An atheist activist group in the U.S. is praising an expected U.K. bill that aims to disestablish the Church of England, potentially separating the official church from the government.
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The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist group, called the move “brilliant” and Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said she and her group are “cheered” to see the potential break.
“At a moment when the United States is struggling to retain our secular democracy, we’re cheered by the news that disestablishment is being debated and contemplated in Britain,” Gaylor said in a statement. “The privileging of the Church of England is holding back progress and allows it to force its doctrines on the majority of non-Christians. It’s time the British tell the Church of England to ‘sod off.’”
The FFRF called religious inclusion at King Charles III’s recent coronation troubling, mentioning the king’s “kneeling before a Bible and kissing it” and pondering whether the sight helped spark the forthcoming legislation.
Charles also pledged an oath to uphold the Bible, though such proclamations are a historic part of the coronation process, as CBN Digital has documented.
The relationship between the U.K. government and the Church of England is one that gives 26 bishops seats in the House of Lords, with the monarch — King Charles III — officially considered “Defender of the Faith,” according to Christian Today.
Plus, there are state-funded Church of England schools.
Gaylor’s statement comes as a new bill from Paul Scriven, a Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, reportedly seeks to disestablish the Church of England.
The National Secular Society, a U.K. secular organization that has worked since 1866 to see disestablishment become a reality, said the bill will be introduced to Parliament on Dec. 6.
Scriven has said the bill is “long overdue” and that the church’s current standing is a “historic quirk,” Christian Today reported.
“In a modern and plural England, it is rather archaic and unacceptable that a privileged religious organization is planted right at the center of the way the state is organized and run,” Scriven said. “The separation of the Church of England and the state is long overdue. We need to reflect Britain as it is today, not what it was back on the 1500s.”
The politician added that no one will see faith undermined under this law, but that the state won’t be able to “force its beliefs on others who have different views.”
He said he looks forward to arguing in favor of disestablishment.
As CBN News previously reported, this issue has been heating up in recent years, with calls for separation intensifying, especially after a 2021 census showed less than half — 46.2% — of Britons identified as Christians.
It was the first time in history a majority of the country no longer identified as Christian.
“The fact that Christianity is no longer the majority religion means policy is out of step with society,” Professor Linda Woodhead, head of the department of theology and religious studies at King’s College London, told The Guardian at the time.
We’ll have to see next month what happens once Scriven’s bill comes up for debate.
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