Letters: Church no longer speaks for the nation


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The Independent Online

Following the Church of England's latest shambles, there will be many Anglicans doing their best to explain its decision on women bishops to the incredulous majority outside of the Church House bubble. I just wonder how many Synod members realise the extent of what is at best the mystification and at worst the derision in which the Church is held. Perhaps they might like to come and meet some of my sixth-formers and colleagues.

I think that this week's vote will come to be seen as the moment at which the Church lost what right it still had to speak to and for the nation. We should be disestablished.

I am sustained by Archbishop Michael Ramsey's reaction after the Synod failed to vote through the scheme for reunion with the Methodist Church. Personally disappointed, the saintly prelate simply exclaimed: "Long live God!"

The Revd Paul Hunt

Chaplain, Emanuel School

London SW18

Susie Leafe's comment article "Why I voted no to women bishops" (22 November) aptly demonstrates what I found abominable about the result of the General Synod's vote.

Feminism appears to have found its new battleground: a small minority of women who wish to victimise other women by bolstering patriarchal structures that men themselves have long abandoned.

Feona Bowey

Cramlington, Northumberland

As a historian who often writes on early Christianity, I have come across every sort of theological argument, from the most clear and logical to the most irrational and impenetrable. Nothing, however, quite prepared me for Susie Leafe's argument that voting no in the women bishops debate was "a vote for unity in the church", "a vote against discrimination" and "a vote for equality". If she can get away with that, she has a great future in PR. The Coalition should snap her up at once.

Charles Freeman

Brandeston, Suffolk

What, I wonder, do those opponents of women bishops do when they travel abroad to Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA, and find themselves in a diocese where the bishop is a woman? The Church of England is but one fragment of the wider Anglican Church, and many other parts of that church have welcomed women into the episcopate. Heavens, it could happen in Scotland!

Rosemary Smith

Mistley, Essex

The case for sexism in the Church is much the same as the case for slavery: they could do it in the New Testament so we should do it now. All power to Frank Field and his case for bringing the Church of England into equal opportunities law, stopping us messing about in first-century culture and make us shift to the 21st.

The Revd Maggie Durran

Bicester, Oxfordshire

I am neither personally religious nor politically correct. The Church of England vote against female bishops may not be logical but it is a welcome – if only temporary – V-sign to the totalitarian ideology that wants to imprison "spiritual" organisations in secular "equal employment". Jesus did not follow the latest trends either.

Jason Robertson

Sheringham, Norfolk

I met Rowan Williams a couple of years ago, quite informally. He was charming, open and generous. So I feel some sorrow for a decent man who has been snubbed by his final Synod.

But why on earth is this Anglican controversy over women bishops hitting our national news headlines? The navel-gazing arguments hinge on whether a fantasy god was or was not a misogynist. So? It is, frankly, irrelevant to the lives we are all living.

Simon Molloy

London E8

Where is the Middle East's Mandela?

Fraser Devlin (Letters, 21 November) is wrong when he says a solution has to be imposed by sending settlers back to behind the Israeli borders because there is no other solution. I believe that solution is now impossible. That sort of solution was carried out in Algeria years ago, with huge bloodshed.

There are better examples of solutions: South Africa and Northern Ireland. But where are the Palestinian and Israeli statesmen – the Mandelas, de Klerks, Paisleys and McGuinnesses?

Israel and Palestine could become the "Land of Canaan", a country that gives equal rights for all, Jews, Muslims, Christians and those with no religion.

Peter Downey

Wellow, Bath

The organised Jewish community has taken upon itself the task of defending Israel's indefensible actions and states that it is speaking for all Jews. I am writing to say that they do not speak for me.

The signatories to a letter to the Israeli ambassador, who include the Chief Rabbi and heads of all religious and communal organisations, state: "Operation Pillar of Defence is an entirely understandable response to the intolerable assault upon the citizens of southern Israel and the continued provocations of Hamas –‐ an antisemitic terrorist organisation."

If the organised Jewish community genuinely wishes to help Israel, they could do no better than insist that Israel makes the search for a political solution its main objective.

If the signatories really cared about Jewish life, they would demand that Israel maintains the Jewish ethical tradition emanating from our great sage Rabbi Hillel: "That which is hateful to you, do not to another."

Diana Neslen

Ilford, Essex

BBC is losing touch with reality

Both John Whitbread and Nick Collier (Letters, 17 November) paint all those they perceive to be the enemies of the BBC with a rather broad brush.

Rather than wanting just a "Fox on the box", individuals such as myself are seeking radical, comprehensive reform of the BBC, which often comes across as anachronistic and shambolic in its broadcasting while maintaining a supercilious attitude towards licence fee payers.

Examples of where I believe the BBC has fallen short of its obligations as a state broadcaster include the poor coverage of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the mediocre and speculation-based reporting that dominates the 24-hour BBC News Channel.

The BBC's defenders seem keen to portray anyone with an unfavourable view of the BBC in its current form as having an axe to grind or of being a proponent of Murdoch.

The difference is that one doesn't have to read The Sun, but in order to switch on a TV which you legally own you must pay a tithe to a state broadcaster that seems increasingly divorced from reality.

William James DeFraine

Newnham on Severn, Gloucestershire

The best way to deal with zombies

Many would share Anthony Hilton's opinion when he argues that a spell of "creative destruction" sounds better on paper than it would be in reality ("Surrounded by zombies, but destroying them still won't change anything", 17 November). But if this is not the answer, how should we tackle the drag on economic growth posed by debt-crippled "zombie" companies?

The root cause of this problem is well understood. Firms are encouraged to take on as much debt as they can because of the tax relief given to interest payments on debt finance. Equity finance attracts no such tax relief.

This skewed tax structure penalises equity investment and incentivises debt, leaving many companies exposed to sudden shocks or to an economic slowdown.

The Chancellor was right when in 2009 he said we must reduce "the bias in our corporate tax system against equity and towards debt financing".

Equalising the tax treatment of equity and debt investment will allow companies with stronger balance sheets to start investing in growth and jobs, without suffering a tax penalty.

Mark Hastings

Director General, Institute for Family Business

London SW1

The taxi app alternative

I read your feature "Guess what app I had in my cab last night" (15 November) with interest. The recent influx of black taxi apps is great for consumers and cabbies alike. However, we don't view black taxis as direct competition. For those who don't mind paying a premium, you can have a black taxi with you in minutes. But for the majority of Londoners, the Addison Lee app provides a professional, reliable taxi service which is 33 per cent cheaper.

Liam Griffin

Managing Director,

Addison Lee, London NW1

Page 3 girl in The Independent?

Wow! I settle down with my coffee to read The Independent and am assaulted on page 3 (!) by a huge picture of a busty "swimwear model" more akin to something from a Murdoch newspaper. And the subject of the article only gets a small, incidental head-and-shoulders picture. Then, on page 18, a headline includes the words "great tits". Was a sub-editor having a laugh?

Joel Baillie-Lane


Just say hello

Rosalind Grant (Letters, 22 November) misunderstands the true meaning of the greeting "Y'alright?". It's not really a question, it's a modern analogue for "Hello". The correct response to "Y'alright?" is to nod and reply: "Y'alright?"

Mark Redhead


Odd souvenir

RS Foster (Letters, 22 November) chides British justice for locking up a soldier for possession of a functioning "souvenir" pistol. He seems to have forgotten the 300 rounds of live ammunition. Hardly a souvenir.

John Wells

West Wittering, West Sussex

Dear Roman...

After careful consideration, I have decided to send my CV to Roman Abramovich in the hope of becoming the new Chelsea manager. I am happy to hold the position for a month or two, providing I receive a decent payoff.

Ivor Yeloff

Hethersett, Norfolk