THE new national church will, it seems, be an absent guest at the July 19 banquet. The Prime Minister is serving Freedom Day, or a half-baked version of it, but the Church of Covid smells only disestablishment.
Things had been going so well. Ever since Friar Ferguson nailed his thesis to the door of Number Ten, the C of C has achieved miraculous growth: every parish in the land boasts numerous devoted members. The Church of England obediently ceded its authority, and now endorses the new magisterium of Big Government, Pharma, Media and Tech.
The faithful have responded with alacrity to the ex-cathedra pronouncements of the Three Wise Men, with religious devotion to their sermons and commandments. Consider their commitment to taking the sacrament of the mask, the optical evangelism by which Covid faith is spread. Impurity all around, believers have daily performed this ritual with all due reverence.
Mask denotes halo: it is the shield of faith warding off evil spirits; the new crucifix conferring entry into the communion of saints. Non-compliance is, like the mortal sin of vaccine-hesitancy, for the Fallen, partakers of the fateful fruit of the Garden of Yeadon. Why should this sacred rite – this sheep-and-goats distinction – be annulled?
The physical spaces in which masked congregants, with their two-metre auras, gather have been de facto sanctified. No longer welcoming consumers but believers, shops have become temples, supermarkets cathedrals, high-viz security staff church wardens. Mammon-worship has ostensibly been relegated to a side chapel, while pious adherents of the one true faith waft up and down the aisle.
Face-and-space Covid signage is the new iconography, a visual representation of holy writ, as inspiring as any church fresco or mural. To lift restrictions would herald the de-consecration of thousands of buildings, the dissolution of the high-street monasteries. It cannot be allowed.
Should we be surprised, then, at the panic among the laity? The Church’s visibility is imperilled by its once-infallible chief prelate, whose fabled conversion on the trolley to ICU begins to appear doubtful. The Government’s continued doctrinal soundness on the most blessed sacrament of the jab – indeed, on its potential as a new means of infant baptism – may not be enough to prevent schism.
Mr Johnson now finds himself in the ambivalent position – of his own making – of partially resigning his C of C licence; he has removed the metre, but only half-removed his mitre. Only now is he coming to grasp how successfully he and his two most senior bishops have proselytised.
For millions of believers, a temporary sacrifice became a spiritual calling, which they have no intention of abandoning. Why should they? For the mask-wearing righteous who have seen the Promised Land, every day is Freedom Day.