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There are now more people in the Church of England who support same-sex marriage than oppose it

Patrick Kelleher March 2, 2020
Church of England same sex marriage

Wallace Araujo (Pexels)

More people in the Church of England now support same-sex marriage than oppose it, a groundbreaking new poll has found.

The YouGov poll, which was commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation and was conducted over the last two weeks, found that 48 per cent of Church of England members believe same-sex marriage is right, while just 34 per cent said it was wrong.

Support for same-sex marriage in the church is stronger among women and younger people. 53 per cent of Anglican women are in favour of same-sex marriage compared to just 41 per cent of Anglican men.

Meanwhile, among the over 65s, just 30 per cent were in favour of same-sex marriage and 48 per cent said it was wrong. Conversely, 71 per cent of 25-49 year olds agreed with same-sex marriage and 17 per cent were opposed.

Notably, those aged 50-65 are now also strongly in favour of same-sex marriage, with 52 per cent saying the practice is acceptable compared to 30 per cent who were opposed.

Support for same-sex marriage among Church of England members is highest in London.

5,169 Church of England members were surveyed for the poll across Great Britain, including 1,171 Anglicans in England. Church members in London were much more likely to support same-sex marriage, with 68 per cent of respondents there in favour.

18-24 year-old church members are most likely to support same-sex marriage than any other age category, with 74 per cent showing positive views.

To pretend that this is an issue on which many have not yet formed a view is to misunderstand the reality of what is happening in our pews.

The poll suggests that attitudes are shifting in the Church of England, where just 38 per cent of members approved of same-sex marriage in 2013. Support for same-sex marriage among Anglicans is also three per cent higher than it was in 2016.

While there has been a considerable surge in support in the Church of England for same-sex marriage, members still lag behind the wider public. 60 per cent of the UK’s general population are now in favour of marriage equality, with less than a quarter opposed.

Those who oppose same-sex marriage are now in a minority in the church.

The Foundation’s director Jayne Ozanne, who campaigns for LGBT+ acceptance within the Church of England, said the poll indicates that those opposed to same-sex marriage are now in a minority in the institution.

“This shows the urgent need for the Church of England hierarchy to recognise and respect the clear views of a significant proportion of its members, which are steadily increasing as time goes by,” Ozanne said.

“To pretend that this is an issue on which many have not yet formed a view is to misunderstand the reality of what is happening in our pews.”

Reverend Paul Bayes, bishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Ozanne Foundation said: “These results provide a challenge to us in leadership within the Church of England to ensure that we understand the views of the people we serve.

“Attitudes are indeed changing quickly, and we must be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through them if we are to be an effective witness of God’s love to the nation.”

The church recently apologised for pastoral guidance that restricts sex to married, heterosexual couples.

The poll comes just weeks after the Church of England apologised after it released pastoral guidance claiming sex is just for married, heterosexual couples.

The House of Bishops’ guidance insisted that sex should only take place within heterosexual marriage and said those in straight or same-sex civil partnerships should have “sexually abstinent friendships.” It also said that sex outside of marriage falls “short of God’s purposes for human beings”.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, said the statement “jeopardised trust”, but they fell short of retracting the guidance.

More: Anglican, Church of England, Gay, Ozanne Foundation, same sex marriage, YouGov

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