British public would support women bishops

While the powers that be in England may not be asking what the public thinks of women bishops, “British Religion in Numbers” has asked some interesting questions about public attitudes of the Anglican Church and the Anglican Episcopate:

Gender and the Anglican Episcopate

From “British Religion in Numbers” blog (UK)

Were it to be left to the public, 63% would allow the appointment of women bishops and only 10% would not. The remaining 27% express no opinion. Support for female bishops is more prevalent among women than men (67% versus 59%) and among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters (70% and 73% respectively) than Conservatives (58%). Opposition is greatest from Conservatives (15%) and those aged 60 and over (17%).

Asked whether the Church of England should permit gay bishops, public opinion is more divided than on the issue of women bishops, with 39% in favour, 27% opposed and 34% undecided. Among Conservatives and the 60+ age cohort there is actually a net opposition of 5% and 15% respectively. Only among adults aged 25-39 is an absolute majority (52%) supportive.

These reservations about gay bishops may seem surprising, given that British Social Attitudes Survey data point to much greater tolerance of homosexuality in general during the past three decades. In 2008 only 34% thought that homosexual sex was always or almost always wrong, ranging from 19% for the unreligious to 50% for the most religious.

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