Once I had crossed to the eatern side of the Euromerican pond (Atlantic Ocean), I collided with state religion; which in England is the Church of England (Anglican to the rest of us.) My first encounter was inside the walls of the Tower of London. [it’s okay I behaved myself] But I heard an amusing if stroppy beefeater give the English version of the myth of William Wallace (during which he said he’d like the same fate to befall Mel Gibson!) He repeated some similarly iconoclastic corrrections to what we’ve regarded as history.
The tour finale was a visit to the Chapel Royal. An ancient and beautiful place of worship, but also the burial place of a number of long dead royals. Buried with honour, whether they’d been incarcerated or even murdered by the state, often marked by a considerable floor plaque. Some of the stories told of these privileged “christians” left you wondering how the faith ever survived their excesses and their oppressive bullying of those who dared to differ. We were reminded, nonetheless, that this was primarily a place for worshipping the great Eternal…which meant caps off gents and respectful silence for all…thanks.
I was still boggling at this when it occurred to me that on the other side of the Euromerican Pond, there was an expectation that the state would respect the religion of the people (especially those of a particular persuasion). However it didn’t stop at respect but went to the expectation to to be able to strongly influence the state (the organism of government). In a country where much is made of the separation of state and church it sounded a lot like the emergence of a state religion…where rather than being a denomination it was more a community of churches and denominations that reflect certain social, moral and economic values that had a definite conservative flavour to them.
Liberal conspiracists would say that it was a clear strategy of the GOP or the conservative right. I think it was more the evangelical wing of the church flexing it’s rapidly gtrowing political muscle – which now is strangely flacid. Though so not so clearly in those areas where evangelicalism is still respected and practised.
To someone who comes from a country where secularism is almost a pillar of government from both sides of the political fence this manages to look like different expectation of the same animal…but is it bad or is good or does it matter? What are the dangers? What are the advantages? Who wins, who loses?
Stay afloat out there.
Barefoot surfer…still finding waves of interest and opinion to ride in the UK