Wednesday, January 19, 2005

An established church in a secular state?

The Church of England is reconsidering how many church appointments the Prime Minister should make.

That brings up a larger question: should the Prime Minister make appointments to church offices at all? And that brings up a further question: should the Church of England continue to be an established church?

Although like any red-blooded American, I don’t like the idea of an established church, I concede it might be feasible . . . when a society has a Christian consensus and when the vast majority of government office holders are indeed Christian. Note I said “might be.” A cursory look at the history of the Church of England shows that having an established church can be, quite literally, a royal mess.

But when you have a secular society and state, then the state should butt out of church affairs. Having a secular state involved in church affairs (with the exception of matters such as, say, preservation of historic church buildings) can only be corrosive to that church in the long run. Among other issues, what’s to keep a secular Prime Minister from appointing an Archbishop of Canterbury who is hostile to the Faith? Continuing to have an established church in England is problematic, both for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion as well.

The time for an established church in England is past.

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