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Tempest in a teapot? Responses to CofE’s prayer re: EU

Tempest in a teapot? Responses to CofE’s prayer re: EU

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.

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Rev Dr. Ellen M Barrett

Is our MP afraid his published credentials as an upstanding pillar of the C of E will be smirched by the presumed (by him) 'in' stance of the Church?

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Paul Woodrum

Doesn't "truth" fit somewhere between "way" and "life?"

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Rod Gillis

Paul, it does, and in a context where perhaps one relates all three terms together as metaphor. I find beginning a collect with God of 'truth' to be a little pretentious. Clearly the C of E wants to add gravitas, to be seen to be saying something, while at the same time not saying anything. ( :

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Rod Gillis

They lost me at "God of truth".

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Jos. S. Laughon

How so?

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Rod Gillis

Actually, I'm not a member of TEC. I'm Canadian; notwithstanding, the problem is with truth claims in the service of religious appeals and divisive issues. Using your example(s), one can distinguish between the concept of truth in the Hebrew scriptures and truth in Greek theory, for example. So what notion of "truth" is assumed in the invocation "God of truth" as it begins a collect to be used in a referendum? Referendums are notoriously divisive. (We've had a couple). What kind of prayer might the C of E then use after a "Brexit" referendum which may result in a small margin between winners and losers in a sharply divided country? Seems to me something less categorical than 'truth' and something more via media like may have been more appropriate in the light of probable outcomes.

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Jos. S. Laughon

Just out of curiosity then why be a member of TEC?

It seems that the "God of truth" is right there in the Old Testament, not to mention explicit claims of such in the creeds that TEC affirms.

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Rod Gillis

Once I hear an opening invocation to "God of truth" I tune out. The association between organized religion and 'truth' claims, stated or implied, has a very unfortunate history. But then, you are hearing from a guy who thinks it is morally questionable to attempt to convert people to one's religion.

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