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December 5, 2012 / sujato

And now, in religions’ baffling inability to cope with women…

A Christian group at Bristol University in England is being investigated for its discriminatory policies. Women are banned from teaching at their weekly meetings without their husbands beside them. The email from their president said:

“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.”

The email goes on to say that women may teach at these meetings, as long as it it with their husbands.

It is fantastic that these discriminatory policies are being dealt with at last. The sad thing is, of course, that similar discriminatory policies are being practiced in Buddhism. From Amaravati’s notorious “Five Points” of discrimination against women:

2. In line with this, leadership in ritual situations where there are both bhikkhus and siladhara–such as giving the anumodana [blessings to the lay community] or precepts, leading the chanting or giving a talk–is presumed to rest with the senior bhikkhu present. He may invite a siladhara to lead; if this becomes a regular invitation it does not imply a new standard of shared leadership.

The full list is on Leigh Brasington’s site. He’s added a variation to the list that was created some time ago, where “monk” and “nun” are replaced by “Whites” and “Blacks”. There are more variations here. The alternate wordings create a stark and disturbing impression, as if the original was not creepy enough.

We can only hope that Buddhist groups realize the harm that these policies create and change them before they are forced to do so by the law.

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Leave a Comment
  1. ggwen / Dec 6 2012 4:54 pm

    Thank you, Ajahn Sujato, for this information, but also and especially for supporting Bhikkhunis (and with that, women on their spiritual way) so actively. Anjali _()_ Ruth

  2. ex catholic / Dec 19 2012 10:45 pm

    is it possible to be a nun at dhammasara and subvert the garudhammas and the subserviance act
    Im trying to find the middle way in a set of bad options

    • sujato / Dec 22 2012 12:26 pm

      Well, you should probably ask the nuns!

  3. AN / Dec 25 2012 1:28 pm


    Not related to your above topic…

    i was checking for the spirit of Christmas and this website came up…

    Dark shadows …

    wonder if its true in regards to not “practice based on faith only” and not “practice on heresay”?



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