A university’s Christian society has banned women from speaking at events and teaching at meetings, unless they are accompanied by their husband, it has been revealed.
The Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) had originally decided women would be allowed to teach at meetings after their international secretary resigned in protest, but the group has since changed its policy.
The Huffington Post UK has seen the email sent out by president Matt Oliver to all BUCU members which 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 decided that women would not teach on their own at our weekly CU meetings, as the main speaker on our Bristol CU weekend away, or as our main speaker for mission weeks.
“But a husband and wife can teach together in these.”
Oliver then warns the society members to “guard the way we all talk about it in the coming weeks, making sure we’re not gossiping”.
Rebecca Reid, a member of the university’s feminist society wrote on the group’s said: “I’m Catholic and I think that’s obscene.” Student Lucy King added: “So it’s ok for women to teach, as long as they’re not the most important speaker?!? This is really unbelievable.”
Oliver’s email announced the departure of the international secretary James Howlett, who, according to Oliver, felt he “cannot support the decision on women teaching”.
“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,” Oliver continues. “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.”
Shannon Keis and Laura Ho, co-presidents of Bristol University’s feminist society described the decision as “hugely discriminatory, deeply offensive and sexist to women”.
“They are suggesting that women have more worth as speakers if speaking with their husband while assuming that all women are interested in marriage, or men for that matter,” they said in a statement. “We would hope for women to have equal opportunities to speak at all occasions, whether alone or not. Religious groups should not be immune from question or criticism with regards to gender equality.”