[This post was published in the Guardian's Comment Is Free, Tuesday 13 November 2012. I've added it here to my archive as an excerpt]
A week from today, the Church of England’s General Synod will take a historic vote on women bishops. The sentiment from churchgoers is overwhelmingly in favour. The incoming archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is passionately committed to the legislation. So is the present one, Rowan Williams. Yet the vote still teeters on a knife edge and may well fail to pass. In an attempt to swing the vote at this vital moment, a small group of us have launched the Yes2WomenBishops social media campaign.
Social media is a strange animal. It sometimes appears as a winged horse, enabling our aspirations for free speech and people power to take flight, and sometimes as a hyena, sniffing out the worst of human nature, devouring our manners and vomiting up banal content. Scepticism about its value to campaigns is understandable; after all, millions of Twitter accounts lie abandoned and unchecked. Much energy can be spent lobbying in cyberspace, speaking to avatars that may be listening or may simply be the ghosts of people long gone. Yet despite their Schrödinger-esque limitations, these digital channels still possess the potential to rattle top-down institutions and give the masses a megaphone.
One institution ripe for some grassroots disruption is the Church of England. The voices of those in the pews are not always reflected in the policies made, and the election of leaders happens very indirectly. The decision about women bishops lies in the hands of the General Synod, so the rest of us are left waiting, wondering whether our wishes will be represented. For this reason we felt the Yes2WomenBishops campaign was vital. Our hope is to create an upward flow of information in a very top-down institution; to send a message from the grassroots to the leadership.
Read the rest on the Guardian website here.
When you’ve read the piece I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you believe women should be ordained as priests or Bishops. Let me know in the comments section. Many say women shouldn’t have those equal leadership roles in either marriage or ministry - do you agree or disagree?