You might have heard by now the Islam is the fastest growing religion in Britain, more than likely from a source who would consider the mere existence of that faith a somewhat frightening prospect. What most of them won’t tell you, however, is the reason for Islam being the fastest growing religion in Britain is that it is, in fact, the only growing religion in Britain.
Christianity has always had a peculiar relationship with the United Kingdom. In the year 1625, a man named Charles claimed his divine right and ruled as King of England, Scotland and Ireland. Then, twenty-four years and one civil war later, Charles was led by armed guards from London’s St James Palace to Whitehall, which is where they chopped his head off. For the next ten years, Britain was led by a man who, ironically despite officially not being a monarch himself, attempted to turn the country into what could perhaps be described as a 17th-century Christian version of Islamic State.
Oliver Cromwell, a staunch puritan, presided over an experiment during which he attempted to transform Britain into a different kind of society. All theatres had their doors forced shut. Most pubs and inns also. Doing any kind of work on a Sunday landed peasants in the stocks. Most holidays were banned, as well as most sports. Cooking food for Christmas was banned, alongside any other form of entertainment. Women were forbidden from donning colourful dress. Their men had to wear black. None of these rules applied to Cromwell and his cronies, of course, which largely explains how he managed to stay in power longer than a single weekend.
But then the bastard died, and everyone had long had enough. Parliament invited the dead King’s son back, with greatly reduced powers. The theatres opened again. Many a piss-up was held. Everyone got back to merely pretending that Christmas is all about Jesus. And all of a sudden, Britain’s grand experiment with piousness was forever over.
Christians love to feel persecuted, and today’s Church of England often likes to claim that its beliefs and systems are under siege. As of 2014, fewer than 800,000 Britons can be bothered to turn up to Church on an average Sunday. Despite making as much money as the British wing of McDonald’s, it struggles to maintain its giant network of fragile buildings, many of them found in isolated rural communities. It’s bad enough that most people from Brighton to Inverness have little time for God these days, but now the “Gay Agenda” ™ is after them too.
When civil partnerships for homosexual couples were introduced in 2004, Labours then Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, was quick to assure the religious community that this wasn’t going to end in the gays being able to actually marry… Oh imagine the horror. Then, when equal marriage was introduced by the coalition in 2013, the Tories made it clear that the Church of England would not be forced to oversee such hideous a contract.
But how foolish would one need to be to ever trust a politician, amright? And now here goes Justine Greening, Britain’s lesbian Education Secretary, daring to proclaim in a Sky News interview that “It is important that the church in a way keeps up (with social progress) and is part of a modern country.” The Spectator’s Melanie McDonagh thinks that Greening ought to “Mind her own business,” and I imagine she would include most other people in that as well. Why should the government be telling Churches how to behave anyway? If Anglicans don’t like homosexuality, or at least don’t want much to do with it, why should it be anyone else’s business to tell them otherwise? Isn’t this just another instance of those pesky totalitarian liberals trying to crush good old powerless conservatism?
Well, there are two things spectacularly wrong with that argument. The first is that it immediately assumes that Britain’s Anglicans are all a bunch of homophobes, the same dumb logic Tim Farron tried to employ when explaining why he couldn’t remain both a faithful Christian and the leader of a socially liberal political party. The second is that McDonagh, as well as anyone else making her argument, seemingly brushes aside the fact that the Church of England is not some completely impartial institution with no effect on anyone else’s business.
Why not start with the fact that Britain doesn’t really have the kind of wall of separation between church and state as does its cousin across the pond. The Church of England is Britain’s official religious body, and, frankly, I’d rather not have our great nation be represented by utterly regressive beliefs and policies. That hardly has any real world impact, however, so fine. Whatever. What does matter, however, is how the state spends its people’s taxes. Despite having a budget surplus in the billions, the Church of England uses its privileged status to demand the taxpayer fund upkeep for its properties, which the taxpayer does, to the tune of tens of millions of pounds. It also uses far greater numbers of taxpayer money to spread its propaganda across England’s “Free Schools.” I assume it isn’t terribly controversial to expect a certain degree of accountability to come from any organisation that expects to be subsidised by the public.
Not only does the Church receive public money, however, but its Bishops also sit in our upper house of parliament. There are twenty-five of them in the Lords, in seats reserved specifically for members of the Church of England. Now sure, there’s also an argument to be made here about our shamefully outdated upper house, but the point stands. What these people, who can vote on legislation that affects everyone in the country, think is, in fact, the business of every single person in Britain.
So here’s the deal. If the Church of England and its advocates want everyone to keep their noses out of their holy business, then it must also apply the same principles upon itself. It has to revoke its privileged position as the official church of the British state. It must cease to demand both public money, including that which funds religious schools, and any other benefits that come with said position. Further, it must give up its seats in parliament and totally separate themselves from the workings and functions of the British government. It must resign to the same legal status as any other church operating in the United Kingdom, be that the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scientology, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster. So that’s it, take it or stop complaining.