…hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in Britain as it is in Berlin, give us this day our Remain vote in the referendum…
Does this sound blasphemous? It is, and I’m sorry about this. But I have an excuse: I’m just a layman, so what do I know? Out of sheer ignorance I may occasionally overstep the boundaries of piety, which a church at large would never do.
Or so one would think, which just goes to show the perils of idealising today’s institutions. In this case, idealism would be refuted by the official referendum prayer released by the Church of England.
Our state church wants all communicants to pray for our constitutional monarchy to dissolve itself in a giant socialist enterprise. So if you think my opening was bad, read this:
“Give discernment to… those who vote, that our nation may prosper and that with all the peoples of Europe we may work for peace and the common good; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Implicitly, any Christian who votes Leave will be an apostate to Jesus Christ our Lord. Excommunication beckons, what with punitive pyres somewhat out of fashion.
I just hope that this latest demonstration of how corrupt the C of E has become will disgust even those Anglicans who plan to vote Remain. And then perhaps they’ll be so disgusted that they’ll change their minds. Perhaps they’ll suspect that there must be something wrong about a cause championed in such a revolting way.
This taking a hands-on part in political squabbles emphasises yet again the perils of a church embracing the state too tightly. When Jesus Christ, for whose sake we’re supposed to renounce our sovereignty for ever, said his kingdom was not of this world, he punched a hole in the very possibility of a state church.
Yet this possibility became a reality in two countries I know well, England and Russia. And in both places the state church has been steadily shifting allegiance from church to state.
Being a state church covers a multitude of sins. But one sin it should flee from like demons from the cross is that of becoming merely a servant to the secular state, with all its transient fads and desiderata. However, that, I’m afraid, is the case in today’s Russia (in which I have no personal interest), and it’s becoming the case in today’s England (in which I have a vital interest).
That is a general point of principle, which is nonetheless worth making. A church cravenly toeing the political line drawn by the government loses much of its claim to legitimacy, compromising its ordained ministry.
However, if for a church to plunge headlong into political rough-and-tumble is dubiously Christian, doing so on this particular side is manifestly anti-Christian.
For the European Union is as much of a political expression of socialism as the Soviet Union was. Vladimir Bukovsky, who has found himself on the receiving end of both tyrannies, calls this wicked contrivance ‘the EUSSR’, and I wish I had thought of it first.
The idea of a giant, bossy, supranational, unaccountable state riding roughshod over local customs, traditions and interests, with neither countries nor individuals having much of a say in their destinies, is Marx on wheels. This is socialism in a nutshell, and – tossing aside with contempt the mendacious mock-Christian sloganeering favoured by socialists – that’s all socialism is about.
Socialism is the child and rightful heir to the Enlightenment, the catastrophe that left the West Western only in the strictly geographical sense. And hatred of Judaeo-Christianity was the main, possibly only, animus of the Enlightenment. Its explicit goal was to debunk God and turn man himself into a logically impossible blend of creature and creator.
Hence a Christian church praying for the socialist abomination called the EU is akin to the Rabbinical Council praying for Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS.
Lest you might think that I have it in for the C of E, the Catholic Church, led by its leftist pontiff, toes the same line, and one would think that, unlike our state church, it would be immune to secular and political pressures.
Yet its position was enunciated by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See: “I think we would see it [Brexit] as being something that is not going to make a stronger Europe.”
Perhaps His Grace has visions of Roman Catholicism becoming the official church of the single European state to come, in which case he ought to reconsider. Such a move may upset some member states from both northern and eastern Europe.
Western Christianity must be in better shape than I thought if its prelates can trouble their mitred heads with promoting a socialist pan-European future. They must feel their own realm is in such good order that there’s nothing more to be done about it.
This political stand brings Western Churches dangerously close to heresy and apostasy. They should watch their step.