26 December 2008

How Could You Have a Discussion of the Possible Disestablishment of the Church of England Without Talking About Antidisestablishmentarianism?

So the Archbishop of Canterbury isn't too worried about the prospect of disestablishment, but he doesn't seem to exactly be an antidisestablishmentarian nor does he profess much in the way of antidisestablishmentarianist thought or rhetoric.The fact that the Church of England remains "established" may seem odd to my First Amendment worshipping American mind, but I question how and why a movement for disestablishment exists.

If it's an honest attempt to embrace religious freedom, then I'm for it. British society already seems to be very secular, so whether or not the Church of England is the official state religion won't make much of a difference.

There is one big unspoken thing that seems to be behind this disestablishment movement. Is it just about the Church of England, or is it about responding to pressure from Muslim groups? (whether perceived or actual, doesn't matter)

This same Archbishop also caused a bit of a stink earlier this year when he suggested that having some aspects of Sharia be adopted by Britain was "unavoidable".

There are already voluntary Sharia courts in Britain, but it's not hard to imagine those courts becoming mandatory for practicing Muslims within those jurisdictions (and given that in some parts of England segregation is almost total, some neighborhoods would be under Sharia rule exclusively), especially after disestablishment. That's given the overly accommodating nature of British politicians and their unwillingness to confront the bigots and crazies within their Muslim population.

Religious freedom is a great thing, if disestablishment is about increasing the free expression of religion (or non-religion) in Britain, then go for it, the sooner the better, if it's about something else, then don't mess with the tradition just to accommodate a vocal minority within an important and expanding constituency.

Being British needs to be about a shared experience, the center of that shared experience doesn't need to be an established church, but it should be about the basic traditions, laws, and deserved pride in their long and glorious history. That definition of Britishness can include people of all ethnicities and creeds, but if people choose to settle in Britain, be proud of becoming British and official doctrine should be about working towards "Britishness". The UK is failing their citizens when they don't work towards a common sense of Britishness regardless of from where, or from how long ago people came to their shores.

Anti-assimilation multiculturalism is a disease that corrodes societies. I see it here in Los Angeles, and from what I see in their newspapers, it's also a problem in Britain. I hope the desire to disestablish the church is just about freedom and nothing more, but given the behavior and rhetoric of some of their politicians it smells more like an act of appeasement, and you'd think the Brits would have learned their lesson regarding appeasement, but I guess not.

(Is this an issue that I really care about deeply, or was I just looking for an excuse to type the word, "antidisestablishmentarianism"?)

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