virus: Does God Exist?/Church of England
Fri, 30 Aug 96 14:01:21 BST

Ken wrote, in reply to my last email:

Gee i had no idea that England was controlled by a church as much as
it apparently is (i am from the US). I appreciate your writing and
describing the situation there - their are some religious types here
who wish they had that kind of control. I am absolutely astonished
that even the schools are controled by the churches... seems like
people would get together and try to change the situation.

In any case, here in the US i feel we are free of religion in the
following sense. Religions or their followers can of course
participate in any activity they desire. If the voters wanted to
they could elect all christians (or moslems, aclu members, feminists,
etc). But they have no *extra* rights or powers that other
groups do not have (certainly they do not control our government in
any meaningful way - but they do have representatives in it as do
all groups).

I believe that religions are like any other belief system. They can
be good, bad or indifferent on whatever scale you wish to weight them
on. But they do not exclusive rights on attempting to indoctrinate
or hating or love or anything else. (Of course it sounds like they
*DO* have extra rights in England and *that* is the problem.)

My feelings on the Monarchy are somewhat different. Seems to me that
perhaps they should be abolished (not because of recent scandels, just
because it has no justification to exist). As a native, i would be
interested in your opinion on this.



Due to the long religious histroy in England, there are many attributes
which have become entrenched in society, and in government. Ever since
Henry VIII moved the standard British religion from Catholicism to C of E
there have been systems of thought imbedded in the population. If a society
lives in such a way, for such a long time, then the chances of future
generations changing it become less and less. It's kind of like racism
in a way. Because there were few immigrants in England up until a century
or so ago, there was an imbedded feeling of race distrust and hatred.
Despite constant efforts by various groupd, it has proved impossible to
stamp out racism, despite the integration of immigrants into society - but
that's another subject.

To say that the churches run the schools would be a slight exageration.
Of course, there are schools which are specifically run by the church, but
on the whole, they are rather set up around the message that the church
conveys. For example, my old school was originally a parish school, where
the vicar of the local church was also the headmaster and main teacher.
Over time this tradition has died out, but the school is still, essentially,
owned by the local church. In fact, the vicar there is the head of RS.
So the church doesn't run the school, but the new system runs it in the
same kind of light as the original masters. This includes the teaching
of Christianity, RS, and the attending of a church assembly once a week -
I used to avoid them on the grounds that it was unfair of them to force
their beliefs and services upon me!

With regard to the monarcy: I'm of a similar opinion to yourself. It used
to be that the monarchy was the government. That is, there was no elected
body, but rather a King/Queen with a company of advisors who made law which
the public had no say on. Nowdays, though, the role has changed.
Essentially the monarchy is no more than a figure head. The Queen still
has final say over whether something can become law or not, but invariably
her decision has to be in favour of the law, if it has passed all stages
of the "democratic" process. If she were to disagree, then there would be a
constitutional issue over the future of the monarchy, and it's role in
democracy. My personal belief is that it should not necessarily be
abolished, but the Civil List should be reduced sharply, as should the
money put into the civil list. The monarchy is liable to become a large
consumer industry fairly soon, so the proceeds from that could go towards
the royal family. Also, all involvement in politics should be removed, so
as to preserve democracy. There is certainly a very big argument over the
future of the monarchy, and the constitutional issues which go with it.
I think that the next few years will be very crucial in English history,
concerning the monarchy.

Without wishing to cause any offense, I think that the US hasn't had such
a problem with the church because as a nation in its current form, it's
not as old as England. There never was a monarchy specifically for the US,
and there is such a large range of religions, that it's difficult for any
particular one to gain an upper hand. After all, there were the native
Americans, the British Settlers, the Irish Settlers, the Black Africans,
etc etc... It would be harder to justify a dominant religion in America.

Anyway, thanks for listening, I would be interested to hear what you have
to say about the American religious culture.

Richard Jones
"In the name of God, we're all dead..."