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Church and state: some reflections on church establishment in England

Morris, R.M. (Ed). (2008) Church and state: some reflections on church establishment in England. (Constitution Unit Publications 143 ). The Constitution Unit, Department of Political Science, UCL: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

The papers begin at Chapter 1 with a response to the Mapping document from Dr Edward Norman. He raises questions about how establishment should be viewed, the extent to which nowadays the state’s moral basis is in fact a form of secularized Christianity, and how far the state understands the implications of its own policies in respect of multiculturalism. Chapters 2-4 offer the perspectives of Christian dissenters, respectively Baptists, the United Reformed Church and Quakers. Historically, each suffered persecution in the days when the state still tried to enforce religious uniformity. Whilst ancient urgent asperities have faded as state toleration matured into a more positive acceptance of religious freedom, each retains serious, principled reservations about the state and the position of the Church of England in relation to it. In all cases, however, actively pressing for changes is not high on their agendas. On the other hand, all have thought-provoking points to make about the place of religion in modern civic life. Whilst the Mapping paper spent a good deal of time at looking at church/state relations in Scotland and Scandinavia because they were analogous to, if in detail different from, the system in England, it omitted to consider the arrangements in southern Europe’s most catholic societies. The balance is redressed by Javier Oliva’s review at Chapter 5 of the situation in Spain and Italy. There, although one church is notably dominant, the legal forms addressing its position have evolved distinct patterns. The two papers from non-religious organizations – the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society – at Chapters 6 and 7 argue the case for a thoroughly secular as opposed to a merely more tolerant society. Whilst notably different in tone and emphasis, they argue essentially for the abolition of the legal privileges of the Church of England and for the entire separation of the state and religion. Finally, in Chapter 8, William Fittall offers a view from the Church of England which reminds that establishment has drawbacks as well as advantages for that Church, and contends that thorough-going disestablishment would leave gaps in public life that would need addressing.

Type: Report
Title: Church and state: some reflections on church establishment in England
ISBN: 1903903025
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/files/publi...
Language: English
Additional information: © The Constitution Unit, UCL 2008. This report is made available subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/19573
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