An intriguing piece by Andrew Lilico over at Archbishop Cranmer.
Here is a sine qua non for a religion’s being de facto the state religion: conduct in accordance with the orthodox requirements of that religion must be at the very least presumed legal. For example, Roman Catholicism could not truly be the state religion if it were illegal to teach your children the doctrine of transubstantiation, or illegal to attend confession. Sunni Islam could not be the state religion if it were legally mandatory to worship the King as a god, or mandatory for all schoolchildren to submit drawings of Mohammed in an annual art competition. We could perhaps imagine some conduct required by the state religion to be accidentally prohibited by law, but when that was pointed out the law would have to be changed so that that conduct became permitted or the requirements of the state religion would have to be changed so that conduct was not required — otherwise there would be no content to the claim that this religion was actually the state religion.
I want to emphasize here that the key point at issue is not whether this or that specific conduct should or should not be legal. The key point is whether, as a matter of law, conduct which the judges accept to be in accordance with the requirements of Christianity (and Anglicanism in particular) is to be presumed legal. The judges are absolutely clear and explicit that that is not so.
So, for a religion to in fact be a state religion, conduct required by that religion must be presumed legal, or perhaps even actually always legal. But conduct judges accept is required by Christianity is not presumed legal in England. Therefore, Anglican Christianity is not, de facto, the state religion in England.
Worse than that, actually. For if the pageantry of the state religion is not matched by legal substance, then it is a damaging pretence, for it makes people believe that there is in fact some substantive state religion when there is not. The Anglican Bishops etc then become qualitatively equivalent (though obviously not – or not yet – equivalent in degree) to the placemen priest-spies of the Soviet era, whose role was to placate the truly religious and keep them quiet and in a place the authorities could observe and control them.
When did this happen? When did we decide that Anglican Christian conduct was no longer to be presumed legal? When was the public debate, or the debate in Parliament on that? Is that truly what either the public or the British Establishment wants?
It’s a good point and echoes what others have tweeted over the past few days. Do we want to be established if the cost of that is the suppression of our conscience?