The State of the Church

by The Insights

Coinciding with UK coronation celebrations, new humanist publishes a dossier on the union of Church and State in England. From the latest census, it is known that most Britons no longer identify as Christians. And yet the wealthy Church of England continues to be supported by the state. new humanist contributors believe it is time to reevaluate the privileged role of a declining religion.

deny reality

“English Anglicanism is literally dying,” writes humanist Jeremy Rodell. “The main driver of decline is not the departure of Anglicans, but the children of Anglicans who do not continue their faith.” This dropout occurs despite the Church running a quarter of state-funded primary schools in England: now only 1% of under-25s in the country consider themselves Christians.

The Archbishop of York, saying that “the church of Jesus Christ is not an organization that lives or dies by graphs that go up and down,” has proposed establishing 10,000 new churches in ten years. But Canon Angela Tilby wonders if, “in a desperate attempt to avoid facing…reality, we have not entered into a state of corporate psychosis: a leap into false consciousness”.

Rather than wild expansion plans, Rodell suggests a community preservation strategy. “A diminished church cannot expect to protect a legacy of enormous wealth and tax-free investments,” she argues; instead, it should attempt to preserve its substantial “food bank and playgroup” infrastructure. “As the traditional model of churches and vicars becomes increasingly unsustainable, new solutions will be needed to keep the baby of social action while the Anglican bathwater runs out.”

Emma Park, editor-in-chief of The free thinker magazine, asks, “Why is the mere fact of ‘advancing religion’ sufficient to qualify an organization for the privileges of a charitable association? She cites the UK Charities Act 2011, which says that a charity need only “increase belief in the supreme being or entity which is the object or center of religion”.

However, “how a secular body like the Charity Commission is supposed to determine what is or is not a religion” is a “tricky question”. And whether the charity engages in harmful practices such as “circumcision, political extremism and discriminatory religious ‘courts'” remains under scrutiny. “More government money is being used to support the Church of England,” Parks writes. “The only fair way forward would be to repeal the clause.”

critical race theory

Kenan Malik traces the life and beliefs of Derrick Bell, the godfather of “critical race theory”. According to Bell, because racism was ineradicable, anti-racist action not only “would not lead to transcendent change”, but it “might indeed, despite our best efforts, be more useful to the system we despise than to the victims. of this system we are trying to help.

Although largely unknown, Bell’s perspective has gained traction in American anti-racism movements and beyond: “Challenging racism while believing it to be ineradicable has inevitably shaped the character of anti-racism today”, wrote Malik. “This has resulted in a shift from campaigns for material change to demands for symbolic gestures and representational fairness.”

White people’s adoption of black culture tropes is coming under increasing scrutiny. But Malik wonders about the backlash against “cultural appropriation”: “What does it mean for a music or a cuisine – or “pain” – to “belong” to a culture? And who gives permission to someone from another culture to use such cultural forms?

“Guardians do not protect the marginalized but the powerful,” he warns. “Racism itself is a form of control, a means of denying racialized groups equal rights, access and opportunities. Cultural appropriation policing is no different, even if the polarities have been reversed, and it is carried out in the name of anti-racism.

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