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Question 30.THE STATE RELIGION IN BRITAIN AND OTHER RELIGIONS (THE CHIRCH OF ENGLAND, THE CHIRCH OF SCOTLAND, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHIRCH, FREE CHURCHES).

RELIGION

Religious life in Britain in the past 30 years is characterized by an increasingly diverse pattern of religious beliefs and affiliations. The UK is predominantly Christian, most of the world’s religions are represented in the country. Britain today may be characterized by considerable religious freedom, which allows one to belong to any religion or sect, including no religion at all. Churches and religious societies may own property, run schools and promote their beliefs in speech and writing. Religious discrimination is unlawful and there are no religious restrictions to the holding of public office.

Church of england

The Church of England is the established church in England for the main reason that the ministers of the established church work in services run by the state and may be paid a salary for such services by the State. Religious education in state schools is required by law.

The monarch, who is the “Supreme Governor” of the Church, appoints its archbishops, bishops and deans. Parliament also has a voice in the Church’s organization: the 2 archbishops of Canterbury and York, and bishops sit in the House of Lords and take part in the proceedings. The State helps the Church to repair historic churches.

The Church is divided into the 2 provinces of Canterbury and York, each under the control of an Archbishop. The 2 provinces are subdivided in 44 dioceses, each under the control of a bishop.

Every diocese has a cathedral as its central church. Each of the old cathedrals has a dean and a number of residentiary canons (called the dean and chapter) that are responsible for the cathedral and its services.

The dioceses are divided into about 13 000 parishes- basic units of the churches ministry. Most parishes are run by a priest (called a vicar or a rector); large parishes may have an additional assistant priest (a curate). Before being ordained by the local bishop, a priest must first serve as a deacon for a year.

The Church of England is frequently considered to be a “broad “ church because it includes a wide variety of belief and practice. Traditionally there have been 2 poles in membership: High Church (the Anglo-Catholics) and Low Church (the Evangelicals). High Church gives greater weight to Church tradition, being closer to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The Evangelicals of Low Church give greater emphasis to basing all faith and practice on the Bible. These types represent the extremes , with an uneasy relationship, which sometimes breaks into open hostility.

The Church of England prefers to live with disagreements of belief rather than apply authoritarian decisions, thus trying to keep iys broad body of believers together. Most of its members are happy with this arrangement. In that sense The Church of England is profoundly typical of the English character.

Priests have considerable freedom as to how they conduct their church services. Some priests have introduced contemporary music and dramatic performances into their services, in order to appeal to young people and modern tastes.

The total membership of the Church of England is difficult to determine, as membership is usually assumed when a person is baptized into the church.. It would seem that over half of the English population (23 million) have been baptised. It is estimated that only a fifth (9 million) have been confirmed. Attendance at services on a normal Sunday are around 1,1 million.

The main financial resources of the Church come from its substantial property and investment holdings; suffice it to say that the Church is the 3rd largest landowner in Britain, after the Royal Family and the Forestry Commission.

The central governing body of the Church of England is the General Synod. It has not only spiritual authority but also legislative powers: in fact, it is the only organization in the country, which can pass Measures that become national law if they are debated and passed by Parliament.

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