Pointy bishop hats for everyone! Photo: Getty
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I'm a big Jesus fan! Make me the first lesbian bishop, Church of England

All over the world, socially liberal Christians would be able to say that they’d lived to see a Jewish lesbian don the pointy hat of bishopdom

Yay for the Church of England, I suppose. The slightly liberal parents of the Christian world (the kind who might let you stay up to watch something on the telly that contains adult situations) have just granted women the right to wear big, pointy hats.

From my entirely non-Christian perspective, the issue of female bishops in the C of E has, for aeons, been going a bit like this:

General Synod: “I don’t know… God gets really smitey when we let women do stuff.”

Desmond Tutu (the voice of reason): “Let women be bishops. Also, let people be gay and stuff.”

General Synod: “No.”

As of this week though, a consensus has finally been reached within the Church that bishops can and will have vaginas. Meanwhile, in another longstanding dispute over modernisation, the Archbishop of Canterbury “continues to struggle” with the idea of gay marriage. As it stands, the C of E still officially defines marriage as something between a man and a woman. PR-wise, it occurs to me that the self-identified Church of liberalism, puppies and rainbows should move forward on this issue pretty sharpish. And if they’d like to align themselves with The Gays in one decisive action, I suggest that they make me, Eleanor M Margolis (BA), the first ever lesbian bishop.

Since I’m also Jewish, this move would give the Church double “look how chill we are” points. All over the world, socially liberal Christians would be able to say that they’d lived to see a Jewish lesbian don the pointy hat of bishopdom. Oh, I’m also agnostic.

So what, you may well ask, are my credentials? For starters, I’m a big Jesus fan. I went to primary school before teaching from the Bible became unfashionable in state education. As a strong believer in the separation of church and state, I’m not saying it’s a shame that this practice is dying out. On the other hand, I remember hearing Bible stories about Jesus helping the poor and generally being a sweet, beardy socialist and thinking he seemed cool. This is something that’s stuck with me, and I often find myself quoting Jesus at right wing Christians, while wondering how it’s even possible to be right wing and Christian, when Jesus was such an obvious lefty.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.” – John 34:35. If you take issue with that, you’re a dick.

Aside from being a Jesus freak, I’m excellent at moving diagonally across chequered floors. You should see me – I swoop. And while I struggle to see how religion isn’t messing up the world in countless ways (I’m a non-practising Jew, by the way) a big part of me is desperate for it to be used as a force for good.

So, General Synod (who I’ve probably grossly offended) hear me out. I suspect that the kind of women you have in mind for bishopdom are, you know, massive Christians. But was Jesus Christian? Make this Sapphic Semite a bishop and kill two doves with one stone. Except don’t actually kill them, because that would be a bit violent for the C of E. Wing them, maybe.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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How Donald Trump is slouching towards the Republican nomination

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb.

In America, you can judge a crowd by its merchandise. Outside the Connecticut Convention Centre in Hartford, frail old men and brawny moms are selling “your Trump 45 football jerseys”, “your hats”, “your campaign buttons”. But the hottest item is a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Hillary sucks . . . but not like Monica!” and, on the back: “Trump that bitch!” Inside, beyond the checkpoint manned by the Transportation Security Administration and the secret service (“Good!” the man next to me says, when he sees the agents), is a family whose three kids, two of them girls, are wearing the Monica shirt.

Other people are content with the shirts they arrived in (“Waterboarding – baptising terrorists with freedom” and “If you don’t BLEED red, white and blue, take your bitch ass home!”). There are 80 chairs penned off for the elderly but everyone else is standing: guys in motorcycle and military gear, their arms folded; aspiring deal-makers, suited, on cellphones; giggling high-school fatsos, dressed fresh from the couch, grabbing M&M’s and Doritos from the movie-theatre-style concession stands. So many baseball hats; deep, bellicose chants of “Build the wall!” and “USA!”. (And, to the same rhythm, “Don-ald J!”)

A grizzled man in camouflage pants and combat boots, whose T-shirt – “Connecticut Militia III%” – confirms him as a member of the “patriot” movement, is talking to a zealous young girl in a short skirt, who came in dancing to “Uptown Girl”.

“Yeah, we were there for Operation American Spring,” he says. “Louis Farrakhan’s rally of hate . . .”

“And you’re a veteran?” she asks. “Thank you so much!”

Three hours will pass. A retired US marine will take the rostrum to growl, “God bless America – hoo-rah!”; “Uptown Girl” will play many more times (much like his speeches, Donald J’s playlist consists of a few items, repeated endlessly), before Trump finally looms in and asks the crowd: “Is this the greatest place on Earth?”

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb. Only a minority within a minority of Americans, it was assumed, could possibly be stupid enough to think a Trump presidency was a good idea. He won New Hampshire and South Carolina with over 30 per cent of the Republican vote, then took almost 46 per cent in Nevada. When he cleaned up on Super Tuesday in March, he was just shy of 50 per cent in Massachusetts; a week later, he took 47 per cent of the votes in Mississippi.

His rivals, who are useless individually, were meant to co-operate with each other and the national party to deny him the nomination. But Trump won four out of the five key states being contested on “Super-Duper Tuesday” on 15 March. Then, as talk turned to persuading and co-opting his delegates behind the scenes, Trump won New York with 60 per cent.

Now, the campaign is trying to present Trump as more “presidential”. According to his new manager, Paul Manafort, this requires him to appear in “more formal settings” – without, of course, diluting “the unique magic of Trump”. But whether or not he can resist denouncing the GOP and the “corrupt” primary system, and alluding to violence if he is baulked at at the convention, the new Trump will be much the same as the old.

Back in Hartford: “The Republicans wanna play cute with us, right? If I don’t make it, you’re gonna have millions of people that don’t vote for a Republican. They’re not gonna vote at all,” says Trump. “Hopefully that’s all, OK? Hopefully that’s all, but they’re very, very angry.”

This anger, which can supposedly be turned on anyone who gets in the way, has mainly been vented, so far, on the protesters who disrupt Trump’s rallies. “We’re not gonna be the dummies that lose all of our jobs now. We’re gonna be the smart ones. Oh, do you have one over there? There’s one of the dummies . . .”

There is a frenzied fluttering of Trump placards, off to his right. “Get ’em out! . . . Don’t hurt ’em – see how nice I am? . . . They really impede freedom of speech and it’s a disgrace. But the good news is, folks, it won’t be long. We’re just not taking it and it won’t be long.”

It is their removal by police, at Trump’s ostentatious behest, that causes the disruption, rather than the scarcely audible protesters. He seems to realise this, suddenly: “We should just let ’em . . . I’ll talk right over them, there’s no problem!” But it’s impossible to leave the protesters where they are, because it would not be safe. His crowd is too vicious.

Exit Trump, after exactly half an hour, inclusive of the many interruptions. His people seem uplifted but, out on the street, they are ambushed by a large counter-demonstration, with a booming drum and warlike banners and standards (“Black Lives Matter”; an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, holding aloft Trump’s severed head). Here is the rest of the world, the real American world: young people, beautiful people, more female than male, every shade of skin colour. “F*** Donald Trump!” they chant.

After a horrified split-second, the Trump crowd, massively more numerous, rallies with “USA!” and – perplexingly, since one of the main themes of the speech it has just heard was the lack of jobs in Connecticut – “Get a job!” The two sides then mingle, unobstructed by police. Slanging matches break out that seem in every instance to humiliate the Trump supporter. “Go to college!” one demands. “Man, I am in college, I’m doin’ lovely!”

There is no violence, only this: some black boys are dancing, with liquid moves, to the sound of the drum. Four young Trump guys counter by stripping to their waists and jouncing around madly, their skin greenish-yellow under the street lights, screaming about the building of the wall. There was no alcohol inside; they’re drunk on whatever it is – the elixir of fascism, the unique magic of Trump. It’s a hyper but not at all happy drunk.

As with every other moment of the Trump campaign so far, it would have been merely some grade of the cringeworthy – the embarrassing, the revolting, the pitiful – were Trump not slouching closer and closer, with each of these moments, to his nomination. 

This article first appeared in the 28 April 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The new fascism