The best practical argument for disestablishment, however, is that it would give more freedom to the church to set its own agenda.
We’ve already noted that there has been talk about Parliament forcing the CofE to admit women bishops. In the gay-crazy mood the UK is in these days, we’re honestly surprised that the government allowed Rowan Williams to humour the Global South the way he did in Dar-es-Salaam. The main reason why they haven’t is that the CofE isn’t a very significant part of Britain’s landscape any more except for its empty church buildings. And there’s always the National Trust for those in a crunch.
But we know that, with the homosexuals, there’s not an insignificant enough opponent they won’t try to crush sooner or later.
Tory leader David Cameron has launched an astonishing attack on the Church of England over its attitudes to homosexuality. In an interview with the gay magazine Attitude, Cameron tells award-winning journalist Johann Hari that ‘our Lord Jesus’ would back equality and gay rights if he were around today. He says he doesn’t want to get into a row with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. ‘But I think the Church has to do some of the things that the Conservative Party has been through – sorting this issue out and recognising that full equality is a bottom line full essential.’ He also introduces a new phrase to the English language, one that might be current in High Tory circles but not one I’ve heard before, in reference to Muslim women: ‘Blowing the hijab off them.’
I don’t think that the Tories’ gay supporters are going to sit by and allow Cameron avoid getting “into a row” with Rowan Williams.
The CoE’s position as an established church has always made it vulnerable to state interference and control of the kind that Cameron is implicitly threatening. That’s why North American Anglicans’ endless desire to find validation by the CoE (along with getting into an Anglican Covenant, with the CoE as the natural centre) is misguided and will end in disaster.
One Anglican friend noted to me that she thought they should move the Communion to Africa. In spite of the Ugandans’ rough times lately, that still looks like a good idea. But I advocated that, too, in times past, and not just for Anglicans either:
But there’s an easier and more substantial way to even the score: just let the Africans and their allies, including the descendants of slaves in the West Indies, take the lead in the Communion.
We find, however, that, Western church leaders–liberal and conservative alike–are reluctant to bow to the obvious and allow the centre of power of Christianity to shift where its people are. The liberals are especially adverse to this process, as they are further from the Africans’ idea than their conservative counterparts.
The desperation of conservative parishes in TEC, however, has them affiliating with provinces such as Uganda and Nigeria, along with others. They have gone past guilt. It is time that the rest of us follow suit.