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BHA: ‘Holy Redundant’: Bishops in the House of Lords campaign back by popular demand

The British Humanist Association has reactivated Holy Redundant campaign urging the public to email their MPs against continuing reserved places for bishops in the House of Lords following the Church of England’s 20th Nov 2012 vote to not to allow women to be bishops.

Equality campaigners are arguing that Church has chosen to be a sexist organisation by refusing women the right to hold highest leadership positions and therefore should not be allowed automatic seats in the House of Lords, as this clearly does not comply with the spirit of UK equality law. An online petition has been set up calling for a debate in Parliament on this issue.

During the short lived passage of the House of Lords Reform Bill before it was abandoned, thousands of people wrote to their MPs through the Holy Redundant site and ensured that the issue of Bishops was high on the agenda. Mark Harper MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Cabinet Office, revealed on 23 May that of all the letters received by the Government on Lords Reform, the majority had concerned the Bishops. The Government’s intention of retaining the Bishops was also heavily criticised during Parliamentary debate in July, with one in every five speakers referring to ending the role of the Lords Spiritual in a reformed House.

Andrew Copson BHA Chief Executive, commented, ‘This latest activity from the Church of England in relation to women bishops yet again highlights how unrepresentative the Church is of broader society. We have long argued against the presence of Bishops in Parliament, which is an unfair form of religious privilege which should have no place in a democratic society.’

‘Anything from 60% to 74% of the public wants to see reserved places for Bishops go – keeping them is unpopular. It is also unjustified – none of the arguments advanced to keep them hold water and even if you believe that Bishops have something important to add to debate, that is not a sufficient reason why they should have special reserved places rather than come through the same appointments producer as anyone else. The truth is that places for Bishops are an anachronistic feudal hangover, the retention of which is supported not by democratic will or principles of public accountability but by opaque vested interests.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 248596 or at andrew@humanism.org.uk.

Visit the Holy Redundant website: http://holyredundant.org.uk/

Read more about the BHA’s work on Bishops in the Lords.

Read the BHA’s briefing on Bishops in the Lords.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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