Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Will repeal of the blasphemy law lead to dissestablishment?

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Writing on Comment is Free, "post-Anglican" reformist Theo Hobson suggests that the possible repeal of Britain's archaic blasphemy law could eventually lead to the abolition of the equally archaic established Church of England.

Hobson says that since "the blasphemy law exists to defend this official church in particular, not Christianity in general", removal of the law could be seen as "another belated chapter in the demise of our established church".

He goes on to state that "the Church of England was instrumental to the emergence of our liberal political tradition", which is something many humanists may not agree with (AC Grayling, for one), but adds that 9/11 made him realise that it "was suddenly necessary to affirm secular liberalism, and to end the old narrative of Anglican privilege, to affirm the basic principle of liberalism, that all must be treated equally, irrespective of religious belief. The established church was suddenly standing in the way of the renewal of our national identity. It was no longer a pretty relic, but an ugly hindrance."

Let's just hope Hobson's right. Though it must be noted that circumstances have changed slightly from yesterday. The Government is whipping Labour MPs to oppose Evan Harris's amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill as, surprise surprise, they want to discuss it with the Church of England first. However, fearing a backbench rebellion, the Government has promised to bring forward its own plans to abolish the law (after it's consulted with the Bishops, obviously).

So, if today's Commons proceedings do mark the beginning of the end for the blasphemy law, maybe next we can move on to dumping the Bishops out of the House of Lords. And then who knows? It could be next stop disestablishment.

At least we can dream...


Anonymous said...

We have a blasphemy law?
We also have a law that women in pet/aquarium shops can go topless.