10 February 2010

Misogyny among the mitres

Anglican fundamentalists seem tireless in their determination to live in the past. Along with their routine gay-bashing and the occasional broad wink toward Rome, they insist on keeping women in their place, a place well away from the wellsprings of power. And, like sulky six-year olds, they threaten to split the church if they don't get their way.

A group of conservative evangelicals in the U.K. which refers to itself as Reform has stated its parishes will raise money to train their own clergy if women are allowed to become bishops. So there. If you won't play ball with us, we'll take our mitres and go home.

Not that the evangelicals consider women to be lesser vessels, oh no. In a statement signed by 50 vicars, they insisted, "We are not for a moment saying women are less valuable than men … this is the point we find hardest to communicate, since the world about us equates value with power." Well, yes, value and power are not the same thing, but unfortunately those who hold the power usually set the values. And, in the eyes of the evangelicals, that's damned well going to be men.

Their justification is that book for all seasons, the Holy Bible, which the Reform evangelicals insist does not allow women to be in "headship" of any organization, including businesses and families. It is, they say, an issue about "Holy Scripture."

Meanwhile the Church dawdles at bringing women fully into the Anglican fold. Ordaining women as bishops was approved 18 months ago, yet the group assigned to frame the appropriate regulations has so far come up with nothing. The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, explained that "the scale of the task made it impossible" to show results so soon. They've been ordaining men for centuries, how can it possibly be that difficult to ordain women?

Organized religion is supposed to provide moral leadership, yet it seems replete with moral reactionaries. A bunch of men using Scripture to suppress women is a sordid business, not exactly a high-water mark of moral rectitude.

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