British Christian Group Bans Women From Speaking

A Christian group at Bristol University in England has adopted a new policy forbidding women to speak to the group unless their husbands are speaking with them. This is apparently a reversal of an earlier policy, which was likewise the reversal of yet another policy:

The Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) had originally decided women would be allowed to teach at meetings after their international secretary resigned in protest, but the group has since changed its policy.

The Huffington Post UK has seen the email sent out by president Matt Oliver to all BUCU members which said: “It is ok for women to teach in any CU setting… However we understand that this is a difficult issue for some and so decided that women would not teach on their own at our weekly CU meetings, as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away, or as our main speaker for mission weeks.

“But a husband and wife can teach together in these.”

For some reason, there are other Christians who are surprised by this:

Rebecca Reid, a member of the university’s feminist society wrote on the group’s said: “I’m Catholic and I think that’s obscene.” Student Lucy King added: “So it’s ok for women to teach, as long as they’re not the most important speaker?!? This is really unbelievable.”

Really? A Catholic finds this unbelievable? Her own church does not allow women to become priests, for crying out loud. And by the way, this is all quite in line with what the Bible commands. Just look at 1 Timothy, chapter 2:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

The problem here is not with the policy, it’s with the religion itself. At least they’re being consistent. Christianity is a blatantly misogynist religion and this is one of many Biblical commands that proves that to be true.

19 comments on this post.
  1. Ray Ingles:

    I think it’s awesome that their international secretary is Wolverine.

  2. Sastra:

    I think the problem is both with the religion itself and the immunizing strategy which evolved to protect it: the extreme deference and caution which must be used on matters having to do with “faith” inside a system. Look at the rhetoric which surrounds this decision. This is a “difficult issue for some.” There needs be sensitivity, lest the value of faith be questioned — and we have another split.

    “After a lot of time exploring this issue, seeking God’s wisdom on it and discussing it together as a committee, we made a decision about women teaching in a CU setting,” Oliver continues. “We all hold individual convictions on secondary issues such a women speakers, which are often reflected in the churches we choose to attend. … It is good and right that we hold strong beliefs on the Bible’s teaching about secondary issues but they are not what we centre around as a CU and therefore are not always reflected in the CU’s practice.”

    You apparently can’t challenge “individual convictions” made in good faith in your own faith.

  3. shouldbeworking:

    So what do the BUCU think of Her Majesty giving speeches to Parliament?

  4. yoav:

    Do they also prohibit women to drive and demand they will be fully covered whenever they leave the house, accompanied by their husband or another male relative of course?

  5. holytape:

    I understand completely. Thank God, England realizes the dangers of have a woman hold power over men. Having a woman ruler would never happen in that country. Nope. Never. The highest position in the government could never possibly be head by a woman. Nope. I mean have you ever heard of a woman king? That’s a ridiculous notion. Every single king in history has been a man.

  6. Wes:

    Rebecca Reid, a member of the university’s feminist society wrote on the group’s said: “I’m Catholic and I think that’s obscene.”

    Would I be overstepping any bounds by saying that, to me, saying you’re a member of the Catholic church and a member of a feminist group is like saying you’re a member of the KKK and the NAACP? I just can’t imagine how anyone who supports gender equality could have anything but contempt for the Catholic church.

  7. matty1:

    @3 In fairness.

    1. Liz only gives one speech a year to parliament and it is not here own words but is written for her by the (male) Prime Minister.

    2. A sufficiently flexible Christian group could argue Paul’s ban only applies to leading religious meetings not to government events.

  8. timberwoof:

    The poll at the end did not have my answer: “They have the fundamental right to enforce that idiotic policy within the confines of their own bronze-age organization.”

    They can be sexist assholes if they want; there’s no law against that.

  9. raven:

    1 Timothy, chapter 2:

    A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

    To be fair, this passage is beloved by misogynists everywhere. It’s also cherry picked since all xians are of necessity, cafeteria xians.

    It’s also flat out wildly contradicted in other parts of the NT bible. Other epistles which were all supposedly written by the same guy, Paul. They weren’t, some are known forgeries including Timothy.

  10. matty1:

    I just can’t imagine how anyone who supports gender equality could have anything but contempt for the Catholic church.

    And yet it happens, these people are not endorsing the Churches misogyny they are saying that despite that there is something in it they value so much they will put up with misogyny to get it.

    The Catholic Church is not defined by its views on women it is defined by its supernatural claims*. If you accept those you pretty much have to join in order to go to heaven regardless of anything else the Church may do.

    *By defined I mean these are the characteristics we use to tell the RCC from any other group.

  11. raven:

    Xian sects vary wildly on just what women can do in church.

    Some, but not all, fundies prohibit them from speaking or voting including Michele Bachmann’s old church, the Wisconsin Lutherans.

    In my old Protestant sect, roughly half of the ministers are women. If they prohibited women from playing a role in church, they would lose half their members in a heartbeat.

    The head of the US Anglican equivalent, the Episcopals is…a female bishop with a Ph.D. in oceanography.

    If all these women running around, well running things bothers the gods, they’ve been remarkably silent about it.

  12. Brain Hertz:

    The highest position in the government could never possibly be head by a woman. Nope. I mean have you ever heard of a woman king? That’s a ridiculous notion. Every single king in history has been a man.

    And, of course, there would never be such a thing as a woman prime minister either…

  13. fifthdentist:

    I’m glad to see some of them actually following their stupid book for a change. I’d like to see them do it more. After the images taken on cell phones of stonings of non-virgin brides and gay men go viral maybe enough people would recognize the true face of fundie Christianism.

  14. holytape:

    @12

    Marget Thatcher was a man. She had bigger balls than Reagan.

  15. frog:

    Gah, it just makes me want to gather up a bunch of women and walk around behind these guys wherever they go, speaking incessantly at them. Like a giant mobile filibuster. Perhaps reading from The Feminine Mystique.

  16. noastronomer:

    @raven #9

    2 Timothy: And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

    I always wondered about that. The serpent deceived Eve into eating the fruit, but what convinced Adam to eat it? Was it because a naked woman gave it to him?

  17. tacitus:

    Looks like all the publicity has had the desired effect. From BUCU’s website:

    Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) deplores the recent exaggerations and misrepresentations in some parts of the media of its position on women’s ministry in the church. It is well known that Christian churches differ on this question. BUCU is not a church, but a student society, so it has never had a formal policy on women’s ministry. In recent months, the Executive Committee have been exploring ways in which BUCU can best accommodate members with divergent and strongly held convictions, while expressing our unity as Christian believers. In line with our basic position throughout that process, which has not been widely publicised, the Executive Committee now wish to make clear that we will extend speaker invitations to both women and men, to all BUCU events, without exception. BUCU is utterly committed to reflecting the core biblical truth of the fundamental equality of women and men.

    Lots of weasel words, sure, but the bolded part appears to indicate that they are no longer placing any restrictions on who can speak and when.

  18. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/dec/07/bristol-university-christian-union-anti-women

    Not a new policy, it seems, but a previously undeclared long-term policy.

  19. Draken:

    …of its position on women’s ministry in the church

    Eh no, I distinctly mean to recall it was about the position of women in BUCU.

    In recent months, the Executive Committee have been exploring ways in which BUCU can best accommodate members with divergent and strongly held convictions, while expressing our unity as Christian believers.

    Translation: in an attempt to cater for the wishes of the most bigoted factions, we were prepared to throw all our female members under the bus.

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