Letter: Christian values keep our communities together

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The Independent Online
DAVID JENKINS believes the next coronation should be a secular affair, with "contributions" from a number of different faiths ("The end of establishment", 17 January). But if it is to be secular, why might Westminster Abbey or St Paul's be "suitable venues"? And what other bodies would contribute? The Humanist Society?

I find it impossible to admire those bishops who, having decided that contemporary society is essentially secular, accept this as some kind of historical necessity and seem simply to want to go along with it. Secularity does not imply ideological neutrality or innocence. It has involved the idolatry of capitalism and individualism in high places: it has condoned, if not actively abetted, the systematic use of hideous torture and brutal murder provided this is in the anti-Communist cause, and to tolerate oppression if the oppressor is an important trade partner. Surely, the church's role in a secular society is to combat its false values openly and unambiguously.

The idea of disestablishment can look very different if seen from a parish rather than a central point of view. Anyone who has experienced how the Anglican church operates locally in the United States (for example) will know what this is about. The vicar, the village church, the family ceremonies of baptism, marriage and funeral, the seasonal ceremonies of harvest, Remembrance and Christmas - these are part of the heritage which is both Anglican and civic, which is still very much alive, which can do more than anything else to keep a local community together, and which guarantees that the Christian leaven goes on working in the secular bread.