Thinking Anglicans

Church and State – an idiot’s guide

In this week of the second Sunday in Advent, readers are invited to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this very helpful article by Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK.

Church and State – an idiot’s guide

It starts:

When matters touching on relations between religion and the state are discussed it not infrequently happens that the terminology becomes hopelessly confused and misused – sometimes by people who really should know better. So the following is a cut-out-and-keep guide to the absolute basics of Church and State.

First, there are four separate territories in the United Kingdom…

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks for ‘Church and State-an idiots Guide’, or as this Canadian boy would like to nickname it ” A Hitchhiker,s Guide to Establsihment”. Very helpful, especially given the articles in U.K. dailies about culture wars and cutting the C of E loose. Perhaps you could post a similar article about the arcane (it seems) working of C of E government. When people speculate on having parliament do something about women bishops, what process do they have in mind? Would parliament have to find a end run around the 1969 Synodical Provisions Act? Is such possible? Or tis there an “notwithstanding”… Read more »

Frank Cranmer
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Damn: if only I’d thought of that title myself! My original preference was “Church and State for Dummies” but my co-blogger said that John Wiley & Sons is very protective of its titles – and I didn’t fancy being sued.

Christopher
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Christopher

Rod Gillis, the UK Parliament is absolutely sovereign and can do whatever it wants. The Measure process is one special way to legislate, but Parliament always retains the power to legislate in the normal way.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks Christopher, the supremacy of parliament aspect I understand. Canada has a Westminster system of government of course ( subject to some qualifications with regard to The Charter of Rights and Freedoms). So, I would expect that Parliament could in the end introduce and pass legislation. My question is more about the politics of just how that might come about on an issue like this. For example, would parliament be inclined to consider legislation if say, a majority of the C of E bishops asked it to? Or, is there any kind of standing legislation, for example in the 1969… Read more »

Frank Cranmer
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I think what you’re asking about is Realpolitik.

From a strictly parliamentary point of view, there certainly aren’t enough bishops in the Lords to block legislation: 26 of them in a House of 600+. I think Parliament would be very reluctant to impose its own view by legislation even if a majority of the House of Bishops asked it to.

The Commons debated this last Wednesday. It might help to have a look at the Hansard or (if you can’t quite face that) read the summary on my blog.