Recently Labour MPs have launched a battle to disestablish the Church of England, stripping it of the special status it enjoys in British life. The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that Ministers are under mounting pressure from senior backbenchers to break the historic link between Church and State. Demands for the separation increased after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, a Welshman, last week insisted that disestablishment was ‘by no means the end of the world’. Before he became archbishop, in 2002, Williams never had to pledge allegiance to the Queen, and was skeptical about the establishment Church of England. In 2000, two years before his appointment, he said: “I think that the notion of the monarch as supreme governor has outlived its usefulness. I believe increasingly that the church has to earn the right to be heard by the social world. Establishment is just one of those things that make it slightly harder.”
The arguments regarding church and state are mostly reserved to the history books now here in Wales. The Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920 and re-named, rather arrogantly, The Church of Wales, as if other Churches were not Churches! Interestingly it wasn’t the actually traditional theological issues and debates surrounding church and state that fueled the arguments towards disestablishment in Wales but rather the issue that an Anglican Church which was in a minority had privileges and legal superiority over the nonconformist Churches who were in the majority. It was a mater of the minority lording it over the majority. Injustice reigned.
Although disestablishment in Wales has been around since 1920 the Anglican Church, in my opinion, still enjoys privileges in Welsh public life. The Archbishop of Wales is regularly featured on BBC Wales’ news bulletins but i can’t remember the BBC ever running a story in connection with any nonconformist Church. I’m sure the Archbishop has a better PR and press team than the nonconformist denominations but I’m pretty sure that the BBC in Wales haven’t really grasped the difference between church and state in Wales and church and state at a British level.
But is it the Gospel that the BBC are really interested in when they run stories about the Anglican Church in Wales? I fear not. It is controversy that brings the Anglican Church to the public domain in Wales. All publicity is good publicity some would say, I would differ. I read this on another blog recently: “Interesting isn’t it, what this guy is being said to be clinging to. He’s given up on the Bible, and instead tradition and culture have become his guides. He wants to be culturally relevant, so he ignores what the Bible says about homosexuality, but right now, he’s walking round with a dog collar on. If he wants to be culturally relevant, he should drop the tradition, not the Bible.”
Although i don’t agree with “gay-bashing” i must admit that the quoted blogger has a point. How can the Archbishop of Wales on one hand call on the Church to drop traditional teaching on morality and then keep the silly tradition of dressing up as pimped up mini Popes to serve communion? The Archbishop in his full regalia would, to put it mildly, look like someone on the way to a fancy dress party if he were to drop in to say hi to Jesus and the Disciples at the Last Supper.
So to try and bring this post to a positive end i guess what I’m saying is that disestablishment is good but in reality a law passed in parliament is just the first step. Public perceivement takes much more time go change on the issue. How many years has it been since 1920? 88. Well there you have it, it takes at least 88 years for public perceivement to reflect the law on the subject.