Ekklesia director Simon Barrow is taking part in a discussion of Magna Carta and religious freedom - including the issue of the disestablishment of the Church of England - on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 29th December 2014, at 4.30pm.
The voice of the prophets was essential, the late Tony Benn argued, to challenge wrong-doing and wrong motives – to provide direction for the rulers who would listen, and stubborn unyielding opposition when they would not. This, he believed, should be the role of the church in relation to government. The Rev Benny Hazelhurst, former vicar of Tolpuddle, recalls a man of vision and social hope, who died on 14 March 2014.
Setting the Church of England free would be in its own interests, says Simon Barrow, as the disestablishment debate rears its head again following the General Synod debacle over women bishops. The Christian religion’s claim to truth and authority resides neither in state nor market, but in systems of belief and community which it should be capable of developing through bodies that are part of civic society.
Judging from the volumes of media coverage and online comment the goings on at this week's General Synod have generated, popular nerves have definitely been touched. But of what kind and to what effect? Simon Barrow explores the case for establishing the independence of church and state, in this article looking at the issue primarily in terms of societal pluralism, but noting the theological concerns which are actually central to the case Ekklesia wishes to make for disestablishment.
Reading the church media over the past week, and probably for the succeeding one, would leave many people with the impression that the boundary between church and monarchy is virtually indecipherable. I find this elision of faith in God with a longing for worldly pomp and circumstance deeply disturbing.
Monarchy as an institution rooted in inherited wealth and pure eugenic privilege stands in contrast with, and contradiction to, the levelling Gospel of Jesus Christ, argues Simon Barrow. But a kind of mythology and ritualising in the popular imagination prevents both Christians and others from seeing what is really going on, and what is wrong with it.
In a culture seemingly dominated by royalist propaganda, particularly around the wedding of William and Kate, here are plenty of reasons to be republican, says Phil Wood; not all of them honourable. Some may be in danger of reinforcing what they oppose. But for Christians, the case for disestablishing the kingdom and the church derives from a higher level of subversion, and a vision of equity before monarchy which people from many backgrounds are seeking.
My colleague Symon Hill's appearance on 4though.tv this evening (13 April 2011), arguing that the mutual inherence of an Established Church and the institution of monarchy compromises the Gospel message of freedom and identification with the least in society (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14559), comes weeks away from the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The Channel 4 television 'beliefs' slot, 4thought.tv - which unlike BBC Radio 4 'Thought for the Day' is open to both believers of all stripes and non-believers - has been asking if we should be proud of the Queen's close ties with the Church of England, or if these ties are anti-Catholic and exclude other beliefs in multicultural Britain.