Refusing to mtfo


Meanwhile, from the guys in purple shirts – the general synod of the Church of England has voted against allowing the appointment of women as bishops.

Well you know how it is. It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing. Women aren’t so good at that. Women prefer to sit down and not talk about it. They prefer to stay home and not speak about it and to be intellectually inactive about it. Women are timid and quiet and tongue-tied and lazy. They don’t make good bishops.

No, I’m playing silly buggers, that’s not it. It’s tradition. It’s conscience. It’s Jesus and the disciples. It’s beards. It’s throwing like a girl. It’s the voice of authority. It’s Real Bishops of Beverly Hills. It’s testosterone. It’s two thousand years of. It’s who would do the wifey part? It’s what if the baby cried in the middle of the sermon?

It’s all of those. Or one of them. Or something. Whatever it takes.

Comments

  1. bobo says

    Hey ophelia, a guy over on ‘no country for women’ kept insiting that the church, and the church alone, had raised the status of women around the world!

    What these people can never answer though, is, if women are supposedly ‘separate but equal’ in the eyes of the church, why do they have *such* a problem with female priests? why no female pope? huh?

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    So the most important requirement for becoming a CofE bishop is possessing a penis and this requirement was upheld by a bunch of penis possessors.

  3. AsqJames says

    True, no female pope. On the other hand the Supreme Governor of the Church of England is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II*. So they allow female vicars and a female right at the top (and lots and lots and lots of them doing the cleaning & other drudgery), but there’s this magical middle part of the hierarchy which is a no-uterus zone.

    I do find the vote counts interesting though. The Bishops were 44 to 3 in favour, the Clergy 148 to 45 in favour and the Laity 132 to 74 in favour. The Bishops and Vicars know this whole thing makes them look ridiculous, but the idiots in the pews have bought the fairy stories so long they can no longer see reality.

    It’s oddly similar to the GOP being unable to get a decent presidential candidate nominated past their tea party base.

    * – Incidentally, she’s also the only female who’s a Duke (of Lancaster) rather than a Duchess. It’s a War of the Roses thing.

  4. Andrew G. says

    @3 – actually the bishops and the clergy passed the measure by large majorities, it was only the laity who failed to give it the 2/3rds majority needed. The article didn’t say what proportion of those are penis possessors.

  5. peterh says

    So, then: the earliest years of Church history mean nothing to Anglican laity and the Dark Ages are preferable?

    What percentage of the laity are brain possessors?

  6. says

    Rodney Nelson says:

    So the most important requirement for becoming a CofE bishop is possessing a penis and this requirement was upheld by a bunch of penis possessors.

    Traditionally the requirement, inherited from the RCC, has been the possession of testes (Latin: witnesses) that witness to the fact that someone is male. There is a rumour that at one time there was a person who’s job was to feel under a newly elected Pope’s vestments to make sure he had them.

  7. says

    Tangentially: according to the article I read, had the motion passed, it would have required an Act of Parli-fucking-ment to make it happen.

    Dear English friends (from a first-generation immigrant son): Forget being embarrassed about the Royal Family, for now. That the Church of England requires Parliamentary anything, and that they own a few seats in the Lords, is a much bigger piece anachronistic of stupidity. Cut that cord. (And of course, there’s a Royal connection there, too, isn’t there?)

  8. Stev84 says

    Interestingly it was the laity that voted against it. Both the clergy and the bishops voted for it. Just shows that like in most European countries, most church goers are conservative, old people.

  9. says

    @9: And the opposite of eg. American Catholicism, where the hierarchy is a bunch of reactionaries whom many of the laity and low-level priests and nuns happily ignore.

  10. Martha says

    Ophelia, you almost made me snort bourbon out of my nose with that line about Real Bishops of Beverly Hills! Excellent line.

  11. jaggington says

    Eamon@8

    Dear English friends (from a first-generation immigrant son): Forget being embarrassed about the Royal Family, for now. That the Church of England requires Parliamentary anything, and that they own a few seats in the Lords, is a much bigger piece anachronistic of stupidity. Cut that cord. (And of course, there’s a Royal connection there, too, isn’t there?)

    Unfortunately, we British don’t live in a democracy where we might have the choice to rid ourselves of such nonsense: we live under a “Constitutional Monarchy” (despite having no Constitution), with a Head of State determined by birth (lineage?) rather than ability or popularity. The C of E and the monarchy are interwoven; I can’t see how either can be consigned to their rightful place in the Do Not Recycle (It Was A Bad Idea From The Outset) Bin of History until an atheist succeeds to the throne.

  12. ismenia says

    AsqJames: the reason the queen can be Supreme Governor of the Church of England is that the Church has no right to control the succession. We’re talking about an institution that was created to allow the monarch to get his own way. If the queen had a brother, even a younger brother, even a younger brother who was a complete idiot, she would not have become queen. Monarchy is also incredibly sexist.

  13. says

    BTW, any Brits here? I noticed “Hayley is a Ghost” on twitter responding to a BBC Q about “Has the CofE let you down”. Admittedly only BBCWiltshire but worth a moan.

    BBC Wiltshire ‏@BBCWiltshire
    MARK O’D: Following the vote against women #Bishops last night, we’re asking this morning, has the #Church of England let you down?

    .. Hayleys

    Hayley is a Ghost ‏@Hayleystevens
    .@BBCWiltshire the C of E let me down as a child when they let their religion influence my education without offering alternatives.

    .. And mine

    oolon ‏@ool0n
    @BBCWiltshire My CofE school told my friend that his fantasy drawings were the devil in him. He lost a good talent for creative drawing.

    Personally I’m looking on the positive side, the more the CofE moves to the extreme anti-gay and anti-women viewpoint the more we Brits will tell them to GTFO of our lives.

  14. James Howde says

    Kudos to anyone who can get worked up about this as a matter or principle, but I can’t.

    The church *is* sexist – but it feels a lot like somebody joining the Ku Klux Clan and then complaining about the lack of black faces on the Council of Elders. If God has put it into your heart, as a woman, to serve Him as a bishop and also a given you compulsion to join the Anglican Church – perhaps He just doesn’t like you very much.

    Similarly the Rules of Succession discriminate against older daughters of the gentry. However, since they are being favoured – also without ability being a consideration – over just about everybody else on the planet, I won’t be manning any barricades on their behalf.

  15. Riptide says

    It’s interesting that 64% of people voting *for* something is counted as the entire bloc having voted *against* it. That being said, the vote was only “lost” by six votes, so we can take heart that the next time, it may likely win unless we let this demoralize us.

  16. Timon for Tea says

    So the most important requirement for becoming a CofE bishop is possessing a penis and this requirement was upheld by a bunch of penis possessors.

    Actually, as several people have mentioned above, it looks like the penis possessors were all for women bishops, the ones in positions of authority in the church anyhow. It was a minority of the laity that stymied it (there is a sizeable majority across the boards, but not quite sizeable enough). I can’t get the figures I believe that the laity is the section of the Synod where women are most represented, so it might be that it was the women who stopped this rather than the boys.

  17. Timon for Tea says

    If the queen had a brother, even a younger brother, even a younger brother who was a complete idiot, she would not have become queen. Monarchy is also incredibly sexist.

    If the current queen had, yes, but not any future ones. As with most other areas of society, this particular piece of sexism has now been dealt with. The eldest succeeds, no matter how her genitals are configured. Unless she is a Roman Catholic or Muslim, of course. It is still sectarian.

  18. moleatthecounter says

    The thing is, that these high priests – or whatever they are – are supposed to celibate, aren’t they? So, they may as well not have male genitalia. Therefore, they may as well be female in this respect. (so to speak)

    Go figure…

  19. jamessweet says

    In fairness to Michael Shermer, it would be a huge step up if the CoE was only just utterly unconcerned about women bishops being a distinct minority, as opposed to the present practice of not even allowing them.

    Nevertheless, I got a chuckle at just how well his words fit as a lame justification for this action. Despite the important differences, the parallels are very real.

  20. ismenia says

    I know they’ve talked about changing the rules but I don’t think they have actually done so: http://www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/Successionandprecedence/Succession/Overview.aspx does not mention a change. Princess Anne is still below her younger brothers in the succession. I also notice that her daughter, Zara Phillips is in the list as Mrs Michael Tindall.

    James Howde: I agree I would happily abolish the monarch and disestablish the Church of England tomorrow (hell, why not today!). My husband’s reaction was to be pleased that this makes the case for disestablishment stronger. For me though, it pisses me off that gender inequality is permitted in institutions of state. It shows that women’s equality counts for little when set up against tradition.

  21. Timon for Tea says

    Princess Anne is still below her younger brothers in the succession. I also notice that her daughter, Zara Phillips is in the list as Mrs Michael Tindall.

    It has changed but won’t be enacted retrospectively, so the current order of succession remains but for future generations there will be no male preference.

    The thing is, that these high priests – or whatever they are – are supposed to celibate, aren’t they?

    Only if they are gay. Otherwise, quite the opposite.

  22. oursally says

    I rather think Princess Anne didn’t make a fuss because she’d rather not anyway. Note her children have no titles whatsoever – she wanted it that way.

    Though she herself is now officially called Princess Royal, which means senior princess, sort of, and a bit more mother-earthy, cos people with penes can’t do that job. Whatever it entails.

  23. Paul W., OM says

    Bleah. I feel bad for the women in the C of E, but I do hope this obvious backwardness stupidity helps people realize that the C of E and religion generally are stupid.

    I suspect stev84@9 has it right—in England, unlike the US, most of the younger and more liberal people have left the church entirely, or are only nominally Anglican.

    If the US keeps secularizing as it has in recent decades, like most of Western Europe a few decades before, I suspect that the same thing will happen to the Episcopal Church here—over the next few decades it will get older and more conservative because the younger and more liberal people just drop out. (But at least they’ll already have women eligible for the top jobs, and that would be hard to undo.)

    I’d more or less assumed that once they allowed women priests, they’d allow women bishops too, like the US Anglican (“Episcopal”) church, which even has a woman Primate, but there’s a developing schism in the Anglican churches (The “Anglican Realignment”) and…

    (a little Wikipediaing here)

    …one of the sticky points is that some congregations not only don’t want to be overseen by bishops who are women, but don’t want to be overseen by bishops who ordain women or gays as priests. They don’t want to accept oversight from heretics who approve of such things, much less the abominations themselves.

    I guess the reason that they have women priests but not women bishops is that in any bishopric, you may have some congregations that accept women priests and others that don’t, so you need a male bishop to be acceptable to both. If you have men and women priests, you can send the women to the liberal congregations, but you can’t do that with bishops, because traditionally each area is under the authority of exactly one bishop.

    What’s going on with the Anglican Realignment (as I understand it) is that there are some congregations that are rejecting the oversight of liberal bishops, and choosing to associate with other like-minded conservative congregations, both within and between countries, without leaving the Church—and so far the church hierarchy is not cracking down hard on such things and enforcing the authority of the bishops over their own bishoprics, because they don’t want the rebellious conservative congregations to just leave, and crack the church wide open.

    So now we have this weirdness where you have Anglican congregations in first-world places like England, Canada and the US aligning themselves theologically with the very conservative “provinces” of the church in grotesquely sexist and homophobic third-world countries (especially in Africa) like Nigeria and fucking Uganda. And they want their own bishops, not responsible to the goddamn liberals at the top of their own national hierarchies.

    The bigger picture there is that all of the old “mainline” Protestant churches are in deep shit, with strong pressures toward schism. Each of them has a theologically liberal wing and a theologically conservative/evangelical wing, and they really don’t belong in the same Churches at all. The evangelicals accept the absolute and ultimate authority of scripture much like (US) Southern Baptists, and will reject the authority of bishops who don’t. The liberals reject any such nonsense as biblical inerrancy, and tend to be socially very liberal as well as theologically liberal.

    Part of the backstory of that is that all of the “mainline” Protestant denominations (Presbyterians, Anglicans/Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.) have not only had some very conservative congregations as well as more liberal ones, but have traditionally exported the more conservative versions of their own religions to the Third World—people who’d go off to Africa or wherever and preach the gospel tended to be inerrantist Bible-thumping lunatics.

    The kind of Protestantism you see in Third World countries is partly a vestige of colonialism and imperialism, with old versions of Christianity taking root long ago, and continuing to be reinforced by the shipping old-style lunatics from First World countries to Third World ones, right up to the present.

    Naturally, those denominations have not “progressed” as much theologically or socially as the ones in the First World mostly have—they’re still mired in 19th-century Evangelicalism.

    And now the remaining 19th century-style Evangelicals in the First World are recognizing that they have more in common with Third-World Christians than with their fellows in their own countries.

    What makes this much worse for the theological and social liberals in the West is that religion has been steadily declining in most of the West for 50 years or so, but not in much of the Third World, which has also had higher birth rates.

    Now the evangelical Christians in most mainline denominations outnumber the liberal ones, if you add up the remaining conservatives in the mostly liberal First World to the many conservatives in the mostly conservative Third World.

    That is a disaster for the hierarchies in each denomination, which have traditionally been dominated by white Westerners, and increasingly by liberal ones, even as their worldwide constituencies get browner and blacker, and stay conservative.

    Now the Anglicans in Africa are starting to strike back against the Empire—the mostly white and largely liberal international Anglican hierarchy—poaching mostly white conservative congregations in First World countries, and getting them to “align” with the Third Worlders against their own bishops and national Primates, and demand their own conservative bishops aligned with the Africans.

    Get out the popcorn. This is going to be interesting.

  24. Matt Penfold says

    I have a hypothesis that some people think a penis is an ecclesiastical aerial, so people without one will have a harder time communicating with god.

  25. stevebowen says

    I actually think this no vote is a good thing. The reason women Bishops didn’t get a pass from the laity is that they were not convinced that a concession to allow a dioscese that did not want a female Bishop to elect to be governed by a man was good enough.
    If this had gone ahead it would effectively have made women second class Bishops because they would have limits put on their authority that a man doesn’t. It’s not equality in a meaningful sense, anymore than appointing a female CEO to a corporation and telling the divisions they can have a man to report to instead if they want.
    By failing this time the C of E will either have to cease pandering to its misgynistic rump, or quite possibly be forced by the UK Government to comply with Equality of Employment legislation (from which they a currently exempt but as a constitutional religion they really shouldn’t be. In the long run there will be a better outcome for female clergy.

  26. Kevin Anthoney says

    I think they should disallow anybody who isn’t already a bishop from becoming one. That way they prevent women bishops while treating both sexes exactly the same way, and in a few short years the whole problem won’t exist any more. And it’s only people who are even older and more deranged than bishops who go to Anglican churches anyway, so it’s not as if anyone will miss out.

  27. Beatrice says

    I’m sorry that some women who wanted to be able to become bishops will be disappointed by this decision. It’s stupid and it’s blatant sexism. Then again, blatant sexism is pretty much at the root of Christianity. And this decision shows it to the world, possibly even better than all those everyday examples of religious sexism. We’ve already gotten used to those (which is just sad).

  28. says

    To be fair: Changes in the canon law of the CoE require a two-thirds vote in all three of the houses of the General Synod, which meets in full session every 5 years. The House of Bishops and the House of Clergy both reached this supermajority. In the House of Laity, it failed by only 6 votes.

    As with the Episcopal Church and other members of the Anglican Communion, the roadblock to equality is is coming from a small but very vocal minority and does not reflect the views of the majority.

  29. Paul W., OM says

    stevebowen @ 31 makes good points.

    There was significant opposition from the feminist end of the spectrum on the grounds that the proposal being voted on did not go far enough—it would have made women “bishops” but not forced the acceptance of their authority. It was an ugly compromise that the higher-ups wanted, to avoid schism with the conservatives.

    I wonder how many votes against the agreement from the house of laity were because of that—people willing to wait for a better agreement.

    I suspect more were from representative conservative congregations at variance with their own liberal bishops, but the feminists may have swung the vote against the deal—it was close–or even account for a substantial fraction of the nays.

  30. says

    Timon for Tea:

    Only if they are gay. Otherwise, quite the opposite.

    You mean Anglican priests are obliged to have healthy sex lives? Makes the priesthood seem much more interesting.

  31. Timon for Tea says

    Winterwind, obliged no, but certainly encouraged. How sexy you find this will largely depend on how much time you have spent with clergy and their spouses.

  32. says

    If the current queen had, yes, but not any future ones. As with most other areas of society, this particular piece of sexism has now been dealt with.

    Yeah, society is just so non-misogynistic now. How this slipped by, I just don’t know.

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