The Church of England, The Churches of America

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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90 Responses

  1. Patrick Cahalan says:

    I honestly take the Church of England’s concerns in this area a lot more seriously

    I don’t.

    You mess with the bull, you get the horns. The Church of England’s problem is that it is The Church of England.

    You don’t want the government to tell you what to do? Maybe you ought not to have the head of state as the gal (theoretically, anyway) in charge.Report

    • North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      Yes there is a certain element of live by the sword-die by the sword to this. The various State churches bound themselves to the states initially so they could let their doctrine dictate secular policy. It is only now that the balance of power has changed and they’re in danger of having the secular policy dictate religious doctrine that they’re complaining. It certainly smacks of wishing to have their cake and now eat it too.

      That said, in states (the US certainly chief among them) where religious/state separation is the official law of the land (if often flouted unofficially), I’d say that the churches are well within their rights to refuse any secular legal meddling in the operation of their faith.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to North says:

        In the US? Certainly. In Europe? I dunno…I tend to be pretty darn happy with a strict wall between state and church, so my gut American instinct is “State shouldn’t meddle with the Church”.

        But thinking it over, the UK is different. And the Church of England in a very special position. I don’t think American beliefs on Church/State seperation can apply to a Church that is wholly intwined, even if mostly ceremonially these days, with the State.Report

    • I think that’s the key difference here. The Church of England is practically a branch of the Civil Service, and this is the norm in Europe. The law governing church state issue is based on this principle, rather than the secular basis the US uses.

      IT just goes to show you that the secularism protects the Church from the state as much as the other way around.Report

      • Fnord in reply to James K says:

        This is particularly relevant in areas like marriage. The Church of England has the power to perform marriages that other churches lack. And, not coincidentally, every British citizen has the right to be married in the church of the parish in which they reside, regardless of whether they attend regularly, are a member of the CoE, or indeed profess Christian faith at all. This is not a new issue.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Fnord says:

          The Church of England has the power to perform marriages that other churches lack. And, not coincidentally, every British citizen has the right to be married in the church of the parish in which they reside, regardless of whether they attend regularly, are a member of the CoE, or indeed profess Christian faith at all.

          That I did not know! Thanks for sharing. I incorporated it into my 3:52 response.Report

          • Lyle in reply to Will Truman says:

            Make that every English person, there is no established church in Scotland or Wales or indeed Northern Ireland. (Wales is where antidisestablishmentarinism came from over the issue of disestablishing the church of Wales). In Scotland the Church was finally disestablished by law in 1921 all be it that effective disestablishment occured in 1843. England is still the big enchilada of the UK but it is not the total UK.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Lyle says:

              This is (almost) correct. It appears that England and Wales both follow the same marital procedures, though. Northern Ireland and Scotland don’t, though. Or at least they have separate Wikipedia entries. I’ve been doing some reading off and on today about England and Wales, but haven’t really gotten to Northern Ireland and Scotland yet.Report

            • Fnord in reply to Lyle says:

              As I understand it, it’s every British citizen, but generally if they’re not resident in England they won’t have an appropriate connection to a Church of England parish to qualify them, since, as you note, the Church of England is not present in other parts of the United Kingdom. Although apparently the Church of Wales is similarly situated in regards to special privileges and responsibilities, despite no longer being established, which I did not know.Report

              • Lyle in reply to Fnord says:

                Put another way if you reside in England you have a connection to the church of England, if not you do not. Historically the Church of Scotland was more Presbyterian and did not like bishops at all (See John Knox

    • I’m with Patrick. I think their argument is a canard.

      Much of the problem that I see is that the Church of England is the “first among equals” of the entire Anglican Communion, and the much more conservative elements within the Communion are also the most restive. They were the ones calling for the relationship with the Episcopal Church in the USA to be severed over the consecration of Gene Robinson, and they would be equally vociferous in their opposition to any move in a similar direction by the Church of England.

      Keep in mind also that the polity in the ECUSA has a much, much stronger voice (by design) than it does in England. Lay and ordained orders can guide the Church’s actions much, much more. Thus a handful of conservative, influential bishops in England can have much more power than they would here.Report

    • That’s not precisely the problem, though. Or, if that was the extent of it, my view of the situation would be different. The issue, to me, is the concern is that even if they split from the government, there seems to me to be a greater likelihood that some court in the EU would say “You have to marry gays anyway” than there is here in the US.

      When I say “I take their concerns seriously,” I mean that there isn’t much I can offer in the way of “That won’t happen.” I want the CoE to embrace gay marriage even more than TEC over here has (I want TEC to embrace it more than it has, too…). But it’s unhelpful to not be able to say that it won’t happen.

      Fnord’s comment below, that unlike American churches (a) they have special marital authority and (b) obligations to non-believers that don’t exist over here, does change things somewhat. But only as it pertains to the CoE as being associated with the UK. If they’re put in a position where they have to choose to disassociate or marry gays, I don’t have a real problem with that. I do have a problem with it if they disassociate and were to have to perform marriages they don’t like anyway.

      None of this deters my congratulations to Cameron for taking the step. It does seem like the way he went about it was counterproductive in a number of respects.Report

      • Fnord in reply to Will Truman says:

        As I understand it, same-sex marriage has been legal in Sweden since 2009, with a specific provision that religious institutions are not required to marry same-sex couples if they don’t want to, and (at least so far) no courts have stepped in.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Fnord says:

          That’s encouraging, though the real question is what happens if someone does really press the case. I think that’s already happened over here. If it’s happened over there, that cuts the CoE’s argument considerably (though there is a degree of uncertainty with regard to the EU and what authority it will ultimately assert – our boundaries of federal influence are more established).Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      OK, what about the concerns of the Baptist Church in England?Report

      • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Oh, wait. As I read further, it appears that they can’t conduct legally binding marriages? Is that correct?Report

        • I’ve been doing some looking up on this. I’m still not positive of the answer. It appears that in England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland may have different rules, I haven’t looked them up) that ministers of other faiths can act as registrars. There does not appear to be a substantive difference, but I may be missing it. I’m having a little difficulty figuring out the full ramifications of the Marriage Act of 1949 (Wikipedia is letting me down!).Report

          • Fnord in reply to Will Truman says:

            It seems to be a bit complicated. As I understand it, there are three ways to become legally married in England (and apparently also Wales):
            1) Church Wedding. A wedding performed by the Church of England (and also apparently the Church of Wales). British citizens are legally entitled if they are resident in the appropriate parish, and they have no living former spouse. The Church is allowed to perform weddings for divorcees, or people not resident in that parish (subject to some limitations), but as far as I can tell are not required to do so. You don’t need to provide notice to a registrar; instead either you have a “publication of the banns” at the church before the marriage or a license from the bishop.
            2) Civil ceremony. This takes place in a register office or “licensed venue” and requires the presence of a registrar. You need to provided the registrar advance notice, in person. Any legal resident can do it at any office or licensed venue in England. You are legally prohibited from including religious content in the ceremony.
            3) Civil marriage in a religious ceremony. It’s performed by a “licensed celebrant”, instead of a registrar, although the same notice to the register office is required. Generally speaking, the building also needs to be licensed for performing marriage, except for Jewish and Quaker weddings. Unlike a civil ceremony, religious content is permitted (that’s the point). Also unlike a civil ceremony, it’s only available to couples that reside in the same district as the marriage takes place, or couples that can prove that it takes place in their regular place of worship.

            In Scotland, as far as I can tell, all licensed celebrants of all religions and also the Scottish Humanist Society have the same ability to perform marriages, and there are no restriction or requirements for who a registered celebrant can marry (except for general rules about who is allowed to marry) or where they can take place (or you can have a civil ceremony at a registrar’s office).

            Northern Ireland seems to be complicated, and also religiously fraught, with Judaism and a laundry list of Christian denominations having an assorted set of varying privileges.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Fnord says:

              Civil ceremony… You are legally prohibited from including religious content in the ceremony.

              “God, I love you, honey!”

              “Sir, we’ll have none of that here.”Report

  2. Morat20 says:

    Europe’s relationship with religion is different than America’s — for the longest time, the Churchs ran Europe (and turned parts of it, especially around modern day Germany, into a godawful mess of repeated waves of converts-by-sword. Messy Catholic/Protestant affairs — religion wrapped around fueding kings, or perhaps fueding kings wrapped around religious disagreement — they were so intertwined it’s moot).

    America was founded, in no small amount, by folks who’d lost the power struggle religion wise, and generally came over here where they could start as top dog and run the place as God intended. (Not to say it was theocracy, so much as the State supporting the obviously proper Church. And vice-versa).

    Of course, as all the various losers came over here, that started to get a bit tense and by the time our national identity was forming there were some rather nice philosophical works on how much better things might be if government ran government and religion ran religion and left each other alone (as much as is feasibly possible, which is a heck of a lot more so than, say, 1600s anywhere Europe).

    Not that it really changed things — the slapfights in Europe were repeated over here and while state churchs slowly died on the vine, religion and politics remained intwined.

    However, in America and Europe, the legacy of all this is a pair of contrasting worries:

    Europeans, by and large, worry about the Church having too much say in non-Church matters, because they have a long and bloody history of it.

    Americans, by and large, worry about the State having too much to say about Church matters, because we were influenced by those whose State had relegated their Church to the gutters.

    So in Europe, the question of the day is “Should a church be forced to perform a marriage it doesn’t want, because the state recognizes it”. And in America, the question is “If the Church owns a non-Church business and offers health benefits, do they have to follow the same rules as every non-Church business gets, or can they get expemptions due to their relationship — however tangential — with religion?”Report

  3. North says:

    Good post, I don’t strongly disagree with any of it. A question out of my own curiosity; do we have any real life examples either in the EU or in the US of secular governments directly dictating religious doctrine of faiths within their borders similar to what SSM opponents fear?Report

    • Will Truman in reply to North says:

      I don’t know about dictating. I’d be surprised if there weren’t some influencing. We have influenced religious universities (for example) to accept things they otherwise wouldn’t. I have mixed feelings about this. I would guess there has been more of it over there.

      I’m really not very concerned of the likelihood of it happening over here. When debating the issue with SSM opponents, I have some ground to stand on. In the EU? I don’t, really. That has to do with ignorance and with (what appears to me to be) a differing philosophy.Report

      • North in reply to Will Truman says:

        My point, I guess, is that unless we’ve got some examples of some EU heavy handedness regarding religious issues then the SS concern here is significantly weakened. I mean the EU is pretty much the most likely place in the developed west to find this phenomena (considering their historic and legal entanglement with organized religion) and the absence of similar impositions of government into religious operation strikes me as a soft spongy point in the argument. I’ve googled a bit and haven’t found much myself. So far when the politically correct institutions of Europe have run up against cultural religious practices their responses have arguably been too prostrate in favor of the faiths involved; not too intrusive with their secular godlessness.
        I’d distinguish this, note, from some EU meddling in religiously related behavior that isn’t internal to the faiths involved; Frances’ dress code dictating for instance.Report

    • Jonathan McLeod in reply to North says:

      It’s not quite the same thing, but an Alberta Human Rights Tribunal did direct a pastor to issue an apology for his beliefs regarding homosexuality (Lund vs. Boisson: Though an actual court reversed that (and it might still be in appeal).Report

      • North in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        The less said about Canada’s joke of a ‘Human Rights Tribunal” the happier I’d be. Still that’s the case of a meddling over self important group of government quacks dictating to a religious figure how he’s allowed to behave outside his faith, not within it.Report

        • Jonathan McLeod in reply to North says:

          So it’s ok to believe whatever you want, but write a Letter-to-the-Editor about those views and you’re fair game? That don’t seem quite right.

          (And, of course, I mentioned an HRT just to get your back up. I know how much you love them.)Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Surely the original founder of the Church of England believed in the sanctity of marriage!Report

  5. James Hanley says:

    there is something quite disconcerting about governments being willing to take the guns when you arguably need them most.

    This was my position on the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which banned independent advertising withing 60 days of a general election.Report

  6. Burt Likko says:

    The Settlement Act of 1701 renders, through the Crown, the Church of England ultimately subordinate to Parliament. Parliament, in turn, is controlled by the citizenry of Britain (or is it just England?) as a whole.*

    If the citizens find forcing clerics to perform marriage ceremonies they find religiously objectionable, then they can bloody well tell their MP’s to write in an exception to SSM law regarding such ceremonies so that Brits can have both religious freedom and marriage equality. There are plenty of models for them to look to on this side of the pond, for instance New York’s.

    * There are a heck of a lot of non-Anglicans in Britain (or is it just England?) who therefore collectively exercise a degree of control over the Church of England, which is another reason why the whole notion of an Established church is rubbish.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

      By and large, this law isn’t supposed to force the CoE to perform the ceremonies. Cameron and company have said as much. The concern is that the courts (specifically the European courts), and not parliament, will decide differently on Human Rights grounds. That once the parliament decides that gays should be allowed to marry, the courts will make decisions on the when and where being precisely equal to that of heterosexuals regardless of the will of the people.

      This could be every bit as false a concern as it is when conservatives over here say it. But we have the first amendment, which I can point to and say “This is why that will not happen.” The EU doesn’t. This post is about, as much as anything, being glad that we here in the US have what we have in terms of Constitution and tradition, and how it strengthens our argument in favor of marriage equality.Report

      • Also, as I said above, it’s not precisely about the CoE as far as I’m concerned. It’s about religions in general. If the CoE is in a position where they have to make the decision to perform gay marriages or disassociate themselves from the state, I don’t really have a problem with that. It does add some fuel to their fire since we can’t credibly argue that it is no business of theirs who marries whom, but there are reasons to disregard them on that. If, however, even independent churches aren’t given that discretion, then that does make me more sympathetic.

        Not that there is an easy solution to all of this, if their concerns are valid. The government of the UK can’t very well determine what the courts will decide. Nor can they make guarantees. It does seem that, from a political standpoint, Cameron and company may have dropped the ball by not consulting with the church to begin with and at least putting whatever language the church wanted to exempt it from expectations that neither apparently want to thrust upon the church. That’s more of a political than an ideological calculation, though.Report

      • American “conservatives” have nothing to do with this, WillT. Zilch.

        However, this does point out how in the American milieu, “separation of church and state”— even via the oft-misinterpreted Jefferson “Danbury Letter*”—was more about keeping Henry the 8th out of the church than the Pope out of the government.


        • The parallel I see is that one of the arguments against gay marriage here is that gays will sue to be able to get married in the Catholic Church (among others), which is precisely the Church of England’s stated concern. If the CoE is right, and the gay marriage question is not settled over here, it’s a fair bet that American conservatives will point to it (even though there are various reasons why it shouldn’t be applicable even if it does happen).Report

          • Lyle in reply to Will Truman says:

            Clearly any such attempt would run right into the first amendment, and one would have to show very serious injury imho equivalent to not being able to find anyone to marry them to get a court decision to require the ceremony to be performed.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Lyle says:

              I agree! The main point of this post (which I may not have expressed clearly, judging by the comments) is how good it is that we have a first amendment to minimize arguments along these lines. That the UK and EU do not have have this tradition makes the situation there more murky.Report

              • WillT, it’s not an impossible slippery slope that a church loses its tax exemption for declining to perform gay marriages. We already have a wedding photographer up in front of the NM Supreme Court.


                Not in our lifetime, I think, but the legal principle can take us there, or at least according to some legal theories. The Obama admin/DoJ lost unanimously in


                but rust never sleeps…Report

              • It’s not impossible, but approaching fifty years after the Civil Rights Act a church in Mississippi can still refuse to marry an interracial couple without risking its tax-exempt status.Report

              • greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Slippery Slope = logical fallacyReport

              • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

                Only if you’re arguing from a point of certainty. The Slippery Slope Fallacy is that A will lead to B. Saying that A can lead to be is not fallacious at all.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                But A can lead to a million things. When people call out the SS it always that we shouldn’t do A because it will lead to Z. Its sloppy , lazy reasoning. You take any thing that might happen and posit some bad thing that could come from and all of sudden the sky is falling. Its an easy way to find a fear in everything.Report

              • In this case, Tom is merely saying that it is not impossible. Again, it’s the difference between saying something can happen and something will happen. The fallaciousness of the slippery slope fallacy is in the ability to predict the future.

                Beyond that, whether a slippery slope argument is correct or not is primarily that of a calculation. If I oppose the Mutant Registration Act because I fear it will lead to internment camps or something particularly bad for mutants, you may agree or disagree with my reasoning, but it’s not fallacious. Agreement or disagreement will depend largely on (a) how likely it is to become something worse, (b) how much worse we think it might become, and (c) whether the probability and severity of the worse thing happens is worse than the benefit of what is being proposed.

                If I think that the Mutant Registration Act has some benefits, but those benefits are outweighed by the potential hazard, then it is perfectly rational for me to oppose the MRA.Report

              • At last, someone whose schooling didn’t interfere with his education. I live for this.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                I agree with Will.

                Tom’s slippery slope is a “could,” not a “will,” and his demonstrating the concept of religious freedom by equating a wedding photographer to the Catholic Church should be judged on its own inherent degree of insightfulness.Report

              • Thx, RTod. FTR, I’m placing my faith in America’s reverence for the 1st Amendment.


                decided unanimously by our Supreme Court, 9-0.

                If I may, Tod—

                We hold nothing sacred except that we hold the sacred sacred.

                Too Jaybird-like, or do you follow me here?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Saying that A can lead to be is not fallacious at all.

                No, it’s not fallacious. But it’s also not interesting. Trivial, in fact. At least as stated. In terms of logical possibility, any event A might lead to event B. Just as preventing or denying event A might lead to event B.Report

              • Still,

                To me, it is interesting in correlation to the degree that B is plausible or likely. If B seems likely, it is interesting. If B seems unlikely, it’s less interesting. Severity matters, too. If B is not terribly likely but catastrophic, I might take it into account along the periphery as long as it’s plausible in not just a “remotely plausible” way.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                Well yeah its a “could” not a “will”. So what. This is where its a sloppy lazy argument. A million things could happen. I could come up with a hundred “coulds” does that make them a valid argument. Just saying its not a complete prediction only a “could” doesn’t mitigate the fallacy. The key part to the fallacy is saying we shouldn’t do A because it will or could lead to Z. A stands or falls on its own merits. Z is not relevant. I agree with Will’s A, B, and C but those things also show how silly almost every invocation of the SS is. Nobody does that , they just say SS. The Slippery Slope is the logic behind the STALIN/ SOMALIA poo slinging.

                Throw out any idea or concept and i can come up with some fear that might happen. Try me.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Tom, is all this talk about “can” and “must” and “will” bumming you out?

                Huh. OPRE, right?Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’ll add this may be the first time i’ve ever thought both Will and Tod were on the fast train to Wrongsville at the same time.

                My last comment was a bit repetitive. The use of the SS is non-partisan, all sorts of people use. Without providing specific reasons and a path why Z is even remotely likely using it as criticism of A is fear mongering. The fallacy goes beyond the could vs will. It is in taking any fear a person can conjure as a reason not to do something completely different.Report

              • Trumwill Mobile in reply to Will Truman says:

                Greg, but how lik3ly or credible will your scenarios be? If they are unlikely, then it’s a bad argument. Not because it’s a slippery slope argument, but because it’s a bad slippery slope argument. The notion that all slippery slope arguments are bad arguments ignores the existence of incrementalism and that previous policies are used to argue for new policies (and that future policies sometimes need or are assisted by its predecessors). The notion that I should ignore the direction of policies and only look at the policy being proposed right now seems short-sighted to me. I am personally rarely moved by slippery slope arguments, but sometimes turn out to be right.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

                Use slippery slope arguments a few times, and pretty soon it’ll be the only kind of “reasoning” you’re capable of.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                The scenarios i could make up would be just as good as 99% of the Slippery Slope arguments that are tossed out. They would be devoid of any analysis of history other then (omg bad thing happened and then another bad thing happened), context, or analysis of how likely Z is to follow A. In fact even if i put all that stuff in, as you already stated, the future is really hard to predict. Yes things can move in a direction but hat doesn’t validate any particular argument when people use the SS.

                I was trying to avoid making this about Tom and his use of the SS. But its a great example of the laziness of the argument. We shouldn’t do A because something bad thing might, just might happen. Well so what. He’s now talking about Z instead of A. There is no path presented to Z, no likelihood of Z happening, just the fear is thrown out there.Report

              • Trumwill Mobile in reply to Will Truman says:

                Perhaps our disagreement is because I consider the path to forcing churches to marry gays to be transparent and not in need of explanation. Someone at some point will argue that churches should not be exempt from anti-discrimination law. People argue that now. The legislature and courts disagree. In the future, as homosexuality becomes increasingly tolerated and homophobia increasingly scorned, the politicians and courts will decide otherwise. I don’t believe that will happen, but I can’t say it won’t. It doesn’t change my view of SSM, but it doesn’t seem to be a fallacious argument at all. Just an unconvincing one.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:


              • Trumwill Mobile in reply to Will Truman says:

                Greg, my primary issue here is that you seemed to equate a slippery slope argument with a slippery slope fallacy. To me, they are two different things. Slippery slope arguments may usually be poorly deployed, but are not inherently wrong in logic even if they are offbase and unlikely in terms of probabilities.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will Truman says:

                Maybe. I think its about as likley for gay marriage to destroy herero marriage as it is for churchs to be forced to marry people they don’t want to. As was noted somewhere else in the thread its legal for a church in the South to not marry a black person to a white person. People argue churches shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate in hiring, but i don’t quite think any church has been forced to make a man a nun. You can say there is a clear path, but there would a double butt load of stop signs along the way. One of the problems with predicting the future is the difficulty of predicting when attitudes change and in which direction.Report

              • Trumwill Mobile in reply to Will Truman says:

                Mississippi is why I find the SS argument so unconvincing in this case.Report

              • “Jesus Christ” was a question. Our problems are far deeper than epistemology, but I was being charitable.Report

              • “Use slippery slope arguments a few times, and pretty soon it’ll be the only kind of “reasoning” you’re capable of.”


              • WillT, for a “comments culture” addicted to sarcasm and the reductio ad absurdum, that slippery slope arguments are considered invalid is, well, absurd.

                Carry on, bro. Hell, without sarcasm we’d barely have a comments culture atall.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will Truman says:

                Well, they can fix that problem, surely.

                Although with all the hubbub over youtube videos in the last few days, I can see why they might not want to.

                Still. Cake. Eat it too.Report

              • North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Agreed. The CoE entangled with Englands government for two reasons:
                A: the Monarch wanted to dictate religious doctrine (marriage rules regarding divorce to be specific and ironic).
                B: the religious power players in protestant England wanted to dictate English social and political policy (mostly for thumping Papists though they dipped their fingers in just about everything else as well).

                Well time passed, the Monarchs (wisely) devolved their powers to the people. Now the church has discovered that secular society has grown so strong that that powerful leash they tied themselves to the state with is dragging them instead of them dragging the state. To that I have trouble doing anything except play the worlds smallest violin for them.Report

        • Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Which points out the problem of mingling church and state- its the church that gets corrupted, more so than the state.Report

  7. BlaiseP says:

    C of E could turn this situation around in a heartbeat. As the Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II could issue a proclamation to the effect that any of her subjects can be married in a C of E church, sexuality notwithstanding.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to BlaiseP says:

      HRH doesn’t seem likely to stomach such a thing. Maybe I don’t have the right measure of her personality or I’m thinking of Meryl Streep.

      If it takes Royal action, I think we’re certainly waiting for the reign of Charles III or maybe even William V.Report

    • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Well her Majesty wouldn’t of course. She’s run “the Firm” too long to make any such heavy handed use of the enormous latent power the Monarchy possesses. Which, of course, is one reason why the Monarchy under her stewardship (stewardesship?) has flourished.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

        Ecch, the monarchy isn’t in such great shape these days. As for Elizabeth II, there’s a wonderful aside in Tina Brown’s gossipfest:

        Following the success of Stephen Frears’s movie I asked one of the queen’s private circle how accurate he felt Helen Mirren’s portrayal was of his boss. “Well,” he replied, “you remember the scene where the queen sees the stag on the moors and gazes at it mistily?” “Yes,” I said. He paused. “Well, the queen would have had it shot.”Report

        • North in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Well that aside only makes me like her more. Who doesn’t appreciate a nice deer head and a nip ‘o venison.

          As to the Monarchy’s shape, the Firm’s doing well with the public, hasn’t had any major crisis, has a photogenic next generation in the cat bird seat of the public eye (and likely has a next-next generation on the way*). Do a poll of republicans across the commonwealth and you’ll find them in a pretty doleful and dolorous mood. By my inexpert measurements that suggests a pretty good state of affairs for the Monarchy.

          *Oh please let her be a girl!!!Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

            Heh. Every time there’s a Prime Minister’s Question session on the Teevee, I always tune in. And every time, there’s some red-faced republican Roundhead like Paul Flynn MP, gesticulating and roaring out imprecations and calumnies upon the monarchy.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

            A bit of rhetoric from Paul Flynn, a great credit to the Welsh, always masters of the form:

            Paul Flynn (Newport, West) (Lab): Towards the end of her speech, the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) was unwise enough to mention a constituent of mine, whom she quoted as an exemplar of a politician in Wales, the young man whom all others should follow. She thought he was elected, but he is a nominated member of council. I think it is my duty to inform the House a little more about this person. I would not mention him normally. I know that his inspiration in politics is the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T.C. Davies), so there is a certain poverty of ambition there.

            As the young man has been cited as typifying the brave new world that the Conservatives are offering, we should know a little more about him. He has been kind enough to inform us about himself on the splendid MySpace website. He is remarkably frank. He gives a potted history of his life. He states:

            “I’ve evolved from a little whining pussy to a thrill seeking wreckhead to a Conservative who still loves the wreckups.”

            On 16 June 2006 he was asked whether he had taken drugs that month. He said yes. The next question was:

            “Have you stolen anything this month?”

            and he said yes. Asked why he wanted to go into politics, he said that he wanted it for the power, the flash suits and the money. —

            David T.C. Davies rose—

            Paul Flynn: I am delighted to give way to this young man’s hero.

            David T.C. Davies: I have never seen the website and I do not really know the gentleman myself. I presume that there could be something ironic in what he says: if he is after power, money and flash suits, he will not want to follow me on to the Back Benches, as he will not see much of any of those from where I am sitting.

            Paul Flynn: It is painful for me to recall my own experience when I was first elected. The first school I visited was Bassaleg school in my constituency. I was discussing politics in the sixth form and I recall one particularly difficult person—he might have something in common with the young man I have mentioned—who was a bit of a troublemaker in the class. I advised him, in my generous way of helping young people, that the best thing to do in life was to take up politics. That young member is in his place opposite as the hon. Member for Monmouth, so I regard that as the worst political mistake of my life.
            In order to convey a somewhat brighter picture of Newport. I shall mention three other young people in my constituency—Richard Whittaker, Adam Brustad and James Sadler, who will be performing in the Meze Lounge tonight a newly written song called “Land of my Mothers”, which is part of their political agenda. They have written song called, “Lebanon is Burning” and another one based on “Animal Farm”. Those are three splendid idealistic young men, marvelous examples of their generation, who believe in things other than what this gentleman I have quoted believes in—drugs, theft, wreck-ups, smart suits and making money. There is an optimistic side, and if people want an exemplar of what young people can achieve, they would be better off in the Meze Lounge in Newport tonight, listening to the first performance of “Land of my Mothers”.

            If only our wretched American politicians could stand upon their hind legs and say such things! What poverty of expression has encumbered the Land of the Free in these parlous times.Report

  8. bookdragon01 says:

    I’m curious why the discussion has only focused on England. As an Episcopalian, what we’ve heard for years from Canterbury is that we can’t move forward on gay marriage or ordaining gays (or, once upon a time, women) because of the reaction that would come from our Anglican brethern in the 3rd world – Africa, Asia and (to a lesser extent) South America. All of these are growing, increasing the numbers of the Anglican Communion and so we ought not make moves that might put them off or offend them.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to bookdragon01 says:

      I thought the Episcopalian split a few years back. The progressives went that way and the conservatives stayed where they are.Report

      • bookdragon in reply to Jaybird says:

        No, ECUSA is still part of the Anglican Communion. There is a separate Anglican Church in America for the conservatives, but they’ve been around a long time. (I still recall making the mistake of visiting one when we moved to a new city – and getting up and leaving halfway through a sermon on how women weren’t meant to be priests because we somehow weren’t made quite as much in the image of God as men).Report

        • Trumwill in reply to bookdragon says:

          It’s the North American Anglican Communion. There have been some “renegade” churches for a while, but they only formed their own organization in 2008. As far as I know, they are not recognized by Canterbury.Report