Sexism and superstition in the pulpit (Women’s Voice, 1978)

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WOMEN are not allowed to become priests in the Church of England.

What a victory for male chauvinism!  Don’t think that there must have been some special reason for the decision: it was just straight-down-the-line anti women feeling.  Listen to the Bishop of Truro speaking before the vote was taken.

‘I believe the Scripture speaks of God as Father, that Christ was made incarnate as a male, that he chose men to be his apostles…because in the order of creation headship and authority is symbolically and fundamentally associated with maleness.’

There you have it.  Men are born to lead.  And women must meekly remember their place and follow.

It’s the sort of barbaric, male chauvinist thinking that women have been battling against for more than two hundred years.  Even if you can’t imagine yourself ever becoming a priest, even if you’re not religious, just like every other barrier that has been put up against women it has to be kicked down.

How many of us aspire to be MPs, or work in the stock exchange?  You may hate football.  You may not be able to imagine yourself as an engineer.  But that women should be allowed to do these things is important to us all.  Every traditional area of male exclusiveness has to go.

But in the case of the women priests there is another side to the argument.  The Church of England is not just any old male chauvinist hierarchy.  This is the Established Church in this country.  It is a part of the structure of Government.  It helps make the rules and the laws by which we are expected to live.

What a shock it is to discover that these laws aren’t based on rational arguments but on superstitious mumbo-jumbo about God being a man.  Who knows – no one has ever met him/her – or those that have, have never lived to tell the tale!

How much better it would be if we were encouraged to think for ourselves, forced to consider how our actions affect our own lives and those of the people around us – instead of being hemmed in by man-made rules masquerading as divine law.

We would be able to decide for ourselves about abortion – instead of having a law that restricts our freedom.  We would be able to decide for ourselves about marriage and divorce – instead of being hemmed in by legal necessities.

Religion is one of the most effective ways our rulers have found to trick us into believing that, for reasons beyond our comprehension, we should accept their right to rule over us.  That’s why Marx said religion was the opium of the people.  It dulls the senses; it lulls us into a false sense of security; it leaves people to look forward to a life after death, rather than the here and now.  Put up with you lot here – something better is bound to turn up in the next world.

Socialist means the opposite.  We want people to take control over their own lives, and let reason not superstitions prevail.

From Women’s Voice issue 24 December 1978

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