A Blow for Antidisestablishmentarianism

Religion has been facing quite a battle recently. The death of a mother in Ireland due to her being refused an abortion, the refusal of women bishops and the ever intensifying argument for gay marriage have all contributed to this.
Though many people regard the current link between the church and the state to be merely a formality, the church still plays an important role in decision-making, particularly in England. There are currently 26 seats in the House of Lords reserved for high Church officials and the Church of England may only pass motions if the Parliament agrees.
After the announcement of the Church of England’s rejection of female bishops, comedian Katy Brand took to twitter with her opinion;
“Church of England and State should separate now. Church can be its own radical, irrelevant, right-wing group, bit like BNP or similar.”
While this view may be a little strong, there are many people who agree with the sentiment.
Jane McQueen tweeted “Time to separate church and state. Idea that in 2012 one religion is state-official is ludicrous. Disestablishment ASAP!”
However many Twitter users believe that a more equal church would be a better solution, such as @SophieHenzel;
“I don’t believe in God(s) but I believe in women and I believe in equality. What a wasted opportunity to welcome progress in the CofE.”
The Church of England is often regarded as a major power in holding back social progression.
The main argument against women becoming bishops comes from the Evangelicals who use St Paul’s letters from the bible as justification. They state “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man.”
However the bible also bans the consumption of bacon, an activity I’m sure many Evangelicals often enjoy on the morning of the Sabbath.
Society has evolved since the bible was written. No longer do we publically slaughter homosexuals. No longer do we stone rebellious children. No longer are raped virgins forced to marry their attacker.
Despite this, religious blog ‘Anglican Mainstream’ posted a statement from the Chairman of Reform (a traditionalist religious movement) claiming;
“We now have a real opportunity to build on the Church’s solid biblical foundations, reflecting together on the right way forward.  The good news is that we are still together and able to witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ, which is the heart of our gospel, the basis of our unity, and the only hope for the future of church and nation.”
They also point out that Jesus chose only male disciples, ‘showing he believed men to be superior.’
There have also been some people on Twitter who have agreed with the decision. For @Brendand_H it’s all to do with the naming of female bishops;
“Damn right. btw what does a pixie congregation call their lady priest, Fathermother or somesuch? #odd
The strange thing in it all is the Head of the Church of England (the Queen) cannot become a bishop herself merely because to do so you “need a penis” (stated rather bluntly by @isableoakeshott).
In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland is separate from the state and the Sovereign holds no formal role. As such, the Scottish government plans to add same-sex marriage to what are already the most liberal marriage laws in the United Kingdom, female bishops are allowed and there are currently serious talks within the parliament regarding euthanasia.
Suzanne Moore, journalist for the Guardian, also agrees with the separation of the church and the state. She writes “Why on earth should we respect this bizarre sect any longer? The separation of church and state is long overdue. An institution that allows the maintenance of a stained glass ceiling for its female clergy to bang their heads against should not only lose its moral authority. Let it also lose its unearned privileges.”
The Church of England currently takes £38 million various organisations; including the government. This money would be better used in the NHS and education instead of merely funding a highly controversial and discriminatory institution.
Also, as the head of the Church of England, the monarch is not allowed to be Catholic and cannot marry a Catholic. This causes some controversy. If Prince William’s first born was a girl then she would be the next in line for the throne (since the law was recently changed), however she would give up that right simply by marrying a Catholic. While this makes perfect sense in a legal system where the monarch is also the head of the church, this law wouldn’t be necessary if the Church was disestablished.
It is inevitable that the more liberal a society becomes the less of a role the church plays in social progression. People all over the internet have made it clear they agree with the separation of the church and the state and maybe it’s about time politicians paid more attention to social media in this increasingly technology centred world.
Regardless of whether the government abandons the Church of England, it’s about time religious organisations took notice of their key doctrine “do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

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