Separation of church and state – obvious or what?

I’ve been in occasional contact with my MP, David Lidington on a variety of issues.  One of these is reform of the House of Lords, particularly in regard to the removal of the bishops of the Church of England.  I’m in no doubt that they should go, and I have some trouble understanding his reasoning for why they should stay.  As I see it, it’s fairly straightforward and the logic goes something like this:

1. Religious beliefs (or lack thereof) must be a personal choice.  Nobody can force you to believe in any particular god or gods, nor can they prevent you.  If there is a state-mandated religion, it ceases to be purely a religion, and becomes a form of state control.

2. Representation in government should broadly represent the population.  If a proportion of the population are religious, then unless there is some specific reason why the religious are drawn towards, or away from, political life, the mix of people in the two Houses is likely to approximately mirror the religious affiliations of the population at large.

3. From 2. above it follows that there is no requirement for extra, specifically religious representation in either House, and that any such representation by definition disenfranchises those sections of the population that do not follow the religions so represented.

I believe Mr. Lidington’s view was that the Bishops were not about representation of the population, but about overseeing legislation, but I think that’s a cop-out – they’re still overseeing legislation on behalf of the population at large, so point 3. above still holds.

So, there you have it – simple really, isn’t it?  Or am I missing something?

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4 Responses to Separation of church and state – obvious or what?

  1. See this awesomely well thought out judgement, refusing leave to appeal to a man who was dismissed after he refused (while working for RELATE) to counsel same-sex couples about sex on the grounds that it was against his religious convictions, and referring to a request by Lord Carey of Clifton for special consideration (and for a special court with “proven sensibility to religious issues”):
    “The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.”

  2. Steerpike says:

    I agree with your logic and, yes, the bishops should go…..
    but then again I’m not entirely sure that logic applies to the House of Lords and, frankly, I believe all of it should go.

    It seems to me that Labour only really did half the job and left us with something as equally anachronistic as what was there before.

    Oh, and welcome to the blogosphere 🙂

    • So, the House of Lords should go, to be replaced by – what? Fully elected second chamber?

      And thx 🙂

      • Steerpike says:

        I’m all for a fully elected second chamber – perhaps based on share of the popular vote or linked to the composite regions of the UK.
        The whole thing needs an overhaul though. Both chambers (as well as the method of counting votes).

        I opt for the Tigris and Euphrates system as comprehensively laid out in my recent blog post 🙂

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