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Royal heirs, a poll, and civil partnerships

16 November 2011


From the Revd Paul Burr

Sir, — You report the Archbishop of Canterbury as saying “that so long as the monarch is Supreme Gov­ernor of the Church of England, there needs to be a clear under­standing that the heir is brought up in that environment” (News, 4 November). Is it not time that the Church acknowledged that this historic role is obsolete? Are not all the monarch’s powers now exercised by ministers of the Crown?

The Church of England is syn­odically governed: the part played by the monarch is now almost completely ceremonial (Royal Peculiars excepted?). Other provinces of the Anglican Communion manage without a Supreme Gov­ernor.

But there are important issues — and not just Crown appointments. The Prime Minister wants to change fundamentally the law of the land relating to marriage, which since time immemorial has substantially embodied the Church’s doctrine of marriage. Does anyone expect the Queen personally to intervene even in a matter that so fundamentally touches the basic building-block of society? If so, how? If not, what is the point of colluding with a con­stitutional fiction?

The Vicarage, The Common
Swardeston, Norwich NR14 8EB

From Mr Richard Ashby

Sir, — Was it just coincidence that placed the story of the Premier Christian Radio poll about “gay marriage” alongside the Parliamentary inquiry “Clearing the Ground” into the erosion of “Chris­tians’ freedoms” (News, 11 Novem­ber)? One could hardly want for two more blatant examples of the setting up of what are portrayed as independent investigations in order to find the answers they want.

First, who are the 544 “practising Christians”, and how were they identified and selected? Since we do not know that, and since the poll was commissioned by Premier Christian Media, the results can have no validity whatsoever.

Second, just look at the panel comprising the parliamentary in­quiry, and particularly the list of those who are to give evidence. One could say that they are all the usual suspects. The only omission seems to be Lord Carey, who has made the issue of “discrimination” against Christians his own.

Quite frankly, apart from the self-validation and comfort that they give to those who have set them up, these are pointless exercises, whose results are totally misleading and of no worth.

Is anyone outside the narrow circle towards whom they are directed going to take any notice? I do hope not.

11 Jubilee Mews, Prinsted
Emsworth PO10 8EA

From the Revd Richard Haggis

Sir, — When the bishops banned the marriage of divorcees in church, some of the parish clergy exercised their right as marriage registrars to marry them anyway, subject to con­science and good cause.

The same will happen with civil partnerships. After all, the bishops were wrong last time, and who wants to be in the rearguard when they could be in the vanguard?

If the bishops want to continue to resist the law, they had better start thinking about disestablish­ment.

26 Bampton Close, Littlemore
Oxford OX4 6NN

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