Tuesday 20 November 2012

The C of E has failed to stand up to sexism in its ranks.

The decision to deny women the right to be bishops is a horrific blow to the Church of England. It is a cruel and even harsher blow to the gifted women in the Church. For 20 years women have been changing the structures of the Church of England from within, doing a remarkable job despite structures that have often devalued them.

The ordination of women to the priesthood has been simply the best thing that has happened to Anglicanism in the last 400 years. Quite simply, it saved the church from irrelevance and terminal decline. But the legislation passed on the 11th November 1992 contained an awful mistake. It allowed a section of the church to exist without having to even experience the difference that women could make.

Most decent people outside the church are perhaps unaware that 'flying bishops' exist, and there are churches that forbid women from 'tainting' the altar by presiding at the Eucharist (bread and wine bit). The flawed legislation 20 years ago allowed Bishops to openly discriminate and refuse to ordain women.

Not dealing with the inherent sexism in these situations and theological stances, has allowed discrimination to be perpetuated and has ultimately got us into the mess we are in today.

Here is the good news; the backlash against this decision by decent people will mean that the days of the sexist church are numbered. Those in the 25% of Synod who have blocked the legislation will find it harder to be re-elected to synod as reaction in the dioceses becomes clear. It is also clear that the vast majority of Bishops and Clergy, and most of the laity want women bishops. Perhaps also it will see an end to bishops and archbishops trying to 'appease' sexists within the church. They are a blight amongst us - they will not compromise, they are entrenched sexists.

None of this will be a consolation to the first generation of women priests who are being denied the right to serve as bishops. This is also a terrible blow to those involved in mission, especially to all of us who are demanding that the Church be at the forefront of the battle for equality and fairness.

The church has to ask itself, is it better off without the sexists, or without women bishops? The answer is clear. For the sake of God's reign of justice and equality, let this be the last day the church panders to the sexists at the expense of the gifted women of God.

1 comment:

  1. Should we continue to allow the state authority that is the CofE to show such disregard for basic equality? Would we put up with this in the civil service? Is it time for disestablishment?