Church of England
|Christ died so we could write articles on|
“”like a toothless old woman muttering in a corner ignored by everyone
|—Former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey|
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. The Queen is still formally the head of the C of E. 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. Some are trying to use the controversy over women bishops (below) to remove or weaken those Lords in Spirit. At the very least it has been suggested, there should be no new appointments till there are women bishops eligible to be 'Ladies Spiritual'. 
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. 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 the Church of Scotland, which is in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition rather than Anglican. (The equivalent to the CofE in Scotland, is the Episcopal Church of Scotland, which is the second, perhaps third, church tradition in Scotland.)
 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. Justin Welby is the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Welby is an evangelical Christian but many branches of the Church like him, Welby strongly supports women bishops. 
 Women in the Clergy
Since the days of suffragettes in the early 20th century, women have militated for the right to serve the Church in all capacities; this movement gained momentum in the 1960's. The Church allowed women to become odained deaconesses in the 1980s; since 1992, the Church has accepted women as priests, though they cannot be appointed as bishops. A long-delayed and divisive vote on female bishops took place in November 2012. The House of Laity failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority. According to the Guardian, this was because opponents of female bishops succeeded in getting their supporters to vote.
One third of C of E clergy are women. Some of these women believe that they are capable enough to be more than parish priests and, frustrated at being held back, threaten to look for career opportunities elsewhere. The C of E could therefore lose a few of its most talented women clergy. The issue is not scheduled to be discussed again until 2015, but some dissenting female clergy are working to circumvent the relevant rules. New Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby hopes for divine healing.
- 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.
- 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. The Church was one of the most vocal groups in opposition to government plans to introduce same-sex marriage in the U.K., as it would dilute the sanctity of marriage.
- 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". In England gay men in civil partnerships can serve as C of E priests and bishops provided they make an unenforceable promise to remain celibate 
- Involvement in War - The Church of England also broke with historical tradition by opposing British involvement in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Poverty - Unlike the American Religious Right the Church of England, speak up "for the poor and the marginalized" but relatively few listen.  The C of E was accused of failing the poorest citizens, examples include selling social housing to the highest bidder while homelessness increases  and betraying London protestors from the Occupy Movement by permitting the police to remove protestors from St Paul's Cathedral.  Actions speak louder than words.
 See also
- ↑ The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey
- ↑ http://anglicancleric.blogspot.com/2007/08/anglicanism-catholic-or-protestant-last.html
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Female bishops and the Church of England: what happens next?
- ↑ 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)
- ↑ It's not entirely harmless, many cases of child sex abuse surfaced in Sussex. Archbishop of Canterbury condemns child abuse failings, there was a conviction in Cumbria Ex-canon of Carlisle Cathedral Ronald Johns jailed and yet more child abuse claims relating to the late Dean of Manchester, Robert Waddington have surfaced. Inquiry into CofE cleric abuse claim set up
- ↑ Justin Welby named as next Archbishop of Canterbury;Justin Welby set to become new Archbishop of Canterbury;Justin Welby: Ex-oil executive facing Church of England’s 'impossible job'
- ↑ Clergy who don't believe in God
- ↑ Women bishops: A century-long struggle for recognition;Church of England postpones vote on female bishops;Women bishops: Changes made to women bishops concessions;Women bishops: Vote could change Church forever - Robert Pigott By Robert Pigott;Q&A: Women bishops vote;Church of England general synod votes against women bishops;Women bishops: Justin Welby says vote against a 'grim day'
- ↑ Church of England Gay Marriage
- ↑ Mixed response to CofE decision to allow gay bishops
- ↑ Analysis: new Archbishop's challenge
- ↑ The church is failing our poorest citizens
- ↑ Occupy London protesters accuse St Paul's of betrayal