Public Opinion and Same-Sex Marriage – John Curtice

A while ago we had a real treat at St Mary’s. Prof John Curtice gave a talk about public opinion and same-sex marriage. It was one of those forums which was very special for those who were there. There simply isn’t anyone who knows how to read and interpret public opinion as John can and it was great to see him in action.

It was also one of the first forum meetings which I videoed. Unfortunately, the talk that John gave was fantastic but the audio on the video was terrible. Lots of people tried to listen but some were quite disappointed. For that reason, I was delighted that John agreed to give a similar, though slightly updated, talk to the diocesan synod that we held here in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway on 1 March 2014. Once again, John was gracious enough to allow it to be videoed and this time the audio is tip-top, thanks to Kennedy Fraser’s work on the sound-desk.

This can be posted freely. I suspect that it may help far more people in the church get their heads around where public opinion lies on this question than were at the synod the other week. Do share and use on other blogs and diocesan websites. And take a look – it is well worth putting aside half an hour to watch.

Now the question for the day, is – in what ways does public opinion matter when the churches make their minds up about same-sex marriage?


  1. Kennedy says

    It was actually David on the sound desk – I was making sure that the slides appeared.

  2. Well, splendidness of audio from David.

  3. Rosemary Hannah says

    Well, I guess that those who think the most important thing about erotic love is the gender of the people involved do at least know they are on the wrong side of history, and, in a substantial number of cases, know that they think as they do because of their age. But I would rather they could see how irrational and shallow their beliefs were for themselves. Those beliefs are based on a belief in the importance of gender roles which are a threat to every women, immediately and directly. They are a threat to every man, too, because they place men in a tiny ghetto of thought, feeling and behaviour. In a way, they are more of a threat to men. If anybody doubts that, consider that I may wear a trouser suit without anybody even thinking it odd, while if an man wore a skirt suit, he has at once to start explaining.

    But as regards numbers, and thoughts, you could, just as easily, use the talk to show you that belief in Christianity is also dying out, and we are all on the wrong side of history in that, as well.

  4. Robin says

    > Well, I guess that those who think the most important thing about erotic love is the gender of the people involved do at least know they are on the wrong side of history

    Rosemary, I hope and pray that you’re right, but I wish I could be as confident as you are. History isn’t a tale of unbroken progress. Sometimes it can go the other way and bad times come again. How hopeful and exciting 1920s Berlin must have seemed for Jews and homosexuals! The death penalty for sodomy in England and Wales was abolished in 1861, but then in 1885 came the Labouchere Amendment, known as the Blackmailers’ Charter, which created a new offence of gross indecency.

    Things are getting worse for homosexuals in Russia, parts of Africa and parts of Asia. Who knows? They may start getting worse in the West too. I hope and pray that they won’t, but it can’t be guaranteed.

  5. Rosemary Hannah says

    I do not think they will get worse here, because I think that that prejudice has been seen as the idiotic thing it is. The trouble with Russia and Africa is that it has been easy to divert attention from other evils to issues of equality, and it has also been an easy way of rejecting ‘Western values’. LGBT people are paying a heavy prise for the sins of colonisation and social imperialism. It will only be, I think, when people see Africans as both gay and admirable that things can start to change. And at the moment, they cannot see that at all due to the vile oppression. And of course, the laws there are an absolute blackmailer’s charter, and an easy way of disposing of any enemy you have, gay or straight.

  6. Rosemary Hannah says

    That would be, a heavy price. Sorry.

  7. I think it is getting worse in the church. Right here. Right now.

  8. Thank you, Fr. Kelvin, for your last two posts: this one and the one on the need to pray for Fred Phelps. I have taken the liberty of placing both on my web-site kiwianglo.

    This particular video, with Professor John Curtice is particularly helpful to those of us (I am part of ACANZP in New Zealand) who need to know how the subject of Same-Sex relationships, and S/S Marriage is being received in both Scotland and England & Wales.

    Interesting the the Roman Catholic adherents seems more open to Same-Sex relationships than the rest of us. We need to up our game on this important matter of social justice in our Churches.

  9. Rosemary Hannah says

    Oh Kelvin that makes sad and worrying reading. In Scotland too? What should we do? (Not a rhetorical question)

  10. Absolutely in Scotland. We used to have public support from some of our bishops – now there is almost none.

    The church which once had outspoken bishops speaking up for gay folk, has throughout the recent parliamentary process, spoken out against same-sex marriage.

    John Curtice’s presumption is that there is probably a majority of Episcopalians who are in favour of change. However, those going on the Pitlochry “Cascade Conversation” after Easter have been entirely chosen by bishops who were asked to produce a “balanced list” of participants, meaning that those opposed to gay marriage being recognised by the church will be over-represented.

    And at our recent synod, Bishop Gregor said that though he would not discriminate against anyone gay who came out or talked about their life and relationships at the forthcoming Pitlochry conversations, he could obviously not give that guarantee on behalf of other people. Now that admission, very clearly, indicates that this isn’t going to be a safe space.

    Things are not good.

  11. Rosemary Hannah says

    You know I have already blogged about my disquiet over these conversations. The process is unsafe and does not follow best practise. I am very much afraid that handing over clergy education entirely to England as is now being done will further nudge the attitude in that direction (of recent years we have been doing a little better in that way). It is desperately sad. I suspect that, if I were not at St Mary’s, I might well find it impossible to continue in the SEC.

    I do not understand any of this. Not only is it clearly against the flow of society around us, it is also so stupid. It is so illogical. It is totally against the main stream flow of the entire New Testament, with its insistence that it is the inner spirit of things that truly matters.

  12. Rosemary Hannah says

    It does look like a top-down attempt to make things harder for LGBT clergy and laity – of course the clergy suffer worse because in the final instance the laity will walk away so much more easily. Why would anybody do that? (it makes me furious because they are wrecking my church, and my grandchildren’s church)

  13. I don’t agree that clergy education is being handed over completely to England.

  14. Dr Lazarus says

    “in what ways does public opinion matter when the churches make their minds up about same-sex marriage?”

    Public opinion is seldom a good guide to ethical and moral issues. We have abolished the death penalty yet to follow public opinion, that can be fickle, could lead to its reintroduction – heaven forbid! History is replete with examples of public majorities driving forward both the best and worst of reforms.

    However, the Church is not called to march to the drum of public opinion but to be faithful to God and God’s self-revelation in Jesus. This faithfulness needs to be irrespective of whether the Church is moving with or against the flow of public opinion or history.

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