Women bishops: The Church of England votes 'no'

Published by Sophie Herdman
Published on 20 November 2012

Hooray! That's what many people thought when Rowan Williams was made the Archbishop of Canterbury. Why? Well sure, even if you're an atheist you can see this guy has got some pretty good ideas. But for many, the great thing was that he was for women bishops.

Women bishops: The Church of England votes 'no'

Women bishops. Yep, that's right. They're different to men bishops. Different in one specific way - they don't exist. Because believe it or not, in this day and age when (almost) everyone has realised that women are just as great as men, women are still not allowed to be bishops.

But today (Tuesday 20 November) that was all set to change as the Church of England - or to be more precise it's legislative board the General Synod of the Church of England - gathered to vote on this issue. To finally put their hands up and say: "Oops, sorry guys, yeah we bad, we totally shouldn't discriminate against people based on their sex."

It's a bit of a no brainer right? And to add to that, the man taking over from Rowan Williams next year, Justin Welby, has also got his head screwed on and thinks that women should be allowed to be bishops.

That's why it was such shocking news when it was revealed today that the synod has decided that no, women cannot be bishops! It is, in our opinion, an absolutely ridiculous decision.

A church divided

Now it would be very easy to dismiss the whole of The Church of England as old, backwards, conservative women haters. But before you do that, take a look at the stats.

The Synod is divided into three sections - the House of Clergy, the House of Bishops and the House of Laity. For a vote to get through, a two thirds majority was needed in each.
Over two thirds of the House of Clergy and Bishops voted for women bishops, but it was the House of Laity that said no.

But it's even closer than that, the House of Laity voted 132 against women bishops, 74 for - if just 6 more people had voted for women bishops this would be a very different story (in fact, the House of Clergy voted 148 for, 45 against.)

An embarrassment

After about 12 years of debating this issue, many within the church say that this decision is a national embarrassment and does not represent the church. It certainly makes it easier for outsiders to mock The Church of England.

MPs have even said that this makes it even harder for them to defend the idea of bishops having seats in the House of Lords.

What now?

The House of Bishops are holding an emergency meeting to work out if there is anything they can do to deal with this legislature. If they don't achieve anything, it's another three years.

It's a shocking blow for The Church of England and rightly so - an institution that doesn't allow people a position based on their sex is out dated, unusual and down right embarrassing.