Three Challenges

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…

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  • Daniel Walters

    “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…”

    That’s not very fair, given that their weekend roundup regularly has articles from the Times, the Telegraph, the Mail etc.

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      But they practically NEVER pick up comment pieces from Conservative blogs whereas they’re more than happy to copy columns off Episcopal Cafe and the like.

      • cerebusboy

        If Conservative Home is a political website, and TA already, as stated, picks up stories from the Telegraph et all, then what’s the problem? One can find reputable conservative journalism on the Telegraph (you might be surprised to hear that I quite enjoy Lord Tebbit’s columns); Anglican Mainstream, in contrast, is about as serious and reputable as Fox News.

        I’d be interested in your reasons for speculating that there could (in a sense other than ”anything *could* happen” ) be no next coronation. HRH Prince Charles’ wish to be defender of Faiths would hardly remove the need for a coronation and attendant vows.

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          Simply put the argument goes as follows.

          i) The Monarch is the fount and font of all Law and Judicial authority ii) In anointing the Monarch the Archbishop is blessing him
          iii) The Law currently curses those who seek to practice and live out in their interactions the official Doctrine of the Church of England (i.e. no sex outside of marriage)
          iv) How can the Archbishop bless he who curses us?

          • cerebusboy

            Broadly speaking, can’t clergy mostly bless anything (although they might get in trouble for some blessings!) ? Functionally, Royal Assent is a formality, meaning that one can hardly blame monarchs for particular laws that may be non-Christian, and even if one did take that view it would hardly logically follow that the monarch therefore didn’t ”warrant” a blessing.

            • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

              We have never before had an environment where the Monarch to be crowned presides over a Law that rejects the doctrine of the Church of England. That is the key issue.

              Clergy bless all kinds of things that they shouldn’t. Some even bless same-sex relationships.

              • cerebusboy

                Are you really confident that there were no Laws in 1952 that rejected the doctrine of the C of E? I’d imagine many an olden dayes C of E viewed Catholic Emanicpation as de facto validation of popery!
                So is blessing necessarily a validation of the bless-ee’s ideological position? Is a Monarch, required to give Royal Assent, even guilty (from a conservative position) of an ideologically problematic position if particular laws of his Government aren’t morally acceptable?

                • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                  I’m claiming that in 1952 the courts did not say that the doctrine of the Church of England had no de facto place in the law of the land.

                  It’s more to do with the AB blessing the font of the law which curses it.

  • Revd_Dave

    Good question! The CofE still seems to be thought of – by politicians and public – as if we should still behave like an arm of the state. But the church doesn’t really benefit much this anymore anyway – maybe a little bit of PR?

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