Providing a context
The archbishops tell us, in the concluding sentence of their letter to the communities secretary:
The relationship between Church and State, reaffirmed by the Government last July in The Governance of Britain, will continue to provide a context in which people of all faiths and none can live together in mutual respect in this part of the Realm.
What does that mean? Anything? Is it anything other than an obvious absurdity? What can it mean to say that a relationship between church and state will provide a context in which people of all faiths and none can live together in mutual respect? Why would it do that? What does a relationship between the state and one particular church have to do with providing a context for a whole lot of people who have no interest in that church to live together in mutual respect? What does it have to do with providing a context for a whole lot of people who dislike or hate or fear or are bored by that church to live together in you know what?
What can the archbishops mean? Let’s get real, dudes. The truth is, the ‘relationship’ between an official established Christian church and the state necessarily excludes all non-Anglicans – all atheists, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, non-Anglican Protestants. The relationship is one between the state and one specific group, not one between the state and everyone, so what kind of ‘context’ are they talking about? Are they just pointlessly announcing that if all goes well people can live together despite the existence of this ridiculous and anachronistic relationship? Or are they, more expansively, saying this relationship actually makes living together possible, or helps it along in some way? If it’s the first, it’s just blather; if it’s the second, it’s ludicrous.