Towards a Free Market in Religion


  • Norman Bonney


While most nationalised enterprises have been privatised and made subject to the market, the Church of England, with considerable but not complete autonomy, remains ultimately a state controlled and governed organisation. The growth of secularism and religious diversity has demonstrated that the Church has failed in its mission to be the Church of all the people of England. Its share of the marriage market has shrunk to one in four and most weddings are now secular. It retains a monopoly of UK state religious ceremonial but in attempting to adjust to contemporary forms of religiosity it has become, in contradiction of its founding 16th century articles, the leader of official state interfaith activities and the arbiter and broker for the participation of a restricted range of other religious denominations in state activities. Releasing the Church from state control and creating a more open market for religion and belief will create a level playing field for all denominations and a better correspondence between citizen attitudes and public actions.