Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Some church history from England.

รง For centuries non-Anglicans could not become citizens by naturalisation and until nearly the end of the 18th century they were not allowed to vote. Even after the relevant legislation was annulled in 1828/9, nonconformists still faced considerable discrimination: they had to register births in the Anglican parish register, marry in Anglican churches according to the Book of common Prayer and even (until 1868) pay church rates for the upkeep of the Anglican parish churches (i.e. on top of paying for the upkeep of their own churches or chapels). Their children might have no alternative to Anglican schools (with no exemption from Anglican Religious Instruction) and in most cases only communicant Anglicans could be teachers. They were excluded from Oxford and Cambridge Universities until 1871. In education a vehement struggle arose over the Anglican ownership of Schools and control of Religious Instruction. In the 19th century and early 20th centuries education debates, this became a social and political battle as the upper classes and Churchmen identified almost totally with the Tories, and the middle classes and Nonconformists with the Whigs/Liberals. These battles almost brought Christian education to extinction as battle weariness and a growing indifference fuelled the move to confine government interest and finance to secular education where all were agreed. In the early 20th century Liberal parliaments (lower elected house - the Commons) passed by hugh majorities several education bills to limit Anlican control,only to see these thrown out by the unelected Tory and Anglican dominated upper house - the Lords. This was one of the reasons behind the passing of the Parliament Act to limit the power of the Lords. A potent legacy of this history in the UK was a long period (roughly 1920 to 1980 - 'The Great Reversal') of apathy (especially by non-conformists) concerning both education and politics. An aversion to the whole idea of Christian education is still common in the UK today. I have not encountered it elsewhere in the world, so feel sure it is due to this tortured history that has passed its influence down the years.- Arthur Jines


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