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Church News

Almost half of British Anglicans support same-sex marriage, new poll suggests

by Ruth Sax

The number of British Anglicans who believe that same-sex marriage is right has risen to almost half, according to a YouGov poll. 

There has been a marked increase in support from Church of England members, the research shows. In 2013, only 38 per cent were in support, but this year the number has risen to 48 per cent.

This is compared to only 34 per cent who think same-sex marriage is wrong - this figure has decreased from 47 per cent in 2013 despite the Church's official stance remaining against same-sex relationships.

The YouGov poll was commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation, which works with religious organisations around the world to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality and gender.

Jane Ozanne, a gay evangelical and director of the Ozanne Foundation told Premier: "I am pleased to see these results confirm what many of us have known for some time, that attitudes are changing fast across all the generations towards same sex marriage, both in the nation and obviously in the Church of England too. 

"Interestingly, the Catholic Church support for same sex marriages is far greater than even in the Anglican Church, so it shows how much people are understanding that God is love and God wants to celebrate and bless all forms of love."

Critics however, question the validity of the poll. Church of England priest and commentator Rev Peter Ould told Premier: "It's simply asking people in the public domain which religion do you associate with, without having any qualification as to whether they're actually spiritually or religiously active. It is not a proper sample of active Church of England members."

Commenting on the results Rt Rev Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool and Chair of the 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 results come just a few weeks after the Archbishops of Canterbury and York apologised for the House of Bishops' recent "pastoral statement" on civil partnerships, which condemned sex outside heterosexual marriage.  The statement had caused 3,750 people to sign an open letter to the Archbishops, organised by Jayne Ozanne and three other Church of England members, that stated the "Church had become a laughing-stock to the nation".

The YouGov research surveyed attitudes amongst 5,169 people in total across Great Britain, including 1,171 Anglicans in England. The results show some regional variation with those in London more affirming, where over two thirds (68 per cent) supported same-sex marriage.  Results amongst the general public are also skewed by age, with those aged 18-24 being twice as likely to approve as those who are over 65+ (74 per cent vs 37 per cent).

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