Postponed again…. Church of England STILL exempt from following the laws of the land.


“Under the Equality Act 2010 it’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you because of your sex.

“Sex discrimination law covers almost all workers (men and women) and all types of organisations in the UK. It covers:

  • recruitment
  • employment terms and conditions
  • pay and benefits
  • training
  • promotion and transfer opportunities
  • redundancy
  • dismissal”

Why only ‘almost all’?  Why not just ALL? Why is the Church of England not only exempt from taxes, but also the law?  More importantly, why would women even want to become a custodian of one of the most hateful religions on the planet?  The religion that tells them that because of their gender they should feel shame.  The religion that tells them they are the property of their husbands and fathers and are unfit to instruct people due to the Eve-mythology.  The religion where women are currency and bargaining chips for the men who run their lives (e.g Lot).  Absurdity aside, it is clear that senior clergy within the CofE, are aiming for promotion within the organisation, and there is nothing wrong with ambition and clerical posts are like any other employment.

The CofE has proposed that female bishops will only be posted on the highly discriminatory, and deeply patronising terms, that a male bishop (that the female bishop will have to defer to) will be posted as well and in a supervisory position to that of the female bishop in order to placate the parishioners who are yet to realise that this is the 21st century, and that gender discrimination is always unacceptable.  The synod is so grossly out of touch with modern standards and equality, that they even admit that that they failed to anticipate the insult of this so-called compromise.  How has it taken 12 years to come up with that sham of a ‘compromise’ and its masque of magnanimosity?

“Until recently the legislation – the fruit of 12 years’ labour that has pitted a minority of conservative evangelicals and traditionalist Anglo-Catholics against a growing majority of church members – had been expected to be given the stamp of approval.” – Lizzy Davies – The Observer, Sunday 8 July 2012

As usual the Archbishop of Canterbury  has blundered in with his usual illiberal bluster about how the rest of the synod should be ‘penitent’ with regard to how ‘hard the decision would be’ to hold a vote on whether they would live by the law of the land and appoint female bishops. Just how out of touch can one person get.  It shouldn’t even be an argument.  After 12 years of delay and procrastination why have we not, as a nation, been boycotting them due to their sexist recruitment policy. The church is in no way ‘representative’ of any proportion of this country if it doesn’t pay tax and is exempt from the law.  Fix those and they might have a claim to to that role.

“But if that adjournment bid is knocked back, a final approval vote will go ahead as planned and will need two-thirds of all houses of the church to vote for the measure in order for it to be passed. If it does not get that support and is voted down, the issue will be shelved until 2015.” – Lizzy Davies – The Observer, Sunday 8 July 2012

Objectionable as the presence of 16 un-elected Bishops from a non tax-paying organisation in the elected House of Commons, making political decisions for the whole country is (where are the secular, Hindu, Sikh, and Islamic ‘representatives’ in the same roles?), enough is enough.  They must live by the laws of this land as they supersede church lore.  The vote is irrelevant and will only show a proportion of society incapable of adapting to modern ideas about equality.  The law is the law and the synod must follow it without exemptions (and while they’re at it they can start paying taxes).

Freedom of religion does not entail the freedom to discriminate on any grounds.

Sources

Let’s NOT turn into the US.


Demonstrators dressed as zombie bankers participate in a flash mob outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange in London

Demonstrators dressed as zombie bankers participate in a flash mob outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange in London Photo: REUTERS

It’s all very well to try to reunite finance with ethics, but why was the Church the immediate Go-to? Why not the head of The Sikh Coalition, representatives from the numerous Muslim and Jewish councils, or The National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)? Where are the representatives from the British Humanist Association or the National Secular Society? The fact is that if the Church were approached, they ALL should have been. The church are not representative of the majority and they do not hold the monopoly on ethics. The problem is, that the church is, and always has been, arrogant enough to try just that and claim to be representative of all. The uniting of a corrupted industry which pays little tax at its highest levels and an organisation which pays none, to discuss the finances of a nation beggared by the profligacy of its banks, can never end well. Forget any similarity to the 1980s, it bears more resemblance to feudalism (when the clergy and nobility convened to discuss which taxes (taxes they didn’t pay) should be extracted from the commons (the 99%) in order to pay debts accrued from expensive foreign wars)!!!

Twenty-five years ago the Church of England, published a damning report entitled ‘Faith in the City‘ which rightly laid the majority of the blame for economic and ‘spiritual’ crisis at the door of Mrs Thatcher. Set against the backdrop of economic decline due to the loss of our heavy industry which lead to soaring unemployment, the report caused outrage and no doubt immense irritation to a host of guilty consciences. Rather than suffering a mere spiritual decline, I would say it would be more accurate to say her hard-nosed and heartless approach to the leadership of this county, as well as her promotion of the ‘There is no society’ and a dominant ‘Me first’ culture, has had untold negative effects on this country. This effect will be felt for generations: until either the generation which enabled her to economically and socially cripple this country have died off or seen sense and changed their ways. I can see the former happening before the latter. However I digress, the purpose of this post is not to list the individual ways that the Thatcher/Raegan partnership screwed us in the arse and left us to clear up the mess.

How can an organisation who pays no tax have the barefaced nerve to stand up in public and tell the bankers they must pay more? While I agree the bankers should pay their share, – as should those in the top 1% – if the Church really cares about the economic welfare of the United Kingdom, they will stop trying to differ attention away from their own coffers and start paying their share as well. What adds insult to injury is the fact that Mr Ken Costa – the man placed in charge of a committee, the St Paul’s Initiative which was established by the Church and is aimed at re-building ‘links’ between the Church and the financial sector – is a former bank chairman. While arguing against stiffer regulation of banks he went onto say that “a culture of honesty, integrity, truthfulness and responsibility” cannot be regulated into existence and that harsher banking regulations were not the solution to the economic crisis. Tell that to the people who lost job sand homes, pensions and savings after others gambled with the economy and lost. Tell it to those people who were loaned money which the banks knew they couldn’t afford to repay but were issued them anyway because the debts were sold on for a short-term profit. While it is largely the borrower’s responsibility not to borrow what they cannot pay back, lenders also have a duty not to loan to people they know cannot repay them. The banks have already proven they cannot be trusted to act honourably without regulations so we (the 99%) feel justified in our demands that they are not only strongly regulated but the bankers who caused the mess are investigated, prosecuted, and barred from ever working in those senior positions again. It’s the expenses scandal all over again except politicians actually ARE being held accountable.

Mr Cost has apparently warned the Church against publicly attacking the financial sector as it risks a repeat of the row cause by their report twenty-five years ago. I hardly think it is his place to comment because based on his remarks that a flourishing banking sector is “essential to any successful economy”, he has a long way to go because thanks to his ilk, the banks are far from flourishing. ‘Record profits’ (from where?) and bonuses aside, they still owe the tax-payer back for the handouts they so readily accepted nearly three years ago. I’m sure our banks wouldn’t accept “I’m not making that payment this month because I need to give my kids a massive rise on their pocket-money for which they do nothing but clear up their own mess” and a reason for not paying our bills. How many of us have ever been given a bonus at work for rectifying a problem we caused? One other thing, just WHY is he a former bank chairman?

Religion should be kept out of politics FULL STOP. The Church is not qualified and definitely not invited to make any decisions on our behalf and their so-called degrees in theology are worth less than nothing. ‘Dr’ Sentamu (Archbishop of York) has commented that the wage gap between executives and those on the metaphorical shop floor were creating a social gulf and eroding the cohesion of society. Really? How long has it taken him to work that one out? Let me emphasise, a tax-exempt organisation has no business declaring that (or which) private individuals pay more in tax. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems equally free with his uninvited opinions on taxes. The cynic in me is telling me that Mr (I refuse to call him Dr) Williams is merely jumping on the publicity from Occupy LSX in order to boost the public image of the church. Giles Fraser, who quit his post as the canon chancellor of St Paul’s, blames a reliance on technology for dehumanising the values of the City. It’s not technology that dehumanised and devalued the lower paid staff (partly by replacing the adjective ‘personnel’ with the impersonal catch-all of ‘human resources’): people were quite capable of doing that by themselves. The attitude which measures how well a company does based on how much its shareholders make pre-dates the technology being blamed by quite some time. It is not the ‘market’ which is to blame, but the people running it.

The Church has no business getting involved in these protests and making a bloody awful situation worse. We need to stand firm now lest we risk letting our financial sector slip into the hands of tyrants who are answerable only to themselves….AGAIN.

Sources

Secularism Is the Way Forward.


Over the years the meaning of the word Secularism has become confused and misunderstood. As well as changing its meaning, and being open to interpretation in different ways, the word has also been deliberately misrepresented by some religious interests who fear the influence of secularism on privileges that they have enjoyed for centuries and taken for granted.  Certain religious organisations (and some humanists) have pleaded for something variously called healthy secularism or state neutrality, that appears to be meant to justify all of them getting handouts from the state for the mere merit of existing at all. They reject as ‘radical secularism’ any attempt to get them to pay their own way.

Richard Gilyead, letter to The Guardian:
“Tony Blair and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor deliberately conflate secularism with atheism. Atheism is lack of belief in gods. Secularism is a belief in equality in politics, education and law, regardless of religious belief. So when they refer to militant secularism and aggressive secularism, respectively, then they are implying that such equality of treatment is a bad thing.

Firstly, to clerics who try to conflate secularism with atheism, the two are not the same thing.  Atheism is the lack of belief in god or gods.  Secularism means quite literally the separation of church and state.  It does not mean to forbid or marginalise religious beliefs, only that it protects people who do not share those beliefs from having those ‘moral’ codes and rules forced upon them.  The concern of secularism is to protect the rights of the individual against the imposition of a religious organisation within society so that they are dealt with on an equal basis.

National Secular Society

  • The National Secular Society affirms that this life is the only one of which we have any knowledge and human effort should be directed wholly towards its improvement. It asserts that supernaturalism is based upon ignorance and assails it as the historic enemy of progress.
  • They affirm that progress is possible only on the basis of equal freedom of speech and publication; that the free criticism of institutions and ideas is essential to a civilised state.
  • Affirming that morality is social in origin and application, the National Secular Society aims to promote the happiness and well-being of humanity.
  • They demand the complete separation of Church and State and the abolition of all privileges granted to religious organisations.
  • It seeks to spread education, to promote the friendship of all people as a means of advancing universal peace to further common cultural interests and to develop the freedom and dignity of humanity.

The word secularism was coined by the British writer George Holyoake in 1846.  George Holyoake (1817-1906) was the last person in England to be imprisoned in 1842 for being an atheist (The law against blasphemy was strict in Victorian Britain.). He was jailed for 6 months for a speech which included the line:

“For myself, I flee the Bible as a viper, and revolt at the touch of a Christian.”

The 19th century saw a serious campaign against the Churches by the secularist movement.  A powerful, but rather unexpected attack on Christianity came from a group of people, including the writer George Eliot, who thought that Christianity was immoral. According to the doctrine of original sin, God was prepared to punish people for a wrong that was not their fault, and the evil that He created in them, just because they were human beings. What sort of God was it, they wondered, who then decided to let us off this unfair punishment because he had punished his son instead of us?

“I would sooner perish for ever than stoop down before a Being who may have power to crush me, but whom my heart forbids me to reverence.” – James Froude, 1849

Their particular target was the state church, the Church of England, which was highly privileged (and still is).  The Church was founded in 1534 by King Henry VIII when England separated from Rome.  The Church of England traces its roots back to the early church, but it’s specifically Anglican identity and its links to the State date back to the Reformation.

  • Until 1828 no-one could hold a public office without signing up to the beliefs of the Church.
  • Until 1836 only Church of England ministers could conduct marriages.
  • Until 1871 only members of the Church of England could teach at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. (Both of which have been bogged down by the intrusion of monarchy with Henry VIII, and church interference for centuries.  It was not until Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of Cambridge, that the University began to focus on more practical subjects.)

The Church of England still has a law-making role in Britain. Twenty-six bishops (including the two Archbishops) sit UNELECTED in the House of Lords and are known as the Lords Spiritual. They are thought (but only by believers and those who believe in belief) to bring a religious ethos to the secular process of law. However, in an increasingly multi-cultural society, questions are being asked as to whether that role needs to be specifically fulfilled by Church of England Bishops. Future reform of the House of Lords could see the Lords Spiritual made up of a variety of Christian denominations and other faiths to reflect the religious make-up of Britain.  What about non-believers and Atheists?  Come on people, this is the 21st CE!!!

Most histories of atheism choose the Greek and Roman philosophers Epicurus, Democritus, and Lucretius as the first atheist writers. While these writers certainly changed the idea of God, they didn’t entirely deny that gods could exist.  In 1877 Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were prosecuted for publishing a book containing birth control information, The Fruits of Philosophy by the American doctor, Charles Knowlton. In the twentieth century the NSS campaigned against the BBC’s excessive use of religion and for disestablishment and the abolition of religious education.

The French Republic has always recognised individuals, rather than groups: a French citizen owes allegiance to the nation, and has no officially sanctioned ethnic or religious identity. This view of citizenship is fundamentally non-discriminatory and inclusive.

“Secularists oppose religion or the religious being afforded privileges, which – put another way – means others are disadvantaged. [Religious secularists] don’t think that belief is a reason for [their own] special treatment.” BBC Online – Secularism


Charles Bradlaugh

Bradlaugh (1833-1891) was one of the most prominent of the Victorian atheists. He edited the National Reformer, which itself was prosecuted for blasphemy, and in 1866 was one of the founders of the National Secular Society.  He championed unpopular causes like birth control, republicanism, atheism, reform, peace and anti-imperialism. His views placed him in conflict with powerful interests, institutions and people, but most of his arguments have since been vindicated.

Bradlaugh was elected to Parliament in 1880, but was not allowed to take his seat because he would not swear a religious oath but wanted to affirm. He was re-elected several times over five years, but did not take his seat until 1886.  Between 1880 and 1886 Bradlaugh fought for the right of non-believers to sit in the House of Commons. His act of 1888 established the legal right to affirm a Parliamentary oath rather than swear on a Bible. When he eventually took his seat he became Britain’s first openly atheist member of Parliament.

 

Cambridge University

to the Institute of Continuing Education

Cambridge is one of the world’s oldest universities.  The University has always had strong ties with the church; in 1086 the town was an important trading post with substantial residential property and a successful commercial economy.  Since before 1112, cannons in the church of St Giles and the convent of St Radegund was completed in 1135 but the site later became Jesus College.  Two hospitals existed in Cambridge.  One was specifically for the treatment of lepers and the other was for paupers.  The latter was taken over to become St John’s college.

St John's College. Bridge of Sighs

St John's College. Bridge of Sighs

In 1209 scholars fleeing Oxford took refuge in Cambridge and eventually settled.  Henry III, in 1213, took those students under his protection from the townsfolk who were known to over charge them for food and board but also decreed that only students under the tuition of a recognised master were permitted to stay in the town due to a spate of public disturbances. By 1226 they were numerous enough to have formed an organisation, represented by a Chancellor, and have devised official courses of study. The medieval University was even more established. Ceremonies and faculties were overseen by Bedells (pronounced bee-dell) while the treasures and books were attended by a Chaplain.  By the 16 CE, a registrar was needed to administer matriculations, admissions and the decisions of the Masters, and an Official Orator wrote ceremonial letters and addresses.  Most of these offices are now purely ceremonial and no longer hold any official authority.

King's College Chapel.  View from the Backs

King's College Chapel, Cambridge. View from the Backs

Most of the places held at Cambridge were held by either clerks or clergymen in some form of holy orders and expecting to enter careers in the Church or Civil service.  In order to obtain the support they needed during their years of study, students were required to look to the church but were first subject to the scrutiny of the local ecclesiastic authority. Before the end of the 15th CE they had managed to free themselves from this and were independent of authority with the exception of the pope.   The Chancellor was then elevated to the position of an ecclesiastical judge with jurisdiction over all cases involving discipline and proving the wills of both students and masters alike.  He also provided a secular court which would convene to hear civil and criminal cases with the exception of major crimes.

Oliver Cromwell

The crown aided the independence of the university by granting it the power to prosecute market profiteers; a move which continued to be a source of contention until the 19th century.  In 1381 there was a series of attacks on the university and it’s residents (in a largely ‘Christian’ society no less). Cambridge was given the right to prosecute those caught falsifying weights and measures, endangering public health by tampering with food and drink, interruption the supply of fresh water and those wilfully introducing infection in times of plague. Even now the University retains rights over licensing and policing.

Buildings, Lives and Legacies. A Celebration of Cambridge University

In the 16th CE Henry VIII founded Trinity College by merging the houses, King’s Hall and Michael House. Goville Hall was enlarged; Emmanuel absorbed the Dominican site; Sidney Sussex of the Franciscans and Magdalene absorbed the Benedictine house known as Buckingham College. All of these were concerned with training new ecclesiastic priests and clerics in the new National Church.   In 1536, the King suppressed the faculty of Canon Law and forbade scholastic philosophy.  This laid the path for Mathematics, Latin studies and Biblical Studies, and an education which was out of the reach to most of the population.    The statutes of 1570 ensured the continuation of the university’s concentration on churning out future leaders (The same people who directly benefited from the power and influence of having THEIR religion be the central authority of everyone’s life so they could both rule the people and live off their efforts.) of the Church of England.  Henry VIII endowed the university with five professorships; Divinity, Hebrew, Greek, Physic (purgative medicine; stimulates evacuation of the bowels) & civil law. Royal influence and pressure the Privy (private) Council continued into the 18th CE.

A sunset of King's College

The Church controlled university was given a license to print and publish works of which it IT approved in 1534 but it was 50 years until this right became fully exercised.  In the 1690s allowed the University, in conjunction with Oxford, to exploit their monopoly on Bible printing as well as producing the printed works required for its courses.  Despite the provision for natural sciences and arts, from the late 17th century, mathematics came to dominate studies in Cambridge, and eventually ‘the Tripos’ came to mean the examination in mathematics.  The University Library had expanded with the rest of the University during the later seventeenth century, and after the gift by George I of the manuscripts and books of Bishop John Moore, it outgrew its original quarters in the Old Schools.

Trinity College, main gate

Trinity College, main gate

Despite these developments, there was in the first half of the nineteenth century a continued call for change and reform in the University, which in part reflected the political movements of the country as a whole. The election as Chancellor of Prince Albert the Prince Consort in 1847 is an indication of the strength of the movement for reform, and in 1850 a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the two ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  The Commission’s report resulted in the promulgation of new Statutes for Cambridge in the Cambridge University Act of 1856. These Statutes have been much revised since their first appearance, but the form of government which they embodied has remained as a framework. The ultimate authority in the University was at first the Senate, the whole body of graduates, together with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and doctors.

Sir Isaac Newton

The natural sciences and moral sciences (now philosophical) Triposes were approved as early as 1851, and before 1900 Triposes in law, history, theology, Indian languages, Semitic (later oriental) languages, medieval and modern (European) languages, and mechanical sciences (later engineering) were all established. To develop these new branches of learning a number of new or remodelled professorships were established by the University and by private benefactors, the earliest being the Disney Professorship of archaeology in 1851.

Sidney Sussex College. View from Sidney Street

Sidney Sussex College. View from Sidney Street

‘Extension lectures’ in provincial centres were an important feature of University activities in the late nineteenth century. They were often associated with attempts to provide professional teaching and examinations for girls through the local examinations for schools provided by the University in conjunction with Oxford.  Training courses for male graduate teachers began in Cambridge at much the same time, but perhaps the most far-reaching effect of the movement was the establishment at Cambridge of two Colleges for women students (Girton in 1869 and Newnham in 1872). From the first, these Colleges aimed to prepare their students for the Tripos, and the first women were in fact examined in 1882. Attempts to make women full members of the University were repeatedly defeated until 1947.

St John's College. New library, 1994

St John's College. New library, 1994

In the First World War (1914-19), 13,878 members of the University served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching, and the fees it earned, came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence the University first received systematic state support in 1919, conditional upon a further inquiry into its resources and organisation, and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the University (but not the Colleges) should receive an annual grant, and should be reorganised so as to take over responsibility for lectures and practical teaching. The Colleges retained control of individual teaching of their students and this division of responsibility continues today.

 

Oxford University


From its early days, Oxford was a centre for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes.  The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian and against the explicit instructions from Rome, not to.  In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8thThomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.”.  In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could actually understand (but still couldn’t read), that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in!  The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy.  No sympathy for this “illegal activity” (Any translation from Latin) was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X‘s declaration that “the fable of Christ was quite profitable to him” continued through the years to infuriate the people of God.

In the 13th century, rioting between town and gown (townspeople and students) hastened the establishment of primitive halls of residence. These were succeeded by the first of Oxford’s colleges, which began as medieval ‘halls of residence’ or endowed houses under the supervision of a Master. University, Balliol and Merton Colleges, which were established between 1249 and 1264, are the oldest.  Less than a century later, Oxford had achieved eminence above every other seat of learning, and won the praises of popes, kings and sages by virtue of its antiquity, curriculum, doctrine and privileges. In 1355, Edward III paid tribute to the University for its invaluable contribution to learning; he also commented on the services rendered to the state by distinguished Oxford graduates.

In 1530, Henry VIII forced the University to accept his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and during the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford.  The University was Royalist in the Civil War, and Charles I held a counter-Parliament in Convocation House, and in the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country.  The University assumed a leading role in the Victorian era, especially in religious controversy. From 1833 onwards The Oxford Movement sought to revitalise the Catholic aspects of the Anglican Church and in 1860 the new University Museum was the scene of a famous debate between Thomas Huxley, champion of evolution, and Bishop Wilberforce.

From 1878, academic halls were established for women and they were admitted to full membership of the University in 1920. Five all-male colleges first admitted women in 1974 and, since then, all colleges have changed their statutes to admit both women and men. During the 20th and early 21st centuries, Oxford added to its humanistic core a major new (remind me again when Darwin published Origin of Species? Oh yes, 1861 so hardly a ‘new’ science.) research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine. In so doing, it has enhanced and strengthened its traditional role as an international focus for learning and a forum for intellectual debate.

Conclusion.

The less influence and authority granted to the church over matters of higher education and laws concerning blasphemy and civil rights, the further forward we have managed to progress both in science and society. No longer are ordinary people socially expected to trot along to Sunday services to nod and agree with every word a speaker bellows at them in a language they cannot understand, let alone read for themselves.  The time that the church has had authority over us is long past expired.  It is not surprising that they are unhappy about it, when you consider the grandeur and prominence which their church given (NOT God-given)and self-assumed authority magically entitled them too.  Due to the heavy mental shackles and religious bullying hampering our progress as a species, it has taken us centuries just to get where we are today and we have had to fight every step of the way against walls of superstitions dogma and greedy power grasping.

As education was made available and eventually free and compulsory to the masses, and unhindered scientific research has provided us with solid and testable answers, religion has had to work harder and harder to not only to explain their nonsensical mythology, but to justify their artificially exalted social positions.  The time has come to look the pushy believers and the church squarely in eye and tell them very firmly that we do NOT recognise their authority over us and will no longer tolerate their bullying and public tantrums over their rightfully waning authority.

 

Sources.

Hundreds of clergy threaten to leave the church…over female Bishops…Oh dear,what a shame, never mind….


“Faced with fissures in the unity of Anglicanism, Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, came up with a compromise: if an individual congregation had a strong objection to being under the control of a woman bishop, it would be allowed to have a male one officiate at all the critical ceremonies when a bishop’s presence is required. In other words, congregations would be allowed to “opt out” of having women bishops, just as they were with women vicars in 1992.”

Plans were rejected by the General Synod in 2009, with traditionalist Anglo-Catholic leaders calling plans to introduce female Bishops and creating a separate class of complimentary male bishops as “totally unacceptable”, “limited”, and “theologically incoherent”.  In 2008, more than 1,300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, wrote to the archbishops of Canterbury and York to warn that they will leave the Church of England if they are not given proper provisions when women are made bishops.  One Bishop Jarett claimed that the entire proposal will have to be overturned if common ground cannot be found.  Now, lets forget this is the Church and a religious organisation, with rules that don’t seem to gel with the laws of the land that the rest of us have to follow, and wake up to the fact that this is the 21st century.  If I was taken on in a role of authority, I would also be incredibly insulted if a man was taken on to appease people on the grounds they did not agree with women holding that position.  It would also be insulting to those men who had put in the same amount of work to obtain those positions. It would, in fact, be a case worthy of going to employment tribunal.

Leading Anglo-Catholic clergy warned that the failure to provide concessions to opponents of the historic reform would force many of them to defect to Rome.

Like it or not, The Church of England is still intrinsically Catholic at its heart regardless of our break from Rome.  If this were any other sphere in the private sector, the church would be prosecuted for their deliberate discrimination against women.  This again emphasises the privileged stature of religion within the law.  The church is now considering how best to cater to objections and curry favour with the ultra-right wing, dissenters who deem it appropriate, in the 21st century, to bar individuals from particular roles on the basis of gender.

Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who object to women bishops have threatened to leave the Church after claiming that current plans do not meet their demands.

The Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr Rowan Williams) and the Archbishop of York put forward this last-ditch compromise at the weekend, to enable the ordination of female bishops.  These compromises would have meant the implementation of a new class of male Bishop to look after Parishes who oppose the ordination of female Bishops and would have avoided a schism within the Church of England. The general Synod has failed to back this reform which leads me to believe that the Catholic church has done too good a job, over the last nearly 2000 years in its general promotion of misogyny. It is NOT a difficult issue.  Under the law of this country it is already illegal to discriminate against race, sexuality or religion.  Church leaders have no business picking or choosing which of the laws laid down by this country are to their taste the same way they pick and chose which parts of the bible they decide are worth observing literally or are open to ‘interpretation’.

More than 5,000 women have been ordained as priests in the Church of England since 1994 and the number of women training for the ministry is increasing.

Between them, they urge the Synod to speed their deliberations over female bishops before handing the legislation to the Churches’ diocese for consideration. The majority, in favour of female bishops are staunchly sticking by their principles and are unprepared to make further concessions.  Dr Williams has said that the Church of England will hopefully have set up the preparation needed in producing a code of practice in the next 18 months and this would be the final stage of legislation.  There has to be something missing the general reasoning that makes another 18 months an acceptable delay in abiding by established employment law.  What is happening while all this consideration and deliberations are happening?  Women are being barred from roles of authority within the community, not because they are ‘unqualified’, but because they are women.

”As the votes on Saturday illustrated, we remain as a Synod, it seems, committed by a majority to the desirability of seeing women as bishops for the health and flourishing of the work of God’s Kingdom, of this Church and this nation,” he said.

As it stands, if legislation is passed this week  with a majority in the synods, the Church of England will still have to approve and then further consideration would have to be made in 2012 The earliest appointment of a female Bishop in the Church of England is thought to be 2014 IF there was a 2/3 majority in favour in each of the three houses of the General Synod – Bishops, Clergy, Laity.   That is another 4 years of living by their own rules and shows the contempt that have for the employment rights that have been fought for while the Church enjoys its position above the law and beyond contempt by royalty and Parliament alike.

“It is bound to be more difficult to hold on to people now,” he said. “How can you stay in a family where members of the family have no need of you.” – Fr Jonathan Baker, principle of Pusey House and a leading traditionalist

While the Compromise was being put forward, and rejected, seventy traditionalists met with a Bishop of the Catholic church to discuss plans of defection.  Earlier this year the Pope also made an offer to rejoin Rome to disillusioned Anglicans.  Three Bishops have already travelled to Rome to discuss this ‘offer’.  The rejection of the compromise has obviously a  blow to Dr Williams as it appears the Church of England only follows his lead when he agrees with them.  Anglican priests might well find it difficult to accept women into a role traditionally filled by men but who is it that has made that a ‘male role’?  The Church.  With all their pageantry, pomp and splendour, masking what is essentially a rotten core, the Church still looks upon gender discrimination as a part of what shapes them.  They may not call it that and they don’t necessarily sermonise the overall weakness and corruptibility of women anymore but we must ask those ‘traditionally’ minded Anglicans, why they would rather rejoin Rome than allow women to become bishops should they so wish.

“We must be magnanimous and meet people half-way,” he said. “The Church of England must cater for everyone. I have never been part of a particular group or faction – I’m an Anglican and Anglicanism has always been the middle way.” – Dr John Sentamu, the archbishop of York.

The fact that the law of this country has allowed them to flout the rules for so long is disgraceful enough, but to claim magnanimity in even considering allowing women to take posts of authority within their organisation is disgusting.

Sources