Christian Union Decides Women Should Be Seen, Not Heard

Religious society faces criticism for banning female speakers

Bristol University Christian Union have forbidden women from speaking at their weekly meetings.

The ban reflects the recent decision by the Church of England synod to reject the introduction of female bishops, consequently ignoring the last century of the equal rights movement.

Having spent ‘a lot of time exploring this issue, seeking God’s wisdom on it and discussing it together’ the CU executive committee decided that it is not appropriate for women to teach alone at weekly meetings, or be the main speaker at the CU weekend away.

Women are also banned from speaking alone at the group’s mission weeks.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom: women are allowed to speak as a double act with their husbands. Those who are unmarried must remain silent.

Dawn French’s Vicar of Dibley wouldn’t be welcome…
Picture: BBC

The decision was made due to an internal conflict regarding the introduction of women teachers. Although the group claims to unite around the core truths of the gospels, for some members having women speakers is a step too far.

Their international secretary decided to step down from his position due to discomfort over the potential use of female teachers. Other members of the CU reportedly find the notion of women teaching the gospels theologically problematic.

As a result, the CU put forward what they believe is a compromise and have banned women from speaking alone at certain events.

Grace, a 3rd year bio-chemist and practising Christian, described her distress at how ‘the CU action will mould many people’s opinions on Christianity’.

The CU’s decision seems to have been influenced by the Biblical injunction that ‘women  should remain silent in the churches. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church’.

However, as Grace pointed out, ‘firstly, the bible teaches that “in Christ there is no male or female”, but all people are equal before God.’

‘Secondly, Jesus treated women as equals; encouraging them as disciples, and choosing women as the first witnesses to His resurrection at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law’.

Twenty years have passed since women priests were introduced to the Anglican Church, and now more women are ordained each year than men. In the synod’s vote, only six more members of the laity were needed to approve the motion to introduce female bishops.

Despite these encouraging signs of improvement, it would appear there is little desire for radical progress within the Christian Union.

  • Hopefully this has show the Christian Union for what it is, and will begin the demise of this over-bearing and irrelevant society.

  • Massive Lad

    And this is different from saying 'Get back in the kitchen' how? To think the feminists were having a go at me

  • how surprising

    Breaking News: backwards and misogynistic religion decides to stay backwards and misogynistic!

  • Mr Gurns

    Outrageous; UBU really needs to intervene.

  • Mr Gurns

    No quantity of toasties can make up for this!

    • IwassayingGoo-urns

      look this is neither the time nor the place, but i'm sick of these imposter Mr Gurnses.

  • A true Christian

    Women shouldn't have the opportunity to speak at meetings due to their inferior relationship with God. Eve was the first sinner and so all women are born with original sin. Therefore they should not try and tarnish the men with this sin and should not be able to teach at meetings.

    • Anna

      Are you joking? If so well done and have a biscuit. I haven't laughed all day. Probably because I am tarnished BY ALL THE SIN.

    • marksmout

      Hahahahaha this wonderful religion you speak of sounds profoundly evil to me!

    • Victoria

      NKJV Genesis 3:6 – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

      Adam was WITH Eve all that time whilst the serpent was trying to trick Eve. HE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON, didn't do ANYTHING to stop it, in fact he accepted it wholesale. The point of Genesis is to show the fall of BOTH Adam and Eve. You got that right, they both SUCKED EQUALLY.

      PLEASE READ THE BIBLE BEFORE YOU CALL YOURSELF A TRUE CHRISTIAN.

      You should be ashamed. This. Is. BASIC.

      Stop tarnishing Christianity!

    • Koro Neil

      Hard to tell whether you're a troll or an extremist. In either case, your comment may well influence a few people away from the extreme.

    • The Honest Truth

      Unfortunately, that is incorrect. Firstly, the story of Adam & Eve is metaphorical and was not written to be taken literally. If you believe in God, and if you had a clear understanding then you would understand that EVERYONE is born with original sin. That is what is stated in the Bible. People like you make me sick, changing stories to suit yourself! What is going to be next? God owns a bank and lives in the city of London?
      PATHETIC.

    • Theologian

      When you have to preface your astonishing comment with the claim that you are 'a true Christian' it becomes helpfully, and starkly obvious that your remarks need additional support. I've been studying and teaching theology for nearly 20 yrs. In fact I teach it professionally. I am also a Christian believer. And I have spoken in and been in membership of mainstream Christian denominations for many years. Your claim about women having an inferior relationship with God is untrue. It isn't justifiable on any serious grounds biblical or otherwise. In the Genesis account Adam and Eve were mutually responsible, and even though they didn't do exactly the same thing chronologically (time) they made the same mistake morally (right and wrong). Before you put your views about and around perhaps you could reflect on whether or not you are sufficiently sure of them to cope with the extra judgement and responsibility that falls on the teachers shoulders. I know that I'm still learning, but I know enough to know that your view is quite mistaken. If you did 3 months of any modern theology qualification secular or in the Christian world, then you would probably renounce the view you offer here.

  • Female

    How is this legal?

  • Anon

    lol @ religion.

  • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

    The article is embarrassing because its really inaccurate/WRONG! Firstly it states that the CU has just recently banned women speakers where as actually this has been the status quo for at least the last 7 years! What the exec of the CU have actually done is make the decision to ALLOW women speakers at CU in certain settings here is a quote from there society email:

    "The decision made was that, because the CU is not a church and because we
    unite around the core truths of the gospel, it is ok for women to teach in
    any CU setting. However, we understand that this is a difficult issue for
    some and so decided that women would not teach on their own at our weekly
    CU:Equip meetings, as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away or as
    our main speaker for mission weeks, but a husband and wife can teach
    together in these. This means that women are able to teach (including on
    their own) in any other CU setting."

    Considering that no women speakers were allowed before this I think this decision represents a step forward by the CU not a step back! Also an exec member stepped down because they felt they couldn't be responsible for this decision, bearing in mind that the status quo was no women speakers at all, this resignation supports the no women camp rather than the majority which supported the decision for women speakers.

    • Sigh

      A step forward, while still decades behind. Your comment does not affect how repulsive I find the CU's stance on female speakers, it simply makes me realise how much more vile the situation was before. Didn't mention that at the BBQs did you? Truly baffles me.

  • phildebeest

    I think the hardest decision to make about this article is whether it means the CU (or is that just Christianity as a whole?) is in the 18th or 19th Century…

  • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

    The article is embarrassing because its really inaccurate/WRONG! Firstly it states that the CU has just recently banned women speakers whereas actually this has been the status quo for at least the last 7 years! What the exec of the CU have actually done is make the decision to ALLOW women speakers at CU in certain settings.

    • Sean

      And that's a step up how? By allowing them limited access? Honestly, all religions are the same, clinging to deluded rantings of ancient misogynists & hatemongers, and basing their value systems on them. Maybe people the world over should start treating everyone equally, like they're supposed to be treated.

  • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

    This is a religious issue, if this really is a problem you should stop the all male and all female events that other societies put on and make sure that other religious societies have female speakers! Good luck finding female rabbis and imams!!!!

    • Reform Jew

      Plenty of women rabbis around! Religion is a difficult matter for a lot of people, but please don't assume that all religions, and all religious people, are identical.

  • Oh Dear

    Surely there's some kind of UBU rule against gender discrimination within Union societies?

  • JJJ

    Read this yesterday and honestly thought it was satire, but now I'm not so sure. CU have fucked up big time anyway, and they'll feel the effects of this for a long time.

  • Alex

    GETYOURFACTSRIGHT, for your information there are female rabbis. Get YOUR facts right, before you start criticising other religions.

    • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

      your right alex there are female rabbis BUT not in the Orthodox branch of Judaism (which is roughly 25% of jews) What people fail to realise is that this is a religious issue. So what if a religion only wants male speakers? Islam, some forms of Christianity and some forms of Judaism all do and its because of this split that the CU hasnt had a female speaker for YEARS!!! This is not a recent thing that happened yesterday its just been highlighted by the CofE vote

  • hjbear

    This is disgusting!

  • Alex

    also the university has now been embarrassed by this ridiculousness: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/04/bristo

  • muldog

    Absolutely ridiculous…What Would Jesus Do?! We're all God's children, surrounded by His love and filled with His Spirit, so why should those who are as dedicated as others, regardless of gender, not be allowed to speak about this?! Would they stop a gay Christian man from speaking? How about a blind speaker (Leviticus 21: 17-18)? We all know the Bible is a guide, but that's just it, it's a GUIDE. Anyone who loves God should be allowed to express that, this is, what I call, "a disgrace"!

  • Anon.

    If this is true, this is completely vile. How dare they act as though what women have to say is any less important than what men say? No wonder so many people turn away from religion these days.

  • moses

    ahahahahaha

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  • ohforgodssake.

    I'm a religious studies student and its crap like this that makes it hard for me to continue to defend Christians. i genuinely believe that in general they are good people and following the bible the way most of them do isn't hurting anyone. But this kind of backwards thinking just winds me up, how am i meant to stay on your side? BAH.

  • Anon.

    CU faces criticism? the CU should face disbanding. freedom of speech anyone? CU should be reminded of some basic human rights before they make any more big decisions.

  • Real Andy Maxwell

    Well this wasn't me

  • jesus

    this is ridiculous

  • Laura

    @GETYOURFACTS RIGHT
    I agree that the issue has been misrepresented but if anything that makes it even more shocking that before this amendment women weren't allowed to speak in any circumstances. I think most of the reaction is around the fact that there is any restrictions being made on women speaking at all…

    It has misrepresented the CU in that it looks like they've suddenly imposed a ban but the fact is that the CU exec, when given a clear opportunity to acknowledge women teachers as equals, didn't

  • God

    It's refreshing to see at least SOME people are paying attention to what the Bible actually says. I made it very clear that woman are inferior to men and should be treated as such.

  • GOD

    Damn feminists!

  • Howard

    If these feminists made decent sandwiches, then they might get taken more seriously

  • John Locke

    Love the way that it is acceptable to berate Christians for things like this as unacceptable as they are, yet its completely taboo to do so with Islam.

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  • bonetired
  • Joe

    As a university whose history is unfortunately mired in anti-feminist sentiment, I doubt Bristol as a larger institution with appearances to keep is going to stand for this gross injustice

    CU – expect your backwards and contemptuous attitudes about the equality of women to be vetoed and opposed from all sides, you vile little rats.

  • Silly Christians

    @John Locke
    Since when has it been taboo to criticise Islam? Show me one instance where criticism of Islam has been prohibited. Stop being a sensationalist victim (I assume you are a Christian but I may be wrong). Fact is a lot of religious dogma is being shown up for the medieval crap it is be it Islamic or Christian.

    • John Locke

      It is more the fact that there is almost no public criticism of Islam. I find it pathetic that you try and use someone's faith as a way of belittling their arguments. For the record im not religious, but I believe that people can choose whichever religion they choose to follow. And I also think vociferous little sh**ts like you should find something better to do with your time than Christian bash. I mean if you are so intent on Christian bashing why not have a go at Judaism and Islam while your at it- i mean its all "silly dogma/medieval crap" isnt it?

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  • Orlando

    What happens if I am transgender?

  • Cat Evans

    Regarding this "there has been a ban on women speaking for seven years" thing. I am trying to ascertain whether or not this is the truth. If it is, I genuinely did not mean to misrepresent the CU's actions, from the conversations I had with the members of the CU exec and the emails I was sent, this is what I took to be the case. I was potentially naive as it would never have occurred to me that women could have been entirely banned from speaking at CU events in this manner. If this is the case, I am even more shocked and appalled, but obviously less blame should be placed upon the current CU exec board. We should be questioning how Bristol University has allowed this state of affairs to stand for the last seven years.

    • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

      Its not like they were banned officially in writing, its just they were intentionally never invited to speak and the CU members were told so and why several times over the 6-7 years that I have been around in Bristol Uni. Because some Christian denominations are against women speakers and the CU is made up of all Christian denominations they took the path that everyone could attend meetings on i.e. having male speakers. It was also my understanding when I first arrived at Bristol Uni that this had been the status quo for some time before but obviously I don't know categorically.

  • Ann

    I had friends some years back who joined the CU at Bristol Uni, it was like a cult. They were encouraged only to have friends within the church and cut off contact with others. The friends gradually became more and more conservative/evangelical until they changed their views on things, deciding for example that homosexuality was a sin which could be cured by god. Is there a moderate church in Bristol Uni or is the CU the only Christian organisation that students find at uni? The CU creates fundamentalist Christians.

  • Going viral
  • old nick

    har har har

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  • LL FOOL J

    i like the tab. it's sort of like only made in chelsea or whatever. i know i probably get the joke, but it's neither subtle nor funny enough not to be a total waste of time.

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  • Mary Wood

    Even for biblical literalists this is questionable. I believe the IVF book of the year is PAUL THROUGH MEDITERRANEAN EYES by the renowned scholar Kenneth Bailey. Buy and read his commentary and analysis on 1 Cor 11, esp verses 2-16. Be prepared to think again.

    As a CU member at RHC (London) in the 1950s, I know we were vastly enriched by the erudition and pastoral skills of one of the IVF Travelling Secretaries, (Miss) Meg Foote. When she retired, she became Principal of Mt Hermon Missionary TC and later I believe VP of All Nations. In her retirement home, she was still holding and animating Bible studies, bringing people into relationship with their Lord. She should have been silenced? Ludicrous.

    It does look as though the Bristol Uni CU is trying to make common cause with the adherents of the Pope who are not allowed even to think about women in ministry. Hilarious! Pathetic. And profoundly misguided.

    • Mary Wood

      OK. I now reckon it's a spoof, and it sure caught me. And I'm not the only one it fooled.

      But, precisely because people have believed it, this ought to give BUCU pause to ponder. People do believe they are capable of this lunacy/injustice/bad theology/ hermeneutic of blunder

  • Andy

    The problem is that many of these religious followers believe that they are right and the rest of us should be made to live up to their standards. 'Heaven Forbid !' ………my standards are higher than that.

  • Sean

    What a surprise, religious organisations treating women in a chauvinistic, misogynistic, narrow-minded fashion. Oh wait, maybe that's a legacy stemming from their bronze-age origins. Of course it is!

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  • Jenny

    Will men only be allowed to speak if their wives are present, then?

  • PAS

    So if Mother Teresa came back from the dead and turned up at Bristol's CU, she would not be allowed to speak at the Mission Week?

  • Ian Law

    Surely this can't be serious ? How could the christain union be a member of the student union if they had a ban
    on female speakers ? If it is true they should not be allowed to use union or any other university premises.

  • Jeff Higgins

    I love the faux outrage of some people on here. Why so surprised? The person masquerading as god on here has a point, in a roundabout way. This is the sort of shit the bible says, same as the torah, koran or any other crazy text book written by a sky fairy you choose to pick up/believe in. These people aren't being sexist because it's a disdain for women, they're doing this crap because it's what their sky pixie said. If they pick and choose what to believe in then why bother believing in a religion at all?….no seriously, why bother? This of course show religion for the outdated, backwards and irrelevant nonsense it is.

  • Jamie Romo

    And God said, let there be beer, and there was beer.

  • Just a point

    I used to be a member of a CU at a different uni when I was a student. Their fundamentalism was actually one of the things that put me off, and now, having completely removed myself from that environment, when I think back to some of the discussions I had with other members at the time I just realise how ridiculous and closed minded they were. I'm no longer a Christian and do find Bristol CU's stance on this issue quite disgusting, but not surprising.__I would also like to make the point in relation to what GETFOURFACTSRIGHT said about the CU deciding “that women would not teach on their own at our weekly CU:Equip meetings, as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away or as our main speaker for mission weeks, but a husband and wife can teach together in these. This means that women are able to teach (including on their own) in any other CU setting”. __Now, from what I remember, there really aren’t many “other CU settings”

  • female

    Why do people always confuse the Bible saying men and women have different roles with this somehow meaning they are not equal??? I do the dishes, my husband does the ironing, are we less equal because we do different things??

    • Marlowe

      Are you prohibited from ironing?

  • Steve L

    This is a difficult decision for the CU and church as a whole… The issue is one of spiritual authority and the Bible is clear that man is to be the spiritual head over woman, which is a calling (a role/ responsibility) and not a reflection of worth or value. The Bible is clear that both man and woman are equal in the sight of God. The Bible also says that in a marriage relationship, the husband is to reflect Jesus Christ and the wife the church; i.e. the husband is called to sacrifice himself – his pride, affections, even his life – for the good of his wife; and the wife is to submit herself to the husband (which will naturally follow if the man fulfills his calling!). Whilst this describes a marriage, it is relevant to this debate in that it highlights the different 'roles' God has given men and women. True equality does not focus on making everything accessible to everyone. True equality acknowledges that we are different in make-up and purpose, but before God and each other we have equally valuable roles to play in the drama of life.

    • Marlowe

      There is no true equality when one gender's voice is silenced. The Bible was written by men in a society where men dominated because they were physically able to do so. That is no longer the case and religious organizations that try to maintain the offensive position that men are inherently more wise or worthy teachers of any faith will fade away. It can't happen too soon.

  • Student's Dad

    Nobody complains that Sikh men have to wear funny hats.
    Nobody complains that muslim blokes have to have a bit cut off.
    Why should anyone complain about something that Christians have believed for 2000 years?

  • Student's Dad

    Weird. It's just different roles given by God to different people.
    I can't do your job because it's yours.
    You can't do mine because it was given to me.
    You either believe the Bible or you don't.

  • LADiator

    To be fair, it's hard to give a speech from the kitchen

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  • James Hutchings

    I'm not sure "radical change" is the best way to describe letting women speak.

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  • Domestic Heretic

    Well done, TAB, for breaking this news. As Gandhi said: I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

    They really do confirm people's opinions of Christians as ignorant and backward, which is a shame really, as Christ surrounded himself with women and other outcasts. Bristol CU should be ashamed of themselves for bringing Christianity into disrepute.

  • Anon

    Regardless of what has or hasn't changed, any inequality of who can speak at events is totally shameful, they should look up Galatians 3:28 of their book. I used to be a Christian but 'backslid' for a number of reasons, reading about things like this confirm that I made the right decision!

  • Ricardo

    The Christian Union is making itself look ridiculous to 21st century society and demonstrates how narrow minded, intolerant and judgemental they can be.

  • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

    Can I troll like this – if so, the admin needs to create a check for ip address or mac address when the same Name is chosen again.

    Wondering why the viewpoint of this previous writer changed bias?

  • GETYOURFACTSRIGHT!

    Can I troll like this – if so, the admin needs to create a check for ip address or mac address when the same Name is chosen again.

    • thetab

      That's the peril of using a fake name. People can always create an account with a fake name which whould ensure people can't troll as them.

  • Alan

    Whilst I don't adhere to this faith structure, I do find it a bit annoying to read the quote from 'Grace, BioChem 3rd Year person' claiming that this CU policy is against the Bible. I've read the Bible and this policy is in line with it. The apostle Paul – arguably the real star of the Christian faith, incidentally – is pretty clear on women preaching and teaching: i.e. that they should not, and that they are to be quiet in the presence of men.

    The way that the modern Christian church operates is inspired by teachings in the early church, so these clear instructions have precedence over vague statements about men and women being equal in Christ.

    It is also true that the disciples were all men. The women who play a part in the gospel story play a very different role. She also claims that they were the first witnesses of the empty tomb- but this rather depends on which of the 'accounts' in the gospels you read, doesn't it?! Because one of them says it's Peter!

    Now, I don't agree with all the magical religious myself, but I think those that do should have the decency to own up to the nonsense rather than trying to modernise and change what the Bible says!

    • Marlowe

      The fact that there are conflicting accounts of Christ's resurrection make it clear that the Bible cannot be taken literally. Although, I must say that you are judgmental enough to be a star in the inerrancy camp. Divorce is acceptable, women cut their hair, men cut their beards and just about every professed Christian has had a piece of bacon. Christianity is a living religion and, as a woman and a Christian, I refuse to surrender to those who strive to force people to adhere to the parts of the Bible that are convenient for them while ignoring the greatest message which is to love God and love one another as you love yourself.

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  • Susan

    I am a woman who has been married for 12 years and I was one who believed I should speak whenever and however I needed to and my husband and I constantly argued. I believe in total submission and the concept that women should be seen and not heard wholeheartedly. It was a decision I made after hearing God’s word that I decided to give up my feminist ways and become subissive. My husband and I get along better and he treats me fairly with love and patience. The bible hasn’t changed, God’s word hasn’t changed…..only society and women’s lib changed and the divorce rates shot up. I think we need to get back to traditional marriages and patriarchal society. It just works better.

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  • Aprils fool

    Pretty dumb April fools, we would have gotten an email before hand…..nice try….

  • Anonymous

    Not very clever or funny. People might have changed their trains if they’re very gullible. Also not sure the ‘Trent tab’ is where people get their ‘breaking news’.

  • Anonymous

    Absolute fucking drivel again & about as funny as getting your finger caught in a door.

    Well done to The Tab.

  • CHIRPMAN

    This is just moronic, you do realize that students will actually use this as an excuse for an extra week off now, claiming that they didn’t realize it was an April fools. #Yolo