ANGLICAN attitudes to same-sex marriage are changing as a new survey reveals that for the first time more Anglicans support it than oppose it.
The YouGov survey shows that 45 per cent are in favour of same-sex marriage compared to 37 per cent against.
That compares with the previous survey in 2013 that found 38 per cent in favour and 47 per cent opposed.
A breakdown of the figures reveals that all age groups, except those over the age of 55, are in favour, but even there the gap is narrowing. In 2013 58 per cent of that age group was opposed, but this has fallen to 44 per cent.
All of the other age groups support same-sex marriage by a large majority, and in the under-25 age group 79 per cent are in favour with just 11 opposed.
And there is a gender gap in the figures, with Anglican men over 55 being far more opposed than any other group. The study shows 62 per cent of them opposed while only 43 per cent of women in the same age group are against it.
Conversely, women under the age of 35 are far more in favour than men, by a margin of 12 per cent: 76 per cent compared to 64 per cent of men.
The poll was conducted earlier this month by YouGov, and sampled 6,276 British adults, including 1,523 of Anglicans living in England.
Church opinion is more opposed than in the general population where 56 per cent of respondents were in support, compared to 43 per cent of Anglicans.
Both groups showed increasing support for same-sex marriage compared to the previous poll in 2013.
General Synod member Jayne Ozanne, who commissioned the poll, said that the results posed a major challenge to the Church: “These figures confirm that the Church of England leadership is seriously out of step with its members, and even more so with society at large. Far more Anglicans now believe that same-sex marriage is right than those who think it is wrong.
“It is therefore vital that we recognise the challenge that this represents to us as a Church, particularly given that as the established Church we are called to minister and serve the whole nation.”
She added: “The Church now faces a major challenge to explain clearly to the nation just why it discriminates against people like me and others in the way that it does. What sort of “Good News” are we offering for those of us who want to get married, who believe it is right but find that the Church forbids it?
Commenting on the finding that Anglican males over the age of 55 were most likely to be opposed she said: “Unfortunately, this is exactly the profile of those in the senior positions of power and influence power within the Church.”