The Church Of England and Spiritualism

 

 

COE Report

The full text of the Majority Report of the Church of England committee appointed by Archbishop Lang and Archbishop Temple to investigate Spiritualism. This Majority Report was signed by seven of the ten members of the Committee. The other three signed a Minority Report.

 

This is the original Church of England report on Spiritualism, completed in 1939, as published by Psychic News in the late 1960s. The Preface is by A W Austen, then Editor of Psychic News.

 

WHY THIS REPORT IS PUBLISHED

 

The Committee appointed in 1937 by the Archbishops to investigate Spiritualism carefully studied the subject for two years and handed in its reports. It was expected by the Committee and by the general public that the guidance contained therein would be made available to the rank and file of the Church of England who, up to then, had been given no official lead whatsoever regarding communication with the dead.

 

When a decent interval had elapsed and no statement had yet been made, inquiries were instituted and it was learned that the House of Bishops had taken the surprising step of pigeon-holing the reports.

 

For nine years the reports were kept secret; then one morning there mysteriously appeared on my office desk what purported to be a typed copy of the Majority Report.

 

I got in touch with a member of the Committee I knew was in favour of the report being published, though he was bound by his loyalty to the Church to keep its secrets.

 

"I have a copy of the Majority Report, and I am going to print it," I told him. "There are one or two phrases that are obscure, because of the careless typing, but I would rather print a slightly inaccurate version than none at all. However, if in the interests of truth you will read what I have and correct it where necessary, then you will be rendering a service to everyone concerned."

 

The purported copy was re-typed, a reporter was sent with it to the member concerned. What the reporter brought back was a carefully corrected type-script, with every comma marked in, missing lines written in the margins, and complete in every detail.

 

The report was printed in its entirety in "Psychic News" and with the co-operation of the Press Association extracts from it appeared in newspapers all over the world.

 

Still the Church preserved a stony silence. Copies of the paper containing the report were sent to all the bishops and the two Archbishops. No comment came except for a protest from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

My printing of the report gave to the rank and file of the Church of England the guidance that had been denied them by the House of Bishops. To Christians all over the world it broke the news that a Committee of influential Churchmen, examining Spiritualism on behalf of the Church and at the request of the Archbishops had found that it was true and could be a valuable addition to the Christian ministry.

A. W. AUSTEN

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