The Church of England tests my loyalty sorely. My local church clergy ‘team’ is almost entirely feminised. In my neck of the woods, there is literally no escaping them, or their dumbed down approach to their ‘calling’.  To a woman they appear to be labouring under the impression they are running a Sunday school. That is how we are treated.

With their predictable pudding basin haircuts these female clergy are, in my experience, particularly graceless. “Sit down”, not please be seated, is how we are addressed at the start of the service. Forget any idea of starting with a priestly procession behind a cross or a choir.

Regard for any aspect of the liturgy and the conduct of the services is scant and bears virtually no relationship at all to the Book of Common Prayer. Sentences from the scriptures,  collects,  general confessions, or absolutions are rarity between the Christingles and all the other modern service forms. I sometimes wonder if they know the order of service at all. And when we are treated to this rarity, few of these lady priests seem capable of projecting their voices, let alone able to sing. Sacred music has all but disappeared.

No wonder the pews across England sit empty. We are no longer made to feel as though we are “Dearly beloved brethren…”. This is, I am afraid, the very discouraging female face of the modern Church of England

Frankly, I would no more look to one of these wimmin for spiritual enlightenment than I would for spiritual comfort.

The subject of women clergy is one I have to date buttoned my lip on. But no longer. Last Sunday was the last straw.

Was the prayer for the Queen and the Royal Family on the Sunday before Christmas deliberately omitted? Had the woman vicar forgotten that the Queen is the Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England? I told her how disappointed I was by this as I left. She smiled blandly and refused to bother even to reply.

That was not all.

She had announced at the end of the service that, ‘There would be a special Plough Sunday Service on January 24th”. It would be good, she added, if some farmers came. If anyone knew a farmer, she went on, perhaps they could pop a leaflet through their door.  This is not a town church I am talking about, but a church in the heart of the country – and just about as rural as you can get. It serves, or is meant to serve, a predominantly farming community, yet our good lady priest who has been with us for a while apparently neither knew any farmers herself, nor was intending to visit them  herself either – to get to know them or to invite them.

What exactly does she think her job is? Nothing if not to visit and get to know the congregation and to minister to them. My father was a clergyman, so I know. He also had a rural living where we lived from when I was seven. Our rectory was open house to the village. So was he – an open all hours vicar. Within months he knew everyone in the village and each and every one of the local farmers. The idea that he would have stood in front of his congregation to ask anyone who knew a farmer to invite him along is just too incredible a thought.

Small things like this reveal a lot.

When my dad retired in 1976 at 74, the Church was still a male institution. It was still taken seriously.

Since the ordination of the first women in 1994, its make-up has changed quite drastically. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of female full-time clergy increased by 41 per cent while number of full-time male clergy dropped nearly at the same rate. Now women comprise one in five members of the full-time clergy and there are far more part-time  clergy the majority of whom are women.

At this rate the Church will soon mirror the medical profession and suffer all the same problems that feminisation has brought with it – a ‘part time institution’ working in its female clergy ‘s (family friendly) interests rather than  for its congregation.

And guess what, as the wimmin have risen, church attendance has fallen. It’s halved in the forty years since my dad retired with more churches losing congregation members than are gaining them. If there is no correlation between these two trends, then I am the Pope.

People might approve of the idea of women vicars for all sorts of politically correct reasons. Who would dare not? That doesn’t mean they like them in practice.

But instead of waking up to this self fulfilling downwards spiral of destruction, all the Church of England feebly does is push it further.   Having women bishops has become more important than dealing with declining church attendances – as though ‘gender equality’ was of spiritual significance. It is not. It is purely ideological and political. It says more about women’s demands for status and power than about any godly calling – more about the modern female ego than about spiritual humility that is for sure.

No wonder that so few self respecting, serious and educated young men, as my father was, would want to sign up to this part-time feminised force to answer their calling.

For the more women are ordained as ‘self-supported members’ (providing their own financial backing while working  part-time elsewhere) and thereby are allowed to be a vicar without the burden of doing the real job, the fewer real jobs there are for men. No wonder the number of women ordained has begun to exceed those of men.

No wonder congregations drop off and no wonder there are fewer baptisms, weddings and funerals in church.

No wonder at all when those leading the Church are too blind to see this connection or are too ready to sacrifice their belief and their mission on what can only be described as the altar of gender politics.


(Image Courtesy, BBC)


  1. I’m not entirely sure that this is solely an issue with women priests in the CofE – most of the complaints raised here I have heard with regard to male incumbents, and the gender of the abortive rural priest might easily be switched without the tale sounding false.

    The problem, though, is accurately diagnosed: a slipping away from Scripture, from the Gospel of Christ, from a Church which understood its majestic and eternal duty as being the heart of the community which it served, and not just “at the centre” (which is to say, not at all in) the diverse “communities” which seem to comprise the British landscape today. Such diversity is no excuse: the Church of ages past structured life around it through the lives it gave meaning and purpose to. And it did not ask permission of governing powers, principalities or equality commissions to do so.

    It boldly declared the Gospel not with sensationalism or flash-in-the-pan festivals but with enduring and eternal Truth, faithful service, and a love for home and country which ennobled both beyond mere patriotism.

  2. Anything that ends this dead end philosophic mysticism is a good thing in my book. More women clergy is therefore an imperative.

      • Why would anything need to be filled ? If you support mysticism of any kind you cannot object to another form of it. Good education in rational thought/logic is all that is required to end this philosophy, but we cannot begin to move in that direction until we give up Christian beliefs.

          • Find a new script. That you cannot understand how political extremism is actually religious mania relegates you to the ranks of the credulous fools.

          • Only when I have an exceptionally large idiot to roast.

            Now, back to your second comment in this thread: What sort of ‘thing’ ‘worked well for Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot etc.‘?

          • That was a forcible outlawing of religion.

            As it is Christianity is dying out, it doesn’t need a renaissance in some misguided attempt to balance out the Muslim religion. Christianity has had its share of horrors in the Middle Ages and that’s where the Muslim religion is currently stuck. We don’t need to re-kindle the Christian fires that condemned science and believed witchcraft was a real threat thats for sure.

            I don’t condemn those who follow religion anymore than those that read horoscopes or visit spiritualists, but no one who applies reason can continue to believe in such an archaic philosophy. Let’s not go backwards into another dark age.

          • I actually agree with you, I just don’t want to see Christianity fade in this country to be replaced by a medieval death cult.

          • Meanwhile, you have answered none of my questions while making unnecessary slurs.

            Will you answer my questions?

          • Christianity is not the shield, reason is.

            All religions are death cults of one form or another. Christianity preaches ‘love thine enemy’ ‘turn the other cheek’. These are the commands for self sacrifice. Jesus died on the cross. This isn’t life affirming stuff. It’s also promitive mysticism that promises the afterlife is better than this life.

            We should spread reason and not conversion. The issue is the state which has embarked on a course of educational ignorance with faux tolerance backed up by force against anyone showing moderate discrimination. That’s Cameron’s totalitarian state.

        • To have a society, you need a metaphysic. For over a millennia, European society had a basically Christian metaphysic. There were some cultural tweaks, the Reformation era changed it up a little, etc, but there was a roughly coherent idea of what “mankind” was and was for until the Enlightenment.

          Post the Enlightenment, a competing idea was introduced. Mankind had the capacity and right to self-identification, but was restrained by existing systems. Overthrow the systems, and society could and would aspire to greatness.

          In practice, this new movement has primarily defined itself reactively rather than selling a coherent vision – a glorious age of freedom and enlightenment and scrubbing the old orthodoxy that would spontaneously arrive as the old orthodoxy crumbled. Nationalism has frequently risen as an alternative, but just as frequently proved unsatisfactory. Globalism is offered, but it has lacked inherent purpose and goal, occasionally spurring would-be leaders to invent pseudo-goals in an attempt to motivate populations.

          Into this comes a third player, resurgent Islam. I say resurgent because much of the first half of the 2nd millennia was a contest between various Islamic movements trying to aggressively move into Europe and various European powers pushing back. For much of the next 500 years, Islamic aggression was a spent force.

          But after flirting briefly with a humanist metaphysic before settling on a general distrust of metaphysic in general – except as opposed to old orthodoxy, Western society finds itself vulnerable to cultural conquest in a way that it has not for a very long time.

          • The answer to ignorance is knowledge. Religion is ignorance.

            I think you are right, but the threat isn’t necessarily from Islam. Both intricisists and subjectivists vie for conquest and only knowledge can hold them back. The rrsponsibility lies with each of us to light the candle. The danger here is that we react against one ideology and run into the arms of the other.

            We are being lead by corrupt idiots. The rotting brains of a long failed empire. These people are swimming in their own excretions and will compromise in order that they survive. Without leadership and mired in the propaganda that is state education I think we stand on a precipice. That we will fall I believe is a certainty. How far, or in what direction ? No one can know that.

          • Western society finds itself vulnerable to cultural conquest in a way that it has not for a very long time.

            One might argue that all cultures eventually whither and die, whether they will or not, making the death of ours inevitable, and historically those cultures that became fat and lazy, as ours has, were destroyed by cultures that were lean and led by those who were hungry. The degree of religious piety had little to do with it (ironically, the first, shocking at the time, Viking raids were often targeted at monasteries under noble protection and the Vikings were not motivated by religious zeal, nor were the Normans). Another way of seeing the issue is, if I may be forgiven for making a crude analogy, the individual grown so fat as to be unable to clean himself. Without dedicated care he is likely to start to rot very quickly, from the outside in, and then to die from some infection of lesser life forms feeding on him. That’s what’s happening to us.

            It isn’t that turning away from an irrational belief in some divinely ordained rhythm or another has left a vacuum in our culture to be filled with anything close to hand; it’s that we’ve chosen to lie in bed all day and shovel fat into our faces while parasites multiply in the folds of our skin and feed on what seeps out of our bodies.

            Rabbits are prone to what I think is called ‘fly strike’. That they often die from infestations of maggots is not their fault; their deaths are due to the laziness of those who have chosen to care for them. It isn’t necessary to hold some metaphysical belief to care for rabbits; merely to understand that leaving them to lie untended in their mess cannot end well. The belief that others can think and provide for us (which is all religion offers us), and the willingness to give up on independence and self-reliance, has effectively made us rabbits left to lie untended in our mess, which has led to the current situation, not the rejection of emotional and intellectual dependence on metaphysicists who are essentially no more than parasites.

          • “Viking raids were often targeted at monasteries under noble protection and the Vikings were not motivated by religious zeal…”

            As a minor point of fact the first raids may well have been religiously inspired, whether zealous or not. King Charlemagne of the Franks had been fighting and forcibly converting heathens with increasing brutality for 20 years before the the attack on Lindisfarne. In the year of the attack (793 AD) there were significant efforts by the heathens to expand a rebellion that had started the previous year in the conquered territory. It is possible that Lindisfarne was part of that effort or at least inspired by it.

            Of course this is also significantly off-topic.

  3. I think Sam Johnson summed it up best. A woman preaching is akin to a dog walking on its hind legs. Can’t remember the rest of the quote but its essence was that’s it’s rather unnatural; almost a crime against nature. And of course it flies in the face of St Paul’s dictum on women. “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. For I suffer not a woman to teach, not to usurp the authority of the man, but to be in silence ……….” Very sound that St Paul.

    • You Sir, with all respect are the very last thing the Catholic church needs. It has started a process of cleaning itself up, if you hold such views, I doubt very much you will feel at home there.

        • A very sad reply James. You can oppose women’s ordination that is perfectly acceptable but when you resort to the language you have used to describe women you lose all authority. All that comes across is a man who profoundly dislikes women and that is something that is clearly at variance with the Christ in the Gospels.

          • Close but not quite. What should come across is a man who profoundly dislikes bossy, strident women that insist on aping men and are the proponents of a ridiculous ideology. Sweet feminine women? Now you’re talking. Women priests are quite obviously at odds with Holy Scripture.

  4. The last C of E service I attended was conducted by a priestess. Naturally she was overweight and most unattractive. Being lectured by a woman is a bit of an ask so becoming a Catholic was the work of a moment, as they say.

  5. Even though there are some genuine Anglican churches that are Bible confident, this does not come as a surprise to me that the state-sponsored church is running into ruin just because of the state’s demand for it to be less Christian and more secular and left wing.

    As a non-conformist, I am starting to believe that the separation of church and state is becoming more appealing as churches of all denominations (except for the CofE and other liberal churches) have not had problems in teaching the Bible and attracting new converts without the state’s help.

    So the CofE now has a choice, it either carries on into a state of becoming more irrelevant to Christianity or it can break away and become independent from state allowing it to become more Bible confident and become a bigger part of society again.

  6. Very well said, Kathy. A weak and feminised church is attractive to no-one. Personally I blame the sidelining of the 1662 Prayer Book for the watering down of doctrine.

  7. Included in all this has been a loss of reverence. The Muslims are gaining converts because they give their followers someone to look up to but the CofE has done away with reverence, a ‘Holy Fear’, and, instead encourages mateyness with God. They have done away with understanding of the power and majesty, solemnity of the sacraments and fostered instead a ‘cheap grace’. Hardly worth converting to that feebleness.

    • I am sorry but I really take exception to your notion of why Muslims are gaining converts. Anyone attracted to the figure and personality of Christ could never be attracted to islam. True Christianity has very little to do with power and majesty. Islam gives people nothing to look up to, it instills fear and hatred and is the polar opposite of Christianity. Whatever the rights and wrongs with female ordination the rot started long before it was ever an issue. Way back in the 1960’s church of England vicars were openly denying basic tenets of Christianity, many of them are just to comfortable and we all know about the devil finding work for idle hands.

      • I am not refering to Christians converting to Islam but to those who have nothing else and are attracted by the ‘sisterhood’ or ‘brotherhood’. I agree with your comments re CofE vicars in days gone by. However, true Christianity recognises the power and majesty of God, how could it not? There seems too many depictions of Jesus in a white nightie tripping through fields of sheep. True Christianty is muscular and comes with a respect and a sense of awe at just how great our God is.

  8. I think support for women’s ordination and support for gay marriage (read the legitimisation of
    homosexual desire) both proceed from the same root. That root is the use of an external standard to norm the Scripture. There are obviously differences between the two cases, but both positions begun with a denial of the created order. The apologist for women’s ordination imposes modern understandings of egalitarianism on Scripture. The apologist for gay marriage imposes modern understandings of autonomy on Scripture. The intent is to recast Scripture in saying that which the apologist wants it to say.

  9. In some respects this is like my experience of women serving at sea in the RN. I found men and women serving together was devise and detrimental (to what was a fighting service) to those who weren’t getting the sex especially after long periods at sea.

  10. Truly, Kathy, it is impossible to fully parody such people. The pudding basin haircut, the disconnection from real people, it’s all so stereotypical.

    I’m sure Welby loves it.

    • Actually the very Catholic male led section of the C of E happens to prosper greatly as well. Hmmm what do they have in common?

      • I get on very well with the traditional, conservative Catholics and Anglo-Catholics. It is the “nothing is fixed” liberals that are a danger to Christianity. But their numbers are plummeting even as the traditional sections hold steady or grow gently – one day they will be no more, I am convinced.

  11. What exactly does she think her job is?

    To dress up in what were once men’s clothes, to delude herself that she is doing what was once a man’s job as well as a man could do it and to ‘celebrate’ breaking down yet another barrier to women’s advancement, until she decides she wants to break down barriers in some other sphere in which women are discriminated against.

    That seems to be about all any of them want to do.

    The woman who officiated at my mother’s funeral was a disgrace, portraying a near lifelong Conservative who abhorred feminism into a crusading champion of women’s rights and turning a solemn occasion into a travesty. My mother had chosen a particular male vicar, whom she liked but who unfortunately died shortly before she did. The officiant was his replacement. She looked just like the bland, overweight pudding basined creatures you’ve described and served no purpose whatsoever other than the gratification of her own ego and prejudices.

      • I got a nasty surprise and was not at all happy about it, although, of course, I observed the proprieties appropriate to the occasion and kept my feelings to my self, even thanking the vicar, as is customary, albeit less than effusively. I am not a believer (I don’t describe myself as an atheist because I think the term a religious one), however, my mother was and to think of her lying no more than ten feet from a woman she would have seen off with stern words and ridicule, while that woman twisted and misrepresented her character for personal or political ends was galling.

        I could do nothing about that once presented with a fait accompli and those who could were evidently disinclined, and that is all I think I should decently relate, if you take my meaning.

        • Yeah, easy to say I’d have done something but I doubt I would. I’ll be safe from that with my Dad, who wants a Viking funeral 🙂 or failing that to be put on the bonfire :))

          Interested you describe atheist as a religious term. I think I sort of understand, though the mere suggestion has me searching for a new expression!

          • I Don’t think you’d have done anything because you seem to me to be a civilised chap, even though we occasionally disagree, and funerals are not the place to kick up a stink, which is why I didn’t.

            Just in case the situation is unclear, I had / have (my father is still alive, at 90) a lifelong difficult relationship with my parents (think ‘Making Plans for Nigel’ and a great deal of ‘modern’ drama, literature and music) and when my mother died, and for a time before, those who could have kept me informed of developments, assuming they knew of them or cared about them, chose not to. Had I known of the substitution at a reasonable point beforehand I would and could have done something. My mother disliked me intensely and I her but for an awful lot of sons, especially eldest sons, that is enough of a bond that they do what they can to see their mothers’ last wishes carried out. Whether she liked me or not and whether she meant the things she said or would have done the things she threatened, she was my mother, and in death the church failed her.

            The irony is that she was a Catholic but found comfort and reassurance in the Anglican church.

            Now I really have said enough.

            PS: Do give your father his Viking send off if you can, although you can burn him on a headland (see Beowulf – if I recall correctly) if a boat isn’t practical.

            Re ‘atheism’: for the non religious there is no need for a term to describe the lack of faith in something we know does not exist.

          • I sometimes describe myself as an “extreme agnostic” when asked what my religious beliefs are, if that’s any help. 🙂

        • I sort of understand that about atheism because of their faith in the absence of a deity. By the way you suggested in a previous comment on another post that I was brought up religiously, I wasn’t.

          • A common misconception. It’s not a faith in absence, it’s absence of faith.

            I can’t say there isn’t a God, I just know there’s no proof for one, so the default condition is to assume there isn’t one.

          • I cannot remember the comment, however, if I’ve misrepresented you I apologise unreservedly, although I note that you write ‘suggested’, which suggests personal perception, for which I am not responsible.

            Re. atheism: There is no ‘sort of understanding’. I wrote that I consider ‘atheist’ a religious term and do not describe myself as such. A religious can only understand my position from his own perspective, which means he cannot understand my position at all, just as I cannot understand his. His description of me as an ‘atheist’ is therefore meaningless.

            That notwithstanding, you are not correct in describing my conviction that there is no god, of any sort, as ‘faith’. Faith, as has often been written, is that belief which survives reason and enquiry. While there is no proof that there is no god, science has disproved so much that was once attributed to gods, and left little of real philosophical importance other than what caused the ‘Big Bang’ to explain, that it is reasonable to conclude that there is no God, nor any gods.

          • I should check who said it – sorry then if it wasn’t you. Maybe you and bogbrush are right about aetheism as opposed to faith. It’s just I had an aetheist friend who seemed almost evangelical in approach but I think you might be right. Will think on this further.

          • No need to apologise. I may have said it; I may not. I can’t remember and it’s in the past and I’m not offended and I hope you weren’t if I did say it (which remembers me, as my daughter used to say, of Pip coming face to face with Abel Magwitch, one stormy night in London).

            That aside, some ‘atheists’ are militantly religious in eschewing belief (a certain professor comes to mind). I am not. I don’t care what anyone else believes as long as they don’t try to force me to believe the same (remember how I described belief in my earlier comment) or silence my natural right to disagree.

            Did your ‘atheist’ friend describe himself as an atheist or do you?

  12. The problem in this kind of CofE church is that it is just embarrassing. A bloke can be attracted to church if it is something worth following – the best model for this is a bloke upfront who stands for what he believes in.

    • A word from a non believer:

      When the established vehicles no longer convey one in a manner one finds acceptable one should change one’s mode of transport. If no political parties can be relied upon to do what one wants, vote for an independent and if no established faith offers one spiritual comfort, do what those who founded those faiths did and start your own. A church is a congregation, not the building it shivers in. Congregate in your own houses and read and pray for yourselves. Choose leaders if you will but have the strength of character to go your own way (AGTOW?) and worship as you wish. If you need priests (I’m not sneering at anyone for that) ask an ordained priest who feels as you do to officiate for you. They can’t burn you for heresy any more and the revolution has to start somewhere. Why not in your own living rooms?

      You don’t need bishops and cathedrals (which are simply church governance), and you don’t need vast sums of money. You just need the will.

  13. Well I suppose its not a conservative thought but it seems that the C of E is indeed largely doomed by trying to be a branch of the civil service. Surely there must be a way of the Church then shifting resources to its branches with oomph. As it is more and more it appears a hollowed out relic almost a prisoner of its vast resources. It is very noticeable locally that it is the Baptists and groups of new protestant churches who have new builds and real energy and presence in their community. Also the Catholic Church which has sold off big churches and invested in modern facilities etc.
    The C of E needs to be set free to find itself.

    • Or even convert Churches to multiple use, and keep the building as an ancient shell to a an internal modern refit. There has to be potential there, for small primary schools, complementary business etc.

  14. My daughter has been a chorister for ten years so I’ve been to a few services in that time. The women kill me with their hopeless singing, and humourless sermons. When they do try a stab at humour guess what – you get a joke about breastfeeding or the pain of childbirth. One did a sermon about domestic abuse that was barely fit for the ears of the young choristers who thankfully weren’t listening anyway. Just not what I go to Church for, I’m a midwife, believe me, I can do jokes about breastfeeding and labour pains but please, not in Church.

  15. The original proposition, which is that the female vicar type has altered the whole value system prevalent previously within the CofE is, to put it bluntly, ludicrous. The vote to allow female clergy was taken after huge debate, and after many warnings that the whole place would change irrevocably. As with female vicars; so with female bishops.

    So, folks, to put it, again bluntly, you asked for it, you were warned about it, you voted for it; so you should live with it!

  16. The Methodist Church was first to promulgate this disastrous idea in its Report to Conference of 1992. That was the year I resigned my lifelong membership of the Methodist Church. Since then 10,000 members of that church have left every year. It now looks as though the Methodist Church will cease to exist as an effective church by about 2025 – 2030. God will not honour a disobedient church.
    My own guess would be that, prior to the above date, the Methodist Church will throw in its hand with the Church of England, but, as that church is now following in the disastrous steps of the Methodist Church, the joint churches will be in a parlous state by 2050 and will cease to exist soon afterwards.

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