Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal wedding holds lessons about church-state separation, experts say

NOTE: This article was originally published on April 27, 2011, on the Associated Baptist Press Web site (

by Bob Allen
Senior Writer, Associated Baptist Press

WASHINGTON (ABP) – Two American church-state experts say Friday’s British royal wedding holds lessons about why the marriage of church and state is a bad one.

Anticipating nuptials for Prince William and Kate Middleton at London's Westminster Abbey, the Washington Post’s On Faith blog posed a question April 26 about why, even in secular societies like the United Kingdom, people still turn to places of worship for rituals like coronations, weddings and funerals.

Brent Walker

Panelist Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said for him a more interesting question is how a country like England with deep Christian roots can become so secular in the first place.

Walker surmised that one reason is privilege afforded to an established religion – in this case the Church of England – “sows the seeds of its own attenuation.”

“State support for religion tends to rob religion of its vitality and, for some, turns it into a mere ceremonial exercise,” said Walker, an ordained Baptist minister. “This is one reason why I object so strongly to efforts in the United States to use tax dollars to support . . .”

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