Approval of the controversial proposal that the Church of England ordain women bishops required two-thirds voting in support in three different bodies—the Houses of Bishops, Priests, and Laity. Tellingly, it was in the last, most popular, of the three that the measure ran aground, with 132 in favor and 74 against—short of the necessary two-thirds.
Rod Dreher decries threats by some Parliamentarians to cause trouble in the case of a no vote, saying they reveal a problem with religious establishment:
This is what it means to have a state church, I suppose. Because members of the the legislature — the House of Commons, I mean — have the right to approve any Synodal legislation, MPs feel at liberty to threaten the Church in this way. This is how doctrinal issues of enormous importance are decided? By members of Parliament openly putting a gun to the head of the Synod, and using hysterical, heavily loaded language like “religious apartheid”? I find that scandalous.
Sweet, sweet First Amendment! What a blessing it is. Poor old Church of England: conceived in an act of State bullying, and now suffering more of same.
Rod has a point, but a limited one. The British parliament has special leverage in telling the Church of England who should serve as a bishop, true, but American disestablishment hasn’t prevented our government from trying to tell the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church who is and isn’t a minister. Nor has it spared us the bizarre (and very easily satirized) encroachment on the rights of the Church represented by the contraceptive mandate.
That said, cheers to the Church of England for standing up to the pressure even by this narrow margin.
Image: Incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (NNP)