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Poll on Anglican views of gay marriage ‘misused’

April 2020

weddMedia reports claiming Anglicans are more in favour of same-sex marriage are based on a misuse of polling data, critics have said.

The public opinion survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Ozanne Foundation, which campaigns for a more liberal attitude to sexual ethics.

The Foundation claimed, ‘Nearly half of Church of England members now believe same sex marriage is right, with well over two-thirds of those under 50 believing it is right.’

However, the survey was criticised by several Anglican commentators. Peter Ould said, ‘The first issue is whether these “Anglicans” are in any way representative of the men and women (and children) who worship in the pews week after week.

‘With one in five of the sample of 5,000 saying they were Anglican, if these were people who were actually active in their local CofE churches it would indicate around 10 million people worshipping every week. Revival!’

Ould said the Ozanne Foundation press release ‘talks about a “marked increase” in Anglicans supporting same-sex marriage, but the reality is there is no statistical difference between the 2016 and 2020 figures for supporting same-sex marriage’.

He said, ‘I could go on, but the point is clear — the poll does not represent what the press release claims it does. It is not a reflection of Church of England members in the pews, it does not show any change in support for same-sex marriage in the past four years and it uses terms with little or no qualification in a manner that misleads the reader as to the meaning of the poll.’

Judi Sture also criticised the way the poll had been misrepresented. She said, ‘Those in the random sample are probably “hospital Anglicans” — if admitted to hospital, they would tick the “CofE” box rather than any other, on the off-chance they need a chaplain.’

The survey did not ask anyone if they actually attend church. Sture said, ‘This immediately demolishes Ozanne’s claim that acceptance of same sex marriage is ‘the reality of what is happening in our pews’. She added, ‘Once again, the Ozanne Foundation claims as fact things which have not been clearly demonstrated.’

The Christian Institute’s Colin Hart said, ‘The faith once delivered to all the saints didn’t emerge as a result of polling or focus groups. The Bible’s message is clear. Marriage can only ever be between one man and one woman.’