Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 29 July 2023

Martine Oborne ViaMedia.News Equality, ‘headship’ and authority: drawing the line in schools and churches

Stephen Parsons Surviviing Church An Open Letter to Professor Alexis Jay as she begins work to produce a Future Safeguarding Programme for the Church of England

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FrDavid H
FrDavid H
9 months ago

Martine Oborne seems not to accept that interpretation of scripture is often a matter of personal predilection and churchmanship. Does Ms Oborne want evangelicals to abandon their views about scriptural authority from which they derive their views about female inferiority (and everything else)? Ms Oborne seems to place secular authority laws above religious teaching. Ms Oborne might find some evangelical and Muslim beliefs to be offensive. But that’s the price you pay when you join a religion which allows discrimination.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

My red line is compulsion. Nobody has the right to compel someone else to follow their belief system. A parent does not own their child, the child has human rights independent of their parents. Sexual and physical abuse, FGM, Forced Marriage are rightly illegal. Education is compulsory and it is within education that society should educate all our children about equality. No school (public or private) should be teaching our children that women are inferior to men, gay people are inferior to straight people or black people are inferior to white. It should be illegal for a state church (the… Read more »

Bryan Y
Bryan Y
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 months ago

“My red line is compulsion. Nobody has the right to compel someone else to follow their belief system.”
“Education is compulsory and it is within education that society should educate [compel to believe?] all our children about equality.”

David H seems to be walking a fine line.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

It is a little disturbing that one teacher avoids the subject altogether. Is this.not a case when some support from the Diocesan Education Team might not help? Is there a curriculum that the school must follow and does it include the issue?

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Dear David H ( you aren’t my father and I may well be old enough to be your mother, but that’s another story) Maybe it is a good idea not to attribute motives and views to those you do not agree with? I did not hear Martine Oborne placing secular authority laws above religious teaching, but querying the scriptural interpretation of some of the religious teachers who promote male superiority over women Do you think headship is a good idea? Do you think a church which allows- or even encourages discrimination is a good idea? Because a lot of us… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
9 months ago

I personally don’t believe in an evangelical interpretation of women’s inferiority. The Church of England has an exemption from secular equality laws allowing people to teach male Headship as part of their religion. Is Mrs Oborne suggesting some people should be banned from interpreting scripture in ways some may find offensive? The CofE has discriminated against gay people and women for a long time. That might be terrible. But it’s part of the sincere religious beliefs of some Anglicans. Mrs Oborne seems to want to silence them.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

The Church of England crowns our Head of State.
The Church of England sends its Senior Bishops to our Parliament.
In many ways the Church of England is entangled with the British State.
So if parts of the Church of England wish to teach homophobia or discrimination against women then they should do that outside an established Church. Nobody should be able to teach these values in a school setting because ultimately compulsory education is a function of the state.
Unfortunately sincere belief is absolutely no guarantee of anything. Christians “sincerely believed” in burning Archbishop Cranmer to death.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 months ago

There’s a difference between what is, and what should be.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Referring to The Rev Martine Oborne as “Ms Oborne” no less than three times is deliberately demeaning and sexist. Apart from anything else she happens to be married!

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Francis James
9 months ago

Reading between the lines (admittedly) of FrDavid H’s comment, I think it is clear that he doesn’t accept that Martine Oborne is entitled to the honorific “The Rev,” as he seems to believe it is impossible for her to have really been ordained.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Pat ONeill
9 months ago

It would be very insulting of me to disallow The Rev Martine Oborne her honorific title . I don’t

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

As you clearly encourage people to call you Fr David, should you not call her Mthr Martine?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

Is there an equivalent to “Father” in the CofE for women priests? As someone outside the CofE, I’m asking sincerely.
In religious orders, I believe the head of an order of nuns is called “Mother Superior”, but I don’t know if that has carried over to women in the priesthood.
Or do people address male and female priests as “Reverend”?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

If you mean addressing them verbally, “Reverend” (on its own) is ‘not used this side of the Atlantic’, to quote the authoritative Crockford’s Clerical,Directory. I don’t think there is any universal hard and fast rule when verbally addressing a priest of either sex. Many clergy are happy to be addressed by their Christian name alone. Addressing an envelope is a different matter and, correctly, in the C of E, for either sex should be ‘The Reverend (or The Revd) followed by his/ her initial and surname. Crockford’s suggest that ‘Mother’ is limited to the ordained head of a religious community… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

Crockford’s is wrong. It most certainly is used: undertakers, journalists, indeed everybody. I am to misquote Runcie The Increasingly Irreverend ….

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
9 months ago

In undertakerese and journalese ‘reverend’ has become a substantive as in e.g. ‘the reverend of Saint Mary’s’

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

I need to add, in view of others’ comments, that my reply, like
Crockford’s, was intended to refer to correct usage; journalists and others daily commit literary murder, mostly through ignorance! To be clear, I have encountered ‘Mother’ in a TEC church, she was the Rector, her Christian name being Mary, but her own congregation demurred at calling her ‘Mother Mary’.

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

Likewise, I have strongly deterred people from addressing me as Mother Mary because 1) I am not particularly AngloCatholic, 2) it has resonances of the BVM, whom I cannot possibly live up to (although Mary Magdalene would be a more attainable model), and 3) the title makes me crack up because I hear in my mind the Beatles singing ‘Hey Jude’ – which is distracting… Whimsically, the latest rota for midday communions in the cathedral where I serve as a priest vicar assigned me to the two recent ‘Mary’ commemorations. (I am on holiday for 15 August.) Otherwise I am… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Mary Hancock
9 months ago

“Hey Jude”? Or “Let it be”?

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
9 months ago

Oh Simon, I’m showing my age in that I think your memory is better than my ageing one! ‘Let it be’ is correct, of course.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

I certainly have seen some on Twitter who refer to themselves as Mother. I don’t know how common it is.

Last edited 9 months ago by Kate
Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Kate
9 months ago

Certainly a female member of our local Ministry Area (Church in Wales) team is routinely known as, and wishes to be called, “Mother X”. (Not that X is her name, of course!)

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Kate
9 months ago

Often used by liberal ‘catholics’, eg those of the Society of Catholic Priests https://www.societyofcatholicpriests.com/our-vision
and Inclusive Church.

It’s all very silly. Playground gangs each with its tribal handshake. Clericalism. Exclusivity. IMO. I was Stan(ley) the Vicar. Now just Stan(ley) or something vaguely insulting. Good fun.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

In the Canadian Armed Forces, ‘padre’ is used for all genders for chaplains. Some female priests in parishes in Canada also use the honorific ‘father’. Some use ‘mother’. So Father Jones maybe female. Mother Jones maybe female. The whole thing is much ado about nothing.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Although the question was specifically about C of E female priests, your final sentence sums it up. The intricacies and complexities of proper address of C of E clergy of all ‘ranks’ could be the subject of a lengthy dissertation.

I’m not sure that, collectively, we have greatly helped peterpi – Peter Gross.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

R.W. Enlighten me, is a female C of E chaplain in the RAF or RN not called ‘padre’? The more I think about it the more sense it makes to call high church priests ‘father’ rather than ‘mother’. After all it is much like referring to God as ‘father’ i.e. it is analogical, metaphorical, spiritual–not literal. After all, thinkers like Judith Butler point out that all gender is performative. Besides, what could more silly than an elderly woman calling some youngster barely old enough to shave, ‘father’ –except of course the church likes this in terms of male power. But… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Crockford’s Directory, which has rather been pooh-poohed by others here, confirms that Padre is the proper form without going into the subject of gender or offering an alternative, so I surmise that it is equally appropriate to a female chaplain. Almost 70 years ago in my Anglo-Catholic church the priest who prepared me for confirmation was always known as, and addressed as, “Father Little” and in those far-off days never as ‘Father Andrew’ which I suspect would now be the norm. For those who have interest and time, here is the Crockford’s rubric (I don’t think ‘guidance’ is appropriate for… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

You’ll have to send Crockford around to all the gender studies folks. lol. In any event, you’re talking to someone who spent years in parish ministry encouraging parishioners to call me Rod; but with apologies to the Bard, A Rod by any other name … cheers. -Rod

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Rod (if I may!), see my first post (little realising what it would lead to) explaining to peterpi – Peter Gross that many or most C of E clergy are happy to be known as and addressed by their Christian name alone. If ‘Father Andrew’ jarred, I was making a point about changed usage from 70 years ago.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

R.W. Yes, a lot has changed over time. As children walking to and from Catholic parochial school, when passing a nun we would greet as drilled, “good morning/afternoon, Sister.” A priest was always Fr. Smith, and a protestant clergyman was always Mr. Doe. I have no recall of my childhood Anglican friends, of which I had several, ever calling their rector anything but Mr. Fast forward a decade to the then 1970s, finding Roman Catholic Clergy introducing themselves as just plain ‘Greg”, referencing the former sister Mary John as just Bertha ( she would have switched to her original name… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

I think in the old days the title Father was put in front of the surname for Secular Priests, but Priests of Monastic or Religious Orders it was always the Christian name that followed from the title Father. Anglican Franciscan Friars in the Society of St Francis do not make distinctions of title between Lay and ordained Friars, by calling the ordained Friars Father and the Lay Friars Brother all Friars in SSF share the title Brother as a sign of their equality and one of their Friars Brother Michael (Michael Fisher) became Bishop of St Germans, he continued to… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
9 months ago

Except for Fr Algy!

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

Nope, I enjoyed the discussion. I’m an old fogie. As a child, I was taught to always refer to certain professions by “title [first or last name]”. I recall the first time a TEC (USA) priest informed me she wished to be referenced as “Mother (first name)”, it threw me a for a second, but I then called her that. Then, at a TEC cathedral I sang in the choir of, all of the clergy from the Dean on down insisted on being called by their first name only. That really rankled me. I complied of course, but it just… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

‘But, I guess treating clergy informally is another sign of the times.’

That’s what we say whenever we don’t like the changes. But what’s to prevent a conservative saying, ‘LGBTQI+ equality and same-sex marriage are another sign of the times’? Yes, but are they a good sign or a bad sign? And is it possible that treating clergy informally is a good sign that Anglican clergy are finally repenting of clericalism and taking Jesus’ words on the subject seriously?

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Yes, much ado about nothing. Although an exception is when a female bishop is ordaining priests or deacons. The form of words at the presentation is “Reverend Mother in God, I present….” Yet in Gloucester Diocese the form used is “Bishop Rachel, I present…” This suggests some ambivalence around the nature of authority from that diocese’s (I’m sure admirable) shepherd and chief pastor.  

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 months ago

The liturgical formula used here was “Rev. Father in God I present … ” However, we are now on our second female diocesan. I have no idea what formula is now used. Bishop, mother, father, brother sun or sister moon, updating a metaphorical honorific has zero impact on the authority of the diocesan bishop which is grounded in ordination and canon law.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Sister moon it is then, Rod. But far from being a ‘metaphorical honorific’ it expresses a radically different relationship to Reverend Mother in Christ. As for the formula ‘Bishop Barbie, I present..’, I’d put that on the same level as those parents who dismay teachers by saying, ‘I’m not her mother, I’m her best friend.’

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 months ago

It’s a form of in loco parentis, I don’t encourage it. If I refer to a colleague as Fr. this or Mother that, it is only out of acknowledgement of their churchmanship or stand on gender issues. No bishop or priest should be under any misapprehension that I see them as parent archetype of any type or stripe. Interesting you want your female diocesan to have authority, but only if ‘Bishop Barbie’ meets your expectations in the first place. Bishop ‘Barbie’ is a bit of tell isn’t it? lol.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

As a layman I always called my bishop ‘Bishop Peter’. As a priest I would begin with ‘Father’ to acknowledge his role among his college of presbyters, before using more familiar terms as appropriate. But as we’ve seen, female bishops may not care much for ‘Mother’. Maybe Lonergan has a take on the matter.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 months ago

You write, “But as we’ve seen, female bishops may not care much for ‘Mother’.” May I suggest you spend some time brushing up on the notion of transference. It can have particular features in clergy – laity relationships. I know when I have been greeted or treated as someone other than I know myself to be, transference becomes a line of inquiry. You may be in a position to speak with the Bishop of Gloucester about your expectations of her. This would provide her an opportunity to explain, as your bishop, whether she finds your expectations appropriate in terms of… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Despite finding Lonergan a dense theologian I do know what transference is, but thank you for the advice. Let’s lower the temperature and set ‘Mother’ aside. Does ‘Bishop John, I present…’ say the same as ‘Reverend Father in Christ, I present…’? I don’t belive it does. Maybe this is why the latter obtains in the Church catholic.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 months ago

It’s irrelevant, and somewhat precious as such. I wish you well with your conversation with your bishop. It is she you really want to chat with about this. Ironically, she may find your concern more germaine than I do. Best regards, -Rod

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Thank you for your counsel, Mr Gillis. In a spirit of reciprocity, may I suggest a less lofty tone will be more conducive to it being followed? And by the way, Gloucester is not my diocese. It was an example, no more, of a perceived nervousness around authority. Pax et bonum.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 months ago

‘Yes, much ado about nothing.’

As C.S. Lewis said, one of the disagreements between Christians is the importance they attach to particular disagreements. Reminds me of a certain controversy about eating meat offered to idols.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Or fish only Fridays? Old Joke: A parson struck up a conversation with a young lad from his parish, and said to him, ” I will see you Sunday Johnny, your parents have invited me to dinner.” The boy replied, ” Oh yeah, my ma is making goat”. “Goat?” replied the parson, “you’re having goat?” Johnny replied, “Yes. I overheard ma telling da, I’m having the old goat for dinner on Sunday”.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Of course, “padre” in Spanish and Italian means “father”, but if it becomes a gender-neutral term in (Canadian or other country’s) English in the armed forces for any chaplain, who am I to argue?

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

Is it gender neutral? If so, why cannot ‘Father’ be gender neutral as well. Isn’t it just matter of acculturating to a broadening of the term? Interesting to talk to female priests who prefer ‘father’ about that.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

In the Royal Navy & Royal Marines chaplains have no rank – unlike the other services where they are officers. Sailors do not care about Crockford, and tend to refer to any chaplain as “Bish”.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Francis James
9 months ago

That is a really great comment. I literally laughed out loud. ‘Bish’, roger that!

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

Yes, the style ‘Mother’ is increasingly used among female clergy. A perusal of parish websites in the Diocese of London will show this.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

I’m glad you make reference to religious houses, Peter. Often discourse focuses on priest and parish, which is fair enough, but our convents and monastic orders sometimes get overlooked, and yet they are hugely important in my opinion. The person designated to head up a convent is often known as ‘Reverend Mother’ (however lightly they wear such a title). Motherhood really matters, even for nuns who have devoted to lives in chastity. When you pray for the world, and different parts of it, and all its needs… one may reflect on the Holy Mother of Jesus, and reflect on the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Francis James
9 months ago

Actually it is technically correct to refer to clergy as ‘Ms’, Mrs,’ or ‘Mr’ followed by their surname. Strictly speaking, the honorific ‘Rev’ should only be used if the Christian name is also being used, as in ‘The Rev. Martine Oborne’. That would be a little clumsy in the second and third of David H’s references to her. Popular usage is changing, but using ‘Ms’ instead of ‘Rev’ is not an insult. I’ve no idea whether Martine prefers ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’, but nowadays many married feminists do go with ‘Ms’ (or possibly ‘Mx’).

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

Jane Austen always referred to the clergy in her novels as “Mr.” Mr/ Mrs/Ms/ Miss are perfectly respectful ways of referring to clergym

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 months ago

‘Fr’ as a manner of address for secular clergy only really came into use in the Church of England after Second World War. Surprisingly as it may seem today, even in the interwar days of Anglo Catholic ascendancy, most clergy of that party were still referred to as Mr X. They tended in fact to insist on this in preference to ‘Parson X’ which was still the colloquial usage. On the continent, secular clergy are still Monsieur or Herr in r equivalent. We copied the custom of Irish Catholicism where a larger than usual proportion of clergy were in religious… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 months ago

So did Anthony Trollope, unless the cleric was a Dr.

Wandering minstrel
Wandering minstrel
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

I think Revd is a ascription: it is used when talking of someone but not as part of their title when being addressed.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Francis James
9 months ago

I just now Google’d Martine Oborne, and every article I found refers to her as “Martine” or just plain “she”; never Mrs Oborne as you seem to prefer. “Ms” is ubiquitous in the 21st century; it is not demeaning or sexist, although I don’t mind adding that I do not like it! IMO “Martine” is overly familiar and should be used only if invited to do so. Ms Oborne is far less demeaning than calling Fr David H just “David H.” “Call no man father” has been debated here and elsewhere ad nauseum. If someone has made their preference known,… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Richard
9 months ago

‘If someone has made their preference known, we should use that.’

But Jesus doesn’t say ‘Ask no one to call you ‘Father’. He says, ‘Call no one Father’. So to those of us who believe this is a dominical imperative (I recognize that high church people don’t believe this, but the last time I checked, low church was still a respectable Anglican option), it’s not about the choices of the addressee, but the addresser.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Presumably you had a male parent. I hope you didn’t call him your Father.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Very poor exegesis. It’s obvious from the context that Jesus is referring to religious authority figures, not parents.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Yes, this is a genuine issue of conscience for some of us.

A separate issue is that for those of us who have been abused by our actual father, or by a priest, the word ‘father’ has traumatic associations.

For both those reasons, I’m afraid I really could not address someone as ‘father’. I hope David H and others will understand and forgive me.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

‘Dominical imperative’. Hard to distinguish between what he said and what subsequent apologists attributed to him. For Example, Baptism is a ‘dominical sacrament’ on the basis of Matt. 28:18 ff. Yet those are words of the resurrected Jesus, so not historical as ipsissima verba . In any case, I doubt that resolves the issue for the church in terms of context, as it is unlikely the historical Jesus ever imagined there would be such a thing as the catholic church. Just sayin, Tim.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

LOL – there is a great gulf fixed between us on these issues. Rod!

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Yeah, but I’m on the side of the great chasm in the bosom of Abraham; but it’s a metaphorical bosom of course. lol.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Francis James
9 months ago

Sorry. I meant no disrespect to her marital status.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

‘Does Ms Oborne want evangelicals to abandon their views about scriptural authority from which they derive their views about female inferiority?’

Dear Mr. H: as you well know, the majority of evangelicals accept the ordination of women. Some acknowledgement of this fact would be welcome. Even better would be if you would allow evangelicals to state their own beliefs rather than speaking for us as if we are not in the room.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

I should have said “some evangelicals”. Those whose views Mrs Oborne finds offensive.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

I suspect Tim that there are more conservative evangelicals who believe in male headship in church and family in the C of E than in the AC of Canada. And it is standard teaching in the independent evangelical churches / fellowships which are a growing part of the religious scene here. The young man in question may well have been a member of one of these. In the C of E comprehensiveness in the sense of agreed fundamentals / non essentials went long ago.and replaced by effectively pluralism. This has been institutionalised in flying bishops etc.. The boundaries have stretched… Read more »

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Perry Butler
9 months ago

This is a statement from the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches – of course many Evangelicals neither belong to the FIEC nor subscribe to these views: https://fiec.org.uk/resources/why-are-we-complementarian

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Baptist Trainfan
9 months ago

Thanks for posting that Baptist Trainfan, I hadn’t realised ( and am a little surprised ) that they are monolithic on this issue. I don’t know how many churches are affiliated to F.I.E.C. It would be interesting to know if the C of E churches which have been set up by bishops mission order are mostly complementarian. And while some parishes will have a woman curate they won’t have a woman vicar on headship grounds. And as DDO I had the occasional woman ordinand who said they would not wish to serve as a vicar or serve a curacy under… Read more »

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
Reply to  Perry Butler
9 months ago

According to Wikipedia, the FIEC has 639 churches. There are complementarian churches in other networks, such as the Grace Baptists or the Welsh Independents; equally many (indeed most) Evangelicals would not hold these views.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Perry Butler
9 months ago

Perry, I’m not necessarily going on my experience of the Anglican Church of Canada (which has very few evangelicals left). But I have a lot of contacts with non-Anglican evangelicals. For instance, almost every year I take a course at Regent College in Vancouver, which is attended by vast numbers of people from Canada, the USA and around the world—mainly, but not exclusively, evangelical. The majority of the people I talk to there seem to be solidly in favour of the ordination of women (in whatever form ordination takes in their traditions). Of course, Regent College evangelicals are a different… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

I was just talking about the Cof E Tim and the probable difference with the Anglican Church in Canada. I know many evangelicals favour the ordination of women and are a varied bunch ( I was a DDO for 14 years before retirement in 2009. But I am surprised at the number of conservative ( I stress conservative ) who after 3O yrs still don’t. While the traditional Catholic constituency here is in decline, I think the conservative evangelical constituency is holding up if not gently growing, and from my experience attracts a good number of younger ordinands of that… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

I see nothing in Rev. Martine Osborne’s (using the form from her byline) that she wants to compel religious educators to teach equality of the sexes. She does state that she wishes religious institutions who believe in male headship were always open and upfront about it. Rev. Martine Osborne’s opening statement is “It should go without saying that all schools in this country want to teach children that all people are equal.” The first four words are aspirational, in my opinion, not dictatorial. In the instance she describes with the male student, there is nothing in her article that indicates… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
9 months ago

Martine Oborne’s (hereafter MO) post is deeply concerning and she has identified some key issues. I write both as a retired University academic and also a former Chair of Governors of a Church School. The following observations occur to me: 1)    If the school in question is a Church school which is state funded it is obliged to abide by the law of the land and that embodies in law the right to equality – the pernicious opt-outs from the Equality legislation do not apply to church schools. 2)    The class and school as described can scarcely be described as a safe… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
9 months ago

Presumably the pupils doing the “goading” and propagating offensive beliefs, have learned them from the Church of England where “male headship” is an acceptable view of gender roles. I fail to see how the school is at fault. As long as unambiguous interpretations of complex writings are an acceptable expression of religious belief in the CofE, young people can hardly be blamed for putting them into practice, even to the detriment of others. Misogyny and homophobia are part of the Church’s DNA..

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

You don’t mention racism, but if you were to add it you would make the church sound very similar to Baroness Casey’s assessment of the Metropolitan Police. Are you suggesting that misogyny and homophobia should be protected characteristics?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
9 months ago

Absolutely not. Discrimination of any kind is abhorrent. But to some people it is biblically justifiable.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Friendly question here; why would you assume that Christian young people in an English high school learned their male headship views in the Church of England? There are plenty of other denominations in the UK, and many of them are far better attended by young people than the C of E. Surely it’s just as likely, if not more likely, that the young people in question learned their views there? (I note that in Martine Oborne’s story, ‘The class was a mixed group of boys and girls, Christians, Muslims, and others of other faiths or none.’)

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

They may well have done. The CofE doesn’t have the monopoly in promoting bigotry.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

In the Church of England secondary school where I am a governor many of the students attend churches in the Pentecostal tradition. Parents want a Christian education for their children but not necessarily an Anglican one.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 months ago

When I arrived at Burton I was chided by the Archdeacon for commenting that our church primary school (the only CoE school in town) had no Anglican ethos but was non-denominational evangelical. I said that Catholics would not tolerate this and neither should we. I was told that I didn’t understand the nature of CoE schools. At a subsequent church inspection I was vindicated.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
9 months ago

I am trying to think of constructive suggestions of ways to introduce students to the riches of the Anglican tradition. I am very proud of what the school has achieved. It was recently graded excellent in every category in its SIAMS inspection. However, I do feel that it would be good to offer the students something distinctively Anglican as well as distinctively Christian.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 months ago

A good strategy, but difficult. What ** is ** distinctively Anglican? We considered this when I was a Church of Ireland rector but it was easier to come up only with negatives: no Pope, no authority, no magisterium, no bling (I like bling btw), no or not many restrictions on entry to church schools, and so on. Colleagues tried to put a positive spin on this by invoking acceptance and tolerance, but when one looks at the different tribes one sees more fractiousness than tolerance. It’s similar in the CofE. In deanery chapter some stipendiaries resent the presence of us… Read more »

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

I’ll have to be honest, as a member of Gen Z, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lad in question had learned misogyny from the wide variety of available sexists online, and only added the religious content post hoc. Given the popularity of people like Andrew Tate amongst school-aged boys, such does seem eminently possible to me, and isn’t something the Church or State or anyone else will overcome in a single RE lesson.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  FearandTremolo
9 months ago

I mean, it’s not like teenagers go to church anyway; the church doesn’t talk to them.

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  FrDavid H
9 months ago

Martine Oborne makes clear that the class she was talking to “was a mixed group of boys and girls, Christians, Muslims, and others of other faiths or none”. The Christians in the group would not necessarily belong to the CofE so your presumption is incorrect. What she is describing is a situation where the school, which is publicly funded, is complicit in bullying and is failing in its duty of care to both students and teachers. It would appear that those believers in “male headship” are seeking to impose their beliefs on others and to block off genuine discussion. Moreover,… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
9 months ago

Indeed. There are clearly issues with this young man, and the teacher’s ability to control him, which need addressing.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  John Davies
9 months ago

This was a sixth form A-level class. All the pupils there have chosen Religious Education as one of their few subjects. All have an interest in religion and presumably are capable of understanding matters of controversy. The subject of the particular lesson was gender equality, a matter on which an expert speaker had come to address them. The boy did not shout her down or interrupt her – that would have been a problem. At the end when the speaker asked for questions he put up his hand. Presumably MO must have pointed to him or otherwise invited him to… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  T Pott
9 months ago

I made my original comment in the light of the contextual information that Martine Oborne provided. Namely: “A couple of boys sitting next to him smirked and a number of the young people shifted in their seats uncomfortably…. [The Teacher] says she can no longer do this, as it causes so much upset and abuse. Another RE teacher I later spoke to about the experience confirmed that, more and more, boys are goading girls at school that they are the superior sex.” There seems to me that there is in this class, and perhaps amongst the “A” level students as… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Daniel Lamont
9 months ago

Whilst one could say things are not quite right in the school, perhaps one could also say that the school cannot be expected to solve all the problems of society.

Sexual harassment of girls by young men, and open misogyny, is developing into epidemic levels, fuelled by on-line influencers like Andrew Tate speaking to a ready audience. So what Martine Oborne describes is simply one part of a much bigger problem. It is just a pity that parts of the church are hindering, not helping, the problem for young girls.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2023/jul/05/sexual-harassment-girls-scourge-schools-england-mps

Peter
Peter
9 months ago

Nobody appears to have considered the possibility that the student to whom MO refers in her article might have been acting provocatively. MO must have introduced herself and her roles so he will not have needed much imagination if he wanted to get an argument started.

Young people (male and female) do very occasionally set out to annoy their elders.

Unleashing everything from Ofsted down through every layer of bureaucracy is maybe not the right response.

Daniel Lamont
Daniel Lamont
Reply to  Peter
9 months ago

I was not suggesting unleashing Ofsted but I was warning that if there was a sudden inspection harsh judgement could follow. After forty years of teaching, I am well aware of youg people’s capacity to provoke and wind teachers up, and assumed that that was a factor here but, none the less, this has to be managed. My major concern is the effect on the other students in the class.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Peter
9 months ago

Maybe, Peter, but from what Martine says, he’d obviously been very well schooled in the knowledge required to do so that effectively. Somebody must have done that. As I intimated in my earlier post, this kind of verbal and doctrinal aggression isn’t unknown in some sections of the church; indeed in some plases it is seen as a virtue. I know – I’ve experienced it myself. Apparently sanctified rudeness is considered quite acceptable behaviour so long as it has the result of silencing other opinions. (And, presumably, the other members of the group already knew the impossibility of informed discussion… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  John Davies
9 months ago

At lot of dots are being joined up here.

Nobody with any degree of maturity approves of crass or provocative behaviour.

It does not therefore follow that such behaviour is evidence of pernicious doctrine.

My point is straightforward. Lashing together anecdotes of poor behaviour and a critique of doctrine is poor theology.

John Davies
John Davies
9 months ago

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It would be worth knowing what the ethos of the local parish church (whose minister is presumably on the school board of governors) is on this subject. One of our local vicars openly promotes similar views, and he won’t be alone in doing so. What kind of church does this young man attend; it sounds like he’s pretty well grounded in his beliefs, so there must be some serious input somewhere. My sympathies are with Martine, the teacher and the rest of the class! I remember hearing a Christian drama… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  John Davies
9 months ago

It is fascinating how few women have posted on this thread …I have huge respect for the Revrnd. Martine Oborne and the gracious way she works for female equality in the Church of England- as well as tremendous sadness that she needs to be doing this so many years post the ordination of women. Credit to Daniel Lamont that he has taken her article seriously and not seen it as an undesirable attempt to silence alternative interpretations of the Bible which may be wrong but must be allowed if they are genuinely believed, or as some woman taken for a… Read more »

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
9 months ago

Forgive me for making an alternative suggestion. As far as I can see, all contributions to this thread have assumed that teenage boys aggressively arguing for Male Headship / Superiority are getting this worldview from the religious teaching they have received. May I suggest that with the current levels of teenage church attendance, that assumption is statistically exceedingly unlikely. Perhaps we need to move out of our denominational silos and recognise that the secular world is awash with toxic masculinity! Think pornography, #metoo, unreported and uninvestigated rapes, institutional misogyny in the Police and Fire Services, online trolling and “influencers” like… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Graham Holmes
9 months ago

“with the current levels of teenage church attendance” I have seen teenagers at a very small number of mostly evangelical churches (not necessarily ‘conservative’ evangelical churches), usually located in affluent dormitory suburbs. I have almost never seen them anywhere else, save in relatively small numbers at advent carol services or at the very occasional school services I have attended (usually where a school has gained title to an ancient parish church used as a chapel), where they are not evidently in attendance of their own volition. I have just returned to Kent, having attended services at a number of churches… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

Given your huge data set from so many visitations, that is pretty shattering. The factors? Teens find other things to do at weekends. They spend all week in an institution (school), but at weekend they (a) want time with their own friends in their own space (b) are attracted by Sunday football, computer games in freetime, other secular and community sport and events. Relevance. The Church simply doesn’t seem relevant to them. The failure of the Paradigm presented. It’s not just the teens. They are part of Post-Christian culture and society, and the outcome of the Enlightenment and the scientific… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

I am now 47, and I reckon that if I had embarked upon my pilgrimage in the mid-1990s, I would also have found most churches destitute of teenagers. Though hailing from a family of mostly militant atheists, I rebelled at an early age and attended two parish churches for a bit over 25 years. The first had a flourishing Sunday school in the 1980s arranged into three classes, for the very young, relatively young and early teens. The two youngest classes were tolerably well attended, but the oldest class had a tiny handful of (mostly very bored) young teens. The… Read more »

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

Thank you. A brilliant summary of where we are. I can think that only an extraordinary prophetic voice might turn things around, assuming some sort of really serious societal crisis?

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

I am now 65, so I was only just still a teenager when you were born, but even I am too young to remember the 59 Club, which I am reminded of it by this discussion — and if anyone doesn’t know of it, please see the pictures at https://www.the59club.co.uk/gallery-page-1959-1969-33 They show teenagers and religion connecting in a way that did not require either party to become something they were not, but rather, to enjoy one another’s company, to respect and learn from one another. I have no idea how to ‘save’ the CofE — and I don’t believe that… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Sadly, Susannah may be right about the inward facing club. “The church which lives unto itself – dies” I’m speaking here from the standpoint of someone who became a believer in the early 70’s, and was involved with the pioneering days of Fountain Trust in widening the scope of the charismatic movement. Widely hailed then as ‘springtime in the church’, it came with a great deal of hope, emphasis on ‘God’s new things’ and, generally, an outward facing church. Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way – a very strong element of fundamentalism, with a clearly defined pyramidal authority structure came… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Graham Holmes
9 months ago

Of course we don’t know anything about this particular boy’s background; however there are still a reasonable number of teenagers to be found in some churches – we have several in mine, for example. Given what Martine said of his Bible knowledge, it seems reasonable to assume a church connection – I wouldn’t have thought secular toxicity is too likely to be familiar with the good book. And that toxic masculinity has been there, in certain restoration groups and others, for easily the last forty years or so. Indeed, certain former ‘leaders’ or ‘prophets’, now deceased, majored on it.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
9 months ago

One of the challenges we face in dealing with schools (I write as a priest in the Church of England, a school governor, and academy director and a member of a Diocesan Board of Education) is that school culture and church culture are not at all the same. In a school the headteacher/governing body (board)/academy trust have oversight and responsibility for what is taught, and for deciding what is age-appropriate teaching in their respective contexts. Some aspects of liberal, as well as conservative, teaching are properly constrained at various age groups, and in our present social context have to be… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Mark Bennet
9 months ago

This is a useful reminder of the context in which a church minister may find themselves in school. I may be a little out of date as regards the ‘legalities’ but I endeavour to capture the generality. I am happy to be ‘put straight’. Martine has done well to be invited. The school, despite being ‘CofE’, is constrained by the basic Curriculum and inspection and judgement by Ofsted, and its consequences. Because it is a CofE school its provision of RE and Collective Worship wiil be assessed by SIAMS (Statutary Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools). There are relatively few… Read more »

Alastair (living in Scotland)
Alastair (living in Scotland)
9 months ago

As an occasional reader it seems to me that many people contributing here have lost the ‘plot’ about Christ’s teaching and his/our world. He was never hung up about names and would surely be aghast at discussions about Reverend, Rev, Father, Mother Mr. Mrs, etc etc when there are so much more pressing issues in our world. To me it seems this site is not one for ‘Thinking Anglicans’ but one for Christians who have lost any focus on the road which Christ taught us to walk and live. Perhaps such pedantic contributers no longer walk with Christ?

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Alastair (living in Scotland)
9 months ago

I spend a lot of time discussing pressing issues and enjoy a little discussion about more peripheral subjects as a bit of variety. The discussion about titles does raise questions about the role of clergy in the church and in wider society, and how they are perceived.

Alastair (living in Scotland)
Alastair (living in Scotland)
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 months ago

The Society of Friends is not hung up about such designations for names!

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Alastair (living in Scotland)
9 months ago

Just as, I hope, a helpful and courteous observation, the subject of religious ‘titles’ and ‘proper’ forms of address is not the subject of this thread and did not appear once until your first comment! That subject probably represents little more than 1% of the current discussion on TA.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Alastair (living in Scotland)
9 months ago

Second reply: I think I may have got my wires crossed here, for which I apologise. However, I reiterate that very little of discussion on TA can be dismissed as being superficial in quite the way that you did, and only today two major new topics have been published.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Alastair (living in Scotland)
9 months ago

I think you may have missed the ‘Anglicans’ part of the title!

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Alastair (living in Scotland)
9 months ago

Yeah, jejune shop talk to a large extent. I agree we should focus more on Jesus, the founder of the feast who never claimed to be God, never asked people to believe he was born from a virgin or a that he had two natures, essentially held for a radicalization of the law over oral tradition in anticipation of a very near intervention by God, the religious politics of which may have been largely what got him killed. Someone who wanted to be remembered before God at table after his death perhaps because it was a table with the poor… Read more »

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