Church and state debated in England

Two items.

1. Theo Hobson in the Guardian on disestablishment: It is worth noting that Rowan Williams has failed to start the debate; he has allowed the reactionary position to become stronger – a piece of major political cowardice.

Might reform come from elsewhere? Of course the secularist lobbies advocate it, but in a sense this is unhelpful: it makes it seem an atheist cause, and so strengthens the hand of the Anglicans, who scarify with the prospect of a Dawkinsish tyranny. Ideally it would come from a political movement that was also Christian, led by a new Cromwell figure.

Why is disestablishment not a mainstream liberal cause? It baffles me frankly. Why is it hardly ever mentioned by the columnists of this paper, except as a quick aside? …. To my mind it is the very essence of liberalism, that church and state should be separate. This is the English revolution that we have never quite had.

2. C of E and RC lobbying for right to discriminate:

Representatives of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have told the House of Commons that they will fight to maintain their powers to discriminate in cases of employment and against limits proposed in the Equality Bill.

The two churches say they fear their “right” to discriminate on the basis of factors other than religion, would be “unreasonably” limited by the new Equality Bill.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, commented: “At times it seems as if advisors to the two largest churches in Britain are on a crash course with reality, with fairness, and with the very meaning of the Christian message itself when it comes to handling equality and diversity concerns. Negativity, self-interest and an instinct to exclude rather than welcome is turning more and more people away from institutional religion.” He added: “The churches do not seem to understand that inward-looking self-preservation is a self-defeating strategy. This is something the founder of Christianity declared very pointedly to his followers in the Gospel accounts. But the irony and poignancy of this still seems lost on some of his modern-day followers.”

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