"The Church of England is facing a “major constitutional crisis”, The Times reports today, unless it votes in women bishops by July next year. The memo, written for leading archbishops, says that failure to do so would risk Parliament taking control of the situation.I was at home last week, and had Radio 4 on almost all day every day, an interesting experiment in seeing just how much the BBC drives the news agenda.The Beeb seemed to be obsessed with women bishops, treating the Synod’s decision with thinly veiled hostility, and returning to the subject over and over again, a subject that for most people is probably about as important as the result of this season’s Belgian second division. It was especially odd because most of the people concerned didn’t appear to be Anglicans, and so their objection was purely on the grounds that an organisation in which they had no interest was discriminating on the grounds of sex (but in a bad way).The strangest comment was from a man who pointed out that, as a state institution, the Church of England had a responsibility to represent the views and morals of the British public at large. Just like the BBC does, presumably.But as a taxpayer and citizen the Church of England has a fairly minute impact on my life; it takes minimal amounts of my money and its moral influence is fairly small. No one is going to be shunned from society, hassled by the police or banned from adopting children for breaking any of mainstream Christianity’s moral codes.I’ve argued before that the only way to free the Church of England is to separate it from the state, since a state-run Church will inevitably end up preaching the official morality of the state, of which “thou shalt not discriminate” is one of the most important commandments (a good example of this creed is the ordeal that is Thought for the Day, an almost unrelentingly tedious affair precisely because its remit is to not challenge Left-liberal orthodoxy).The problem is that believers in this orthodoxy are not much more likely to see their worldview as just one of many than once-mighty Christians were in the past. The adoption scandal in Rotherham has roused public anger, but it’s of a mindset that is not uncommon: prospective adopters are routinely assessed for their compliance to political orthodoxy. Also bear in mind that as well as calling Ukip supporters “closet racists” in the past David Cameron also voted to force Catholic adoption agencies to help same-sex couples adopt or severe their links with the Church.Whether you agree with Catholics over same-sex adoptions or traditionalist Anglicans over women bishops should not be the point; the issue is whether breaking the codes of Equality and Diversity should be a matter for the state, because such things are so fundamentally evil, or whether different worldviews can be allowed to coexist. One could argue that those adoption agencies might have been taking public money, but so are countless organisations which teach things many believe to be wrong, and we don’t try to close them down. And the most powerful is the BBC, a national institution that, unlike the poor Church of England, really does affect our everyday lives whether we subscribe to its beliefs or not."
Monday, 26 November 2012
Some good sense from Ed West today at The Telegraph [here]