News Flash: Episcopal clergy consider themselves liberal

File under: “No duh.” A recent survey of mainline Protestant clergy has proved that the rain falls down and that the Pope is Catholic. From the Episcopal News Service:

Episcopal clergy take lead in staking out progressive positions

[Episcopal News Service] A survey by Public Religion Research released March 6 shows that mainline Protestant clergy are much more likely to identify themselves as liberal and Democrat than conservative or Republican.The “Clergy Voices” survey showed that clergy of The Episcopal Church, which it included in its definition of mainline Protestants, and the United Church of Christ (UCC)–66 percent and 74 percent, respectively–were the most likely to call themselves liberal. Overall, 48 percent of the clergy surveyed chose that label.

I suppose it is good to have a survey to confirm much of what was already known. What is amusing is the headline of the ENS story, “Survey shows diversity in political opinion among mainline Protestant clergy.” Diversity across a very narrow band, in most categories among ECUSA clergy there is 70-80% agreement. Of course American Baptists are included in the survey so that does lead to some different of opinion (BTW are Baptists Protestant?). Some highlights pulled out by ENS:

The researchers, Jones told reporters during the briefing, saw a correlation between clergy’s stance on biblical inerrancy and their political and ideological leanings. Episcopal clergy were the group least likely to agree with a statement that “the Bible is the inerrant word of God, both in matters of faith and in historic, geographical, and other secular matters.” Eighty-nine percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, compared with 68 percent overall. At the other end of the spectrum, 58 percent of American Baptist ministers believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

On Episcopal stances about specific issues, the survey showed that:

* 73 percent of Episcopal clergy said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 51 percent of all clergy surveyed.

* 49 percent approved of same-gender marriage and another 38 percent supported allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions, compared with 33 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of all clergy surveyed.

* 77 percent supported the ability of otherwise-qualified lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people to adopt children, compared with 55 percent overall; 79 percent favored extending non-discrimination in employment rights to LGBT people, compared with 66 percent overall; and 79 percent support hate-crime law protection for LGBT, compared with 67 percent overall.

* 81 percent support an end to capital punishment, compared to 66 percent overall.

The survey can be downloaded here.

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