Friday, 10 February 2012

Are We a Christian Country?

So an atheist ex-town councillor - I know, who cares? - complained that Bideford Town Council holds prayers before each Council meeting and, with assistance from the National Secular Society - I know, who cares? - off the case went to the High Court. Bideford Town Council lost today, leaving the door open for other councils of all persuasion, and even Parliament, to have to think about whether they should have prayers before their meetings - I know, who cares?

Anyhoo, putting aside that you and I paid for this legal nonsense, this case once again calls into question whether we are really a Christian country anymore.

There is theoretically a strong link between Christianity, in the form of the Church of England, and the state. Wikipedia has interesting knowledge:

“The concept of separation has been adopted in a number of countries, to varying degrees depending on the applicable legal structures and prevalent views toward the proper role of religion in society. A similar but typically stricter principle of laïcité has been applied in France and Turkey, while some socially secularised countries such as Norway, Denmark and the UK have maintained constitutional recognition of an official state religion. The concept parallels various other international social and political ideas, including secularism, disestablishment, religious liberty, and religious pluralism.”

Theoretically, Her Maj sits atop this relationship as both Head of State and Head of the C of E, but does anyone really care about that? In most European countries over recent centuries, the state has taken over the social roles of the church in any case, leading to a generally secularised society. We “swear by Almighty God” in court, although you can choose what you want to swear by depending on your religion or not. You can be born, marry and die without reference to any religion. Religious studies in schools cover all religions not just Christianity. And of course, since the war, Christian church attendance is a straight line graph downwards - presumably downwards to hell - whilst our immigrant population growth has seen the reverse in almost every other religious community in the UK.

The drip, drip effect is unwinding the relationship between church and state inch by inch. And does it matter?

I think His Grace needs to make his case.

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