The governing body of the Church of England, the General Synod, blocked a proposed change in its policy that would have allowed women — already members of the priesthood — to become bishops in the church. For the proposed changes to be accepted, two-thirds of the members in each governing body of the church would have had to vote in favor of the change. This was achieved in two of the bodies, the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy, but was narrowly defeated in the House of Laity. So the Church of England will remain with its feet planted firmly in the 19th century for at least another five years.
It may seem odd to say that this obviously sexist move is a good thing. After all, it sends a message to the faithful that church authorities believe that women are lesser creatures to men, and, thus, not worthy of holding positions of authority. However, I think from the secularist perspective, this may be a blessing in disguise, so to speak.
Most people can agree that England, as well as the whole of the UK, is a fairly secular place, though the numbers are hotly debated. Secularism is alive and well in the UK and atheists roam happily and openly all over this beautiful, perpetually-damp land. News about religious retrogrades in the US is met with derision and disdain. This secularism even affects the religious themselves. Christians are very quick to stress that they are not the crazy kind. They aren’t like that; they are the good ones! They love others and believe in helping the poor and downtrodden. This is, for the most part, entirely true and its what makes decisions like the one above so destructive to the faith.
People don’t want to be associated with sexism and homophobia. The UK has become increasingly secular, and many people have left the faith for good, and they are not coming back. But perhaps more numerous are those who retain a fuzzy faith, a general feeling of goodwill they associate with God and a warm feeling for the rituals and traditions of their community. Scratch the surface and you will find that these people have drastically different social views than those in the hierarchies of their churches. When the authorities tell them that gay marriage is a threat, or that women can’t be bishops, they force the comfortable floaty faithful to open their eyes and feel embarrassed to associate with those organizations. Eventually, these decent people will tire of apologizing for their faith, for having to feverishly insist that, yes, they’re Christian but they don’t agree with an ever-growing list of horrid, officially-sanctioned positions. They will turn away from their churches and not look back. At that point, we’ll be able to thank the religious authorities for making the UK a fully secular nation.