Saturday, June 9, 2007

The end of the established church?

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Gordon Brown is preparing to end the power of the Prime Minister to choose the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Churches of England clerics.

From what I can make out, this would effectively mean the end, or nearly the end, of the position of the Churches of England as the "Established Churches".

Her Majesty the Queen would, presumably, remain the titular head of those churches. But if she isn't choosing its main clerics, through the Royal Prerogative or whatever it is via her Prime Minister, then surely such a title will be meaningless?

There are still the 26 Bishops who sit in the House of Lords. I would have thought that it is safe to assume that a reformed second chamber would not include these clerics, but you never know, I suppose.

I would welcome the move being suggested in the Telegraph, (which reminds me of Brown's similarly "early doors" surprise and radical granting of Indepoendence to the Bank of England in 1997). I think it is utterly bizarre that the Prime Minister can choose the Archbishop of Canterbury and other clerics.


  1. Er the Anglican Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920 and the PM has no say in its appointments.

  2. Many thanks Roy - my scan reading of Wikipedia at 8am on a Sunday has its faults!

  3. Who does the PM appoint in Scotland? The National Church is Prebyterian and supplies its own moderator. The Episcopal Church isn't a national church, and elects its bishops.

    Operational independence for the CofE would be a wholly good thing. The Crown / Government has had a long history of interfering in the church and it isn't as if the mission of the church is to be an adjunct to the state / establishment.

  4. THank you Paul. I am also going to remove Scotland from the posting - I know when I am on a loser - if it helps I referred to Wikipedia (a mistake I know) which said:

    "The Church of England is the established church in England, of which the monarch is the titular head; until 1920 it also held the same position in Wales. The Church of Ireland had the same position in Ireland prior to 1869.

    Since the Revolution of 1688, the Church of Scotland is the Established Church in Scotland. King William III and his wife Queen Mary II invaded England and replaced James II, a settlement was reached where Scotland would have a distinct church. From that point on the Church of England was Anglican and the Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Due to the National Covenants, which were important to the people of Scotland, the relationship between church and state is organized differently in that the church is independent of parliament rather than being subject to it."