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New Book

Civil religion in the UK, Canada, Australia and the Commonwealth

By Norman Bonney,
Manchester University Press, October 2013

Advance online order deals with Amazon and Blackwells

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Towards a free market in religion

Online publication in the Political Quarterly April 2013

Controversies over women bishops and same sex marriage have emphasised the anomalous position of the Church of England which acts as a state church open to all but which is reluctant to accept the values of contemporary society and of Parliament which ultimately has legal control over it. It is now a rare example of a national enterprise that is not subject to the disciplines of the market. Its monopoly of state religious ceremonial seems increasingly unjustified in a society that questionably or barely has a Christian majority but its attempts, with the support of successive governments, to widen religious diversity in state representation and ceremonial, privileges eight minority non-Christian religions and excludes other forms of religion and belief. Such actions also conflict with the Church’s founding articles and emphasise its failure to achieve its official Christian mission. In an arena where citizens have a choice they overwhelmingly reject the Church and choose secular civil registration over marriage with Anglican rites. The ending of the Church's current monopolies and unique privileges would promote a freer and more vigorous market in religion in England.

Political Quarterly, 84, 2, July 2013, 256-264

The online version of this article is available at;