The Great Debate UK

from John Lloyd:

A church divided against itself cannot stand

The Church of England voted not to ordain female bishops last week, a move widely seen as defying the modern world. Much justification was given for this view.

Both the retiring and the incoming archbishops of Canterbury deplored the vote. The former, the scholarly (and “greatly saddened”) Rowan Williams, said, “It seems as if we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of … wider society.” The incoming Justin Welby took a more upbeat view, one appropriate for a former senior oil executive. “There is a lot to be done,” he said, “but I am absolutely confident that at some point I will consecrate a woman bishop.” Still, Welby conceded that the vote was “a pretty grim day for the whole church.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, pausing in the midst of his battle to reduce European Union spending, snapped that the church needed to “get with the program” and that his task was, while respecting its autonomy, to give it a “sharp prod.” A succession of clergy, men and women, lamented the decision, some crying demonstratively on the street outside the hall where the synod – the church’s parliament – met.

The “victors” were a minority who scraped together a little more than the one-third of votes needed under the gathering’s constitution to block the change. The bishops and the clergy in the Synod voted overwhelmingly for gender equality, but the conservatives, the evangelicals and the Anglo-Catholics were stronger among the laity and “won.”

IWD sets stage for perennial debate over feminism


sandradickson- Sandra Dickson is a feminist working to prevent sexual violence in Aotearoa, New Zealand.  She helped establish the counter-trafficking Poppy Project and wrote “Sex in the City, Mapping Commercial Sex across London,” the first attempt to map the commercial sex industry.  Sandra has also been involved in the Women’s Refuge movement in both the UK and New Zealand, and has written a number of research papers about women’s experiences of intimate partner violence. She blogs as Luddite Journo. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a “follow-the-sun” live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women’s Day. Please tune in.–

International Women’s Day number 99, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Stage set for the perennial argument – is feminism still necessary?  Or merely an academic subject for historians, with IWD covered in a lecture?