Church of England (Established Church)

Our position on the Church of England is that it should be dissolved and its funds and assets should be turned over to the general community to be used for non-religious purposes.

The Church of England, as presently constituted, is “established”: it is an integral part of the British state (but only within the territory of England), having the Head of State as its Supreme Governor; it enjoys special legal status, including the right for several of its bishops to sit in the House of Lords; the United Kingdom Parliament ultimately makes laws for the Church of England and the British Prime Minister appoints its bishops. It is entirely inappropriate that positions of power should be based upon unsubstantiated beliefs in ancient myths and texts.

Historically, the Church of England’s special legal status has given it the power to raise revenue and assets by methods equivalent to taxation and appropriation (for example, tithes). Much of its present wealth (including ancient churches, glebe lands and plate) has been acquired in this manner.

In the past the Church was a central part of the community, though more recently as people have rejected the beliefs represented by the Church, they have turned away from being part of that, dwindling, community. The Church, however, has not kept up with changing attitudes and now only represents a small minority of the general public. By reforming the Church of England into a non-religious organization it would be possible to make its assets available to all members of society. Churches could be used for a wide variety of non-religious activities, besides being appreciated for the obvious architectural and historical value of some of the buildings.

In summary we take the position that the Church of England should be:

1. Disestablished

(a) The monarch should cease to be the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

(b) All ecclesiastical law of the Church of England should cease to exist as law.

(c) Bishops, of the Church of England, should cease to have seats in the House of Lords.

(d) The entities, comprising the hierarchy of the Church of England, should be dissolved.

2. Disendowed

(a) The assets of the Church of England, acquired through its special legal status, (including ancient churches, glebe lands and plate) should be appropriated and transferred to a new secular body to apply them for the benefit of the public at large.

(b) If such assets are of special architectural or historic interest (ancient churches, plate etc), they should be repurposed (in the case of ancient churches) as secular public places or (in the case of plate etc) displayed in museums.

(c) Otherwise, such assets should be sold and the proceeds of sale applied as above.

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