Diary: Church of England Loses Support among Prominent People

The Light & Islamic Review (US), January/February 1993 Issue (Vol. 70, No. 1, p. 16)

Recently, the Minister of Agriculture in the British Government, John Selwyn Gummer, who is also an active lay member of the Church of England, announced that he is to leave the Church in protest at its decision to allow the ordination of women priests. While not entering into the debate itself, we quote below from a well-known journalist and regular columnist in the Sunday Observer, showing the decline of the influence of the Church among the leaders of society:

“The fact that John Selwyn Gummer will defect from the Church of England once it begins to ordain women priests has been making headline news…

“The reason … is, I suspect, that he is almost the only public figure left prepared to stand up and pledge his whole-hearted support for the Church of England and his faith in its creed.

“If he goes, can one name a single person in public life who would speak up in support of Archbishop [of Canterbury] Carey? Yet not all that long ago, Anglicanism commanded the support of a number of widely respected poets and intellectuals — C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, John Betjeman, W.H. Auden, Dorothy Sayers, etc.

“Today I can think of no one at all in this category, with the possible exception of P.D. James. When the women priests are introduced, even she may be lost to the Church. I take this as the surest sign of all that the Church of England has finally had its day.” (Richard Ingrams, The Observer, 6 December 1992)

It is also being widely discussed in Britain whether the practice, which has existed for about four centuries, of having the monarch or head of state as also the head of the Church of England should continue. If this was abandoned, then the Church of England would cease to be the established church in the country and would no longer be its official religion.