The Times newspaper has conducted a poll of serving Church of England clergy, asking them about various current issues – including beliefs about sex and sexuality, and in particular about same-sex relationships and marriages.
Compared with a similar poll in 2014, there has been a dramatic shift towards progressive, inclusive views. More than half the serving clergy (53.4%) now believe that the Church should allow priests to conduct same-sex weddings if they wish to, and just under half (49.2%) said they themselves would conduct same-sex weddings.
In 2014 39% of clergy said they believed same-sex marriage was right while 51% believed it was wrong (10% were undecided).
The Times selected 5,000 priests at random from among those with English addresses in Crockford’s Clerical Directory of Anglican clergy and received 1,436 responses, analysing data from the 1,185 respondents still serving.
The number of serving Church of England clergy is approximately 20,000, so about one-quarter of serving clergy were surveyed. Of these about 28% responded – a very good response rate. It is clear that the results of the survey are statistically reliable.
The full Times article is at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/church-of-england-christianity-survey-gay-marriage-sex-female-archbishop-70ck07sj6. It is available only to subscribers, but one can sign up for a one-month free trial.
Here is our summary of the answers to questions related to equal marriage:
Priests were asked “Do you think the Church of England should or should not allow priests to conduct same-sex weddings if they wish to, according to their conscience?”
|Should priests be allowed to conduct same-sex weddings?||Should||Should not||Not sure|
Priests were asked “If the Church of England were to permit priests to conduct same-sex weddings if they wished to, according to their conscience, which would come closest to your position?”
|Would you be willing to conduct same-sex weddings?||Yes||No||Not sure|
Priests were asked “Do you think the Church of England should or should not allow gay priests to enter into civil marriages with their same-sex partners?”
|Should gay priests be allowed to marry their same-sex partners?||Yes||No||Not sure|
Priests were asked “The General Synod backed proposals in February to allow priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples if they wish to, according to their conscience. Which best describes your position?”
|Will you offer blessings to same-sex couples?||Yes||No||Not sure|
Sex between two adults of the same sex
Priests were asked if they thought that the Church should no longer teach that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture’ [Lambeth 1998 I.10].
|Should gay people be required to be celibate (sexually abstinent)?||No||Yes|
|Gay people should not have to be celibate||27.3%|
|Gay people in committed relationships should not have to be celibate||37.2%|
|Gay people should still have to be celibate||29.7%|