Updated Monday afternoon
The news item concludes rather interestingly with these paragraphs:
…Schism has been looming over Anglicanism since 2003, when American liberals ordained a gay bishop, Gene Robinson. And—a sign of how far apart the camps are—the conservatives’ worry is not that Lambeth will endorse homosexual relations among the clergy or anybody else; it is rather that decisions there will not provide clearly enough for the expulsion of churches which stray in a liberal direction.
In the latest move, Drexel Gomez, the conservative Archbishop of the West Indies, has started drafting a compromise that would allow old-timers to attend the Lambeth meeting, on the understanding that proper arrangements will be made for disciplining gay-friendly liberals. To people who are neither Christian nor Muslim, it must all sound a bit like sharia law.
The leader draws this conclusion from it all:
…Faced with this anomaly, the archbishop proposes to expand the privileges of all religions. It would be better instead to curtail the entitlements of his one. It makes no sense in a pluralistic society to give one church special status. Nor does it make sense, in a largely secular country, to give special status to all faiths. The point of democracies is that the public arena is open to all groups—religious, humanist or football fans. The quality of the argument, not the quality of the access to power, is what matters. And citizens, not theocrats, choose.
Cut it free
Disestablishing the Church of England does not mean that it has no public role to play. America’s founders said there should be no established religion, but religion shapes public debate to a degree that many in Europe find incomprehensible. Let religion compete in the marketplace for ideas, not seek shelter behind special privileges. One law for all, with its enlightened insistence on tolerance and free speech, is not a “bit of a danger”. It is what underwrites the ability of all religions to go about their business unhindered.
Ekklesia which had already expressed a view on this in Disestablishment may be back on the agenda as church feels pressure has now commented directly on the Economist response in The Economist calls for cutting the cord that binds church and state.
And Simon Barrow wrote about Giving up Establishment for Lent.
Here is a link to the BBC Sunday item (7 minutes audio):
Controversy has surrounded the comments Rowan Williams recently made about Sharia. The religious think tank Ekklesia has now weighed into the debate with the suggestion that the Archbishop’s speech demonstrates the need for the disestablishment of the Church of England. Jonathan Bartley, the co-director of Ekklesia, and the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, gave their views.