The Flawed Changing Attitude Sussex Survey Re-Emerges
News comes to me from Chichester Diocese that the flawed Changing Attitude “Survey” that was issued last yearÂ has been reissued again. Apparently production values are not very high, with what is being described as “a photocopy of a photocopy” coming in the post to various church clergy. It’s dated the 24th of February this year, so it’s taken some time to be sent out.
This is a high quality scan of the “new” survey that has just been sent round.
Last year I wrote about the flaws with this survey.
- The first flaw with the survey is that the category titles allocated by CA were not made public when the survey was sent to church leaders. If you knew what the titles that were going to be used were (â€œCondemningâ€ in particular is a highly emotive title â€“ CA would have been better to use the kind of gathering titles that Andrew Sullivan used in â€œVirtually Normalâ€ which were not value loaded) you might have been minded to not return the survey or to give a different answer.
- The survey options themselves make a number of assumptions that could be challenged. For example, the phrase â€œopenly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered peopleâ€ carries with it in this survey an assumption that such a person would themselves be affirming of gay relationships. This is simply not the way things are. The survey disregards the scenario of an openly LGBT person operating at the highest levels in conservative churches and yet being celibate and affirming that sex is only to be conducted within the marriage of a man or a woman. This means that the subtlelty of views on this issue (which is very important, since charicatures of positions lead to misunderstanding)Â could not be analysed. One might even go as far as to suggest that the wording was deliberate in order to impose this assumption in the wider debate that â€œopenly LGBTâ€ automatically means affirming revisionist positions.
- Perhaps a better way to survey would have been to present a number of different options on the different areas of interest. There could have been different options for theology, inclusion and ministry based on different combinations of sexuality and sexual practice, and open affirmation. This would have allowed churches to indicate in far greater detail their particular stance and would have enhanced the reporting of the results.
- There was no indication inÂ the letter that accompanied the surveyÂ that Churchâ€™s individualÂ written comments (rather than just their rating of their church) would all be publicised. This is very poor practice.
Nothing has changed. The four categories that try to pigeon-hole evangelical and traditional catholic churches into positions they don’t hold are unchanged.