Signs of Schism in Church of England over Homosexuality, Miracles & God

Nearly 300 Church of England clergy are unsure of the existence of God, according to a report released today. The study refers to "very fragile fault-lines along which the Church of England could be torn apart."

97 percent of committed Anglicans are clean about the existence of God and have no hesitation in verifying His existence. However, one out of every 33 clergy members doubt God’s existence. This means that nearly 300 clergy among 9,000 from the Church of England could doubt the existence of God.

Compared to the liberal clergy, the congregations are more conservative. Eight out of ten clergy and laity believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ. However, 62 percent laity believe in the Virgin Birth while only 60 percent of clergy believe. 65 percent of laity compared to 61 percent of clergy believe that Jesus turned water into wine.

However, the issue of homosexuality brings on the biggest division between the clergy. One third of clergy agree to ordaining practising homosexuals, with the favour of one fourth of laity. The ordination of gay bishops is supported by one third of clergy and fewer than one fifth of laity.

The division between homosexuality in the Anglican Church is clearly shown in the recent survey. The 180-page report entitled ‘Fragmented Faith?’ reports: "In many ways ordained Anglicans look out on to a somewhat different world from the world viewed by lay Anglicans. Overall, it is the fault-line between the clergy and the committed laity on the issue of homosexuality which may take the Church of England most by surprise."

In the report, it suggests that the Rt Rev Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, might have thought twice before conducting his "courageous experiment" in recommending Dr Jeffrey John, a celibate homosexual, to be Bishop of Reading in 2003, if he had known how deep the divisions in the Church were. The decision brought so much opposition that Jeffery John stepped down from his post and was made Dean of St Albans instead.

The whole Anglican community has been shaking with a division of opinion between the conservative evangelical and liberal viewpoints since the ordination of the openly gay canon.

The study was carried out by Leslie Francis, Mandy Robbins and Jeff Astley of Bangor University and developed from a partnership between Bangor’s practical theology department and the Church Times.

The divisions "reflect clearly identifiable fault-lines in the very structure and composition of the Church of England," said Dr Francis. Over 9,000 people responded to the research. Among them, 8,000 were members of the Church of England and nearly 2,000 were laity.