Isn't it time we elected eight senior Tories to the House of Bishops?
So, we await the Church of England’s Emmeline Pankhurst. Hopefully, the episcopal franchise will be extended this time without civil disobedience – we don’t want female archdeacons and deans smashing stained-glass windows, chaining themselves to the font or throwing themselves in front of the Supreme Governor’s horse. Perhaps the Church awaits a latter-day Margaret Thatcher rather than its Emmeline Pankhurst: we need a politician-theologian, not a luddite-suffragette.
But the advent of these eight female ‘participant observers’ raises certain questions:
Firstly, His Grace is delighted that the Working Group reads His Grace’s blog, for it was he who first suggested moving towards elections. These eight women will join the seven elected suffragan bishops. This amounts to a welcome enhanced democracy which paves the way for greater accountability.
Secondly, it has been decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House of Bishops, these eight will have the right to attend and speak at meetings. This is evidently quota mentality, so, why six, and not parity?
Thirdly, if these eight elected female deans and archdeacons are supplanted by six appointed bishops, the House of Bishops will be seen to be regressive. Which group has the greater episcopal legitimacy – those elected by the laity or those appointed by the oligarchy?
Fourthly, if the elected eight are to remain in situ until the appointed six are confirmed and enthroned, the maths gets a little awkward, for when there are five women bishops the female contingent of their House of Bishops will be 13. The appointment of just one more female bishop will then cause a drop in their number, as the elected eight become redundant. It is most unlikely that the equality-obsessives will put up with this, for what manner of equality is it which countenances a fall of 61 per cent in the female leadership quota? Surely it is preferable to have 13 women among 47 men (21.6%), rather than just six among 46 (11.5%), even if that means sacrificing one vote. Indeed, this mathematical reality becomes a deterrent to appointing the sixth female bishop, for 5+8 is greater than 6+0.
Fifthly, His Grace would like to know why the Church of England is prepared to bend over backwards to accommodate the gender obsession of society but not the sexuality obsession? Seriously, why is there not a transformative movement to elect eight gay and lesbian (or bisexual and transgendered) participant observers to the House of Bishops? Is it because the feminine perspective will now have representation on the Episcopate? Is it because gays and lesbians would contribute nothing more than the elected women? Is it because the gays are already present, on the Episcopate, but closeted? If so, shouldn’t we be looking at appointing at least one lesbian to the elected eight? Surely a quota of (at least) one in eight is necessary to ensure justice?
But why stop there?
The absence of women and gays in the Episcopate is not the most chronic ecclesio-theological offence in the Church of England. Surely it is time to elect eight Conservative participant observers to the House of Bishops in order to balance the Labour-supporting, Guardian-reading, muesli-eating, mint-tea-drinking, lefty-liberal Christian Socialists who have reigned for almost a century, reshaping orthodoxy, redefining mission and managing inexorable decline. And let us make sure that these eight Conservatives are proper Tories and remain in situ until such time as there are six Conservative bishops.
Only then will justice begin to flow like a river.