Fr Robbie Low's Presentation to the Press Conference at Faith House
Tuesday 30th July 2002
COST OF CONSCIENCE
THE DEMOGRAPHY OF
by Robbie Low
Second Press Conference at Faith House 30/07/02
Last month we were able to release figures on the Church's views on women bishops, clergy morale, the apparent rigging of appointments and the beliefs of the clergy.
Responses to a series of credal statements were given under a number of headings from certain belief to certain disbelief. A category of believing but not understanding was also offered. This would imply uncertainty at best and clearly an inability to teach the doctrine with confidence.( Overall clergy signatories were between 13 per cent and 20 per cent for this category on every article!)
While we were aware that liberal credal convictions would almost certainly be below those of evangelicals and catholics we wanted to know by how much. We also wanted to know if there was any difference between the credal convictions of orthodox Catholics and liberal Catholics. The new Archbishop is the founder of the main liberal Catholic lobby group (Affirming Catholicism) and any indication of its credal position would be illuminating.
There is also the question of a straight comparison of male and female clergy response to the creed. Is there any difference? And do those who are in favour of women bishops find themselves in a different credal position to those who are opposed?
As Christian Research had a full breakdown of gender, credal position, the views on episcopacy and affiliation to various groups, we asked them to do a full analysis for us.
It is important to state, at the outset, that because the sample of women priests is proportionate to their numbers in the Church it is necessarily smaller and therefore has a plus or minus 5 % margin of error. However the women polled were mainly incumbents or of incumbent status and therefore among the more senior of the women priests.
On every item of the creed they were lower than their male counterparts.
Only the belief in the Holy Spirit showed an equivalence within the margin of error (M 77 % F74 %)
Certainty about God the Father revealed a 9 % gap ( M 83 % F 74 %) and belief in the Trinity an 8 % gap ( M 78 % F 70 % )
But it is on the person of Jesus that the real chasm emerges.
Convinced Jesus died to take away the sins of the world (M 76 % F 65 %).
Similarly on Jesus bodily resurrection ( M 68 % F 53 % )
Jesus the only way to be saved ( M 53 % F 39 % )
Jesus born of a Virgin ( M 58 % F 33 % )
As the above returns were from relatively senior women ( potential future bishops ?) we wanted to know if there was, therefore, a difference in the convictions of those in favour of women bishops ( their supporters ) and those opposed.
Our initial figures had revealed a hard core percentage of liberals opposed to women bishops (20 %) and approximately 50 % of evangelicals in favour. The results, therefore, might have been expected to be both intriguing and finely balanced.
In the event the results were quite startling. They revealed a considerable gap on all items of the creed and again a huge discrepancy on the person of Jesus.
(Against women bishops = A For women bishops = F)
Firm conviction on the creed registered the following percentage results:-
|God the Father||A 89%||F 76%||(-13%)|
|Holy Spirit||A 83 %||F71%||(-12%)|
|Trinity||A 85 %||F 69%||(-16%)|
|Virgin Birth||A 69 %||F 40%||(-29%)|
|Bodily Resurrection||A 77%||F 54%||(-23%)|
|Died for sins||A 84%||F 65%||(-19%)|
|Only Way of Salvation||A 62%||F 39%||(-23%)|
VARIOUS GROUPS AND THEIR BELIEFS
We asked Christian Research to run the same analysis on the various groups and the clergy claiming affiliation. There is a plus or minus 8 % margin of error on the smaller groups like the Modern Church Persons Union (MC). In the event this turned out to be largely irrelevant as you will see.
The larger groups represented were Evangelical Alliance (EA), Forward in Faith (FF) and Affirming Catholicism (AC). Smaller groups were Reform (R), Prayer Book Society (PB), MCPU(MC), Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement (LG)and WATCH ,the women's lobby, (W)
The Table below illustrates the credal conviction of the various groups, according to their affiliated clergy, in %age terms.
|God the Father||93%||91%||96%||70%||39%||53%||66%||64%|
|Died for sins||92%||86%||97%||53%||25%||38%||57%||84%|
What is quite apparent is that there are effectively two churches co-existing uncomfortably in the Church of England. One that is overwhelmingly convinced of the historic truths of the Christian faith and one that is, at best, dubious and, at worst ,frankly disbelieving.
The liberal groups though relatively small in membership have a hugely disproportionate influence in the life and government or the Church of England. For example MCPU has as its President John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln. LGCM enjoys the public support of the Bishop of Guildford and, privately, a good number of other bishops. WATCH contains within it some of the most senior and highly placed women priests and laity. Affirming Catholicism was founded by , and is keenly supported by, the new Archbishop of Canterbury. It also enjoys the patronage of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and claims a large number of English bishops and Deans as its supporters.
Christian Research's painstaking work exposes a massive fault line in the Church of England and reveals that the government or the Church is now in the hands of those furthest away from the Apostolic faith.
Cost of Conscience July 30 2002
Information: Fr. Robbie Low 0208 950 1424 Mob. 07715738218
(Full text of Questions: 'I believe '
'in God the Father who created the world.' 'the Holy Spirit is a person who empowers christians today'. 'God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all equally God'
'that Jesus Christ'
'was born of a Virgin'. 'died to take away the sins of the world'. 'physically rose from the dead'. 'is the only way to be saved'.)
All figures represent that percentage who claim to both understand and believe unequivocally the article of the Christian faith in question.
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