CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Church of England officials let out a collective sigh of relief last week when media pressure forced Church of England Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain out of the closet. The clergyman insisted he’s not having any illicit sex with his “long-term and committed” partner. Phew!
The unaffirming-of-gay-sex but ambivalent-towards-the-existence-of-gays church hierarchy doesn’t have to get its robes tied in a knot. He-who-knew-all-along-but-apparently-didn’t-care Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby can sleep easily. No trouble here.
Except not. A groundbreaking new poll conducted by the Barna Group finds that exactly zero percent of parishioners in England believe religious leaders in long term relationships (of any kind) abstain from any amorous contact. Key findings from the poll:
- 100% of parishioners are glad Bishop Chamberlain said he was celibate to keep up good appearances
- 100% of parishioners surveyed reported being made uncomfortable for questions they were asked during this survey
- While researchers initially contacted 500 people via phone, they took the unprecedented step of having to contact an additional 300 because of people hanging up mid-survey
- 75% of parishioners agreed that the Church of England should revise its teaching to approve of same-sex marriage, while 75% agreed that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman
- 100% of gay clergy surveyed in the poll supported changing church policy to allow them to act physically on their sexual desires, while all reported fully upholding canon law regarding celibacy
- Asked to define what a commitment to celibacy means exactly in physical terms to them personally, 100% of parishioners declined to answer
“He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office,” Bishop Welby reiterated while refusing to get into the specifics of what Bishop Chamberlain and his long-term partner were allowed to do physically in bed.
Chamberlain told press he would be judged “by the Lord ultimately.” For what, exactly? 100% of English churchgoers surveyed don’t want to know.