Saturday, 6 December 2014

Disestablishmentarianism and social order

Church and state were not always separate in the USA.

We assume that separation of church and state is explicitly part of the U.S Constitution but the phrase does not appear in it. What the First Amendment states is that 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Justice Joseph Story of the United States Supreme Court in the 1840s was a devout Unitarian (and therefore not a Christian) who argued that the old maxim of Blackstone's that
 'Christianity is parcel of the laws of England' 
was Common Law and part therefore of US law. He also said that blasphemy was an offence in the USA under Common Law.

Joseph Story came from Massachusetts. Massachusetts was the last American state to retain an established religion, which it did until 1833. Connecticut had separated church and state in 1818 and New Hampshire in 1819. 

Story believed that Christianity was a bulwark to the social order. This idea was taken for granted in England and other countries at that time and had been for centuries.  And indeed it is true. It is also true that America's intense Protestant Christianity is her great strength (and weakness). Even though many of the founding fathers, such as Jefferson, were Deists, Protestantism is the bedrock of the USA.

People used to think it important to maintain social order and social hierarchy but now European and American opinion formers seem to be automatically suspicious of both.  - Even though politicians use the phrase social cohesion, they do everything to make society less cohesive and call the result diversity. Human rights is becoming a sort of secular religion - equality is taught in schools in place of scripture lessons - but it is one that does not operate as a bulwark of social order. Rather the contrary. 

Be that as it may, hierarchy and social order are essential and must be accepted and justified if society is to function. Every society has to justify inequality. I am not sure the equal opportunities ideology does this and it certainly leads to a strong sense of victimhood. It also leads to materialism and competitiveness.

The Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council made peace with many of the ideas of the enlightenment and even some of the ideas of the French Revolution and is now in favour of separation of church and state. I still hope that we do not see separation of church and state in England or Scotland or Scandinavia.

Hilaire Belloc said 
'Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe' 
but according to a man I know, who is has a post-graduate degree in Immigration Studies (I dislike the sound of all 'disciplines' which have 'Studies' in the name) and therefore knows, Europe will not be considered Christian in twenty years. I suppose it will be Christian-Muslim-Hindu-secular-feminist-relativist. It is an indescribably sad story.

I am not sure how much of a bulwark against the infidels the Church of Sweden is. The four candidates to be Archbishop of Uppsala were interviewed in front of the media and, among other questions, were asked, 
“Does Jesus provide a truer picture of God than Muhammad?” 
Only one of the candidates said that He does - and, you knew it, that candidate was not chosen. But despite this and a hundred thousand other stories, I still want Sweden and England to retain state churches. We need to preserve every link we can between European public culture and Christianity.  

No comments:

Post a Comment