• Jules Gomes

Bishops in Bully Pulpit: Get Naked in Cathedrals but Mind your Language in Parliament

On June 1, 1599, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London banned the printing of satires, epigrams, and unlicensed histories and plays.

Archbishop John Whitgift and Bishop Richard Bancroft also demanded the burning of other works that gleefully flung verbal dung at the bishops’ dunce caps. Many of these works of comical gusto imitated the Roman satirist Juvenal.

Such an “indecorous mode of social representation, was simply too ideologically destabilising for the bishops to tolerate,” writes literary historian William Jones.

Half a millennium later, the Church of England’s mitred mafia is asking us to hold our tongue and mind our language. Destabilised by the bucking bronco of Brexit, all 118 bishops have stuck together like coal tar and penned a finger-wagging epistle at politicians for using language “not worthy of our country.”

The bishops are virtuosi at dodging or stifling debate.

Anthony Trollope would have welcomed this Anglican anathema as grist for the Barchester mill. When Mr Crawley, curate of Hogglestock, addresses Mrs Proudie with the words: “Peace, woman,” Trollope notes that “the bishop jumped out of his chair at hearing the wife of his bosom called a woman.”

Trollopian execrations against the episcopes are Christmas crackers compared to the incendiary Martin Marprelate Tracts merrily doing the rounds in England from 1588 to 1589.

Here’s a sparkler from Marprelate: “Our lord bishops, that swinish rabble, are petty antichrists, petty popes, proud prelates, intolerable withstanders of reformation, enemies of the gospel, and most covetous wretched priests.”

Hailing Marprelate as “a heroic figure,” C. S. Lewis wrote that the pseudonymous writer had no “sympathy with those who make prim mouths at him for introducing scurrility into a theological debate, for debate was precisely what the bishops had suppressed.”

The bishops are virtuosi at dodging or stifling debate. “As Bishops of the Church of England, we make this statement conscious of the great challenges to our nations and to their leaders,” they prattle with ponderous pomposity in their memo to parliament.

When faced with “the great challenges to our nations” like the abortion genocide (9million babies killed in Britain since 1967) or the industrial scale grooming and rape of white underclass girls by Pakistani Muslim predators, the bishops take a vow of silence and turn into Trappist monks.

Nor do the bishops address the coma of Christian civilisation, the decline of the family, the scourge of prescriptive multiculturalism, the persecution of Muslim converts to Christianity in towns like Bradford, the plague of promiscuity with its resulting epidemic of STIs, the pestilence of fatherlessness and single motherhood, the theft of childhood innocence through Kinseyian sex education, the fraud of transgenderism or the death of modesty in dressing and behaviour.

The bishops are like the Leftist students who fight confederate statues in the US. Statues don’t fight back. It is easy to smash a statue or rail against carbon emissions or tell a parliamentarian to mind his language. You won’t get persecuted for a homily on unity—one of Archbishop Justin Welby’s fixations (never mind the Lukan warning that Jesus has come to bring division).

When faced with “the great challenges to our nations” the bishops turn into Trappist monks.

Even a blind man in a pitch-black room can spot the inverse moral code of the bishops—including evangelicals like Rod Thomas and Julian Henderson—who have signed the “mind your language” letter but are as speechless as the Trafalgar Square lions on the high-voltage evils crippling the country.

In their letter, reeking with the stench of moral grandstanding, the bishops thump their tambourines calling for respect. “It is our view and most solemn warning that we must find better ways of acting,” is how the letter ends.

Respect? Better ways of acting? Like condemning offensive speech in parliament but commending obscene fashion-shows in cathedrals?

A fortnight ago, Southwark Cathedral turned its nave into a catwalk for the London Fashion Week.

Here’s how Vogue reported it:

Before it began, the music was pumping and the cocktails powerful. For those who were not under the influence, there was the intoxicating proximity to influencers: Photographers jostled to shoot Lottie Moss, Sabrina Elba, Munroe Bergdorf, Victoria Hervey, Hana Cross, Ed Westwick, Mary Charteris, and many others. This whetted the appetite. However, the most potent ingredient of all in Macdonald’s hot-show recipe was, of course, the clothes.

Or, more accurately, the lack of clothes: the show bordered on pornographic—Southwark Cathedral outstripped Playboy and Penthouse. Dr Gavin Ashenden, Queen’s former chaplain, labelled the show the “antithesis of the Christian gospel” for “hiding the state of the soul in an excess of glamour.”

The chowderheaded woke clergy running Southwark Cathedral didn’t seem to notice that the fashion show was also the very antithesis of their own gospel of inclusion and egalitarianism.

There was one and only one female (and male) body shape parading itself as the ideal body shape and the prototype of the human being created in God’s image and likeness. Every other shape and form was excluded. Not a single female bishop would make the cut if she’d auditioned for the Southwark Cathedral ramp.

Not a single female bishop would make the cut if she’d auditioned for the Southwark Cathedral ramp.

The fashion industry has devastated the lives of our young girls. According to a Children’s Society report (2016) more than one-third of British girls aged 10-15 are becoming increasingly unhappy with their appearance.

The number of girls who hate their bodies because they don’t look like emaciated Barbie-dolls has risen by 8% from 647,400 to 699,700 between 2009/10 and 2013/14—with more girls suffering from anorexia, bulimia, dieting, self-harm, and distorted female body image.

Many of the women who conform to these ideals—such as fashion models—can do so only because they suffer from eating disorders, writes Emily L. Newman in Female Body Image in Contemporary Art: Dieting, Eating Disorders, Self-Harm, and Fatness. “Their public identities and their work thus both hinge on blatant endorsement of disordered eating,“ she states.

The Weltschmerz has now spread to boys, notes the 2019 Children’s Society report, as the happiness of boys with their appearance is significantly lower in 2016–17 than in 2009–10. Diversity is verboten when it comes to conformity to beauty as defined by the fashion industry.

Women are constantly bombarded with images of beautiful women whose putatively “ideal,” yet heavily retouched bodies are unattainable, Naomi Wolf pointed out in her seminal book The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women.

Western women are now forced to look a certain way and the feminist women bishops were silent when an Anglican cathedral was used to reinforce this dogma. Not one questioned the problematic prioritising of ultra-thin female bodies. Not one called for a counter-seminar on size discrimination.

Even the female bishop who began her episcopate by campaigning against the oppressive idealisation of the female body went AWOL. “None of the girls were happy with their bodies, and [they] talked about living in a society in which they needed to be fixed,” Bishop Rachel Treweek had said in 2016.

Today, she like other women bishops is silent—a tame mildewed Marxist, domesticated, and part of the homogenous pap in the House of Bishops, spouting blithely bogus pieties.

“Marprelate has transformed the august bishop into a putrid, diseased, excremental, lazy animal, who writes foolish and sloppy theology,” writes Maria Prendergast in her academic tome Railing, Reviling, and Invective in English Literary Culture, 1588-1617.

Who needs a Marprelate in today’s Church of England when the bishops are as keen as mustard to make buffoons of themselves?