      • Peter Ould February 1, 2016 at 9:25 am #

        ” It can also be extrapolated that roughly 12 -12.5 million people identify as participating in it (not necessarily regularly).”

        Compared to the 3 million or so that the Church of England themselves report as participating.

        Opinion polling around voting intention discovers this disconnect all the time. You have plenty of people who say “I will do X” or “I have done X” but actually when you do more study you find out they did no such thing. One polling firm famously asked voters the day after a General Election whether they had voted or not the previous day. They then returned to them a year later and asked the same question about the previous year’s election. The level of false recall was staggering with a large percentage of those saying that they had voted replying the previous year (the day after the election) that actually they hadn’t voted.

      • Peter Ould February 1, 2016 at 9:58 am #

        “Such a conspiracy theory doesn’t work anyway, because when the question was not asked three years ago, more of those who identified as Anglican were opposed to SSM than in favour of it.”

        Yes, so all this poll tells us is what changes have happened in the opinions of people who tick a box of “Anglican” on a form. It tells us nothing about the people actually in the pews, the people actually praying and worshipping and working in their parishes, the people actually paying the bills.

    • Jeremy Pemberton February 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

      I think it is interesting that the C of E clearly doesn’t believe its own teaching about hetero marriage. It says it is between one man and one woman for life – but it has divorced and remarried serving clergy and bishops.

      It would be more honest to say that it holds lifelong marriage as an ideal to which all are called. But it doesn’t: it says that marriage is, of its nature, lifelong.

      Glasshouses and stones come to mind.

      • Ian Paul February 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

        Jeremy, that is an oft-repeated accusation in this debate, but it rests on a poor understanding (or even lack of understanding?) of both the teaching of the church and the allowance for remarriage after divorce.

        Thomas Renz has an excellent exploration of it on his blog here http://hadleyrectory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/on-affirming-marriage-as-lifelong-union.html. He notes some wider issues on the question of whether it matters if the church does or doesn’t act on its beliefs, but on this question makes some important theological and historical observations:
        The claim that the practice of remarriage of divorcees is incompatible with the view that marriage is a lifelong union is presented as self-evident. But it can hardly be said to be self-evident. Why?
        Because for at least one and a half millennia the Eastern Churches strongly affirmed that marriage is a lifelong union, while allowing for the possibility (and permissibility in some circumstances) of divorce with right of remarriage, appealing to Origen and Basil among others.

        Because even within the Western Church this was rarely undisputed. There was a period of about 400 years from the Decretum of Gratian onwards during which (Christian!) marriage was held to be indissoluble without much contradiction but the issue was re-opened during the Reformation period. The Reformers abandoned the principle of absolute indissolubility for theological and pastoral reasons and “believed that in doing so, they were recalling the Church to the Scriptural teaching on marriage and divorce.” (Atkinson)

        He ends with a helpful summary, which I think shows that your claim here is mistaken:

        Quick summary:

        (1) Some believe that no (Christian) marriage ever comes to an end in this life. This is the position usually identified with the Roman Catholic Church.
        (2) Some believe that there are two ways in which a marriage can end, through death or through sin. This is the position of the Orthodox churches and of the Protestant Reformers.
        (3) Some believe that there are many which in a marriage can end other than death and sin. Thi seems to be the most widespread view in Western society outside the church.

        The phrase “lifelong union” means different things to different people.

        For those affirming (1) it describes an inescapable fact about marriage.
        For those affirming (2) it says something about what marriage intrinsically is according to God’s design which is however breakable, a bit like saying a house is a space with walls and roof does not imply that the roof cannot fall down.
        For those affirming 3) the phrase expresses at best an aspiration rather than something that marriage intrinsically is.

        • Jonathan Tallon February 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

          If ‘lifelong union’ is ‘breakable’, is ‘between a man and a woman’ breakable? Would you be happy if the canon on marriage remained, as indicating that marriage intrinsically according to God’s design is between a man and a woman, but it is ‘breakable’ for a minority who are only attracted to those of the same sex?

  26. Alastair Newman February 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    A major criticism of this poll seems to be the over-reporting of the number of “Anglicans”, and that many people reporting as “Anglicans” are not “true Anglicans” in the sense that they aren’t on the electoral roll of a church, don’t contribute financially to a parish, or do not attend regular worship. On that basis the argument is that the poll is unrepresentative of the views of “regular members” in the pews on any given Sunday across the CofE.

    But can that argument truly be made for the 25-34yo group where 72% are in favour and only 18% opposed? The number of 25-34yo self-identifying as Anglican (weighted sample) is 119, and the total number of 25-34yo in the poll (weighted sample) is 825. At 14% the ratio of 25-34yo self-identifying as Anglican still looks high, but not as high as the 28.5% self-identification for the poll overall.

    I’d be fascinated to know what is happening here. There are surely no, or very very few, “nominal Anglicans” aged between 25-34yo. (Perhaps the issue then is selection bias in who was polled?) I am in the 25-34yo age bracket (a non-nominal Anglican…), and I know literally nobody in that age range who would self-identify as an Anglican if they didn’t have at least some degree of regular contact with a church community. Perhaps there still really is such a thing as cultural Anglicanism in this more youthful group, but I would love to know where it has been hiding!

    • Peter Ould February 1, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

      The official CofE Statistics for Mission returns don’t separate out the 18 – 70 group into sub-divisions so it is impossible to say that the 25-34 group of nominal Anglicans (penetration rate of 14% of the total 25-34 group) is actually connected to a higher active attendance penetration rate as measured by bums on pews

      It’s perfectly possible for the 25-34 group to be chock full of nominal Anglicans. If the actual Sunday attendance rate is around 1.5% of the population and the nominal rate is 28.5% percent, that’s a ratio of 8 to 1 (i.e. of every 9 nominal Anglicans, 1 actually attends on a regular basis). If we look at the numbers of actual attending 25-34 yos and find that they are only 1% of all 25-34 yos, then the penetration ratio would be 13 to 1, meaning that a smaller proportion of 25-34 yos attended church than the average for the whole population.

      Frankly, looking at most broad and liberal churches, this wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Peter Ould February 1, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

      Sorry – numbers wrong above.

      It’s perfectly possible for the 25-34 group to be chock full of nominal Anglicans. If the actual Sunday attendance rate is around 1.5% of the population and the nominal rate is 28.5% percent, that’s a ratio of 19 to 1 (i.e. of every 19 nominal Anglicans, 1 actually attends on a regular basis). If we look at the numbers of actual attending 25-34 yos and find that they are only 0.5% of all 25-34 yos, then the penetration ratio would be 26 to 1, meaning that a smaller proportion of 25-34 yos attended church than the average for the whole population.

  27. Tim Carlisle February 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    It doesn’t suprise me in the slightest that the polls are not neutral. That’s clear from who commissioned them. But equally you have to look at the whole. Look what Jayne is trying to say with ‘statistical backing’ (note the inverted commas) is this ‘This is what the church wants, the leadership of the church no longer represents the membership’.

    Which of course is looking at if from a messed up perspective. The leadership of the Anglican communion are not there to represent the body of the church. They are there to represent Chris on earth – as are we. Essentially she’s inverted the whole relationship of Christ as the head of the church and we as his holy priesthood, his ambassadors on earth.

    She’s saying that the elders & deacons are there to do what the church wants not what Christ wants.

    That to me is more damning that lies, damn lies and statistics being messed with.

  28. David Beadle February 1, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

    Peter, your talking of Jayne’s “blatant falsification of the poll result in the press release by referring to those polled as ‘members,'” and the claims of political motivation in setting the poll are not valid criticism. They can be nothing other than personal attack. You are impugning improper motives to Jayne O and to YouGov.

    I for one wouldn’t have bothered with any of this, had you simply made valid criticisms. As I have said (several times I think, but I find the threads on here difficult to negotiate) I agree with you that the poll does not tell us regular churchgoers’ opinions on SSM. That is a constructive criticism. To say that people are deliberately distorting the facts purely because they haven’t asked a question that’s never been asked on one of these polls before, and because they used the word “members” in a way which is different to yours and Ian’s own persona definition of the word, is not only a personal and libellous attack. It’s patent rubbish.

  29. Peter Gamston February 2, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    Interesting switch from the second person plural to the third there.

    • Peter Gamston February 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

      Edit : referring to PO post not DB – confusing when replies don’t always seem to align with selected reply buttons. In response to David – the one good thing that has come out of this is that it has enabled me me discover the excellent ‘Changing Attitude’ facebook page which has gone some way to lift the depression engendered by this thread.

  30. James Byron February 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    Peter, while I agree with most of your methodological criticisms, I can’t see how it’s fair to accuse Jayne Ozanne of “blatant falsification” in the press release, nor to imply that she’s been forced of her position in Accepting Evangelicals. You simply disagree on the definition of “member,” and I don’t see any relevance to the circumstances of her taking up a new role. Both serve to distract from your substantive criticisms of the poll.

    • Andrew Godsall February 2, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

      Thankfully Accepting Evangelicals have issued a statement and Jeremy Marks has posted here to make it clear that Peter and Ian were indeed making false claims about Jayne. I trust that their suggestions will now be withdrawn.

      • James Byron February 2, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

        Thanks for the heads-up about Jeremy Marks’ comment. Peter was very confident about his claim, so I can only assume that he was misinformed: but IMO, even made in a good faith, an error like this should be retracted and apologized for.

        • Andrew Godsall February 3, 2016 at 9:48 am #

          I agree James and hope that it will be. It is a great pity it should come to that kind of tactic.

  31. Clive February 3, 2016 at 8:12 am #

    I have seen nothing in Ian Paul’s comments, nor in Peter Ould’s comments that could be construed as homophobic.

    If you are the same Andrew Godsall as has written articles then your articles are much more sensible than this type of comment.

    • Andrew Godsall February 3, 2016 at 9:40 am #

      Clive: they are clearly fearful that acceptance of same sex relationships is gaining ground in the C of E. How else do you we interpret what is going on? Sadly the fear has turned into something worse – bearing false witness.

      • Clive February 3, 2016 at 11:14 am #

        I don’t agree with you at all and wonder from where you invented that.

        • Clive February 3, 2016 at 11:28 am #

          Ironically, yesterday thousands rallied in Rome to demand protection for the rights of children as the Italian government contemplates unions for LGBT people. Not once did they criticise LGBT people or their behaviour they simply demanded the rights of children not be shredded.

          By contrast the HFEA cited the SSM act in which the UK government dismissed the rights of children to have parents anymore.
          Watching British people discuss SSM is like seeing Nelson put the telescope to his blind eye. They simply do not want to reflect on any of the problems.

          The Church is now under pressure to accept SSM by performing marriages in Church. Those marriages would be under UK law which would take away the rights of children to have parents. This is all under the guise of “inclusivity” whilst it actually involves an exclusive attitude to children contrary to the Church teaching

        • Andrew Godsall February 3, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

          No invention from my side – it’s all quite clear from the record on here just who invented things Clive.

  32. Ian Paul February 7, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    Folks

    I have read through this thread again (which developed when I was busy doing something else). I am sorry that some of the exchanges here have degenerated into personal criticism and ad hominem attacks, and so I have cleaned up the comments by deleting about 30 of them. If you think I have deleted something valuable you contributed by mistake, my apologies.

    We all need to recalibrate a little. I would like this blog to continue as a space where people can honestly engage with one another, offering critical but fair engagement with different views, so that we can generate light and not just heat.

    Please bear this in mind when commenting on this and other posts. I will aim to be more vigilant both with myself and my valued dialogue partners here in future.

    I would still like to encourage lively debate, but also draw your attention to the last paragraph in the post. There are other important issues around too.

    Many thanks for your understanding.

    • Ian Paul February 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      I have not withdrawn anything. See my comments above.

  33. John O'Connor February 8, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    It took me ten minutes to read through the original article, and literally all morning to wade through the comments it provoked. It seems to me that people are hammering all over the plank without actually hitting the nail on the head.

    It should be of no consequence what ‘Anglicans’ (whether wholly committed members or otherwise) think about matters of homosexuality / same-sex marriage / or even opinion polls. The only thing that matters is what God Himself thinks. We could canvas God’s opinion this year – and every year – but the result would always be the same, because He has told us, “I am the LORD, and I change not” (Malachi). Almighty God will not alter His opinion to bring it into line with popular opinion or passing fads.

    We should instead be looking at how closely the Western Church aligns itself with God’s word these days. The falling numbers we see in the Church are a symptom of the deep malaise that has infected it. That malaise is the direct result of willful sin and disobedience, and nothing else. It has led to deep divisions within the Church. Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” It looks as if He is being proved right.

    The Anglican Church needs to go back to what the Bible actually says on these matters, and then defend it REGARDLESS of popular opinion, hurt feelings, media pressure, or the rantings of minority self-interest groups. Sound biblical doctrine needs to be regularly taught from the pulpit, not shied away from (as is currently the case in the Anglican Church). We have to learn, again, to accept God’s word – not popular opinion – as the final authority in all issues of life.

    The only polls I want to see in the future are those that show a year-on-year increase in the number of Anglicans that are becoming genuinely born-again Christians who can honestly describe themselves a true Bible-believing children of God.

    “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, That the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth.”

    It all boils down to how much faith you have in the word of God. A poll would no doubt conclude that there is very little of that around in the Church today.

    • Jonathan Tallon February 8, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      Quote from John:
      “It should be of no consequence what ‘Anglicans’ (whether wholly committed members or otherwise) think about matters of homosexuality / same-sex marriage / or even opinion polls. The only thing that matters is what God Himself thinks.”

      I quite agree. But…

      …How do we decide what God thinks? What if there are differences between people about what they think God thinks? How do you resolve these differences? Different churches tackle this in different ways. Baptists will resolve it through the Church Meeting, where every member (and they have proper definitions of membership) gets an equal vote and each church is independent. Within the Church of England, we have synods. Where people vote.

      Either way people’s opinions end up being tallied up. Knowing how opinions are changing is therefore useful data – it at least tells us what people think God thinks.

      • David Shepherd February 9, 2016 at 6:16 am #

        Jonathan,

        Indeed, Church policy is decided by vote of Synod.

        But if we consider previous issues, such as Women Bishops and Anglican Communion Covenant, we can be fairly sure that the opinions of both General and Deanery Synod members (who are ex-officio PCC members) have been informed to scripture, tradition and reason.

        Of course, knowing what people think God thinks is helpful. Although, if, when polled, most of those people admit that they have no problem with pornography or extra-marital sex,

        Such opinions are probably just what they think, without any particular reference to God.

        So, instead, this should prompt us to remain steadfastly counter-cultural and to develop more effective strategies for peacefully challenging such a completely permissive zeitgeist.

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