1st Edition

Gender Inequality in the Ordained Ministry of the Church of England Examining Conservative Male Clergy Responses to Women Priests and Bishops

By Alex D.J. Fry Copyright 2024

    This book offers a fresh social scientific analysis of how theologically conservative male clergy respond to the ordination of women to the priesthood and their consecration as bishops within the Church of England. The question of women’s place in the formal structures of England’s Established Church remains contested. For many, to prevent women from occupying such offices is often understood to be a matter of inequality, whereas those who oppose their ordination see it as a matter of obedience to God’s will. Tensions have become heightened in a culture that increasingly promotes the rights of individuals who have historically been marginalised and that challenges traditional social roles. This volume explores the gender attitudes held by clergy in the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical traditions of the Church and considers how these gender attitudes shape the way they think about women’s ordination and how they interact with female colleagues. It also considers the contribution of a range of social phenomena to the formation of these gender attitudes. The author draws on and develops a variety of sociological and psychological theories that help to explain the processes that lead to the formation of clergy attitudes towards gender more broadly.

    Introduction; 2. The Church of England and gender in historical perspective; 3. Clerical sexism; 4. Empathy, intersectionality, and gender schemata; 5. Contact and contact avoidance; 6. Schism and clergy capital; 7. Gender attitudes in (inter)national perspective; 8. Summary, reflections, and implications; 9. Conclusion


    Alex Fry completed his PhD in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, UK. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Health and Illness at the University of Bournemouth, UK.

    "What do conservative Christian male church leaders really think about ordained women, and why? It’s an important question almost wholly unexplored, until now. In this significant new work, readers can learn from male clergy’s rich biographical stories and reflections and, through Alex Fry’s sensitive analysis, gain both theoretical and practical insights." - Abby Day, Goldsmiths, University of London

    "This careful and thoughtful book analyses extended interviews about the ordination of women with three groups of Anglican male clergy. Tellingly, clergy often displayed opposition to feminism, and gender stereotyping alongside their opposition to women as clergy. Dr Fry’s judicious conclusion is that ‘given the Church of England’s established position in the life of the nation, it is appropriate to more directly address the patriarchy that evidently exists within its structures’. Well worth buying." - Robin Gill, University of Kent

    "Fry takes the reader through detailed research findings, demonstrating how clergymen interact with clergywomen and the Church of England. Using concepts such as intersectionality, he is able to hold up a lens which provides insights which will inform the way clergy see themselves. The nuance provided by this depth and breadth of analysis is intriguing. This book will be of particular interest to church leaders today." - Mandy Robbins, Wrexham Glyndŵr University