It was what we call these days a facepalm moment when the news came through last night that the Church of England had voted by the tiniest of margins not to allow women to become bishops. The Archbishop had the clergy on message, but the laity didn’t have the required margin. And it would be inaccurate to simply dismiss the laity as misogynist. Some of them thought that the proposal on offer was worse than the status quo in the way it offered “protection” for those poor souls who couldn’t bear the thought of a woman in a position of power. Kelvin Holdsworth has some thoughts on this. The wisest and most progressive priest I know wouldn’t have been able to vote for the proposals and he explains why here.
The trouble with the measure in England from my point of view is that it was a compromise far too far. It was not a vote for or against women bishops, it was a vote for or against allowing women to become second-class bishops. Churches would have been able to opt out of a female bishop’s care (though not from a male bishop’s care) and request oversight from someone sharing the same theological views. It is the Church of England’s preferred heresy at the moment and it is probably a good thing that it has failed to go any further now though a horrible mess.
The Church of England on 20th Nov 2012 voted not to allow women to be Bishops. Though that is within its rights to do, this should worry the Government as Church of England Bishops are awarded legislative power through seats in the House of Lords.
The Church has chosen to be a sexist organisation by refusing women the right to hold highest leadership positions and therefore should not be allowed automatic seats in the House of Lords, as this clearly does not comply with the spirit of UK Equality law.
We call on the Govt to remove the right of the Church of England to have automatic seats in the House of Lords, in line with its commitments to equality and non-discrimination, set out in the Equality Act (2010) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
I signed it when it had a couple of hundred signatures this morning. Now there are 1660. If you agree with what it says, sign here. I certainly don’t see why laws I’m expected to live by should be made by people whose organisation actively discriminates against me and the rest of the female population. If 100,000 people signed up, this would have to be debated in Parliament. Let’s see if we can get there by Christmas.