Letters: Synod vote shows a church locked in misogyny

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The Independent Online

Ever since its inception at the time of the Roman Empire, the Church has been afflicted by the toxic combination of misogyny and patriarchy. This collusion between church and state was in stark contrast to the teachings of the man in whose name this new religion was being created.

Jesus the Jew (note, not a Christian) was in constant conflict with both religious and state authorities, whose combined efforts cost him his life. All he desired was to establish what he called the Kingdom of God, in which the hungry would be fed, the thirsty given a drink, the stranger welcomed, the naked clothed, the sick taken care of and those in prison visited (Matthew 25: 35).

Later, St Paul, the principal creator of this new religion, would argue for a Church in which "there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:8).

Over the centuries the Church has struggled, and largely failed, to offer a convincing antidote to this twin toxicity of misogyny and patriarchy – as have the other so-called Abrahamic faiths of Islam and Judaism. Eventually the secular, predominantly Western world, having been strongly influenced by those who had really listened to the teachings of Jesus, began to inculcate those "Kingdom" values into its legislature. Hence the emancipation of women and the transition from governmental patriarchy to democracy.

Not so the Church, which continues to lag behind the secular world, which is ironic to say the least. The vote against women priests becoming bishops is the latest example.

There are those who say that the Church is irredeemably corrupt because of its attachment to misogyny and patriarchy. I hope they're wrong, but the Synod vote suggests otherwise.

Canon Tony Chesterman

Alnwick, Northumberland

It is time the Church of England is forced, by law, to comply with the same legislation that exists in every other UK workplace. That would put a swift stop to the present nonsense about women bishops, gay priests and the like; and ensure that people are appointed fairly and equably, on merit alone.

The sort of disgusting prejudice that exists in the Church of England is, quite rightly, illegal in every other area of British life. Christ was no stranger to standing up to prejudice in his day: how can it be that his Church is allowed to continue acting in the way that it does?

Historically, the Church has often led the way on moral issues. Things change. Perhaps it is now time for the state to take the lead and give the Church a swift lesson in morality.

Jon Payne

Solihull, West Midlands

As an ordinary active and normally tolerant member of the Anglican Church, I would like to say that I am the end of my tolerance with the minority of misogynistic types who do not wish to have women priests or bishops. Along with probably the majority of communicants, I think they can just leave and form their own church. It's fine; extremists have been doing it for generations, why stop now?

I have really heard enough from self-appointed theologians who think that their theology is superior to that of our Archbishop and Archbishop-elect.

Jan Hepburn


If the Church could only stop focusing on issues of sex and gender all the time, and start listening to God and his instruction that we "love one another", which gave no gender or sexuality pecking order, it would not find itself in its current crisis.

Cate Tate-Smith

Malton, North Yorkshire

Would it not be a good idea for Jesus Christ himself (or another of God's representatives) to visit us to help resolve the argument over women bishops. While here, he or she could give us guidance on sorting out the world's religious conflicts, and indeed mankind's foibles in general.

Julien Evans

Chesham, Buckinghamshire

Don't knock the Synod's decision. Women are different. That difference would be utterly, ineradicably compromised were we to allow them to wear purple frocks like the men.

W E Holloway

Shurdington, Gloucestershire

Gaza, the new Indian reservation

"We have learned a lot from you Americans, how you moved West," once remarked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to a US official.

In the 19th century, the US government forced hundreds of thousands of Native Americans off their lands and out of their villages into increasingly smaller, crowded, insanitary reservations – and expected them to live quietly, content with the destiny decided for them by Washington DC. The settlers' "land of the free" became a prison for generations of Native Americans, who only became legal citizens of the US less than 90 years ago.

Gaza, too, is a reservation, housing hundreds of thousands of refugees, as well as local Gazans, who have been living there for millennia. But Gaza 2012 is not Dakota 1853 and the Gazans are refusing to accept their non-citizen, reservation destiny as decided by Washington DC, Jerusalem and London.

In the perspective of history, which community bears the most responsibility, the settlers or the natives, the powerful or the powerless?

Dr Peter Shambrook


It may come as a surprise to Rory Francis (letter, 20 November) that Israel has been allowing food and medicines into Gaza, and permitting the area's produce to be exported, ever since its withdrawal in 2005; this has been continuing even during the current hostilities. The only restriction imposed by the blockade is on weaponry or other material that could be used for military purposes.

Furthermore, at the time of its withdrawal, it left large and flourishing state-of-the-art hothouses that could have formed the basis for an expansion of Gazan exports – this was trashed within days by "militants".

So Mr Francis's suggestion that "Israel could announce at the same time that, if rocket attacks on Israel were to resume, this policy would be reversed" is precisely its policy even if pro-Palestinian propagandists have managed to keep this out of the public arena in order to create the impression that Israel is intent only on forcing "innocent" Gazans to live in misery.

Martin D Stern

Salford, Greater Manchester

World must act on tax avoidance

Christina Patterson (14 November) rightly says that there's a limit to what the law can do in a globalised world to stop corporate profit-shifting and tax avoidance. Action at an international level is needed, and the Government has clear opportunities to lead a concerted global effort during 2013, given the political will.

In June, David Cameron hosts the G8 in London, whose members have 40 per cent of all tax havens within their jurisdiction. Cameron could push the G8 to commit to global measures against tax havens' abusive fiscal regimes, which allow corporate shifting to be profitable. It is time to stop talking and start acting – action which would both help overstretched UK public finances and stop developing countries paying the outrageous price of corporate tax avoidance.

Mike Lewis

Tax Justice Policy Adviser, ActionAid UK, London EC1

Vince Cable and other MPs and commentators seem to be ignoring the fact that Amazon is an online retailer, based in Luxembourg. Having warehousing or distribution in the UK does not change this fact, given long-established double taxation agreements.

There is nothing immoral about obeying international tax regulations and we must be careful not to damage the competitiveness of Britain by witch-hunts against multinational corporations who choose to do business here.

Miles Dean

Milestone International Tax Partners LLP, London W1

Do your sums and save money

Please, not another article whingeing on about how supermarket offers confuse the "financially illiterate". I am reminded of the complaint of the girls in my maths classes when I tried to teach them material that would be of use to them in their future lives: "Miss, it's too 'ard!"

If the supermarkets did abolish their present pattern of offers this would mean that those of us who take the trouble to assess how worthwhile they are would end up paying more than we do now. Would the likes of Natalie Haynes (20 November) notice the difference? I doubt it.

Angela Kingston


Just rewards

Andy McSmith (Diary, 20 November) draws attention to the £1,481,000 salary and benefits that Andy Duncan had in his final year as chief executive of Channel 4, and compares it with the paltry £65,738 salary of backbench MPs. The difference is that Channel 4 does not pontificate that "we're all in this together" as some MPs do while milking the system using vague rules about what are allowable expenses.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon

All right?

What is this silly new greeting that seems in general use now: "Y'alright?" or if you're lucky, "You all right?" I have terminal cancer and while I look the same as anyone else, do I reply, "Yes, you?", which would not be truthful? Or do I say: "No, I have terminal cancer" – enough to put a dampener on anyone's day?

Rosalind Grant

Newcastle upon Tyne

Wrong side

In the last month British "justice" has freed a man who makes no bones about hating us and wanting to destroy us, and locked up one of our own serving soldiers for having a souvenir gun, given to him by his erstwhile comrades in arms. Have I slipped through a looking glass somewhere?

R S Foster


European dream

Sleepwalk our way out of the European Union? Oh for the opportunity to experience such a night of sweet slumber!

Edward Thomas