The state of religion in Britain is pretty confused. The country has an established state-supported church and funds parochial schools out of taxpayer funds while at the same time has very low levels of religiosity as measured by attendance in churches.
This confusion is reflected in the attitudes of its leaders. Recently prime minister David Cameron spoke of Britain as being a ‘Christian country’, a statement that drew a quick rebuke from 50 public figures (many of whom readers will recognize) who said that it was non-religious and plural. Meanwhile deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has called for church and state to be separated.
The present Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the official church, has supported the prime minister while his immediate predecessor Rowan Williamson says that Britain is a ‘post-Christian’ country and that Britain “was not a nation of believers and that the era of widespread worship was over” although “the cultural memory is still quite strongly Christian.” I think Williamson is closest to being correct.
I hope that Clegg gets his wish because any country that declares itself as having an official religion is, almost by definition, less than fully democratic since it privileges people who believe in one imaginary friend over those who believe in different imaginary friends.