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Anglicans, reform yourselves

Theo Hobson

[COMMENT:  Theo Hobson is partly right.  But he is mistaken to believe that secular liberalism is neutral or liberal, or the answer to any of our problems.  See Liberal Democracy - Angel of Light.  His suggestion will lead to the collapse of what is left of Western freedom

As with America, the problem in English schools is not the Anglican Church in schools, it is the British government (i.e., coercive force) in schools.  Get government (coercive force) out, let people educate themselves, and the religion problem solves itself.  You go to a school of your religious preference or non-preference. 

In the open and free discussion, Christians must present their message.  Apart from Jesus as Lord over all, there is little or no hope of sustaining freedom either in any personal life or in any political situation.    E. Fox]

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/theo_hobson/2006/10/established_church.html

 We cannot assert secular liberal values against the threat of Islamic extremism when we do not have a secular state.

October 9, 2006 01:25 PM

There is only one serious response to Islamic extremism: to assert the authority of the secular liberal state. We must make it clear that a form of religion that promotes hatred of secular liberalism is not welcome here.

The problem is that our secular liberal state is not, officially, a secular liberal state. Because we retain the ancient anomaly of an established church, we cannot assert the principle of secular liberalism as clearly as is necessary.

Because we have an official national religion, Muslims have an excuse to feel resentment towards British values. In a sense they simply are second-class citizens, because a first-class citizen is an Anglican Christian. Does that mean that Catholics and atheists are also second-class citizens? On paper yes, but they tend not to feel hard done by, so for them the issue is rather theoretical. But for Muslims it is very real, because at present they feel like second-class citizens.

We must assure Muslims that, as long as they reject violent extremism, they are full and equal citizens. But we are constitutionally unable to do so.

We must strongly say: all religions are welcome, as long as they do not conflict with the principle of secular liberalism. But we cannot say this, for at present it is untrue. One religion is allowed to conflict with secular liberalism. Anglican leaders sit in the House of Lords, and enjoy many other less visible privileges. The Church of England and the monarchy are still joined at the hip.

So we haughtily tell zealous Muslims that they must learn the rules of secular liberalism, and at the same time we waive those rules for Anglicans. This double standard must not continue.

I am an Anglican by upbringing, but soon after 9/11 I realized that I could not believe in an established church. I realised that religious extremism can only be countered by insisting on the separation of church and state. I tried to start an Anglican campaign for disestablishment. I might as well have tried to persuade turkeys to vote for Christmas. I began to question the famous liberalism of Anglicanism: yes, there are plenty of nice liberal vicars, but the core logic of the institution is anti-liberal. At root the church is nostalgic for the pre-modern era when it had real cultural authority. That era is rightly gone: secular freedom is a good thing. Anglican theologians will tell you that there is no conflict any more - the church has no real political influence now. Well, it still clings like mad to what it has. I hate the way it uses its schools to bolster its presence in the nation. If this is the established religion, then every British child should be able to attend an Anglican school, no questions asked. For an established church to use selection on the basis of religious commitment is to want it both ways. This policy has done serious damage to the church's reputation.

Much as I still half-love the calm orderly beauty of Anglican liturgy, I renounce it. Every aspect of Anglican culture is tainted by its great refusal to accept the authority of secular liberalism. All this beauty, goodness and holiness are tainted by the church's political failure, its refusal to accept the truth of the secular, and reform accordingly. I have grown tired of liberal Anglican vicars who claim to agree with me, who claim to want disestablishment. Such people are willing to be self-critical right up to the point that it endangers their job and pension, and their authority-status in the local community. Let them learn to think a little harder, even if it should inconvenience their careers.

That is why I am a post-Anglican. This religious tradition, for all its past greatness, is now tainted by a growing culture of dishonesty. It cannot admit the illegitimacy of its pre-modern, mono-cultural basis. Having helped to form British identity it now impedes it. What unites us as a nation is not any form of religion but respect for liberal democracy. It is time to be explicit about this. National renewal demands that we finally renounce our old Anglican identity.

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