Bristol University Christian Union bars women from teaching


A university’s Christian Union is being investigated after ruling that women are not allowed to teach at its main weekly meetings.

Bristol University Christian Union also made it clear that women will only be able to teach as principal speakers at away weekends and during its mission weeks if they do so with a husband.

Coming just a fortnight after the Church of England’s General Synod voted against allowing women to become bishops, the stance of the Christian union has caused consternation at the university.

The students’ union said it took allegations of discrimination very seriously and would be investigating to make sure its equality policy was adhered to.

At the centre of the controversy is an email from the president of BUCU, Matt Oliver, that sets out when women are allowed to teach.

The email says: “We understand that this [women teaching] is a difficult issue for some and so decided that women would not teach on their own at our CU:Equip meetings [its principal weekly meeting], as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away or as our main speaker for mission weeks.”

It says a husband and wife can teach at the latter two events and adds: “This means that women are able to teach (including on their own) in any other CU setting.

The story made headlines in the Bristol student papers. The Tab reported: Christian Union Decide Women Should Be Seen Not Heard.

Written By: Steven Morris
continue to source article at


  1. I know.  Why don’t they just pin a red letter on them at away weekends without their husbands and during its mission weeks?  
    Yes, the language, the rules and conditions, the whole thing smacks of another era, in fact, of some fictional setting in another, bygone era.  No wonder the outgoing Archbishop of the CofE was calling for the church to move ‘with society’, no wonder he was embarrassed if that’s how outdated their operations really are.

  2. Fine if that is what they want.But the university must ensure that all and any of this society’s business takes place off the campus and is in no way financed or supported by the university or any of it’s officers. 

  3. “We understand that this (women teaching) is a difficult issue for some”.

    Well then, chuck out the “some”.

  4. They must keep doing things like this – it makes our job so much easier! I love the fact that the University Union is investigating to determine whether this is discrimination! I think, I might be able to guess the outcome of that!

  5. If the Abrahamic religions are so oppressive to women, how to they breed (at least here in the free west)?

    “We understand that this (women teaching) is a difficult issue for some”.

    Well then, chuck out the “some”.

    Actually it is better for the CU to keep the “some” and exempt half the university population from teaching wooism, –  letting the rest see what a backward minority of faith-head bigots the “some” are! 

    If you think about it: “What percentage of the student population is married? –  and how many who are, would accept their partner being excluded from full membership activities? (I suppose they could try to recruit fundamentalist Islamic members.)

    Bristol University students’ union will investigate whether the Christian Union broke its rules on equality.

    As the student union manages the distribution of funding (in grants) to student societies, (from member subscriptions) the CU could have its affiliation and funding stopped for breaking SU rules.  It could also be barred from access to SU property.

  7. Oh my dear alma mater,  what has happened to you? I used to be proud of you.

    The University was founded in 1876 as University College, Bristol. It
    was the first higher education institution in England to admit women on
    an equal basis to men.

    Bristol is still one of the best universities in the world[1]. Religion does poison everything!


  8. I think that religious organisations should be allowed to discriminate on membership however they like.

    The problem is that so many religious people are indoctrinated to think that they have to belong to this or that pre-established religious organisation. For example, the people who feel compelled to belong to the CofE when it won’t allow female bishops – why don’t they just start their own church that DOES allow women bishops, or Super Duper Women Bishops if that’s what they want to call themselves? Nobody is compelling them to remain in the CofE under rules they don’t like. It’s ridiculous.

    The solution is to make them realise that, if they are not allowed in one particular organisation, or they don’t like its rules, they can start their own organisation that is run entirely according to their own beliefs.

    So students at Bristol University can set up another Christian Union that allows full equality. It doesn’t matter at all that there is another Union that doesn’t allow full equality.

    I mean, people who like to play tennis don’t join a cricket club and then complain that its rules don’t allow them to play tennis. They start a tennis club with rules that are 100% favourable to their desire to play tennis.

    I think that once the religious realise they have no reason to be trapped within an organisation they don’t like, it will undermine the power and dogma of the established churches and swiftly lead to disestablishment.


  9. Hey, they’re just following the example of their favorite textbook:

    1 Corinthians
    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but
    they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
    And if they will
    learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame
    for women to speak in the church.

  10. I don’t understand the connection. What has Paul’s letter to the Corinthians written around 1900 years ago have to do with BUCU in 2012 ?

  11. @rdfrs-7287abb9b5c7be9c13722e1dfb0be8d5:disqus
    …and why do so many people in developing counrties enthusiastically embrace the religion of the people who conquered and subjugated them?

    Because those words come from a book that reckons to be inspired by the Christians’ god.  If you decide the “teachings” (derisive snort) in that book are wrong, you’re suggesting that god is giving his followers bad advice to pass on.  At least those who oppose women bishops/ministers/speakers at Bristol University are being consistent with their superstitious beliefs.  The “liberal” Christians are just making it up as they go along.  This may represent a continuity of religious methodology with existing “holy” books, but it suggests a disappointing failure of belief in the loony stuff that lies behind what they think is some version of truth.

  12. Er, it’s not a teaching, it’s a letter written to a specific group of people. 

    You might as well have cited Space Corps Directive 1742.

    Personally I don’t see the rationale in continuing to forbid women to speak on their own. I’d have though that the existence of women priests would have been a precedent there.
    That said I’m still a bit sore about not being admitted to the WI despite the fact I can bake a mean jam sponge

  13. Matt Oliver: “We understand that this [women teaching] is a difficult issue for some…”

    Yup, sure is, Matt. 

    Real big horny difficult issue for some.

    It’s your understanding of it that we can’t understand, Matt?


  14. Woman are inclined to be more religious than men..Explain that!.
    How obvious could it be, that religion is man made?.
    It couldn’t be more obvious in my opinion.

  15. You’re right. It is a private club of sorts and them’s the rules. However this is a club that gets itself into government. So, either thry admit women and keep their seats in the House of Lords, or else stick to their private boys’ club rules, keep women out, and forfeit their unelected seats. I could bloody care less.
    As you say – it is ridiculous.

  16.  You should taste my bottled plums!!! (Larry Grayson, couldn’t resist it)

  17. The A of C (Rowan Williams) is the moron who said Sharia was inevitable in the UK and should get Gov’t support??

  18.  I agree! This is a good thing, because it should generate more atheists.

  19.   A university’s Christian Union is being investigated after ruling that
    women are not allowed to teach at its main weekly meetings.
    The students’ union said it took allegations of discrimination very
    seriously and would be investigating to make sure its equality policy
    was adhered to.

    I should not worry too much!  – The Student Union committee investigating them will undoubtedly have a proportion of women members – and may well be lacking in bigoted male representatives.!

  20. Two things gotten wrong with this story everywhere; the CU sent out their e-mail (i.e. took this decision) before the CofE general synod stuff happened, approx 7 November or so.

    I was the one who called it, from being on the CU mailing list after an interfaith a while back, though it was the UBU AASS guys who did all the legwork.

    The other thing somewhat misreported of course, is that the CU were actually trying to make forward progress from an apparently unspoken* ‘No women teachers at all’ position!

    *It appears there might not have actually been any ‘No women teachers’ policy in force, perhaps it ‘went without saying’… as they say!

  21. Enlightenme:

    The other thing somewhat misreported of course, is that the CU were actually trying to make forward progress from the ‘No women teachers at all’ position!

    I would like to know when any so-called union of belief in a man / god / carpenter ever was progressive?  The whole history of Christianity has shown it up to be nothing more than the lickspittle of the, then, ruling class. Always reactionary, always ignorant of science and always  a perpetuator of mistaken ideas.

    As if women bishops would be any more “progressive” than their male counterparts!  Yes both men and women can peddle nonsense. I would prefer that both sexes talked reason and sense.

  22. Yes, the Very Reverend same!  He does, however,  deserve the title you gave him for that Sharia fiasco, I agree with you on that one.  

  23. This news shares the same fundamental flaw with all other “religion news” sections of the newspapers. It covers any number of human meetings, human confrontations and other man-contrived bullshit but there’s no mention anywhere of what Thor or allah actually did or said that week. So nothing to report from the gods then? All quiet on the supernatural front, as usual?

  24. Well, the CU did say God’s latest opinion on this matter was sought;

    a lot of time exploring this issue, seeking God’s wisdom on it and
    discussing it together as a committee, we made a decision…”


  25.  The BUCU evidently thinks it has a lot to do with them, because, having made a U-turn on this policy, they’ve had the effrontery (or the ignorance) to talk of Biblical support for equality of the sexes. There’s plenty of obnoxious misogyny in the Bible apart from Paul’s letter.

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