C of E clergy stats based on dodgy Times poll

Sep 6, 2023

The Times has claimed that a majority of Church of England clergy want the Church to start conducting same-sex weddings.

This comes from a survey carried out by the newspaper on serving C of E clerics. It found that 53.4% were in favour of a change to permit conducting same-sex weddings versus 36.5% against.

However, the survey has been sharply criticised for being poorly designed, with results not necessarily representative.

While 5,000 questionnaires were sent out to a random selection of clergy, just 1,200 or so were returned, for a response rate of under a quarter. This meant that only around 6% of active clergy were included in the poll.

Statistician Peter Ould said the survey had severe risks of self-selection, where those in favour of change were more likely to complete the questionnaire. Reports that some recipients declined to complete it because they felt the questions were biased suggest this was not just a hypothetical problem.

Revd Dr Ian Paul told Times Radio, the approach taken was “the worst possible way of doing a survey”. He added that many of the poll’s results “are completely contradicted by evidence elsewhere”.

In short, the survey tells us nothing reliable about what most C of E clergy think about same-sex marriage or any of the other topics covered in it. It only tells us what the tiny minority who completed it were willing to write down at the time.

At C4M we know that, whatever the real state of opinion among Anglican church leaders, it cannot change the facts. The Church of England should adhere to the timeless truth that marriage is only between one man and one woman.