Humanists UK backs bill for Church of England disestablishment

Humanists UK has welcomed the announcement of a Private Members’ Bill which would disestablish the Church of England and separate church and state.

Currently the Church of England is the official state religion of England, and the monarch is both the head of state and the head of the Church of England. The practice of having an established church is becoming increasingly out of date, especially as British society grows more diverse and increasingly non-religious. Although separate in law, the UK constitution also allows for 26 Bishops of the Church of England to sit in the House of Lords by right. The only other country in the world which allows for reserved seats in the legislature for religious officials is Iran.

The recent British Social Attitudes survey demonstrated the decreasing profile of the Church of England with the public. Only 12% of people consider themselves Anglican. This trend is set to continue with 68% of 18-24 years old saying they belong to no religion versus 18% saying they are Christian –including 0.7% saying they are Anglican.

Humanists UK’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs Kathy Riddick said:

‘The time has come for the UK to remove the archaic provision of a state religion. No modern democracy can truly represent all people while giving preferential treatment to an official religion.

The only way to ensure an open and inclusive society for everyone, regardless of religion or belief, is to disestablish the Church of England. Humanists UK welcomes this bill as a positive step forward to achieving that.’