The Church of England has issued a prayer in advance of the June 23 vote deciding whether the United Kingdom will remain in the European Union (the proposed “Brexit,” or “British exit”; more on that decision is available from the BBC here).
The New York Times reports that concerns that the C of E is taking a political position:
The prayer, urging honesty, openness and generosity, asks God to imbue voters with “discernment” so that “our nation may prosper and that, with all the peoples of Europe, we may work for peace and the common good.”
The prayer was seen by some as a sign that the Church of England — whose supreme governor is Queen Elizabeth II – was joining with President Obama to side with those who want Britain to remain a member of the European Union.
Peter Bone, a Conservative legislator who is strongly in favor of a British exit, or “Brexit,” said it was “outrageous” for the church to seem to take a position.
“This is politics and should be nothing to do with the church,” he told The Daily Mail, adding, “I would have thought that God was rather neutral on this issue.”
A spokesman for the Church of England said in a telephone interview that the church was not taking sides in the debate, and that the prayer was not intended to push voters one way or the other.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, last month said that the church would stay neutral. He said that Britons had a “genuine fear” about immigration, and that, “it is really important that that fear is listened to and addressed.”
The prayer can be found on the Church of England’s website here.
Has the C of E overstepped its bounds, by British standards (given that the American separation of church and state is not reflective of the U.K. governmental structure)? Or is this a tempest in a teapot?
Photo from BBC.