The Church of England in the Western world is rapidly losing members in its attempt to remain culturally relevant, according to multiple conservative Anglicans and former Anglicans who spoke to Fox News Digital.
“They’re reflecting the culture,” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the London-based nonprofit Christian Legal Centre, told Fox News Digital. “So in order to be in step with the culture, they’re looking to appease the culture instead of looking to what the Bible says and to what the church should be saying.”
Multiple bishops in the Church of England publicly called last month for the institution to begin conducting same-sex weddings, and the church is slated to vote on the issue during their general synod next year.
Williams’ nonprofit has advocated for many people, including clergy members who have taken legal action against Church of England institutions for losing their jobs or facing other discrimination because of their Christian beliefs regarding sexuality and gender.
Williams said when she began her legal career in the 1980s, she would have thought it impossible that she would be fighting the sort of cases that now come across her desk every day. She said she has fought cases on behalf of people who have faced retaliation from the church for claiming that marriage is between one man and one woman, or that biological sex is real.
“If any of that had been said to me in the 1980s, it would be like someone speaking to me from Mars,” she said. “It was alien, but it would have been alien to most people to think like that.”
‘Huge crisis in confidence’
Gavin Ashenden, a former Church of England priest who served as chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II from 2008 until he resigned in 2017, said the problem is that the Church of England and much of Christianity have been infiltrated by cultural Marxism.
Recounting his experience smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union, Ashenden said the cultural firestorm raging in the Western world over sexuality and gender exhibits the same totalitarian impulse characteristic of that regime.
Ashenden, who left the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church, believes Anglicans and Protestants generally have been experiencing a “huge crisis in confidence” since losing their faith in the authority of the Bible, which he says has been replaced with political correctness.
“Political correctness arrived just at the point when the Protestants were losing maximum confidence, so they grabbed fairness, equality, inclusion,” he said. “This became for them a safety harness for all their utopian longing, which in a generation before, they would have put into heaven and hell.”
“But now, being unable to talk about heaven and hell, what they had to do was instead jump on the secular Left’s project of making heaven on Earth,” he added. “The problem is that when Marx and Lenin tried to make heaven on Earth, they made hell instead.”
“It is quite extraordinary that we could actually be here, but everyone is terrified of being accused of thoughtcrime,” said Ashenden. “Whether it’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, all the kinds of pseudo-phobias that are lined up.”
Because of legislation such as the Equality Act 2010, which enshrines sexual orientation and gender identity against discrimination, Ashenden said, “nobody is in a position to speak out less they be thought to be hateful and homophobic. It’s exactly what George Orwell described.”
‘The church is dying’
Calvin Robinson, a deacon in the separatist Free Church of England, remains an Anglican, but he is sympathetic to figures such as Ashenden who depart.
“I think people have to find orthodoxy where they can find it,” he said.
Robinson, who also serves as a commentator for U.K. outlet GB News, told Fox News Digital that he studied at Oxford after he and others discerned his calling to the priesthood.
Robinson said his ordination in the Church of England was “snatched away” because of his conservative theological views, which he maintained had become unpalatable in a church that has become “entirely liberal.”
While expressing pessimism for the Anglican Church in Western countries, Robinson noted that the Anglican Church globally is in a different condition.
“The church is trying so hard to be relevant to cultural norms, but everywhere we see that the church is trying to be relevant, the church is dying,” Robinson said. “And if we look at places where the church remains orthodox, such as pretty much the whole of Africa, a lot of Asia and Eastern Europe, it’s growing.”
“The church is growing around the world, but it’s only dying in the places where we’re trying to be relevant, because it’s just not the church’s job to be relevant,” he continued.
“The church’s job to be morally absolute and to remain rooted in the Scriptures and to teach what Christ told us to the Gospel. So when we get distracted by secular issues, it rightly dies away.”
‘God does not change’
Robinson’s assertion was echoed by evangelist and Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham, whose father Billy Graham got along famously with Queen Elizabeth II.
Both Ashenden and Robinson predicted that the Church of England’s deterioration will accelerate with the loss of the monarch who publicly acclaimed the Christian faith throughout her long reign.
Graham told Fox News Digital that while he is not an Anglican, he has “great respect and appreciation for the many Anglican bishops and vicars who are continuing to faithfully preach God’s Word.”
“God designed and created marriage to be between one man and one woman,” Graham added. “The Bible makes that clear, and we need to continue to stand strong on the truth of God’s Word. There isn’t any room for debate or compromise. God does not change, and His Word does not change.”
‘In sad shape’
R.T. Kendall, an American who assumed the pulpit of prominent Welsh minister Martin Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years, told Fox News Digital that the Church of England has increasingly proved itself to be apostate over recent decades.
“If they continue the way they’re going, if they vote for same-sex marriage, it ceases to be a Christian church,” said Kendall. “They may call themselves that, but what more do you need to suggest apostasy?”
Kendall, who spoke about Christianity with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2002 after being introduced to him by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Envoy to the Middle East, said there are many who believe the Church of England has been apostate for at least half a century.
He pointed out how his predecessor Lloyd-Jones and famous Anglican cleric John Stott tussled publicly over whether Christians should leave the Church of England in the 1960s.
Noting how sexuality, marriage and gender have been tearing churches apart worldwide, Kendall believes such issues are evidence that the world is in “the very last days.”
“We are certainly in the day when Paul’s word is being fulfilled, that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,” Kendall said, referencing the fourth chapter of 2 Timothy. “That’s where we are.”
“I would say they’re in sad shape,” Kendall added regarding the Anglicans.