The Church of England is "out of touch" with local communities and some of its own dioceses over the issue of fracking, according to activists.
The Anglican church has said it had no official policy in favour or against the controversial extraction method but appeared to show tacit support for fracking by warning against "blanket opposition" to it.
It said fuel poverty, the creation of jobs, energy self-sufficiency and the development of technology that could cut the impact of more polluting fuels such as coal needed to be taken into account when assessing shale gas exploration.
Several dioceses in areas potentially ripe for fracking have spoken of concerns over the environmental impacts linked to the process, with the latest being Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner.
But the Church's apparent backing for hydraulic fracturing has been condemned by activists camped near Balcombe, West Sussex.
The village has become a focal point for anti-fracking activists since energy firm Cuadrilla announced it was to conduct exploratory drilling there, prompting many to fear it will lead on to fracking.
Reacting to the church's statement, Ewa Jasciewicz, of No Dash for Gas, one of the organisers of the six-day Reclaim the Power camp, said: "There is a lot of grass-roots church opposition to fracking.
"It seems like the Church of England has serious concerns about fuel poverty and it is a concern that we share. But there is no evidence that fracking will actually bring down bills.
"Contrary to what has been said about fracking, it is actually renewables that's going to bring down bills and put power back into the hands of consumers and communities.
"I would say that the top (of the CofE) seems quite out of touch with the realities on the ground and what some of their own dioceses are coming out with."