Africa, America and the UK Constitution

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Simon Jenkins infuriates and delights in equal measure, but today’s article in the Guardian fell in the latter category.

The Church of England is simply absurd.  I was unaware of how the number of Bishops has sky-rocketed over the past 100 years, but I was aware of how the jealously guarded seats the Church has in the House of Lords are, by and large, left vacant.

According to Public Whip, the Bishop with the best attendence record is the Bishop of Chester, on 11.8%.  The average Bishop turns up to vote 2.76% of the time.  What is the point of them?  You don’t need a Bishop to read out a few prayers; if Simon Hughes and John Battle can cope, surely anyone can do it?

If the Anglican Church does split, where will that leave Establishment?  It is very curious to have a part of our constitution determined by a spat between a bunch of Americans and Africans, yet that is what we are left with.  Which Church should then sit in the House of Lords?  Almost certainly the socially conservative wing which has simply nothing to say about 21st century Britain.  Worse, because this side is more politically active, it means that at the same point that the church becomes less representative of the country, it is likely to start using its constitutional position more.

This is a recipe for disaster.  Now is the time to start seriously calling for disestablishment.

4 thoughts on “Africa, America and the UK Constitution

  1. While I might agree with your conclusion, there’s a little confusion in your argument. Noone is talking about a split in the Church of England, and it is the CoE from which the bishops in the Lords are drawn (and which is the established church). There remains the very real possibility of a split in the Anglican communion, which contains the CoE and other worldwide churches.

  2. Simple: do you really believe that if the CofE sides against the Americans, there won’t be a split here? The CofE has been embroiled in its own culture civil war for decades now, and a formal split on the global stage will inevitably bring things to a head here.

  3. That much is true, if there is a global schism, then the flying bishops/anit-women priests, no gays group will force one here as well.

    Meh, I care not about the church. I dislike the Bishops all getting a role in the Lords, but I’ve long been of the opinion the Lords should have contributions from representatives of interest groups such as the faiths.

    Not 100% sure how to work it, but large membership organisations electing a small number each on a rolling basis would be interesting, and getting specialised interests into the revision chamber would be good. This is to go alongside some selected by lot and then more indirectly elected from the tier below national. I’ll write it all up someday.

    Bishops in Lords bad as things stand though, amazed they weren’t removed witht he heridatires really. Wait. Blair’s into the “faith is good” line isn’t he.

  4. With my work hat on, I would recommend Prof Iain McLean’s pamphlet on the subject, which proposes to kick ALL religions out of the House and create a Council of the Faiths (with a similar standing to the CBI and TUC) as the appropriate body for representing faith groups to the government.

    The Humanists hate the proposal as they see it as a way of institutionalising religions. Personally, I think it is a good way of keeping church and state comfortably seperate.

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