Thought I ought to blog on this subject, given the interest on my mentioning faith schools and a Sunday Times article I read yesterday about whether it is time for the UK to be a secular state!
Put simply, I have never really agreed with the idea of the Church of England being a state church! Whilst the relationship has some benefits, it can in theory compromise itself (esp with regard to where senior appointments are made by politicians who may or may not be Christian, depending on who is in the job), and indeed can be a vehicle for force feeding Christianity on others. Whilst I think this is miniscule in this day and age, it certainly wasn't the case in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.
Not only that but in other countries the Anglican/Episcopal Church tends to thrive, unfettered by state control. True it has it's drawbacks, like any other denomination, notably lack of money and the temptation to be dependent on wealthy benefactors, but it has thrived in other ways and the Christian faith has always been at it's admirable best when it allows itself to be vulnerable instead of trying to fight against it! Put simply, the Church is there to worship God and love our neighbour as we love ourselves, not to make idols out of insecurity.
An unfettered Church of England would be able to make it's own decisions, work out better ways to heal the evangelical/liberal divide (the bits that need healing anyway), and develop better relations with other denominations. It may also become more influential in it's dealings with the state, neither being compromised by the other and not depending on currently existing structures. It means having one's work cut out but that is no bad thing! Take a look at the US, where the churches (albeit making mistakes sometimes, and sometimes quite horrendous ones) wield a strong influence on political issues. One may say that in some cases the church is woefully misguided, but can one say that when they see the work done by Christians such as Martin Luther King, Jr and Jim Wallis.
In short, the womb may well be a warm place but perhaps it is time to cut the umbilical cord!