Christianity seen as unwelcoming for LGBT people, poll confirms

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A bishop has called for reform in the Church of England, after a poll found just one third of people think that churches are generally welcoming of LGBT people.

The news comes from a survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of out Christian Jayne Ozanne, a lay member of the Church of England’s General Synod, who has called for reform on LGBT issues.

The poll asked: “In general, how welcoming, if t all, would you say most Christian churches in the UK are to the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.”

Just 30 percent of people said they thought churches were welcoming of LGBT people, while 33 percent said they were unwelcoming.

People of no religion were more likely to see the Church as unwelcoming, with 41 percent believing it is unwelcoming and just 21 percent welcoming.

Members of the Church of England were out of touch with public perception. 47 percent of Anglicans and Episcopalians see churches of welcoming of LGBT people, and just 19 percent unwelcoming.

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, said: “The Church of England must learn to listen to those it seeks to serve.

“It is interesting to note those who are most likely to think that the Church is there for everyone and that it is welcoming are Christian conservatives over the age of 50 – our traditional heartland.

“However, if we want to be a national church for everyone we need to understand and respond to the concerns people have, and recognise the fact that many think we are not there for them.”

Ms Ozanne said: “What is of greatest concern is the fact it is those who the Church is most keen to reach – the young and those of ‘no religion’ – who believe that the Church is not there for everyone, and that they are not welcoming to the LGBT community.

“If the Church is serious about its commitment to mission, it needs to heed the concerns and perceptions of those it wants to attract, otherwise no one will want to listen.”

The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, said: “A national church should serve the whole nation, irrespective of creed, colour, class – and identity. It is a tragedy for our mission and ministry that the Church of England continues to denigrate and discriminate against lesbian, gay and transgendered people.

“The church cannot afford to cling to its establishment whilst colluding with its own institutional homophobia, and also continually capitulate to reactionary conservative lobby-groups. The manifest injustice of this will continue to impede all efforts to evangelise future generations, and will consign the church to an inevitable irrelevance.”