On faith, freedom and female bishops

So the Church of England has debated the issue and ending up saying no to the idea of women bishops. This, we’re told, is a final no, but it strikes me that at some point in the past it was probably almost equally definite that there would no be women vicars, and yet today the Anglican church both in and outside of England has plenty of women priests who are not Dawn French. The article even says that it’s killed the prospect off for at least five years, which doesn’t sound all that final to me. For now though it does look like this has put the kybosh on the idea in the CofE.

And I say this: so bloody what?

There will now almost certainly be calls in Parliament for the Church of England’s exemption from equality legislation — effectively allowing it to discriminate against women by barring them from becoming bishops — to be removed, opening the way for women to bring a legal challenge.
Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour minister, said: “This means the Chruch is being held hostage by an unholy and unrepresentative alliance of conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics.
“This will add to clamour for disestablishment, there is even talk of moves in Parliament to remove the Church’s exemption from the Equality Act.”

Look, it’s their religion and if freedom of religion is to remain in Britain then we all have to accept that practitioners of a given religion can run it however they like providing it doesn’t actually harm anyone else. And no, not providing an opportunity to be bishops is no more harming women than the lack of opportunity in Britain for people of either gender to become astronauts. The bottom line is it’s their god-club and their rules, and whether the first rule of god-club is not talking about god-club or no mitres are men only or no gay weddings in our buildings it’s still their rules. I’m for gay weddings if gays want to marry and I’m for female emancipation and the opportunity for the girls to seek any work they choose up to and including that of sperm donor. But as with the obvious case of sperm donation, freedom to seek doesn’t mean that there must be a guarantee that the position must be made available to women.

Is it silly that women shouldn’t be bishops? Yeah, I’d agree with that, but I’d add that I find it no more so than many other aspects of religion in general and Anglican Christianity in particular. If it’s sillier I’d say it’s only because some other parts of the Anglican Communion have gone ahead and allowed female bishops. But is it unreasonable? Should the CofE be compelled by secular law to allow female bishops? No, I don’t think so. If you want to remove the exemption on the principle that all are equal before the law I’d be all for it, though I’m really for laws that dictate and restrict how one is allowed to think and choose to be ditched as fundamentally anti-liberty. And if you wanted to disestablish the Church on the grounds of separation of Church and State I’d support that too. But this isn’t about applying the law equally or any such noble notions. This is just punishing a religious minority (I’m guessing CofE regulars are in a minority these days?) because their world view isn’t modern enough for you.

It’s a religion, yes? An unscientific and untestable faith in a 14 billion year old entity as explanation for literally everything? It’s not supposed to be modern, surely? So let them have their rules, outdated as some of us may think they are, and let those ladies who want to be bishops apply to those parts of the Anglican Communion that are open to the idea. Or start their own church if competition for positions is too intense in Scotland and visas for anywhere further are too much hassle. If, as we’re told, the big worry for the Church was a schism with traditionalists and evangelicals leaving then why don’t the pro-female modernisers leave instead. This is how freedom and tolerance actually works, you see. Their god-club means their freedom to set their rules, as I said before, and the rest of us tolerate that since we know that freedom also means that nobody who disagrees has to stay in the god-club.

Or are we admitting that Britain isn’t a free country after all? If so that might be a start toward becoming one.


PS A brief apology. Obviously I intended making a joke about bashing the bishop but I just couldn’t think of one. To anyone who is offended by this oversight, please take 50¢ and phone someone who gives a shit.

Posted on November 21, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. As ever Mr Angry Exile you’ve brightened up my day. It’s so cold, wet and miserable here in the lost world of the last truly outrageous cunts. If ever I get down to Aussie land I’m going to get you in the best bier that the dollar (what the fucks that?) can buy. And if you don’t like bier, then I’ll go all out by sporting you a nice cup of rosy lea laced with Remi. We two would have been great mates you know. I know it because we both talk great sense about sensible things… unlike many we don’t know.

  2. Robert the Biker

    I’ll pay more attention to these whining harridans when they likewise insist on female rabbis and imams.

    • Apologies for the late approval of your comment. You weren’t being moderated, I was just without internet connection at home for a couple or three days and hadn’t got the email that your comment was awaiting approval.

      On the topic, they don’t need to insist on female rabbis because I’m pretty sure female rabbis already exist, though I’d need to check with Jewish friends to be 100%. Imams/mullahs I imagine would be a whole different proposition, though with the news of the gay mosque opening in France who’s to say that there couldn’t be. Official recognition from the rest of the religion probably not likely, I guess.

  3. If they want to remove the exemption from equality laws for the Church, can they also remove it from parliament too. Disestablishment is the path forward.

  4. As ever there are comparisons with the temporal versus the ecclesiastical. If the local golf club had rules saying that women could be employees, but not directors or chairperson then they would be up in front of the beak (or at least an employment tribunal) so fast their feet wouldn’t fucking touch the ground.

    Why should the god club be any different than the golf club?

    I would perhaps accept the proposition if both vicars and bishops were unpaid, undertaking voluntary duties for the good of the faith, but that isn’t the case, is it? (crap about vocations aside).

    It’s a job like any other and being a manager in CofE plc is no different than being on in BP Plc. I’m an atheist.

  5. John Galt; you’ve simply stuck to the current pc script. Angry Exile has allowed himself to recognise that there is a vast difference between a golf club and the Church of England. He’s exploring. Looking for ways forward. And no, no one is up in front of the beak so fast these days that their feet wouldn’t touch the ground. Far too many brand spanking-new laws have been introduced recently to allow it. It’s one of the very few growth industries we have in the UK.

    If an Atheist can’t also see this, then my fears for the future are well-founded. You wouldn’t dream of attacking the Islamic faith this way, I assume, so do please leave the C of E to go about its lawful duties. Don’t worry though if you feel you can’t, the awful C of E you so obviously despise hasn’t got around yet to issuing fatwas.

    • I’ve not stuck to the same script as the PC bunch although we might arrive at the same conclusion.

      Fundamentally, why should belief in a great sky fairy (whatever name you attach to attach to him/her/it) should not excuse discrimination on the basis of sex.

      If were going to have sex discrimination laws (and I don’t think we should), then they should apply equally to every ’employer’ be it office, garage, cathedral, synagogue or mosque!

      “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” (“Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”)

  6. Libertarian? got qualifications and money enough to leave nanny state hellhole Britain? Comes to Australia. How the fuck does that make sense?

    Why the fuck didn’t you go to where there was more liberty?

    • Yeah, my main qualification for getting into Oz was significant otherness of an Aussie citizen, so you can blame the wife for that. Or maybe her parents. 🙂 That said, for all that’s illiberal about Australia I still maintain that the UK is worse (not in all respects but overall) and has passed some very worrying legislation under Blair which neither of his successors have shown any interest in repealing. But both have got less free, along with most or all of the rest of the nominally free world, in recent years. Go where there was more liberty? Aside from a cynical expectation that the least illiberal place would just have the bars on the cage slightly wider apart I’m not even sure where that would be, let alone whether I could have got a visa for it.

  1. Pingback: Liberty in Britain and Australia – a reply to John Galt « The Angry Exile

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