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Parliament pushes back on CoE bishop decision

Parliament pushes back on CoE bishop decision

UPDATE: see below

Frank Field, a member of Parliament in the UK has tabled a bill to make it illegal to discriminate against women in the Church of England:

In response to the vote Frank Field MP, a former member of the Synod, today tabled a Presentation Bill in Parliament which seeks to remove from the statute book the exemptions from the Equality legislation that the Church of England enjoys. If passed, the Bill would make it illegal for the Church of England to discriminate against women when appointing bishops, as they currently do.

Frank Field said: “This is a terribly disappointing result, which goes against the firm wishes of the vast majority of Church of England members. Parliament has a role in agreeing to or rejecting the Synod’s decisions, and I believe that MPs should now use this role, in a helpful way, to ensure those firm wishes are complied with.”

The Bill is supported by Diana Johnson, Natascha Engel, Elfyn Llwyd, Andrew George, Nicholas Soames, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Eleanor Laing and Helen Goodman.

The second reading of the Bill will take place on January 18th 2013.

*Tabling a Bill in the UK: to table means to move to place [the topic] upon the table (or to move to place on the table): a proposal to begin consideration (or reconsideration) of a proposal.


Bishops plan to meet December 10-11 according to the Bishop of Gloucester.

What will the next steps be in this process? The House of Bishops meets on 10th and 11th December and this will be the main item on our agenda. Papers are being prepared for that meeting scoping possible ways forward. These will, I think, include the possibility of bringing something back within the lifetime of this Synod though all sides acknowledge that fresh thinking is needed. As you will see from the voting figures, the Bishops of the Church of England are very largely of a common mind on the question and I think very determined to press forward and to offer clear and determined leadership. However it will be some weeks before we reach a conclusion on what the next steps will be.

More from The Telegraph – statement from former Archbishop Carey


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Tom Sramek Jr

Bill: the sentiment that “The Lord is on my side…” is not limited to the Anglican/Episcopal church, of course. I do think people react viscerally to a perceived threat to the status quo. Sometimes that threat is seen as a good thing, sometimes a bad thing, but it IS a threat. I always liked Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote: “…my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

I think that the more reasonable thing to do in this case, rather than Parliament interfering or otherwise questioning the process itself, is to ask those who voted no: “What prompted your no vote and how can we introduce a different measure that will gain your support?” At this point, you can afford to lose some votes in the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy if you can pick up a handful of votes in the House of Laity. That’s why the bar is set so high–so that a compromise is required. Or, perhaps a measure that did NOT include the compromise on alternative episcopal oversight (or whatever they called it) might have better luck. There is also the dynamic in play of “well, it is going to pass anyway, so I might as well cover my rear by voting no, since it won’t matter.” Then, when it turns out that it DID matter, people may have had second thoughts…

Chris Epting

Parliament should not interfere here. Just like we in TEC have been shamed and humbled when the State has led the way in matters of justice and human rights, this will serve as a wake-up call to the C of E to do the right thing. And I do not believe it will be years, but months.


Tom Sramek, unfortunately there is a general atmosphere of the end justifying the means in Anglicanism. Each party, for example, yearns to have the Canons strictly enforced against its opponents when doing so furthers its aims, but is quick to disregard the Canons (and sometimes the Gospel) when they stand in its way, citing the superiority of its own conscience in the matter. We’ve seen it with border crossings and women’s ordination and CWOB and the attempted secession of entire dioceses. If there is one Bible verse all Anglicans seem to live by, it’s Psalm 118:6a – “The Lord is on my side…”

Bill Dilworth

Chris Arnold

Jim, Given what you just wrote, what do churches bring to the moral discernment table? Doesn’t that rob us the capability of being necessarily countercultural when we need to be?

Jim Naughton

I am uneasy about Parliament getting involved in this because the precedent (it may have happened before, but not recently) is dangerous. What if they were forcing the covenant down our throats. How would we feel about it then?

That said, I am even more uneasy with the ieda that the church has a better means of reasoning toward moral conclusions than a democratic state. It leads directly and quickly to clerical exceptionalism.

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