Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Church of England's Opposition To Women Bishops

Last week the Church of England voted against the introduction of women Bishops. The General Synod requires a two-thirds majority in the three houses (Bishops, Clergy and Laity) to be able to pass a vote, in this case it failed to be passed because 122 out of 324 members voted against it- 62% voted in favour for this vote.

I read a Telegraph article on this topic that went by the title Swaziland has a woman bishop – why not Suffolk?’ It started with telling the story of how Ellinah Wamukoya became the first female bishop in Swaziland with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. People are bemused at how a country like Swaziland which does not have a particularly good reputation for being liberal is seemingly ahead of us in terms of liberal development. Though it does appear to be ridiculous, this comparison does really not have much relevance to the whole situation and it is probably fair to say that this is one of the only things in which Swaziland is more liberal in- though please do correct me if I am wrong.

What will happen in the future? The rules of the system state that the proposed vote cannot be brought back before 2015. All this could change and the senior officials if they wish could give permission for a vote to go ahead despite the written rules. Nothing is set in stone and although the future seems uncertain both sides of this proposal agreed that there is a need for urgent talks.

It is devastating to think that some women of the Church themselves oppose the introduction of female Bishops. To me, those people devalue women's rights and everything that people have fought for when trying to get equal rights. They believe it is their role to be inferior to men (they don't really put it that way) but they believe that their role is to support their husbands and becoming a Bishop would undermine this concept. Now people are allowed to think what they want but what annoys me is that this view will be passed down to the next generation of the Church of England community unless something changes.

You could argue that it has very little effect on our lives, especially atheists and secularists but it represents the flaws in this religious organisation, the stunted progression of religion. If this religious Church fails to recognise the need for modernising and updating the Church so it is relevant to society then the impacts could be more serious than this. At the moment this ‘respectable’ organisation in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself has “lost a measure of credibility.” Religion at its core is flawed: ideas, concepts and beliefs need to change and adapt to stay relevant and not remain constant over decades. I do believe that in the near future the Church of England will change its mind and adapt to allow women to become Bishops.

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