This is our truth, tell us yours
Ukip failing to recognise Westminster Cathedral this week caused much hilarity and a rather witty Twitter tag. Westminster Cathedral in an unusual Catholic Church and one of my favourite London buildings. It took a certain amount of courage to design such an unEnglish building, To understand the history of Catholics in England is to understand that we (and although I have swum the tiber in the wrong direction I share that history) were constantly accused of being foreign, disloyal, not able to be loyal to church and state.
Westminster Cathedral does not hide the influence of the other, the foreign on Catholicism, and as you can read here was lauded by all when it opened. It was a time of Anglo Catholicism, high Church anglicanism. The victorian love of the gothic, and all things medieval, spilled over into various movements within religion. This was not a time for austere calvinism. During the course of the 19th century various laws against Catholics were overturned, although of course one still remains on the books. For a period it even was fashionable, if ones religion can ever be fashionable, to convert to catholicism. Whilst the troubles resurrected ancient prejudices for a period it was possible to be English, catholic and not suspect.
Today of course it is a different religion who is assumed to be make ones loyalties suspect, and there is a push for laws against the Muslim population of the UK. To be Muslim is assumed to be somehow other, in just the same way as catholics once more. It has caused a certain amount of outrage in those quarters who like to be outraged that The Bishop of Oxford has suggested that parts of the Koran should be read at the next coronation. Leaving aside how anyone thinks putting a lump of metal on someones head is in any way relevant, or a good way to chose a head of state I find the “fluffy christianity” and sacramental objections rather odd.
To tackle fluffy christianity first, I fail to understand how hearing the sacred texts of another religion is somehow saying something about your faith. It seems to be very odd to have such a weak faith that any mention of alternatives would cause your faith to crumble. This seems to be the attitude of many on the right, who want to go to church on highdays and holidays, but complain if Christians mention food banks or poverty. They see Christianity as an extension of their whiteness and, it seems, something that has foundations of sand.
AS the independent discusses very well the sacramental aspect is rather more troubling. The coronation ceremony does not allow Catholics, or methodists, allowing Islamic clerics seems highly unlikely. For this is not a Christian ceremony, it is a Church of England ceremony, a denomination invented by one monarch and defended by all subsequent monarchs.
The solution seems clear to me (short of revolution of course). The Church of England must be disestablished. This would not only allow for a coronation ceremony that included people of all faiths, but free the Church of England from those who still see it as the tory party at prayer.