Jerome Taylor wrote this at the Independent on Tuesday. I think it is the best analysis I have seen so far.
Census, gays and a very bad day for the Church of England
The historical goodwill of the British public towards Anglicanism is starting to run dry – and this anti same-sex marriage stance will only drain further support
New census data revealed this morning showed that just shy of 1,100 people in England and Wales ditch their Christian identity every day.
Meanwhile the only organisation that has a duty to marry British citizens will, the government announced this afternoon, be legally allowed to discriminate once more against gay men and women. Not a good day for the Church of England. If I were a Lords Spiritual right now, I’d be rather nervous about keeping my job. The established church has never looked so out of touch with the rest of Britain…
And on the equal marriage legislation, he said this:
Out of touch
The Church hierarchy’s official opposition to equal marriage legislation, meanwhile, is likely to erode support for Christianity even further over the next ten years – especially among younger generations who simply aren’t as bothered about what people do with their genitals in loving, committed consensual relationships to the same extent that perhaps their parents or grandparents are.
It’s important to note that much of the Church of England is not anti-gay marriage. There are wonderful, inclusive Anglican congregations that welcome gay couples and plenty of Anglicans who support equal marriage rights. But a chuck are opposed and the Church hierarchy has decided to go for a de facto oppositional stance until they can sort out what their ecclesiastical approach to same sex relationships is (which given how long it’s taken to sort out the issue of women could take some time).
The government’s announcement today that the Church of England will be legally banned from having gay marriages – as opposed to other religious groups who will be allowed to opt out – should halt concerns that the definition of marriage is somehow being threatened in canon law. The Church now has a “quadruple” legal lock that Europe and our courts simply would not be able to interfere with. For much of the anti-gay religious right, though, I fear even that won’t be enough.
However they try to portray this as a “religious freedom” argument, they are ultimately anti-gay marriage and determined to sink it however they can. The fact that no religious group would ever be forced to conduct gay marriages – or that plenty of religious groups believe their right to religious expression is currently being impinged because they can’t conduct gay weddings – falls on deaf ears.
The additional legal protections for the Church of England, of course, now means that the chances of Britain’s established church embracing gay men and women in marriage is now further off than ever. So an already out of touch church will become further disconnected while most of the people it is supposed to minister to march on. If the established church isn’t careful, the distance will become simply too wide to bridge.