A Mr Woolas, who has a junior role in the present government, has been quoted as wishing to "strip" the Church of its role in English society. There are many reasons to consider the role of the Church in English society; some are good reasons and some are poor.
We removed its privileges in Ireland and Scotland because it was not the native church; it had no affinity with the common people.
My party always wished to remove its privileges in England; for my part I was never full of zeal for such measures. Yet it is clear the Church does not benefit from holding a place of esteem in the realm. Its Bishops take their seats in the House of Lords while their flocks struggle to fill their pews. When the Church held a monopoly on education, on the awarding of degrees, when adherence was a requirement of advancement it did not flourish; its soul withered.
It was a privilege to nominate Bishops for appointment; but therein lies the heresy of Erastus.
Establishment places the Church at the mercy of the government; when the government is not Christian, it can hammer nails into the hands and wrists of the Church.
These are not the reasons cited by Mr Woolas; Mr Woolas claims the Church is offensive to the citizens of Empire who may settle here and who may have other religions. In The Times he is quoted as saying “It will probably take 50 years but a modern society is multi-faith.”
I am sorry to hear that a government minister, however junior, is so ignorant. The Church holds its place in this land not because of its number of adherents but because it represents the ancient and traditional faith of England, the religion of Alfred and Elizabeth. The age of Victoria was multi-faith; powerful numbers did not belong to the Church. They were non-comformist, unitarian, even atheist; and Liberal governments gave them their rights. I do not detect that the peoples of the Empire find the existence of the church offensive, only that they may choose not to belong to it. Indeed many of many and varied faiths seem to take comfort from the State giving some token acknowledgement to religion in a land that is too often depicted as godless.
Mr Woolas may find the Church's existence offensive - that is his right; but he should not call the Queen's loyal subjects to the aid of his argument.
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