Disestablishment of Church of England would be welcome, say leading bishops

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt Rev John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, and the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, accused Parliament of becoming increasingly liberal and unchristian, and said that breaking the relationship would bring greater independence.

The bishops are the most senior ecclesiastical figures to support Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said earlier this month that a separation of church and state would not be "the end of the world".

There is already growing pressure among Labour MPs for the Government to press ahead with disestablishment. Three former cabinet members said they backed the idea and it is clear that many senior figures within the Church would not oppose such a move.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

Posted December 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. A Senior Priest wrote:

Simply put, the CoE has been at least as badly led by those in the upper reaches of the hierarchy as has the American Church. At this point, since it has divorced itself from the middle and upper classes which were its bread and butter (so to speak), and the lower classes in general were reluctant supporters dragged along by the toffs, it would not survive disestablishment for long. Now that people are educated and willing to question ecclesiastical authority, they are in general no longer interested in hanging on every word promulged by someone who would never rise above a bank clerk in the real world. Of course, there are a few who might have made an academic career, swots like the present ABC, who REALLY needs a makeover, since what he projects visually either turns ordinary people off or makes them think he’s more than a bit odd.

December 29, 1:32 am | [comment link]
2. driver8 wrote:

I think I disagree with every point you make. The decline in participation (Sunday attendance baptism, confirmation etc.) in almost every denomination has been underway for at least a century in England. Perhaps in part because the mid Victorian England had, in historical terms, such high levels of participation in church life. Yet, the state and various related institutions (cultural, intellectual etc.) have been loosing their ties to the COE since at least 1829. IMO it’s a complicated phenomenon - cross denominational, across several decades and across most of western Europe - and demands a more sophisticated analysis than you have offered.

December 29, 4:13 am | [comment link]
3. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

December 29, 1:04 pm | [comment link]
4. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Well the ABC said he wasn’t much bothered about the law on blasphemy.  Parliament decided that if he couldn’t be bothered, neither could they.  The consequence - a statue on public display of Christ with an erect member.

Now on disestablishment the ABC says things which have been widely misinterpreted since in the relevant interview he backtracked from his ‘not the end of the world’ comment to explain why he is not currently in favour.  But the damage was done.

I sometimes wonder whose side he is on?

December 29, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
5. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

The other thing is that Gordon Brown and his government have consistently supported the CofE.  There was particular support for the ABC in some of what I will call his more speculative comments on Sharia law and a succession of other gaffes.  There is no support or wisdom from the ABC in return - he insists on biting the hand which helps him - one can just see the backlash against the church coming from enraged labour politicians.

I say that as someone who is not a supporter of this government - for us to be seen as politically partizan is something I think we will live to regret.

December 29, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
6. Spiro wrote:

The problem is not with the “state-church” status; it is with unbelieving and spineless bishops and clergy, who are afraid of actually confronting the culture and presenting Christ as King and Savior, and in their cowardice, are leading uncaring and half-caring flocks to the slaughter.

The last time I checked, Anglicanism was a state church when it took the Gospel to the outer reaches of the world, bringing Light to the darkest of all places. The Lux Mundi.

The present day pool of bishops and clergy is made up of a bunch of semi lunatics. Only a few of them, the likes of +Michael,  are standing up to the threat and against the tide of half-backed “enlightened” public opinions and the apologists for more secularization
The word of God and courage and conviction are all that are needed for the job. The Holy Spirit does the rest. All the tools of the trade are there. But as the Brits would say: “A bad workman quarrels with his tools”.

Courage, courage and the right conviction! Repeat: Courage, courage and the right conviction!

Fr. Kingsley Jon-Ubabuco
Arlington Texas

December 29, 4:13 pm | [comment link]
7. driver8 wrote:

Well that’s one analysis! Another would be that significant multi faceted cultural change occurred between 1850 and 2008. If the problem was simply poor leadership, then one might expect some major denominations in western Europe to have bucked the trend over the last century. In fact none has. The declining trends in England began not in 1990, or even 1970 but early in the twentieth century. (Some Anglican chaplains in WW1, for example, noted with shock how far many service personnel were from the christian faith).

December 30, 12:52 am | [comment link]
8. driver8 wrote:

Let me add:

1. I’m not saying there aren’t interesting counter trends - there are - as the COE statisticians always remind us. For them to have significant impact they will need to endure into the medium term and grow in effect. I pray they do so.

2. I’m also not saying that leadership has no effect - I’m sure it does. All I’m saying is that massive social changes in the twentieth century have been highly significant causes which were not brought about by church leaders, but to which they have attempted to respond.

3. It is possible that the COE as it is - an aspirationally national church, with increasingly thin national coverage - is unsustainable. That doesn’t mean the COE has no future - it means that the future may look very different than the last 150 years. It may mean - whether establishment remains or not - that the church comes to understand itself rather differently. New patterns of ministry, evangelism, church life etc. - are being tentatively broached.

December 30, 1:06 am | [comment link]
9. A Senior Priest wrote:

My ancient Parish Clerk used to say…“The rot set in about 1937… when ordinary people began to have radios and motors.”

January 2, 9:53 pm | [comment link]
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