Will The Church of England be De-established?

The clash between revisionists and traditionalists in the Church of England over same sex marriage looks set to boil over in the next couple of months; and as we find out the stakes are high.

Bishops have come under fire by those who demand change for dragging their heels on this issue. Now the pressure is on for them to move things along. Traditionalists on the other hand have vowed to stand firm and defend the teachings of the Church; come what may.

It looks as if the Archbishop of Canterbury has his work cut out for him as this type of disunity in the Church has not been seen in two decades.

Late last year Labour MP Ben Bradshaw called for the Church of England to change its doctrine of marriage; or face the threat of disestablishment.

If you don’t know he is gay and was one of the first MP’s to register a civil partnership.

He has said that if there is no change there may be growing calls for de-establishment.

The UK parliament may be the gayest parliament in the world with as many as 9% identifying as LGBT. This stands out when you compare it to 1.8% of the population as a whole.

Strangely enough his remarks were not splashed across the mainstream news as is normally the case with this type of thing. As it turns out only the Guardian was bold enough to publish this story.

What Bradshaw seems to be saying is that it’s a human right to be both same sex married and to be ordained in the Church; in fact it should trump the Church’s own freedom.

He also resents what he sees as the ‘privilege’ enjoyed by the Anglican Bishops in the House of Lords; with 26 seats set aside for them.

His views mirror that of the Freedom from Religion Foundation who sees the representation of people of faith, who just happen to be Christians; as being all about power. And it goes without saying that of overreach.

While there is a good argument for de-establishment and Church State separation to protect the faith; Bradshaw’s reasons are off. He sees it more like an dictatorship along the lines of; you can have access to privilege and power as long as you do what we tell you to do.

You would think that he of all people should know how establishment works with him being on the Ecclesiastical Committee and all. This is the group that forwards legislation from the Church to Parliament for formal approval; note that it does not work the other way round.

This system goes back a hundred years so what Bradford proposes has no precedent; in respect of recent history anyway.

In any case this is a story within a bigger one with the COE in what appears to be a major state of flux. Who knows where it will all lead is the only thing that can be said about it.

As everyone knows UK Parish bishops have this tendency to flake when it comes to established doctrine more often than not. So there is this warranted fear they will do so big time this time round.

This round will kick off when the Church’s synod meets next month after the completion of a five year assessment project by its bishops.

This may spell turbulence ahead if what is known so far is a sign of what is to come.

If the synod rules in favour of blessings for same sex couples as is thought to be the case this is only the start to a push for same sex marriage. After then it will be welcome to the new COE. Then schism is bound to be on the cards from the traditionalist side.

The idea of blessing what has been condemned is already a bridge too far for the more conservative-minded.

Then there is a third side that hopes to be able to accommodate both sides; but this usually tends to be a mess in practice.

Many think trying to balance two opposing sides will dissolve into a logical absurdity and Church as they know it will be no more. And of course unity will be the casualty.

What is odd is as the synod draws nearer more bishops are coming out in favour of this move. It is as if they have just been waiting in the wings all this time.

Others still insist that each parish and its vicar should get to decide on the way they will go.

On the chance the synod votes against this change there are concerns that parliament will impose it on the Church anyway.

Just to let you know the COE‘s archbishop of Canterbury is behind these changes 100 percent.

Even if parliament does not carry through with their threat to de-establish the COE this time; what if the Labour government is in charge?

What to say other than interesting times are ahead for the COE; and we shall see.



Political animal, interested in the story behind the story. A concepts driven individual.

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Ann Carriage

Political animal, interested in the story behind the story. A concepts driven individual.