Ripping a page from the playbook of Cardinal Timothy Dolan — who ominously claimed that marriage equality would turn the State of New York into a communist dictatorship — the Church of England warned hysterically today that the British government’s plan to allow same-sex marriages presents the greatest threat to the relationship between church and state in 500 years.
The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the established religion of the United Kingdom. Its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is appointed by the Prime Minister on behalf of the British Sovereign and is the highest-ranking non-royal in the realm. According to an article from The Independent, the relationship between the Anglican Church and the United Kingdom has lasted half a millenium and weathered threats as diverse as the Spanish Armada and the English Civil War, but senior clergymen have threatened to disestablish the church from the state if marriage equality were to become law as the government intends.
The government argues that no religious institution would be compelled to perform marriages between same-sex couples in violation of their religious beliefs, but the church counters that changes to the civil definition of marriage would do just that due to the entanglement of canon and parliamentary law. The Independent notes that critics — including many within the Church of England — have dismissed the church’s feverish claims as melodramatic scaremongering, especially in light of the fact that other established religious bodies in European countries like Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden have embraced marriage equality.
These latest developments come in the midst of a concerted push by the UK government to give same-sex couples the same right to civil marriage that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy. The effort is being led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who famously said, “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’’ Cameron has also released a video for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.