Women Banned From Speaking at Bristol University Christian Union

As you are reading this, please bear in mind that this is taking place in 2012.

Here we go.

The UK’s Bristol University Christian Union has decided that women are welcome as speakers as long as:

  • They are not speakers at their weekly meetings
  • They are not the main speakers on weekend away meetings
  • They are not the main speakers for mission weeks

–OR–

  • They are with their husbands

Don’t worry, everyone.  They have an explanation.  Here is what BUCU president Matt Oliver had to say:

After a lot of time exploring this issue, seeking God’s wisdom on it and discussing it together as a committee, we made a decision about women teaching in a CU setting. We all hold individual convictions on secondary issues such a women speakers, which are often reflected in the churches we choose to attend.

It is good and right that we hold strong beliefs on the Bible’s teaching about secondary issues but they are not what we centre around as a CU and therefore are not always reflected in the CU’s practice.

After reading that about nine times, what I think he was saying was, “It’s okay that we disagree about some stuff in the Bible, but we still have to follow its teachings because that’s what we do.”  (Don’t get me started on the logic of dedicating your life to following a book despite the fact you disagree with a whole bunch of what it has to say.)

So, I suppose, if you are following a book that isn’t so big on Lady Power, it’s unsurprising that such groups are going to take this to its logical conclusion.

SHE’S OPENING HER MOUTH! EVERYONE COVER YOUR EARS!

The worst part, for me, is that women can speak if they do so with their husbands.  Isn’t that just the ultimate in needing a man’s approval to be validated?

In an email, Oliver said, “It is ok for women to teach in any CU setting… However we understand that this is a difficult issue for some” and so they decided to put restrictions on when women are allowed to be heard. “A difficult issue for some“?  For whom?  Even the freaking Westboro Baptist Church allows women to speak.  BUCU, you are worse than the “God Hates Fags” people.

The BUCU should be ashamed of themselves.  I would fly to the UK and tell them myself, but I’m not married, so I wouldn’t be allowed to say anything.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Sven2547

    It’s pathetic that this stuff still happens anywhere, and even more so when it’s a supposedly-modern country like the UK.

    • Tim

      I know.  Speaking as a 37 year old Englishman, I have noticed a change in this country.  Once upon a time, Christianity was the default for many things but it was watered down and pretty harmless.  Now the Christians are fewer in number but more extreme.  Various ideas have been put forward for why this is so – copying America, copying the Muslims. feeling isolated as the country secularises around them have all been put forward as explanations..

    • Stonyground

      I have to admit that when I first read about this, I assumed that there must be a place called Bristol in the US. I owe an apology to all you people over the pond for my prejudice.  Bellj is right though, this kind of thing can only speed up the decline of religion in the UK, the huge majority of people just don’t think that way and if women walk away in disgust that is a good thing.

  • Danzoli

    Ah well… that’s what happens when you seek gods wisdom. You end up with a plate full of intolerance, bias and prejudice, the likes of which could only have been cooked up man.

    • the moother

      hey…, cooking up stuff is a woman’s job!!! ergo, women cooked up the bible?

  • Annie

    I have a really hard time picturing what type of woman would put up with this BS.  If I were in a club and told I couldn’t speak unless my husband was near, the first thing I’d do would be to leave… and 2nd, I’d start my own damn club that would be better than the one I left.  Are there really women who put up with this crap??  I know there are, but I simply can’t wrap my brain around it.

    • Mogg

      Sure there are. they are women who are brought up or otherwise convinced that God will magically be real and bless them if only they try hard enough and follow the rules, and if their lives are not good it’s because they’re not being submissive and obedient enough. Breaking out of that is extremely difficult when you have been taught all your life that a woman who stands up and says something is not fair is actually evil, and the way to get God to improve your life/marriage/family/whatever is to submit more, not less.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      It is because they are raised that way. I stayed with some very religious friends a few years ago when times where hard. What was only supposed to be a short stay turned into over a year but it worked out for everyone because their car died and they didn’t have the money for a new one so mine was used when they needed it but she was raised and taught to wait on her husband. To do all the cooking, raise the kids, do the wash, dishes and anything else a woman should do. She always wore ankle length denim skirts and was a very modest young lady.

      When her husband came home dinner was ready and she would serve him and me, even though I didn’t care for it she wouldn’t let me do it myself and only afte we had what we needed would she sit down for prayer. If either of us needed anything, a refill, more of anything she would get it regardless if she was finished.

      It took me sometime to convince her to let me help out with the housework such as dishes and laundry which she learned to love but she would never have let her husband lift a finger once he was home.

      It was a strange house to live in the first few months for me because I had never been exposed to that level of religion. She even had the courting candle her father used when they where dating. I never knew what a courting candle was till I asked about it one day.

      She didn’t have a voice in her own home. If her husband wanted something changed in the house, it happened and she would not protest because she felt it was not her right to do so because that is how she was raised.

      I slowly helped her come out of her shell though. She was wearing jeans now and then before I moved out but never if her family was around because they would not have approved. She came back from having her hair done one night, had on a nice top, some tight jeans and boots and she looked smoking hot. I didn’t know she could look that good because she never wore clothes that truly showed off her figure or did her hair and I let her know how good she looked but sadly her husband was to busy playing world of warcraft to pay much attention to her. I know, a very religious man but he was very addicted to that game.

      She has changed a lot these days but she still waits on her husband hand in foot. I ran into him tonight at Subway and he wants to have my daughter and I over for dinner very soon. His wife knows I’m an atheist but he doesn’t but we normally don’t talk religion when we do get together but she will do all the cooking and baking and still wait hand and foot on her husband. If he says jump she will still say how high.

      • Georgina

        One mother told me that if her son was able to cook, clean, look after himself etc., he would have no use for a wife and therefore she would have no grandchildren. She kept her marriage alive by having a totally dependent husband.

        I just think that it is a shame that, if you going to base a civilisation on  book, the Quoran, Torah, New Testaments etc. are the best they can find.
        Couldn’t they find anything better?

        • The Other Weirdo

           I’m of the opinion that any able-bodied man who can’t cook, clean, do laundry or look after himself, is not really a man at all. Any woman raising her son this way is an evil bitch, and his father is an idiot for allowing it(and probably not knowing himself how to do any of these things).

    • Sven2547

      I have a grandfather / grandmother like that.  One time at a holiday dinner, I was talking to my grandfather about the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, and their policy of not letting women speak or vote at Church meetings.  “Oh yes, our denomination doesn’t let women vote either,” he told me.  “The Bible clearly says that women shouldn’t have authority over men”.  My grandmother nodded approvingly.

      The worst part: the rest of my family belongs to a much more liberal denomination… and our female Pastor was sitting next to me listening in shock and disgust.  I’m not even kidding.  I’m still stunned that my grandfather believes such stupid things, and was brazen enough to spout it in front of a female Pastor.

      Afterward, I apologized to our Pastor, because I would not have pursued that line of inquiry if I had known that would be his response.  She confided in me that when she was ordained as a Pastor, she received hate-mail from all over the country – from complete strangers! – telling her how horrible she was for DARING to be a woman Pastor.  To this day, I can scarcely contain my outrage.

    • Sven2547

      I have a grandfather / grandmother like that.  One time at a holiday dinner, I was talking to my grandfather about the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, and their policy of not letting women speak or vote at Church meetings.  “Oh yes, our denomination doesn’t let women vote either,” he told me.  “The Bible clearly says that women shouldn’t have authority over men”.  My grandmother nodded approvingly.

      The worst part: the rest of my family belongs to a much more liberal denomination… and our female Pastor was sitting next to me listening in shock and disgust.  I’m not even kidding.  I’m still stunned that my grandfather believes such stupid things, and was brazen enough to spout it in front of a female Pastor.

      Afterward, I apologized to our Pastor, because I would not have pursued that line of inquiry if I had known that would be his response.  She confided in me that when she was ordained as a Pastor, she received hate-mail from all over the country – from complete strangers! – telling her how horrible she was for DARING to be a woman Pastor.  To this day, I can scarcely contain my outrage.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      You’d be surprised how much guilt can make you put up with. With religion, you’re constantly worrying about every little thing you do. If you’re doing something that the church or the Bible says is bad that doesn’t really seem that bad at all, part of your brain will bring attention to it and make you feel bad for it. You try to reason that it’s really not that bad, but you know God can hear your thoughts and that you’re being sinful for protesting.
      I wasn’t raised to be that submissive, but I imagine it would play out this way, and I’ve seen that sort of thinking from religious women on the internet. Sometimes they feel like it’s unfair, but whenever they do, they stop and realize how selfish they’re supposedly being and they feel like they’re supposed to appreciate the role God has given them. It might feel terrible, but they won’t admit to themselves that it’s simply wrong because they know first and foremost that God is never wrong and that they would be sinful to think so. They know God’s ways are higher than theirs, so they continue to suffer, believing that they will be rewarded in heaven for following God’s plan for them. It’s so sad…

      • Agrajag

         Spot on ! It’s not an accident that Christianity in essence *begins* with “you are all sinners, unworthy, shameful, dirty, *sinful*, in truth deserving of eternal punishment”

        Then predictably, it follows up with: “….so you should do as we say, to clear your guilt”

      • Onamission5

        It’s guilt, and it’s fear. Fear that if the husband or father is head of the family as Jesus is head of the church, then they are a direct conduit to god, then going against one’s husband or father will displease them, and that in turn displeases god.

  • Conspirator

    There’s a conservative offshoot of the Catholic church that operates a high school in Kansas.  They will not allow women as teachers or in any authority position over male students.  In fact they refused to let their boy’s basketball team play a game with a female ref.  So there’s some pretty whacky Christians that still hold these beliefs.  After all, how many Christian sects still don’t allow women as preachers?  I’m sure it’s not just the Catholics.

    And in their defense, such as it is, I believe that it’s 1 Timothy 2:12 that specifically states women shouldn’t be speaking.  And that’s New Testament, which many Christians have a harder time dismissing like they so casually do with Old Testament versus they find inconvenient.  

  • Bellj

    Is it wrong for me to be kind of happy about this? I knew so many women in church who were on the fence, just like me, before I took the plunge and left. I feel like mom standing in the pool saying to the child, “Jump, jump! It’s ok, you’re going to be fine!”

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I have no problem with this. In a Christian place with Christian people, one should expect Christian guidelines.

    • Sarah

      I am sure plenty of Christian disagree with these “guidelines.” Any person with a sense of fairness, regardless of religion, would balk at this ban.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        I didn’t balked, and yet I apparently have a sense of fairness.

        From an internal perspective: If that god exists — which does, as far as Christians are concerned — they should act accordingly. Whether they choose obedience or disobedience, the consequences are clear.

        From an external perspective: I find such rules to be ridiculous, but then I don’t face the divine tyranny which would threaten me to obey. The people at BUCU are there, presumably, of their own accord. As such, they are also, presumably, free to leave. Of course, they must face the same rules anywhere they go.

        It seems to me, the solution is to undermine the tyrant’s authority, the credibility of its message, or its very existence. This is what freed me. Those choosing self-preservation through obedience under its rule are acting reasonably.

        • Baal

           m6wg4bxw – you’re missing a critical bit of understanding.  These rules on speaking mean that women are second class citizens to Bristol University.   Regardless of the internal constancy of their beliefs, this is not ok and is immoral.  Their religious beliefs prevent them from acting like decent human beings.  That’s the relevant fairness.

          Having to choose ‘self preservation’ at BUCU is a problem isn’t ‘fair’.  It is coercion. 

          One excellent reason for the OP in the first place is that it’s not unreasonable to assume BUCU is typical of christian leadership and what the rest of us will be coerced into were we to let BUCU’s folks get greater power or even if we allow BUCU to continue this policy w/o expressing our concerns.

          • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

            I may be missing that critical bit, even after reading your post several times. I tried to find your point. I really did.

            Again, from the inside: This is about what God wants. Forget about BUCU; it serves merely as an intermediary. If God considers women as second-class citizens, if God isn’t fair, what choices do we have? We can obey or disobey, and accept the consequences. The scope of self preservation I mentioned was not limited to BUCU. It applies to all of existence. God isn’t running a university. He’s running everything!

  • married atheist

    When I got married, my Catholic mother-in-law gave me a Christian marriage book. I actually read some of it because they live in the middle of nowhere and have no internet. Anyway, the gist of the book was that the female author used to have a mind of her own and it caused her to disagree with her husband. So, she decided to submit to her husband like the Bible said and it saved her marriage! I can’t understand this type of thinking.

  • KeithCollyer

    I would be ashamed of my old university if it weren’t the Christians. Nothing they do surprises me

  • Tim

    This is fucking outrageous.  Lets hope that the rationist group kick up a stink and that the Student Union condem this and deny these nutters meeting rooms etc.

    I am stocked,  when I was at a (UK) Univerity 15 years ago, the CU was just a bunch of well-meaning slightly wet people who met up and sung a few hymns for the fellowship more than anything.  I was a non-believing church-goer myself until age 18 and went along to a couple of their meetings abd they were inoffensive and ever so slightly naff.  I only stopped going because I found sex, alcohol and rock and roll to be more fun ways to spend my time.  It seems that much has changed and that the only folk left in these groups are the nutters.  Such a shame.

  • Rwlawoffice

    As a Christian I do not believe their position is Biblical and frankly is silly.

    • http://www.mymusingcorner.wordpress.com/ Lana

       I am a Christian, and i think its very silly.

    • HannibalBarca

      1 Timothy 2:12? How do you explain that misogynistic piece of excrement away?

      • Glasofruix

        I’m sure there’s a word for it…..

        ….ah yes, cherrypicking. Apparently the true christians(tm) have the power to decide which part of the bible is a clear instruction and which part is a metaphor taken out of context by vile atheists such as ourselves.

  • jose

    So isn’t this illegal? Discrimination laws, anything?

    • Glasofruix

      You’ll find out that many laws “do not apply” to religious nonsense.

  • http://www.mymusingcorner.wordpress.com/ Lana

    Its what I wrote on my blog the other day, as someone who grew up as a fundamental Calvinists, fundamentalists are so desperate to hold onto a “literal” interpretation of the Bible (whatever that means) that they can’t bend the requirements even if it doesn’t make sense. And it doesn’t make sense to not allow women to speak. 

  • Rufus_t

    Aaaaand cue University of Bristol Students Union (UBU) making repeated statements.

    The first one states that “We have been made aware of a communication from the University of Bristol Christian Union, and we would like to assure our members and the general public that UBU and the full-time elected officers are investigating the issue further in consultation with the groups involved. In particular we will be making certain that our Equality Policy is properly adhered to in all cases.
    The University of Bristol Students’ Union takes allegations of discrimination very seriously. UBU has an equality policy that explains that we prohibit discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex and sexual orientation in line with The Equality Act 2010 and as one of our key values of equality and diversity.” from the Vice-President Welfare & Equality

    The second one  basically says the same as the first one with the additional notes that they are treating it using their formal complaints procedure, and please could they be allowed enough time to do so?

    Doesn’t seem too unreasonable, bearing in mind a formal complaint could see the Christian Union kicked out of UBU (and consequently losing all their access to cheap room hire and whatever share of the society money split that they would have got).

  • Kate

    Personally I don’t care in the slightest about what the CU wants to do within its own organisation provided it does not receive any money or facilities from the University.

  • Stonyground

    It seems to me that using a book like the Bible to decide moral issues has no place in a modern democracy. The fundamentalist position that, since the Bible is the word of God, it cannot be mistaken about anything, is at least honest and consistent. The problem is that this position is at odds with reality, not only is the Bible mistaken about pretty much everything, but there is no evidence that it is the word of God anyway. Once that you admit that the Bible contains a single error, stating that insects have four legs for example, then the whole notion that it is divinely inspired is falsified. It is totally illogical to reject the bits that have proven to be false but cling on doggedly to the parts that have yet to be falsified.  

  • WoodyTanaka

    While vile garbage lies at the heart of Christianity.  (All the Abrahamic religions, really.)  It will be a great day the day the last believer of this rot dies or comes to his senses. 


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