Campaigner stands by same sex marriage poll despite wave of criticism

Mon 01 Feb 2016
By Marcus Jones

A campaigner, who commissioned a poll to find out the views of Anglican churchgoers on same sex marriage, is standing by her poll despite claims she 'spun' the results.

Over the weekend, a number of reports came out suggesting the tide was turning in regards to views on the issue.

A YouGov poll claimed for the first time that the number of Church of England members who support gay marriage is bigger that those who oppose it. Apparently 45% of Church of England followers thought same-sex marriage was right, versus 37% who believed it wrong.

However since the reports emerged, a number of commentators have suggested that those questioned were only those who affiliate themselves with the Church of England rather than those who regularly attend or serve in their parishes.

Revd Peter Ould is one of those. He's a Church of England priest and mathematical modelling consultant. Speaking on Premier's News Hour, he said: "It tells us what the opinions are of people who loosely associate with the Church of England.

"These are people who, if you have to tick a form somewhere, would say Church of England. The problem is this poll has been spun to say these are the members of the Church of England."

Speaking about the other results that came out of the survey, he said: "60% have no problem with pornography. A staggering 85% of them have no problem with sex before marriage and over a third have no problem with adultery.

"The question I'd like to ask the people who are using the result on same sex marriage to push that forward is, 'If you are happy that we should change our views on same sex marriage because of what these Anglicans think about that, why aren't you pushing that we change them on pornography, sex before marriage and adultery?'"

Jayne Ozanne, a General Synod member who campaigns for a change in attitude from the Church of England, has been defending the poll. Speaking on Premier's News Hour, she said: "Ultimately we all know there is a major change of opinion happening and actually what we need to be concerned about is how the Church can witness and speaking into a generation that has such a different view to what the Church has."

Addressing her critics, she said: "It's all smoke and mirrors at the moment, people are trying to focus on the wrong thing rather than understand the speed of change amongst people who believe that they are practicing and involved in a church.

"I'd really challenge those who don't like its findings to go out and commission their own survey and whichever way they do, they'll find the same findings - that the nation is in a different place and those who call themselves Christian are changing their view."

The Church of England is currently going through, what it's described as, 'shared conversations' in which those on both sides of the debate discuss the issue with an aim of finding a way for the Church to move forward despite differing opinions.

The Church's governing body, General Synod, is set to debate further in July.

Listen to Revd Peter Ould and Jayne Ozanne speaking to Antony Bushfield on Premier's News Hour.

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