There are statistics about and Stephen Marsden gets his calculator out

In an outspoken statement sent this week to all bishops in the Church of England, nearly half of all licensed women clergy called for no further delay on women bishops, but also, for no further discrimination written into the legislation.

Women and the Church Press Release, 14 May 2008.

The claim by Watch a few weeks ago that nearly half of all licensed women clergy had signed a letter to the House of Bishops has been credited by many commentators as the real reason why the bishops at their recent meeting in Market Bosworth opted to veer away from any form of serious provision for those of us unable to receive the ministry of women bishops. But does this claim stand up to serious scrutiny?

The Watch press release asserted that the ‘outspoken statement’ had been signed by ‘more than 500’ women priests by 11 May, and by ‘a further 213’ three days letter, when the diatribe went public.

700+ women priests, then, represent ‘nearly half – or, at least, they do in the fantasy world of Mrs Christina Rees.

A quick check at (the latest statistics available) makes for interesting reading. In 2005/6, there were 1,507 female stipendiary clergy, 147 female part-timers, 1,156 NSMs and 309 female OLMs. And, to save you reaching for the calculator, that’s a total of 3,119. So, according to Mrs Rees, 700+ is ‘nearly half of 3,119 – whereas, in the real world, it isn’t even a quarter.

Meanwhile, prominent Watch member Canon Dr Susan Atkin has been trying to get all her mates to sign the Watch petition for lay people. She wrote by email on 3 June, at 3.16 pm:

If you can send this on to other friends in England that would be great. They do not have to belong to the church! The Church of England is there to serve the whole nation and all its citizens,

irrespective of whether people attend or not: so you are all ‘members’ of the CofE in that sense. Belief is not a determining factor of membership!

Given that, as I write, only 1,426 people have signed Watch’s grubby little petition, you can understand her desperation. But given that it has no doubt now been signed by those of other religions and those of none, one has to ask just what it is worth?

And you don’t need me to tell you the answer, any more than you need me to remind you that where there are statistics about, so there are lies and damned lies. You can always count on Watch. |