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The Marketplace of Christianity

August 7, 2008

The Church of England has some monopoly power in this area, causing it to lose its focus and ignore the needs of its consumers. The Economist calls for its disestablishment. An excerpt:

Establishment brings fewer material advantages to the Church of England these days than the Lutherans, for example, enjoy in much of Scandinavia. And a creeping disestablishment is under way. Yet centuries of crowning kings, burying princesses, celebrating the nation’s victories, running a lot of its state-funded schools and getting Parliament to cast an eye over the decisions of its ruling General Synod have made the Church of England what it is. It prides itself on keeping the door open to all comers, though few pop in. It stresses inclusiveness and stands up for a public space for all faiths. Admirable stuff–but its numbers are falling.

Compare that with churches in America, or Africa. No theocrats they, but fishers of men in competitive waters. Their messages must be more sharply defined to win souls. But by keeping the focus soft, as an established church must, the Church of England, which dominates this least authoritarian of associations, has blunted the contest of ideas and distorted debate within the Communion (and its own ranks). Time, surely, for all sides to fight their corner, free of the shackles of the state.

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