Yesterday the General Synod of the Anglican Church voted against ordaining women as Bishops. In actual fact a large majority of the Synod voted FOR the motion, but a two thirds majority across all three of the Houses is required, and the House of Laity was 6 votes short to pass the motion.

I struggle to articulate my thoughts on this matter. I am a fervent atheist so you might question why I should care about an institution I regard as outmoded and full of fantasy. Well, discrimination in an arena angers me. I don’t want to play cricket either, but I want our female cricket team to get equal treatment to their male counterparts. I have not seen any coherent arguments against the notion of women as Bishops, and I can’t think of any argument that I would accept on the matter. I cannot understand how the Church can defend this decision.

I wanted to weep yesterday listening to Alison Ruoff on Radio 4 as she tried to defend the notion that women should be subservient to the authority of men: “it’s that way in the home too” she said. Not in my home it’s not. In fact many of the opponents to the motion were women, bought up with the indoctrination that their wants and needs come after those of men.

For too long in the eyes of the Church, and consequently in the rest of society (let’s not forget the CofE hasn’t always been the irrelevance it is now) women have been treated as less than equal, bearing the sins of Eve who is seen as the sole reason for the banishment from the Garden of Eden, conveniently forgetting Adam ate the apple too.

The Church spent a long few days praying to God to guide them and give them wisdom in their choices. Well, if this is the outcome God led them to then they can keep their God. And supporters of Anglican reform know this is how many people will feel and fear this will lead to the discrediting and demise of its position as a National Church. Women are not a minority group. We make up just over half the population. Businesses today know they have to offer benefits and career profession prospects to attract high calibre women to make up their workforce and make them more relevant today. The Church of England, essentially a business, working to protect its assets, its power, and its market share, has failed to modernise, held to ransom by anachronistic shareholders.

The members of the Church who were against the ordination of women as Bishops are today rejoicing, proclaiming that they have prevented a schism in the Church. Those members who threw their toys out the the pram and threatened to run off and join the Catholic Church may now stay. But who knows what amazing women, the future of the Church, will leave or stay away because of this decision.

I hope all those who remain in the Church that hold sensible and modern views voice their dissatisfaction at this decision. Anyone who continues to blithely worship within a such an institutionally misogynistic organisation without fighting for the equality of women is themselves participating in and propagating the notion that women are inferior. And that notion filters down, so that consequently all those women who are the backbone of the Church without pretensions to ordination are by association inferior. The Church of England is an anachronism and and irrelevance and it needs to reform if it is to survive in this increasingly secular country.

9 thoughts on “All about Eve

  1. This whole thing vexes me. I couln’t agree with you more. I was only just thinking recently how brilliant it is that my daughter sees women being successful in all sorts of ways that will inspire and encourage her. Now this……I am so disappointed in the Church
    I could scream with frustration. I’m a sitting on the fence kind of believer or non believer, so it shouldn’t bother me, but it really, really does….

  2. Funny isn’t it, how those of us that aren’t members of the Church feel that “this shouldn’t really affect me” when actually it really does. I think it’s because, whether we believe or not, the C of E is still part of the fabric of the Establishment in this country so it’s woven into the fabric of our lives, even if we never go to Church from one year to the next. The language of the King James Bible is, even if we don’t recognise it, one of the cornerstones of the English that we speak today and the C of E has a central role to play in all of our great State occasions as well as in the process of Government. So for an institution with that amount of power to reject the notion of allowing women to play an equal role is a profoundly disappointing moment and a powerful reminder of how much work there is still to do before we achieve full equality.

    Fabulous post, as always Dilly 🙂 You may enjoy mine on the same subject at

    I suspect there will be a LOT of blogs on this subject in the days to come…

  3. Well said. I’m not a believer either but I think that this affects all of us. It shows the young girls who do believe that they’re inferior and that is not a good thing. I hope that in time they will realise what they have done, however, I won’t hold my breath!

  4. I happened here looking for knitting but since my day job is as an Anglican priest it seems right to comment. First of all an overwhelming majority of the Church of England at all levels think that this decision is not all right at all- the majority of the church voted for it, 42 out of 44 dioceses said yes. Sadly the laity of the general synod is not representative, and we were caught out by a failure to tackle reforming this. We will certainly be voicing our dissatisfaction with this decision have no fear. I think you will also find that the majority of the Church are much more liberal on for instance gay marriage than the press report- For instance 3 gay or lesbian people hold the highest lay office in some of my rural village churches and everyone is very happy, when I preached my support of gay marriage form the pulpit no one complained or argued with me. I tell you this because what gets reported is the often the loony fringe.

    I would say that we have extremely high calibre women in the Church of England, at this moment we’re feeling bruised and battered but determined that no one will drive us out of the Church. It’s extremely difficult to reform something that you’re not part of and while I appreciate that you don’t believe in God so this may seem absurd to you, I am a priest because I believe that this is who I was created to be. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than giving my utmost in this role. You may find it surprising that we don’t leave, but most of us feel that what we’re about is something bigger than a load of bigots who misunderstand and misuse the very Bible they purport to follow. I don’t believe in following the Bible literally, it was written by fallible human beings but I could give you some great examples of many Biblical injunctions that these literalists fail to follow.

    I hope all this is helpful, I just wanted to present a wider view of the church than you will have seen recently.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. Really good to hear an ‘insider’ point of view.

      Though I am an atheist I come from a religious background so I hope I don’t seem entirely ignorant.

      I’m glad you will speak up. I think often it takes those within to change an organisation most effectively, rather than those on the outside. Though us atheist and other religious women are right behind you in support.

      1. Hi all. I am a woman training for ordination and I feel compelled to comment. I have been disheartened this week and yet also encouraged as well. Disheartened by the decision but encouraged by how much people care. I am glad it has made such headlines – if the church really were irrelevant, then it would be a footnote.

        I completely agree with Cheryl. I was reminded by one of my very wise (female) tutors at theological college that the Christian abolitionists like William Wilburforce et al would not have made the massive impact they did had they left to form their own little sect in government. Instead, they worked within the establishment, following the call on their lives for the public good and from the God of love and justice whom they worshiped to impact lasting change.

        Last thought (from my wonderful 12 year old son trying to console me on Tues night) – – perhaps what ends up getting passed is even better for the end and we leap frog over this whole issue, achieving even greater strides than we imagined. There is just so much incredible misinterpretation and misunderstanding out there; perhaps this vote will bring more transparency and shed more light on what these verses really mean and how we are meant to apply them today. I am praying with hope that real change happens and for the leadership to have the courage to help drive it. I keep reciting one of my favourite verses from Paul, which is not said with complacency but with a sense of hope and a call to action, ‘We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8.28). We must continue to speak out with informed voices and gentle hearts to ensure that we bring the entire church to a better place and show those still searching that the church is a place where Jesus’ love and message of freedom lives.

      2. Thank you for your comment. It must be very hard when people (hmm like me…) use the result of this vote to tar the whole Church, when in fact it was a very small minority who voted this down.

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