I co-wrote a piece with Andrew Lilico that has just been published on the Conservative Home website.
The third key challenge concerns whether we should remain the Church ofEngland — should we continue to be the state church. This issue may come to a head, during Welby’s time as Archbishop, in the event he must choose whether to ordain a new monarch. A sine qua non for being a state religion is that the orthodox practice of that religion should be legal. If the orthodox practice of Anglican Christianity is illegal, and yet the Archbishop ordains the new monarch, the font of law, the Archbishop is thereby blessing the legal oppression of Christian practice.
A series of recent legal judgements have set out, explicitly and in terms, that it is no longer to be presumed in law that practices that the law recognises are orthodox Anglican Christian are legal. The most explicit of these was in the judgement on Hall & Preddy v Bull & Bull: “Whatever may have been the position in past centuries it is no longer the case that our laws must, or should, automatically reflect the Judaeo- Christian position.” The Church of England has protested against this development. But at the time of the next coronation — an event that seems likely to occur during Justin Welby’s tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury — matters will come to a head.
It is, of course, possible that there will be no next coronation. Perhaps the state might choose no longer to have a monarch. In that case Establishment of the Church of England will end by default, since our Supreme Governor will no longer be monarch of England. And it is also possible that the next monarch of England, even if there is one, might not wish to be Supreme Governor of the Church of England or ordained by the Archbishop. Each of these circumstances would create its own moment of decision for the Church of England — what should it do next, then?
When we were thinking about what to write it struck us that no-one has really raised this issue before in all the commentary over Welby’s appointment.
Why don’t you pop over to CH and join in the comments there. Might also be worth checking out whether Thinking Anglicans pick it up for their weekend comment roundup? Oh no wait, it’s not written by liberals…