Ukip will disestablish the Church of England
To all those Christians - including the many thousands who daily frequent His Grace's blog - who were considering voting Ukip in the imminent Euro elections (or next year's General Election), pause your fervour.
Nigel Farage has spent many years stroking your troubled forehead and luring you into believing that he and his party understand your concerns about the systematic erosion of our Judaeo-Christian heritage and the perpetual political diminution of Christian moral values. Indeed, he has said:
“We need a much more muscular defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. Yes, we’re open to different cultures but we have to defend our values. That’s the message I want to hear from the Archbishop of Canterbury and from our politicians. Anything less is appeasement of the worst kind.”Cristina Odone herself was impressed:
Yet he speaks not as a defender of the faith — he ventures to church only four or five times a year — but of “our identity”.And His Grace was attentive:
..“We have,” he says, “some very mixed values”. These include the “betrayal” of the family. “This has been the most anti-family government we have ever seen. The very fact that they pushed for gay marriage, and thought that it was important at a time when not even Stonewall was campaigning for it, shows you their twisted sense of priorities.” He is “100 per cent” supportive of stay-at-home mothers.
There are votes here. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them. Very many Christians across the denominations feel betrayed by the main political parties: their "identity" is being systematically assaulted, and the occasional invitation to No10 for prominent vicars, bishops and leading Christian commentators no longer quite cuts it.Or maybe he's not.
..While religion can play a role in promoting moral conduct, there is no longer agreement on which institutions are morally capable of implementing the rules of justice. Some secularising "modernisers" repudiate the idea that the Christian religion can any longer be a unifying force for Britain, but it must be observed that it has bequeathed to us our system of laws, administration of justice and our understanding of liberty. Only Ukip seems to understand and appreciate this.
Carry on, Nigel. You're doing God's work.
To the chagrin of some, His Grace has long been of the opinion that same-sex unions are a matter for the state and that religious groups ought to be free to decide for themselves whether to bless them or not. He is of the view that continuing opposition to this development is futile: that the battle is lost, and the development irreversible. Marriage is now ontologically distinct from Holy Matrimony, and we must get used to the new context and definition. His Grace therefore agrees with (and welcomes) Nigel Farage's "U-turn" on this: it is absurd for a mainstream party to pledge to dissolve thousands of legally-contracted unions. It is not only absurd; it would be a manifest injustice. There is a conservative argument to be made for such unions, and, indeed, a theological one. We may not all agree with either reasoning, but equality has become an immutable and infallible social doctrine, and Christians ought to adopt the vernacular lest they end up speaking Greek.
But Farage has now gone further. According to the Telegraph, he has announced that the traditional Christian wedding ceremony "should be stripped of its legal status". He suggests that "couples who want to wed in church should have to undertake two ceremonies, one recognised by the state and one a religious ceremony."
As the Telegraph notes, this would be a "French-style reform", and follows a similar demand from LibDem Justice Minister Simon Hughes. Both make an appeal for what would effectively be the disestablishment of the Church of England. Farage said: "We propose an augmentation of the civil partnership awarding it equal status to marriage and enabling it to be available to all. We would rather the legal and religious endorsements of wedlock are separate.”
This is, of course, the policy throughout most of the secular European Union. Indeed, Farage is harmonising Ukip policy to the EU norm. It is the essence of the French ‘laïcité’, which has no easy translation into English: it is not quite ‘secularism’ - as frequently defined by the clericalism it opposes - but more a term for the separation of church and state. Intrinsic to it are various Enlightenment notions of liberté, including freedom of thought, conscience, expression and religion. And it is predicated upon the post-Enlightenment settlement of the division between the private realm of spiritual belief and the public realm of political policy. Laïcité is a founding principle of the French Constitution, which states in its First Article: ‘La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale.’
Far from offering a "muscular defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage", Ukip now offers a notion of ‘positive secularism’, and Farage is going much further along the route toward disestablishment than any other political leader, including self-declared atheists Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. Ukip, which was wont to parade itself as Defender of the Faith, now seeks the separation of church and state while generously and condescendingly creating space within the public realm for religion. Under their benevolent aegis, one may be married in a castle, golf club or hot-air balloon. But if you wish to marry in a church, your service of Holy Matrimony must be followed (or preceded) by a 'neutral' secular ceremony of égalité for légalité.
Thus does Nigel Farage and Ukip embrace EU enlightened secularism, to the manifest detriment of our Judaeo-Christian tradition and heritage.
There were votes here. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them. This announcement will do Ukip far, far more damage than one eccentric councillor who blamed the floods on gay marriage.