8/07/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carolyn Hyppolite ~
I am probably doing the Church of England no favors by praising them. After all, I am an apostate. I am now part of “the world.” The very fact that I should consider their actions laudable is proof to their conservative detractors that this church has sold out to the world and is under demonic influence.
But I can’t help myself. Church of England has taken some important progressive steps this month—they promoted women and demoted the devil—and they deserve the recognition.
After years of struggle and a few compromises with conservatives in their church who cannot countenance the thought of a woman having authority of men, the Church of England has finally decided to allow women into the bishopric.
If you an atheist, like me, and you are tempted to dismiss this, I get that. So what!? Exactly how grateful should we be that the Church of England has finally caught up? Thanks for joining us in the 21st century!
Okay, okay. But let’s face. Religion, particularly Christianity, is not going away anytime soon. In the meantime, there are women, little girls, stuck in those institutions who have to struggle with the hurt and cognitive dissonance that come with being told, God loves you, but here’s your place. You’re unclean and can’t approach the altar. God expects you to be quiet and submissive.
I remember the first time I walked into an orthodox church—seeing an altar surrounded exclusively by male bodies—I cried. I was sad. But I didn’t leave. I wasn’t ready to leave. So, I kept going back, Sunday after Sunday despite the fact that the exclusion of women caused me emotional turmoil.
What will I tell my daughter? I used to wonder. But I kept going back.
So, we can believe that women bishops are presiding over the imaginary but still be grateful for the gender equality.
Speaking of presiding when that female bishops baptizes an infant to remove imaginary original sin, she will no longer be asking the god-parents, “Do you renounce the devil and all his works?”
Instead, the new wording, approved on July 13, only asks whether parents and godparents will “turn away from sin” and “reject evil.”
As is expected in these matters, there is traditionalist pushback. Peter Stanford, author of The Devil: A Biography, said “If we’re never going to mention the devil anymore, what exactly is it that these people going to do?”
I think it’s pretty clear. They are promising to reject moral evil, which is actually doing something.
The devil is an important part of the Christian story. Without the devil, Christians can’t obfuscate about the problem of evil. To that end, we have been offered a villain in a superficial attempt to wrestle with tough question concerning our sometimes perilous existence. More perniciously, we have been offered a distraction from taking real steps to combat the moral and natural evils before us. Renouncing the devil, like prayer, allows one to imagine that she has taken positive action while actually doing nothing.
Stanford adds, “Are we saying that the devil is just a symbol and isn’t real and if so, where does that leave God? I think we’re in a bit of a muddle here.”
Well, yeah. And don’t worry. You’ll figure it out.
Carolyn Hyppolite is the author of Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born Again Atheist
Visit her blog at http://stillsmallvoices.net/blog/