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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Bye-bye, Bishops?

Bishops could be banished from the House of Lords. Oh, good!

It would not be before time if this anachronism were lifted from our legislative machinery.

For the sake of those outside the UK, the situation is that 26 Church of England bishops have the right to sit in the upper house as of right. Just because they’re bishops. Their collective name is Lords Spiritual.

Yeah, I know, it makes you puke, but it happens here, honest.

Now I have no objection to a bishop in the House of Lords, provided he or she— Oops, we don’t yet have women bishops here, which is another reason why the dinosaurs of the Church of England should be kicked out.

But where was I? Oh, yes. I have no objection to a bishop in the House of Lords, provided he is put there in the same way as anyone else is put there. It’s supposed to be on some sort of merit, but of course it’s largely a system of favours and influence and occasionally bribery, as one or two scandals have illustrated.

One option under consideration is a move towards an all-elected upper house.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is said to be considering some options for reforming the upper chamber, one of which sees an elected House of Lords, where there would be no seats reserved for Church of England bishops or any other religious leaders.

And that’s as it should be

These men in frocks sit in the Lords because the Church of England is the established church. Would getting rid of them be the start of disestablishment? We can only hope so.

As we’ve said often on this blog – well, I have, anyway – it’s entirely up to individuals whether they follow a religion and join (or remain within) the Deluded Herd. It’s quite another thing to say that our country is of this or that religion.

Culturally, the UK owes much to Christianity, yes, but that’s just historical. No doubt that fact will continue to influence things long after disestablishment (should it ever come). Some of its influence is neither good nor bad – just there.

Anyway, it would be silly to try to throw out everything connected with a religion just because it’s no longer the established one. I’d miss the music. And you’ve got to admit: religion does give us a laugh here and there.

But let’s for goodness’ sake get rid of this nonsense whereby 26 cassocked individuals can have an influence on our laws, just because they are bishops.

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