From the Introduction

by Dr Peter Brierley


A telephone call in the Spring of 2001 from Rev Francis Gardom led to a meeting with a number of people concerned with some of the prevailing attitudes, practices and theology of the Church of England. Peter Brierley represented Christian Research at this meeting, and the suggestion was that a survey should be undertaken amongst Anglican clergy to ascertain how far these various views were held, and how strongly.


At a second meeting a few weeks later the thought of a survey was taken further, and it was agreed that there were a number of contentious issues which it would be useful to survey. The value of asking about a range of different items was that those of particular interest would be "hidden" among the rest, so that the survey would not be thought to be issued from any particular group.


In practice this strategy worked admirably. The group behind the survey was not revealed at the time of the study. While the Market Research Societyís Code of Practice (which Christian Research follows as its professional authority) allows the sponsorís name to be withheld while the survey is in progress, it makes it clear that once the survey is over any respondent wishing to know who was behind it should be told. We have told those asking that this is the practice we are following, and all have accepted that, but no-one (yet!) has come back requesting to be told.


We did have some interesting phone-calls, however. "I know whoís behind this study," said one clergyman speaking with total certainty, "itís one of those evangelical groups after secret information!" Another incumbent questioned, "Are you not inferring by your method of operation that this comes from a group with an evangelical identity?" Well, the answer is NO! What these two gentlemen feel is the evangelical "threat" I cannot say, but it does show that we covered our tracks fairly thoroughly as well as a sad "anti-evangelical" bias by some within the Anglican fold.


The second meeting also determined that there should be a survey of lay people as well. The lay questionnaire was not identical to that for the clergy, though followed similar lines. The two questionnaires, for clergy and laity, are given in Appendices 1 and 2 respectively.


The survey was carried out in the autumn of 2001, after a further meeting to agree the survey forms. As some of the lay questionnaires were distributed through clergy, after they had been asked if they would be willing to give some out, questionnaires were still being returned after Christmas, which has led to some delay in the analysis. Obviously there is no point in running all the computer programmes until the very large majority of replies have been received back. Not all clergy are quick at answering questionnaires either!


The survey was successful in terms of getting a good response as the following pages testify. Where appropriate we have given the answers for both clergy and lay together for comparison. The survey generated a number of enthusiastic responses: "One of the best surveys Iíve completed for a long time" was one such. We had some 44 letters giving additional comments, which is many more than most of our surveys. There were some criticisms also: "Why was there no inter-faith question?" Ė but it is not possible to ask about everything.

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