The calls and arguments for the disestablishment of the Church of England (Anglican Church) are growing and getting louder. The ‘disestablishment train’ now seems unstoppable, even though the final destination may take longer to reach than some would like.
Encouragingly, support for disestablishment does not just come from organizations like Atheism UK, National Secular Society, or Humanists UK, etc., but also within the Church itself. Some Church of England members advocate that the separation of church and state is beneficial to both.
Of course, the lobby for the disestablishment of the Church of England is nothing new, but has recently received a boost from the results of the 2021 Census. In short, the percentage of people who identify as Christian is now a minority and church attendance is miniscule.
Church of England Disestablishment
A paper by Atheism UK Council Member, Guy Otten, outlines some of the key reasons and arguments why the Church of England should be disestablished. You can read the full paper here:
The Church of England’s existence as the ‘State’ religion is increasingly untenable in a modern democratic society. That is, a society in which the majority of the population is non-religious or apathetic to religion in general. The established church has long received undeserved privileges and legal protections that are not afforded to other sections of society.
This is further complicated by any reigning monarch being required to be the titular head of the Church of England, just as the late Queen Elizabeth II was. Her death has reinvigorated the whole debate around any monarch being constitutionally and legally tied to a state church. An ‘official’ Church of England, which represents a minority of the population, a tiny proportion of whom ever attend church services.
This debate continues in the run up to the coronation of King Charles III in May this year. He will be crowned following a Christian ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, where the King will be required to affirm the Coronation Oath. The oath includes making promises to, “…maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel”, and “…maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England”, as but two examples.
The future of the British Monarchy is another ongoing debate and its continued existence is not helped by being linked to a rapidly declining Church of England. The Church is currently doing a good job of destroying itself from the inside with disagreements over same-sex marriage, homosexuality, and the ordination of women, etc.
Disestablishment will provide benefits for all parties, even though some religious apologists can’t see it yet.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Atheism UK.