We, as clergy of the Church of England, stand alongside Rowan Williams, Justin Welby, and the dioceses of the Church of England, in hoping that the General Synod will vote on Tuesday to allow women to become bishops in our church.
We believe wholeheartedly that this is the right thing to do, and that the time is now right to do it. There are many reasons for this belief, and we highlight just some here.
First, because the Bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God. Just as the churches have repented of our historic antisemitism and endorsement of slavery, so we believe that we must now show clearly that we no longer believe women to be inferior to men.
Secondly, Jesus treated women radically equally. He encouraged them as disciples, and chose a woman as the first witness to His resurrection, at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law.
Thirdly, we have promised as clergy to “proclaim the faith afresh in every generation”. We fear that failing to take this step would do the opposite, proclaiming instead that the church is more interested in the past than the future.
The legislation to be voted on represents enormous compromise from all sides. Those who wish to avoid the ministry of women will still be able legally to do so.
We hope and pray that all will feel able to work together in the future with the trust and respect that should characterise our church.
Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Vicar of Belmont and Pittington, Diocese of Durham.
The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury
The Rt Revd Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne
The Rt Revd Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury
Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, Diocese of Gloucester
The Very Rev Dr Jonathan Draper, Dean of Exeter Cathedral
A disappointing day for democracy
I was a poll clerk at the police commissioner election in Nottinghamshire and witnessed the low turnout; it meant a much easier day for me than some recent elections, but it was a disappointing day for democracy.
Further signatories are listed at www. independent.co.ukA figure in excess of £100m has been mentioned as the cost of this exercise, but the Government was not prepared to spend a few million more to enable candidates to send out leaflets so that people would know what they were voting for. The dedicated few who did turn out were still not clear what they were voting for, but on the whole felt it their duty to take part; this is hardly a vote of confidence in the system, or the winners. How many bobbies on the beat could have been employed for the cost of this election?
For goodness sake let's have elections combined – if you go out to elect a councillor or MP you may as well pick a police commissioner too. Fund candidates to explain their policies, and hold the voting in May when many families have a walk out after tea to vote – instead of looking out of the window, deciding it's too cold, and staying in to watch the football instead.
It would be wrong to ascribe the very low turnout in Thursday's elections simply to voter apathy and ignorance. In this West Mercia police area my abstention, and that of many, was a considered response to an ill-considered change to our established policing arrangements.
West Mercia is a huge and diverse area with several urban centres and three rural counties. Where previously we had a police authority containing a majority of locally elected councillors, ensuring political and geographical balance, we were asked to believe that one of three individuals, two campaigning under party banners and with little obviously relevant experience, could more effectively assess policing priorities.
After studying the candidates' election statements and questioning them at a local "hustings", I decided to do nothing that would give credibility to this misguided exercise. I was not alone.
Now that police and crime commissioners have been elected, what are they going to do? Setting the budget won't take up their time every week, and hiring and firing chief constables is a rarity. With an average salary of £75,000 a year, the PCCs seem to be overpaid for the amount of work.
The whole PCC model is wrong. Either increase accountability with wholly elected police authorities or have a proper mayoral system, as in London.
As for "accountability", a credible police complaints system would be a help.
I have always been against the politicising of the police force in this country (something that became more open under Thatcher). Now there is the additional and very real possibility of extremist politicians, from the left, or more likely the far right, having a baleful influence over issues of law and order.
I very much hope that Miliband and the Labour Party will make quite clear that, when they return to government, this sorry piece of legislation is completely overhauled or scrapped.
BBC inspires all classes
I could not disagree more with Pete Barrett (letter, 17 November), who states that the BBC exists to cater for "middle-class culture" and keeps the "chattering classes" informed.
Tell that to my parents as they huddled in the kitchen of their cramped council flat in north London in the 1950s and 1960s. We listened to the Home or Light programme morning noon and evening, informing ourselves about the world. Sunday lunchtimes were spent in the kitchen preparing Sunday lunch while listening to the two-hour Two Way Family Favourites, where I heard for the first time the music of Beethoven, Mozart and Bach.
I had to leave school at 15 so as to help with the household budget, but from these humble beginnings, my own horizons have been widened, and now in retirement, my wife and I follow BBC radio throughout each and every day.
Michael J Marsden
Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey
What does Fiona Sturges (7 November) mean by "musical taste rarely comes into it", referring to Radio 3? We of the "tiny elite", as she calls us, listen because we do like the music.
Paul Morley, who feels as though he's "on a long journey to his own funeral", has a choice of switching off if it is such agony to his delicate soul. That's the joy of radio; you haven't paid for a ticket, and you don't have to sit through it if you don't wish to. In the meantime, leave us real music-lovers alone. .
As an avid long-term supporter of English rugby union, I am grossly disappointed to find the coverage of their 2012 season's matches are restricted to Sky subscribers. National English sport is a delusion unless the majority of English supporters can follow it by a supposedly national medium, paid for by licence.
James Dyson's dismissal of "French lesbian poetry" manages to combine anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, misogyny and homophobia in such a brief, concentrated phrase that it is almost poetic.
Perhaps James Dyson was a little harsh towards poets; poetry, literature, music and paintings all feed our spirit. But despite this the human mind is little changed from 5,000 years ago. What distinguishes mankind now from what we were then, for good or ill, is science and technology.
No advances could have been made without the work of inventors, be it paper, the printing press, television, modern medicine and agriculture, let alone mobile telephones and the internet. Those studying the arts have inventors to thank for the means to study.
Nailsea, North Somerset
Peer brings Twitter to heel
I understand Neil March’s discomfort about the BBC payout to Lord McAlpine (letter, 17 November), though what he does with the money is surely his business. But we should applaud Lord McAlpine for taking action to discourage thoughtless and irresponsible tweeting. The libel and slander laws exist to prevent damaging lies being told or repeated about citizens, rich or poor, whoever they may be; Twitter should be shown to be as subject to those laws as newspapers and television.
Offham, East Sussex
Far from feeling uncomfortable about Lord McAlpine’s “compensation campaign”, I applaud him. If his actions cause the Sally Bercows of Twitterworld to consider the consequences – for themselves and their victims – before spreading malicious gossip, he will have done the public a big favour. If he gives the proceeds to charity, so much the better.
While some very serious allegations of abuse have emerged over the past few weeks, those levelled at Dave Lee Travis do not seem to be in the same league. If this tide of allegations is going to continue to lower divisions, should I report my old headmaster for hitting me across the head for talking in class 40 years ago? It certainly hurt at the time and it brings back painful memories.
Dr Clive Mowforth
Frances Richards (letters, 16 November) reminds us that some degree courses result in a higher proportion of “good honours degrees” than others. The solution is to stop putting the majority of graduates into one of only two groups with names as daft as the scoring system in lawn tennis, and to start using their class ranking order instead.
PROFESSOR CHRIS BARTON
After Operation Cast Lead we now get Operation Pillar of Cloud. How about bringing in a little realism? How about Operation Imminent Election or Operation Two Barrels, Both Feet.
East Boldon, Tyne & Wear