Comments: House of Laity meeting - Gavin Oldham letter

I see what Mr Oldham is talking about but not why that leads him to a vote of no confidence in the chair of the house of laity. Surely such a vote is about how the chair is doing his / her job as chair, not about personal ideologies, or have I missed something here?

Posted by Steve at Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 9:15pm GMT

'However my position has hardened considerably since the November debate, as I have come to realise that it is the destructive ideology of male headship which lies at the root of our problems.'

Wonderful letter from Gavin, because he has set his face like flint and for this he will not be ashamed. His letter is a song of liberation in a reasoned, charitable and transparent outpouring of truth and wisdom. Thanks be to God.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 9:34pm GMT

"So I have come to realise that male headship ideology must be confronted and not appeased"

Incredible, that in the Year of Our Lord 2013 this is still up for debate. I think I speak for the entire Episcopal Church when I say, "Duh!"

[Point-of-Order: I checked out that "Archbishop Cranmer" blog, and I did not see it immediately evident just *who* is this person claiming the appellation of the holy martyr. It may be well-known to UK readers, but for this Ignorant Yank here, could s/he please be identified?]

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 9 January 2013 at 9:35pm GMT

"Archbishop Cranmer" writes well and with verve, but his arguments, when one can find them, are flimsy. Most of the column is given over to mere ad hominem. Who are they who back women bishops for the Church of England? They are the "utterly wicked" laity who unwittingly make the case that the laity should be removed altogether from Synod. They are "aggressive reformists who seek to fill old wineskins with Coca Cola, and ... progressive extremists who view orthodox Christian teaching as a breath away from Nazism or apartheid."

He ends, as is the custom, by threatening schism.

One wishes he would stop threatening.

Of course, someone in the comments had to write in to defend apartheid.

Posted by Charlotte at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 3:55am GMT

Like Steve, I am confused about how this letter relates to the business at hand. It is refreshing, however, for an Anglican to oppose a point of view simply because it is wrong. I am all for Anglican diversity, but some viewpoints are just hurtful, misguided, and destructive of the church’s witness.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 4:41am GMT

Steve, I wondered that too. Is the Chair required by law, written or unwritten, to push the majority agenda? What are the specific requirements for the post? What are the usual reasons, if any, that someone is removed from the position? Does one always get fired for having a minority view?

I wonder what Oldham's definition of "Evangelical" is, exactly? He claims to be one, but he doesn't seem to think anyone who votes conservative should be allowed in church government. And why should the opinion of one bishop regarding headship undo centuries of tradition? Liberals certainly don't just fall in line when the Archbishop says something they disagree with just because the Archbishop said it.

I have to echo the person on Cranmer's site, "With friends like this, who needs enemies?"

Posted by Chris H. at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 6:09am GMT

Yes, JCF, which century is the C of E in?

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 7:20am GMT

The whole notion of 'Male Headship' today is simply an excuse for continuance of the out-dated synodrome of discrimination - against women. Today's world in not the world of the Old Testament.

When Saint Paul - eventually - was able to say that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female", he may not have completely understood what he was saying. However, Like Peter's declaration of Jesus' Son-ship of God; this was probably the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

After all, the Holy Spirit is still alive and active in the Body of Christ, and we ought to be ready for Her new initiatives - that square with the biblical ethos of Peace and Justice for ALL.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 9:06am GMT

An excellent letter which I was delighted to read.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 11:08am GMT

Bravo to Mr. Oldham, who does not hesitate to denounce "male headship" as pernicious, sinful and unChristian. Indeed it is.

That being so, a chair of the House of Laity should not adhere to male headship. (Would the Church of England be complacent if it elected someone to the post who, it turns out, had supported apartheid?)

What Steve is missing is that, as a direct result of the women-bishops vote, both society and Parliament are holding the Church of England accountable for its discriminatory theology.

The CofE wants to respond by saying that male headship is not the theology of the church as a whole. That response is not very credible, however, while Mr. Giddings is still the chair of the House of Laity.

Hence the propriety and necessity of the vote of no confidence. As Mr. Oldham says, it really is a vote against the doctrine of male headship.

The CofE used to tolerate male headship. The CofE can and will tolerate it no longer.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 11:55am GMT

The motion of no confidence purports to have its basis in five identified 'failures'.

1. 'His speech against the measure followed directly after Justin Welby’s and therefore I believe directly undermined what the Archbishop elect had said' Really? So, what's Justin Welby's declared position on same-sex marriage? Well, let's also ensure that we remove any chair who 'undermines' his stated position on that issue.

2. 'Since it was against it did not support the views of the House of Bishops as a whole'. So, a chair's position must support the HoB consensus. Is that for all issues: like those in Human Sexuality.

3. 'Speaking as the Chair of our House his speech was instrumental in convincing some of the undecided members of the House to vote against'.
So from now on, due the influence of such high office, the Chair should curtail any expression that might affect undecided votes in House of Laity. Should the Chair of the House of Clergy have also followed this approach? If so, it must be explained to new General Synod members that they are not normally able to sift the genuine merit of an argument from the role of the person who speaks in its favour.
4. ' believe the speech was therefore a significant contributor to the reputational damage the Church of England...all of which I believe will damage the mission of our church' So, routing out dissent before another vote will regain credibility ? For what? Intolerance of voter dissent? So, why not just end voting and issue divine edicts from Lambeth Palace, or a liberal think-tank.
5. ‘The failure of the Measure is already giving momentum to the idea that the only likely solution now is a single clause Measure’ The failure of the Measure was via the voting mechanism. However, worse the likely solution is, it was not Philip Giddings' fault.

Of course, that won’t stop the witch-hunt to hang him from their deliberative ‘no confidence’ gibbet! It's Salem again, so he's probably responsible for bad crops and deformed livestock!

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 2:03pm GMT

Much as I despise Giddings' views on a range of issues, I really can't see a problem with his being allowed to express them unless, as another commentator wondered, the Chair is obliged, by convention or otherwise, not to. Are we really saying that Synod members' consciences are so easily buffeted about that they have no choice but to vote in accordance with the last thing they heard?

And on the subject of voting, why doesn't Synod introduce secret balloting? At least then we would know members' real opinions rather than the opinions they want to be seen to have.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 3:29pm GMT

Over here in the USA, if Philip Giddings spoke for or against a motion as chair, a significant procedural question would arise and the no confidence resolution would have to stem from knowingly overlooking proper procedure. Here the operative rules of order would have required him to cede his authority as chair temporarily to next highest ranking officer at which point he could then speak from the floor as a member of the deliberative body. This provides an illusion that he is simply arguing rather than making what might otherwise seem to be an official pronouncement.

I am correct in assuming that this procedural nicety doesn't apply? It seems there is an assumption in the letter and the motion that Philip Giddings is the leader of the House of Laity rather than simply its elected presiding officer.

Posted by David Bieler at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 4:39pm GMT

Nothing but a witch hunt. Is this really about a motion of no confidence? I think not. It is about spoilt children throwing their rattles out of the pram, because they failed to get their way. It is to be hoped they fail to get their way in the eventual vote as well, which I suspect will be the case.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 4:48pm GMT

"So, routing out dissent before another vote will regain credibility ? For what?"

Yes, it will. It will disassociate the majority of the House of Laity, and by extension the CofE as a whole, from Mr. Giddings's pernicious and unChristian views.

Such a public and symbolic disassociation is badly needed, given the damage done to the CofE by the women-bishops vote, and by the continuing adherence of some opponents of women bishops, including Mr. Giddings, to the notion of "male headship."

There is a surprising amount of whinging about this no-confidence vote.

Back in November, I predicted that if the Measure were lost, a wave of reforming energy would sweep through the CofE.

Only children complain about the predictable consequences of their own actions.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 6:19pm GMT

It might help some American readers in particular to explain that in the General Synod the actual task of chairing debates is undertaken by a panel of members, which includes representatives of all three houses but which in practice never includes the chair or the vice-chair of the House of Laity, or any of the Prolocutors, or their deputies, from the House of Clergy. It does include both the archbishops though and this particular debate was conducted under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of York.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 6:24pm GMT

David Bieler: Philip Giddings was not chairing the women bishops' debate, which was chaired by the Archbishop of York. Philip Giddings is Chair of the House of Laity and, as such, has a seat on the platform from which he made his speech.

This was where he was expected to speak from, but the positioning meant that his speech came over in an exceptionally powerful and, in my eyes, a menacing way. Bishop Justin Welby as Bishop of Durham, and not yet Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke from the floor and not the platform. The timing of the speeches was also extremely unfortunate, they were both just before lunch, Philip spoke after Justin. This was a chairing matter and nothing to do with Philip, but I thought it was unfortunate. It would have better if we had gone out to lunch with Justin's words ringing in our ears rather than Philip's. Philip spoke well and powerfully. I am not sure how many votes were changed because of it or the extent to which his speech gave permission for the relentless series of 'headship' speeches that we heard in the afternoon. Philip is a person of influence. If one is in such a strong position then one needs to consider the consequences both of what one says and of the fact that you are saying it rather than a person of less exalted rank.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 6:36pm GMT

I am happy that Mr Oldham has come to recognise the weakness of the idea of male headship. But, while I disagree very strongly with Dr Giddings's views, I have still not seen an adequate explanation for the motion of no confidence in him. I can't understand the idea that members of the House of Laity could have come to the meeting of the General Synod so undecided that his speech could have changed the way in which they voted, in spite of the arguments presented by the outgoing and incoming Archbishops of Canterbury.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 8:05pm GMT

Philip Giddings is now described as coming over in a menacing way. Members of the House of Laity must have been cowering beneath their chairs, as he inveighed the worst atrocities upon his audience. Perhaps, it was a more subtle insinuation of mortal fear in anyone who dared to differ.

Yes, we can all do hyperbole!

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 9:53pm GMT

I'm not sure that Philip Giddings is either opposed to women bishops or committed to the idea of male headship.
It's reported that in his Synod speech he said,
"In 1992 I voted in favour of ordaining women to the priesthood but knowing it was unacceptable to many of my fellow Evangelicals because of their understanding of the biblical teaching on headship."

Posted by Erasmus at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 10:34pm GMT

I am a bit confused. Perhaps someone could enlighten me? Those arguing against the "No Confidence" vote are saying that it is alright to vote matters such as allowing women bishops come what may but it is not alright to vote whether or not one has confidence in the statements and actions of an elected Chair of the House of Laity? Is that right?

One can vote to eliminate the possibility of women becoming bishops and that is well and good and, because victorious, clearly God's will. If one votes to eliminate the Chair, however, it is a liberal plot, silencing of a minority, elimination of opposing viewpoints, etc. So one can vote and when one wins it's kosher but if one votes and there is a possibility that one may very well lose then it's anathema.

That's an amazingly deft act of mental and moral contortion, I must say. Well done!

Posted by Brian at Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 11:03pm GMT

"No Confidence"

I think much of the disagreement over this vote arises from the lack of understanding of the position of Chair of the House of Laity. If the chair's job is to impartially organise and oversee debate - like the Speaker of the House of Commons - then nobody should be excluded because of their views if they are doing a good job. On the other hand, if the Chair is more like the American House Speaker - the leader of the most powerful group, then his or her views are central to the job.

It seems to me that this Chair is a little of both. He represents the House of Laity on various committees and so his views should therefore be broadly representative of the House. As his views are not in line with majority on this, and perhaps many other issues, then it seems to me that it is quite right that the House can decide if they have confidence in his continuing role as their chair and, therefore, representative.

Posted by Iain Baxter at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 12:20am GMT

Well said, Brian.

Those who engaged in hardball politics around the issue of women bishops cannot now complain that others are doing the same.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 1:34am GMT

As I understand it, the Chair of the House of Laity does represent the House of of Laity on the Standing Committee and probably on other committees as well. So the Chair's views do matter if members of the House of Laity believe these are influencing the issues over which he is consulted on their behalf.

Re 'Bishop Cranmer', he has been identified by Daily Telegraph journalist Damian Thompson as Adrian Hilton, a former Conservative parliamentary candidate.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/8716603/Cranmer_on_Jade_Goody_the_creepiest_blog_post_of_the_year/

Posted by Pam Smith at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 8:23am GMT

I don't understand any of this.
Everyone knew before the vote that Philip Giddings is not a strong supporter of women's ordination. But no-one seemed to think then that this was so shocking and inappropriate that he should not be chair of the House of Laity, in particular as the actual meeting wasn't chaired by him at all.

Then the vote was lost and now it's all suddenly the fault of that very same person who has to be removed?

I accept the argument that the chair of a House should ideally represent the views of the whole church. But I don't see that that had ever been a formal requirement. So how can it now be the grounds of a vote of no confidence?

Yes, I would also like a more representative House of Laity and I'm no friend of Philip Giddings. But this really isn't right. This is scapegoating and politicking of the worst order.
I hope he wins that vote.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 8:30am GMT

I suppose the real problem here is that the House of Laity may have hoped that their Chair-person might have reflected something of their general feeling on any issue. For Mr Giddings to have written a letter to the Press, purporting to represent the House of Laity on this issue could have been unhelpful in the circumstances - especially as it certainly did not represent their majority opinion.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 10:10am GMT

Erika, all you are saying is that there has been a sea change in Synod politics and in CofE attitudes since the measure was rejected.

This change shouldn't surprise or puzzle anyone. To the contrary, it is both right and necessary.

Of course there was a degree of willingness to tolerate the anti-WO crowd before they blocked the measure. The proponents of women bishops were trying to extend the hand of friendship to the opponents. (Perhaps that was why Giddings was elected in the first place.)

Of course the loss of the vote makes a huge difference in whether proponents are willing to put up with Mr. Giddings. Proponents tried to be gracious, and they didn't get any votes in return. Instead, Mr. Giddings and his ilk have now done a lot of harm, both to individuals and to the CofE as a whole.

Whether he likes it or not, or intended to or not, Mr. Giddings has now become a symbol of antediluvian attitudes. Why should the House of Laity not hasten to disassociate itself from him?

This isn't a tea party. It's a legislature, and people's careers are at stake, as is the Church of England's role and reputation in the culture.

Major votes have major consequences. If Mr. Giddings cannot handle that heat, he never should have entered the kitchen.

In a parliamentary system, people do not hold leadership offices for specific terms of years. They hold offices as long as, and only so long as, they can command majority support in the legislatures they lead. When that majority support goes, they go. (See Mrs. Thatcher.)

In a parliamentary system, political and attitudinal changes can lead very quickly to personnel changes.

The no-confidence motion is very much in line with how the English political system works.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 11:48am GMT

Jeremy,
Doesn't a motion of no confidence have to be based on something that someone did that he shouldn't have done?

2 minutes before the vote this chair was not doubted by anyone, there was no thought that he should be dismissed.
And if the vote had gone the other way, there would still not be any thought that he should be dismissed. Although he would probably not be elected again but that's a different matter.

That strikes me as a very flimsy pretext for a vote of no confidence and it's really saying "we thought we could win this, we should have won this, we didn't and we now have to find ways of rearranging the House of Laity so that we can win next time round".

That's a valid political aim but it does not, in its proper sense, support a vote of no confidence. I find it thoroughly distasteful.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 1:19pm GMT

Politics in a legislature? The horror!

"Distaste" for politics is what enabled the anti-WB crowd to outhustle WB proponents at the last Synod elections. And thus to defeat the measure.

No wonder most proponents of women bishops are dropping any pretense at distaste and rolling up their sleeves and politicking. They are starting to whip this issue, and high time that they did.

"Doesn't a motion of no confidence have to be based on something that someone did that he shouldn't have done?"

He gave a speech and he cast his vote. Both against the majority position. Is that not enough?

Don't confuse Christianity with conflict avoidance. Does being a _church_ leader mean that Mr. Giddings cannot be held accountable for his actions? Is the Gospel really about letting leaders run roughshod over the rest of us?

Of course not.

Furthermore, remember that as chair of the House of Laity, Mr. Giddings sits on other commissions and bodies that have their own influence. E.g., the Group of Six.

The majority of Synod may well now feel that it wants to be represented by someone who shares its view that women bishops should be ordained now.

I don't think that's a 'flimsy pretext.' Sounds to me like a matter of Christian principle.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 2:26pm GMT

Of course every living together involves politics, but I don't really want the church to follow the appalling adversarial system of the British Parliament. Where it does it should be seen as a weakness not as a strength.

I'm not talking about allowing all views to have equal validity or of not dealing with ridiculous demands etc. Nothing wrong with rolling up sleeves here!

But his views and the way he would vote were known before GS met and they did not seem to be a problem.
It's only because the vote was lost that they are now seen to be a problem. And I find that dishonest.

If the ideal of the church being counter cultural means anything at all it has to mean a level of honesty in our dealings with each other and not to use tactics like this to get rid of someone we now find an embarrassment and an obstacle to our political aims.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 3:35pm GMT

Erika/Jeremy,

As you both know, parliament provides amply for each member to speak against or in favour of a legislative measure before voting proceeds. Although each party may remove the whip from members who vote against their key policies, it only means that they will face the *next* election without party support. They are always free to express a divergent opinion on certain matters.

In any case, General Synod is not built around party system with elected members who have campaigned on a certain platform of policies.

Whereas the Speaker of the House of Parliament severs all political ties in order to conduct business impartially, there is no such requirement for the speaker of the House of Laity, or Clergy to do so. In fact, the speaker of the House of Clergy spoke in favour.

Dr. Giddings spoke in the interest of balancing the majority position enunciated by the Archbishop-elect with a concise expression of minority concerns. If anything, the GS vote punished hubris.

The political parallel to censuring Giddings in this way would be expelling an MP from office (only three times last century), rather than de-selecting his candidacy for the next election.

Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 4:31pm GMT

The adversarial system arises from the party system and whipped voting. It's arguable that both of these have been covertly introduced into General Synod by those opposed to women bishops.

Posted by Pam Smith at Friday, 11 January 2013 at 5:45pm GMT

David Shepherd said: "The political parallel to censuring Giddings in this way would be expelling an MP from office."

That statement is complete nonsense. No one is saying that Mr. Giddings should no longer be a member of Synod.

The question raised by the no-confidence motion is whether he should continue to be the chair of the House of Laity--and by virtue of that position, to be the representative of the House of Laity in other contexts.

The political parallel would be to a minister being asked to resign his or her post, and resume a back-bench position, when the minister does not support the government's policies.

A better argument against the motion would be that until now, support for women bishops has not resembled a government policy. But these things change (and in this case, they should).

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 2:34am GMT

The House of Laity is not some sort of cabinet tasked with implementing policy! That's the real nonsense.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 9:24am GMT

Jeremy,
is there a formal requirement for the Chair of the House to hold the view of the majority? And on what? Only critical matters or matters that might become critical during his term of office? Or on everything? And how would one know what the majority view on all those potentially critical matters is, before a vote?

Otherwise, "We've discovered that he doesn't agree with us and we don't like it" seems to be a very poor and arbitrary reason for a vote of no confidence.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 10:07am GMT

Erika, surely you realize that it is hard to predict or provide for every case, before the event occurs? Surely you realize that this is the task of leaders--to find a way forward in uncertain situations, where nothing is written down to guide them?

In this unprecedented situation, and as you know perfectly well, the policy preference of the vast majority of English dioceses--42 out of 44--to ordain women bishops was what Mr. Giddings spoke and voted against.

Did he really think he could do that without consequences for his leadership? Did Mr. Giddings really think that in so speaking and so voting, he would not become a symbol of discrimination, and a leader of the discriminatory faction?

Yes, the ordination of women bishops has become a critical issue--and if Mr. Giddings didn't know this before the November vote, then he doesn't have the skills to chair the House of Laity.

Disassociating the CofE from the pernicious doctrine of male headship is an excellent reason for this motion vote. Even the mere making of the motion has made clear that, going forward, leaders of the House of Laity must favor women bishops. There should be no honoured place for proponents of discrimination.

"[W]e've discovered he [favors discrimination] and we don't like it" is an excellent basis for a motion of no confidence. Certainly it would suffice in any other legislature that operates on a parliamentary system.

To me, your real "distaste" (your word, not mine) is that this motion asks the House of Laity to engage in politics in a very unsubtle way.

I would say in response, "high time." It's about time that pretenses and false politenesses were cast aside, and that people were held accountable for advocating discrimination.

Why should anyone demand fairness to one individual, when that individual helped block a measure that would have achieved fairness for 3,500 women clergy?

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 1:42pm GMT

Erika

When I first heard of this no confidence motion I felt very uneasy about it - I think for similar reasons to those that you are expressing.

However, I don't think this is simply about someone's personal views. The Chair of the House of Laity has influence, not just in how s/he chairs meetings - which does in itself offer a considerable opportunity to bias things one way or another to a Chair who is not able to be impartial - but also in being asked to represent the House of Laity on other groups, including the Group of Six.

Nobody is expecting anyone to be without personal views on issues that come before General Synod, but if members of the House of Laity believe their Chair is not acting impartially *regardless of her/his personal views* then I think that does need addressing.

Posted by Pam Smith at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 1:49pm GMT

David Shepherd said, "The House of Laity is not some sort of cabinet tasked with implementing policy!"

True as to the House as a whole.

But can the same credibly be said about the person who chairs the House? I think not.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 1:55pm GMT

Jeremy and Pam,

but then the real vote of no confidence should be reserved for those who put him in the position of Chair, well knowing how important the vote would be and that he would speak against it.

It has been well known for a long time that he would not support this vote, how can something that we all knew before become a major issue afterwards?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 4:27pm GMT

Jeremy,

The policy was not decided yet, but you expect anyone in an authoritative role in Synod to converge on the majority support for the Measure before the debate and voting was concluded.

So, in future, if added scrutiny at the hustings has not killed off the minority stance on 'critical issues', the threat of a 'no confidence' motion will dissuade those synod members who hold them from accepting the more visible positions of leadership.

Well done. A one-party church with regular purges of 'undesirables' who contradict the party line. General Synod is guaranteed unanimity before voting ensues. Should save time, if not consciences!

Well, at least, until your preferred chair opposes the majority in respect of a liberal cause. Then, you'll say, this is about freedom of speech: the chair is perfectly entitled to express his/her opinion.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 5:04pm GMT

Pam,
none of the Chairs of the houses has acted impartially, the other two firmly supported the Measure.
Is impartiality really a requirement for a Chair? Is he not expected to give a steer?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 5:51pm GMT

Erika, it seems that a lot of Synod members did not foresee that the measure would fail; further did not foresee the public hue and cry, and the damage to the CofE, that would follow; and further did not foresee that they themselves would be questioned, by their own constituents, as to why the House of Laity is chaired by someone who opposes women bishops.

Elected representatives can change their minds, rue a vote they cast, and wish to reconsider it--or to go on record that if they had to vote today, they would vote differently. This motion gives them that chance.

It is interesting that this no-confidence motion is scheduled for January 18--which was going to be the second-reading date for Frank Field's bills that respond to the failure of the measure. Those two bills will now have their second-reading debates on March 1.

On that date, Parliament will be able to take into account whether the House of Laity disassociates itself, or not, from the lay chair and from male-headship "doctrine."

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 6:08pm GMT

Jeremy
"it seems that a lot of Synod members did not foresee that the measure would fail; further did not foresee the public hue and cry, and the damage to the CofE, that would follow; and further did not foresee that they themselves would be questioned, by their own constituents, as to why the House of Laity is chaired by someone who opposes women bishops."

Exactly.
So none of this can be laid at the door of the chair whose views were well known.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 11:15pm GMT

Erika

I think that the issues you are raising are important, but belong more to the debate of the motion of no confidence rather than to a discussion about whether there SHOULD be a motion of no confidence.

The mechanism exists for a motion to be brought and debated, so I don't think it can really be argued that the bringing of a motion and debating it is improper.

Yes, in human terms I feel sympathy for anyone who is challenged in this way - but it does seem that Mr Giddings is suspected of using his position to push a particular view.

If such suspicion exists among those who elected him then it is actually very important that the issue should be aired and resolved rather than being swept under the carpet.

Posted by Pam Smith at Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 11:47pm GMT

Erika, your conclusion--"none of this" can be laid at the lay chair's door--is highly questionable. I do not know what effect his speech had on those who heard it in person. But he spoke against the measure, and he voted against it. Indeed, his was one of 6 votes by which it failed. To that extent, almost everything that has followed can legitimately be laid at his door. And at the door of the others who voted against--but their turn will come in 2015.

Again I ask why you are concerned about fairness for one lay chair, when he was insufficiently concerned about fairness for 3,500 women clergy. In my view, a career-blocking vote can fairly have career-changing consequences.

If this November vote proved anything, it proved that it is time for the CofE to root out discrimination. The "doctrine" of male headship has got to go--and that means that its adherents and their sympathizers cannot be seen to hold positions of leadership and influence.

Otherwise the CofE will remain an object not just of secular ridicule, but also of principled moral scorn. With the failure of the measure, the CofE can be said officially to tolerate discrimination and misogyny.

Indeed, as matters now stand, the CofE can be said to actually reward those who support discrimination by electing them to positions of high authority.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 12:21am GMT

'But he spoke against the measure, and he voted against it. Indeed, his was one of 6 votes by which it failed. To that extent, almost everything that has followed can legitimately be laid at his door.'

Everything? This is a complete non sequitur. It may have been a six-vote margin, but every vote against the measure had an impact on the final result. Responsibility for failure lies with the inadequate drafting of provision for those who differ from the majority view.

It's just a scapegoating exercise aimed at placating Parliament and heading off its potential intervention. Jeremy has said as much.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 9:03am GMT

David Shepherd, is your theology as bad as your argumentation?

Do not quote me out of context. In the very next sentence, I wrote 'And at the door of the others who voted against--but their turn will come in 2015.'

As for supposedly inadequate provision, in a few years' time opponents of women bishops will wonder why they didn't take what was offered in November. They are about to get much, much less. For this, they can blame only their own recalcitrance--and their leaders, such as the lay chair, who have failed them so abjectly.

A vote of no confidence in the lay chair could diminish parliamentary pressure, yes. But that matters most to the bishops, who have the most at stake in Westminster.

More importantly for the rest of us, a vote of no confidence in the lay chair would be a step--a first step, but a step--toward disassociating the CofE from the misogyny that it officially agreed to in November.

The 'doctrine' of 'male headship' must go. There should be no 'honoured place' for discrimination.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 10:32am GMT

Jeremy
"Again I ask why you are concerned about fairness for one lay chair, when he was insufficiently concerned about fairness for 3,500 women clergy. In my view, a career-blocking vote can fairly have career-changing consequences."

Fairness is either a valuable good or it isn't. How can I complain about unfairness against 3500 women clergy if I myself am not bothered about unfairness against someone else?

Pam,
thank you, what you say makes more sense to me than most other explanations have done.
I suppose it is not necessary to justify the motion as long as enough people want it to take place, so we must hope for the actual debate.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 11:36am GMT

Jeremy,

Unless you're writing hymns ('And can it be'), however powerful the rhetoric may appear, try not to begin a sentence with a conjunction. Besides being poor English, it exposes your hope for electoral retribution upon opponents as a mere after-thought.

While you may hold onto a vague hope that Deanery Synods will punish the other laity who voted against the Measure, the target of your ire is clearly the speaker.

You should also realise that your own level of argumentation has failed to convince an avowed liberal, like Erika. Projectile research in a glass house comes to mind.

The first step towards ending misogyny is not to perform an ersatz impeachment of the chair. It is to muster the collective political will to draft a Measure that will next time convince 2/3 of the House of Laity. This involves as much cooperation as negotiating the great political truces of our era. Nothing more and nothing less.

I fully agree with Erika's comments about fairness. You will have none of it, while you relish this hope of deliberative retribution.

However, by all means, go after the easy target. Realpolitik demands it.

Posted by David Shepherd at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 4:34pm GMT

I have only just seen this thread. Is it being said that amongst all the differing views that the CofE tolerates the one that is intolerable for any person to hold is that of "male headship"?

As I watched the fallout of the November vote it seemed to me that a number of godly women voted in accordance with such a view.

They didn't appear to regard it as "pernicious" but liberating nor did they, as intelligent women regard it as "discrimination" in any negative sense but instead welcomed it. Is it being said that there is no place for such women in our church? Are they amongst those described as "proponents of discrimination" when they are requesting "provision" for women such as themselves?

Johnny

Posted by johnny may at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 6:09pm GMT

Erika, there is nothing unfair about holding leaders accountable for their misjudgments.

In this case, for speaking in favor of, and advocating, discrimination against women.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 13 January 2013 at 8:01pm GMT

David Shepherd said, "Unless you're writing hymns ('And can it be'), however powerful the rhetoric may appear, try not to begin a sentence with a conjunction. Besides being poor English...."

But see, among other weighty authorities, Genesis KJV 1:2-26.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 14 January 2013 at 2:41am GMT

Jeremy,
there have been many comments on how the Bishops should have given a stronger steer, how Deanery Synods are easily manipulated by those who have their own agenda. Other potential fall guys could be those responsible for having elevated Mr Giddings to Chair of the House in the first place, well knowing his views.

My own scapegoat, if I was to chose one, would be the Archbishop of York who as Chair of the meeting allowed arguments for and against the principle of women priests when that topic had been decided 20 years ago and when the only permissible question should have been the nature of the provisions. If we are to take serious the idea that this debate changed up to 6 people's minds against the Measure, then we have to say that it's more likely that the whole character of the debate was responsible for that, not just one single speech.

To pick on one man who did not chair the meeting and whose views were known to start with, seems to be nothing more than politicking and picking the easiest target.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 14 January 2013 at 8:48am GMT

"Besides being poor English...."

Thanks for the giggle, David!

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 14 January 2013 at 9:57am GMT

Erika, the measure failed in the House of Laity.

Dr. Giddings chairs the House of Laity, and he spoke and voted against the measure.

Whom better to hold accountable?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 15 January 2013 at 12:00am GMT

Jeremy,
earlier you said that we must assume that people voted in parts based on what they heard during the meeting.
If that is so, I cannot hold one person accountable who made a 5 minute contribution and whose views were well known in advance.

If I warm to my theme, I could say that the actual chair of the meeting could have insisted that people spoke only about the provisions.
Maybe then we would have had less of the vacuous "we can do better" protestations and a genuine engagement with the provisions on offer, with how they came about, with what works and what doesn't, why it does or doesn't and what could be put in its place.

And then people could have voted on what this whole debate was supposedly about.

Giddings is just the easy target here.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 January 2013 at 9:00am GMT

I note that no one has replied to my post on Sunday- could someone help me with that?

In the meantime I've been trying to get up to speed and have another question for those who have been following this issue longer than I have.

I gather that in 2010 the archbishops' amendment suggesting “coordinate jurisdiction” which garnered the support of an overall majority of Synod. But was defeated in the House of Clergy by five votes.

My question is can: can someone explain why the House of Clergy have been the subject of so much criticism for defeating the November 2012 when, as far as I can tell the House of Clergy has not attracted the same criticism for defeating the consecration of women by a slightly narrower margin?

It seems to me that the Clergy bear just as much reponsibility for the lack of progress towards having women bishops in the Church as the laity- and possibly more responsibility given the leadership obligations that come with Holy Orders.

Am I missing something?

johnny

Posted by johnny may at Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 10:57am GMT

Hi johnny,

No, you're not missing anything. In 2010, the very idea of coordinate jurisdiction attracted the criticism that it imposed limitations on the authority of female diocesan bishops.

In respect of the 2010 debates, the WATCH blog says: 'Ven Christine Hardman, Archdeacon of Lewisham, gave a spirited speech in support of the legislation (she had herself contributed the compromise on Diocesan Schemes) and on why having women as bishops with full authority is an imperative for the Church.'

Could her speech have influenced the members of the House of Clergy to vote against the Archbishops' amendment? Perhaps, there should have been vote of no confidence, but, of course, the House of Clergy wouldn't be stupid enough to censure someone uncompromisingly in favour of the unamended Measure.

The House of Laity can try to unseat leaders who want more, rather than less accommodation for the minority view.

Posted by David Shepherd at Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 3:37pm GMT

Dear David, thanks for your response.

I hadn't appreciated that the chairs as well as the members had been quite so instrumental in the outcome of the two votes.

As I understand the position therefore Ven Christine Hardman:

(a) is the chair, (b) as chair spoke (and I presume voted?) against the majority view in that House (c) at least by her vote if not her speech contributed to the majority view being defeated, (d) thereby contributed to the defeat of the legislation aimed at ensuring the timely consecration of women.

If those four assumptions are correct what is the difference between her position and that of the lay chair other than the absence of a motion against her? Again,perhaps, as an ordained leader does she not bear arguably more responsibility than a lay person? (I suppose by the same reasoning the whole House of Clergy bear more responsibility for censuring her if transgressions of this sort are not permitted of those in the chair.

I'd still like someone to help with my Sunday post if they are able to do so,

Thanks again, johnny

Posted by johnny may at Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 4:15pm GMT

johnny may - Christine Hardman spoke and voted in favour of the Measure.

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 7:30pm GMT

A quote part of Ven Christine Hardman's speech (source: Reports of Proceedings July 2010:

'I am not saying that it is a hopeless task; on the contrary, the arguments about being a broad Church are strong ones. In addition, any legislation will first have to have attracted a wide measure of support from around the Church. However, be under no illusion about one thing: a difficult task could well become impossible if I had to steer through the House of Commons any Measure which left a scintilla of a suggestion that women bishops were in some way to be second-class bishops.'

Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 18 January 2013 at 12:00am GMT

Just to be clear, my point is not that the chair should remain neutral in debate. That is a valid point, as I understand parliamentary procedure, but it has limited force if "the chair" is not actually chairing the debate--which can happen if you combine three houses into one.

My point is that the November vote, unlike any 2010 vote, has done enormous damage to the CofE's reputation, moral authority, fundraising, support in the pews, influence in Parliament and with government, etc.

These results were foreseeable, but some failed to foresee them; that failure was a failure of leadership.

The Church of England now must do all that it can, as swiftly as it can, to disassociate itself from discrimination against women.

I hope that the motion to that end will pass.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 18 January 2013 at 4:01am GMT

David
Are you quoting Tony Baldry rather than Christine Hardman?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 18 January 2013 at 7:42am GMT

Simon:

Mea culpa. My mistaken attribution owed to a page skip too far in the iBooks copy of the 2010 Proceedings.

Not a Luddite, but we never had this problem with cuneiform!

Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 18 January 2013 at 8:33am GMT

I've just noticed that on another thread Jeremy refers to "misogyny and bigotry". With reference to what I just posted can I ask Jeremy- do you think those women who voted against in 2012 hate themselves and are bigoted against their own gender? That is a suggestion that I can't get my head around. Can you explain what you mean and how it works?

johnny

Posted by johnny may at Friday, 18 January 2013 at 11:39am GMT
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