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Under the rules, no C of E minister could be anything other than a Brexiteer


THE good archbishop Welby needs, I think, to read his conditions of employment as stated in the 39 Articles, to which he publicly assented.

In particular I would draw his attention to Article 37: ‘The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and her other Dominions, unto whom the chief government of all estates of this Realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction.’

The 39 Articles, laid out in the Book of Common Prayer, are the foundation of the Established Church. When the Liturgical Commission contracted St Vitus’ Dance and sprayed new services everywhere, eventually they settled on ‘Common Worship’ which ran to several volumes. I searched every volume for the 39 Articles; nowhere to be found. I wrote to the Liturgical Commission asking why they were omitted and was told, ‘They have nothing to do with worship.’ Really? Christian doctrine has ‘nothing to do with worship’?

But to return. It seems to me that no ordained minister of the Established Church could be anything else than a Brexiteer without compromising his or her terms of employment.

When Major forced through the Maastricht Treaty he announced, in Parliament, that we were all now citizens of the EU, including the Queen. It occurred to me, as an ordained clergyman in the Church of England, to enquire about my Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen; to whom did my Oath now run? The Queen or Brussels? I asked our diocesan chancellor (legal officer of the diocese). He rang me and asked if I were sitting down. He then told me what he had discovered. He had asked the Chancellor’s office at 1 The Sanctuary (the Head legal Office of the Church of England). They told him that this question had been raised before and that they had asked the Palace. The Palace, according to the chancellor, asked Brussels and Brussels replied that the Oath may remain as it is – for the present. (Maybe this explains why Common Worship has a ‘special prayer’ for the European Union!)

This was indeed a shock. The Queen deferred to Brussels. The Oath, in various forms, applies to the police, MPs, ministers, judges and our armed forces. I doubt that a clergyman’s oath of allegiance is of much use to Brussels, but a serviceman’s oath most certainly is. As you can read elsewhere we are already dangerously ‘integrated’ with the EU Army project. Recently it was revealed that Army recruits who were deemed ‘too patriotic’ were being rejected. Germany ultimately wants a war with Russia (France wants one with America – but then French elites were always ‘away with the fairies’). Our children and grandchildren could yet find themselves fighting on the Eastern Front, unless we cut these ties with the EU.

Now regarding the more trite statements by the good archbishop, I am always puzzled by this assertion that ‘Britain is divided’ as if this were something new and terrible. Britain has always been divided:

Romans and Britons

Romano-Britons and Saxons

Saxons and Vikings

Saxon-Vikings and Normans (also Vikings of course)

Stephen & Matilda

Houses of York and Lancaster

Catholics, Protestants and Anabaptists

Royalists and Cromwellians

Scots, Irish and Welsh

Whigs and Tories

Slavers and abolishionists

Free traders and protectionists

Socialists and Conservatives

Pro-Boers and anti-Boers . . . on and on. These divisions were often bitter and in some cases bloody.

Even in the Bible, the apostle Paul realises that bland acceptance of anything is dangerous: ‘For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies (schisms or divisions) among you, that they who are approved may be become evident among you’ (1 Cor 11:18-19). In a fallen world, divisions are both necessary and even healthy in any democracy. Bland consensus is the route to totalitarianism.

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Philip Foster
Philip Foster
Revd Philip Foster MA (Nat.Sci. & Theol.)

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