Antidisestablishmentarianism


I wrote before, that while religion can be a force for reaction,
Religion, or at any rate Christianity,
should not be
the primary basis of a reactionary state. There are too many factions
(even within nominally hierarchical churches like the Catholic
Church). If the mechanisms for resolving religious disagreement come
to dictate government policy, that perverts religion and destabilises
government.
The liberal approach to this problem is to separate church and state —
to guarantee the church’s independence from the state. This can be
fairly workable, but it can reach absurd lengths: the currently
dominant interpretation in the USA is that the state cannot act in any
way out of religious motive. No genuinely religious person would
willingly tolerate that, and it has only come about because the
irreligious, or, more accurately, the adepts of a religion that has
managed to classify itself as a non-religion, have taken all power in
the state. (It also interprets a 220-year-old law in direct
contradiction to the way it was understood and followed for the first
150 years of its existence, which is an insult to logic and to the
concept of law, but that’s not important right now).
The problem with separation is that church and state become
rivals. Bishops can become a dangerous example of the kind of
over-mighty subject
I wrote about two years ago — people with substantial real power that
is not formalised within the state. My recommendation for other
“mighty subjects” is to require them to accept a state position of
honour which puts them under supervision by the sovereign. This is
problematic in the case of a clergyman who can properly claim to be
serving a higher power than the sovereign.
The solution that England found was to put the whole church under the
nominal control of the state. That doesn’t mean that the Queen is the
High Priestess, and she doesn’t routinely rule on doctrinal matters,
but it does mean that in the case of a serious disagreement between
church and state, state wins. If you don’t want an actual theocracy,
that is what has to happen.
In order to work, the relationship between church and state has to go
both ways. If the church is to survive under state control, the
sovereign, and the large part of the leaders of the state, have to be
supporters of the church.
There is still room for religious freedom, but that’s not the same as
all religions being treated equally. If you want to be high in
government, you should be a member of the established church, or else
be very exceptional. If your dissenting religion involves human
sacrifice, or advocates overthrowing the state or the established
church, then it will be suppressed like any other criminal or
seditious organisation.
It is in the interest of state and society for there to be an
established religion in which the majority of the population
participate. Normal behaviour should include regular religious
observance.
There might even be a case for small fines for non-observance. Or
maybe better, the state-backed social insurance / welfare system could
be run through the church — dissenting churches can go and set up
their own. There is great social value in giving the nation a venue of
shared ritual, and atheists can put up with sitting through an hour of
drivel once a week, particularly if they know they are not the only
ones just going through the motions. Just think of all the other
things you sit through for the sake of fitting in socially.
Note that, like many reactionary proposals, this one is targeted at a
particular people in a particular place. The Church of England would
probably not be appropriate for a small
research/manufacturing-oriented colony on a seastead. It is
appropriate for England. The principles underlying the argument are
more broadly applicable, and even the seastead should have some
established pattern of ritual.