Church of England
|Christ died so we could write articles on|
The Church of England, also known as the C of E or the Anglican Church, is a Christian church, self-described as Reformed Catholic, and the state religion of, not surprisingly, England. It was also the state religion of Wales until 1920. Other Anglican or Episcopal Churches throughout the world are affiliated with the Church of England and Anglicanism is not declining worldwide as it is in Britain. The South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the world's most famous Anglican clerics.
Founding and the English Reformation
schoolboy older English schoolkid of either sex knows, the Church of England was founded when, in 1534, King Henry VIII refused to put up with the Pope's objections to sanctioning his divorce. Henry, being King and having the wherewithal to do so, declared the English Church to be split from the Roman Catholic Church, and put himself at the head of the new church - after Jesus Christ of course. Some of the emerging Protestant theology was adopted to further the division, and Henry took advantage of his new ecclesiastical leadership to forcibly close down England's monasteries and convents, confiscating their wealth and land.
Over the next century or so, the theology and practices of the Church shifted back and forth under various regimes, sometimes appearing Catholic in all but name, sometimes fairly Puritan, before settling somewhere in the middle.
Transition to modern times
There is disagreement whether the C of E are Protestant, it seems they call themselves Catholic but not Roman Catholic. The Church has a minor role in the British government, with Bishops sitting in the House of Lords and has usually backed government policy. The so-called Lords Spiritual represent only England: other branches of the Anglican Church, other faiths, and freethinkers are not specially represented in the House of Lords. For a large part of its history the C of E has been connected with maintaining the established order, that meant traditional upper classes in charge, the middle classes in the middle and the lower orders knowing their subordinate place. This is less true today and traditional ties between the C of E and the Conservative Party are weakening.
In recent decades, church attendance in British has dropped considerably and the Church of England's influence is becoming increasingly irrelevant in society, but they still have those Lords Spiritual and they still get tax payers money.
It is under something of a hostile takeover bid by the Roman Catholics, who have set up a system where Anglican parishes can convert over without having to change any of their liturgy or dogma. They simply change "Anglican" to "Catholic." Their priests don't even have to be celibate! (Well, any new ones would, but the old ones don't.) The Vicar of Bray would have been proud.
It should be noted that the Church of England is the established church only in England; none of the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom have established churches at all. The C of E was disestablished in Wales in 1920, with its former dioceses being renamed as the Church in Wales (sic); the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1871, long before the partition of Ireland, and Scotland has never had an established church.
The modern Church
“”The nice country vicar in effect inoculated vast swaths of the English against Christianity.
|—Rev. Giles Fraser|
Unlike fundamentalist forms of Christianity, Anglicanism does not demand a literal interpretation of Biblical passages such as the creation, great flood and virgin birth; indeed, the Church of England has been part of efforts to oppose those who insist that one must make a choice between reality and God. Modern Anglicans are also usually very tolerant and respectful of other Christians. The Church of England doesn't tend to put the fear of Hell into people—all it really offers is tradition, rituals, tea, jumble sales, and cake. On balance, Anglicanism should be considered a mostly harmless (though somewhat boring) branch of Christianity. Despite a heavy presence of stuffy, old fashioned conservative types, the Church of England has become increasingly progressive and tolerant, compared to many other Christian churches.
- Evolution - In 2010, the C of E officially stated that not only is Evolution compatible with Christianity, it is a disservice to both science at large, and scientists who are Christian, to deny the facts and findings of science.
- Women in the Clergy - Since 1992, the Church has accepted women as priests, though they cannot be appointed as bishops. This is currently under discussion by the synod  and as of July 2012 there will soon be a vote. Other branches of the Episcopalian church already have women bishops. 
- Homosexuality - The Church allows that homosexuality "in and of itself is no bar to faithful Christian life," but at the same time "sexual activities outside of the bonds of marriage are a sin", and that Marriage is as defined, one man and one woman. The upshot? It's fine to be gay, as long as you are celibate.
- Homosexuality as clergy - Some homosexuals have also been accepted as clergy in Anglican churches, including Bishop Gene Robinson in the New Hampshire diocese of the Episcopal Church. These moves have been met with strong opposition from many traditionalists. Some of the more homophobic branches of the Anglican church refuse to stay in communion with those branches that are, "open and affirming".
- Involvement in War - The Church of England also broke with historical tradition by opposing British involvement in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- ↑ http://anglicancleric.blogspot.com/2007/08/anglicanism-catholic-or-protestant-last.html
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Vicar of Bray.
- ↑ Quoted in Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion, p.41
- ↑ World Socialist Web Site: Marx and Darwin - Two great revolutionary thinkers of the nineteenth century (part 2) June 18, 2009
- ↑ (or death)
- ↑ Clergy who don't believe in God
- ↑ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2012/feb/07/church-of-england-general-synod-female-bishops-live-blog
- ↑ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16966435
- ↑ Women bishops: Vote could change Church forever - Robert Pigott By Robert Pigott