Englannin kirkon historiaa Kuningas Henryn (1491 - 1547 ) ajoista lähtien.
Religion in Britain
The Church of England
In the early part of the 16th century King Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) was becoming a little worried because he didn’t seem to be able to have a male son and heir. If he couldn’t produce a son this would mean that the next head of the country would be a woman. A queen instead of a king! Horrible thought!
Naturally, Henry blamed his wife Catherine for this awful situation. Luckily, it was around that time that he fell in love with a beautiful young woman called Anne Boleyn and he thought perhaps he would have better luck at producing a son with her.
Unluckily, however, there was the irritating fact that he was still married to Catherine, and the head of the Roman Catholic Church said to Henry: unfortunately we don’t allow people, especially kings, to get divorced. Henry didn’t think this was fair. After all, he was the King of England. But there was little he could do. Until, that is, he had a brainwave. He would separate from the Church of Rome, start a new religion which would be known as the Church of England, the head of the church would be the king (in this case, conveniently, Henry himself) and the king would decide what would and would not be allowed by the church.
Unsurprisingly, one of Henry’s new rules would be that the king could re-marry. This meant that he was free to marry Anne Boleyn and with a bit of luck have a male son and heir.
But poor Henry was out of luck and his new wife could not produce a son. This didn’t stop him, however, and he kept on trying with four more wives. None of these six unfortunate women could give him the son he wanted and, one by one, he got rid of them, often by having their heads chopped off.
We have Henry VIII and his desire to have a son to thank for the Church of England. We also have Henry and his uncooperative wives to thank for Queen Elisabeth I, the virgin queen. The virgin queen, by the way, had lots of lovers it seems so perhaps… but that’s a different story!
Religion in Britain today
The state religion of England today, then (thanks to Henry), is the Church of England. Members of this church are called Anglicans. The most important figure in the Church of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Scotland has its own church, the Church of Scotland. Its members are called Presbyterians.
There is also an Anglican Church of Ireland in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The main religion of Ireland, however, is Roman Catholicism. As we can still see today, the fact that Henry VIII wanted a son had a very serious effect on the history of the British Isles.
Britain has a multi-ethnic society, which also means that many religions are practised there. The most important are:
|Anglican/Roman Catholic||40 million|
Although the Church of England is a state religion, unlike in Finland, for example, there is no church tax. Most British people say they belong to a religion but church attendance, at least in the Anglican Church, is rather low. 8% of the population attend church on Sunday. Many people, however, go to church for special occasions such as births, marriages and deaths, or to celebrate religious festivals such as Christmas. 40% of marriages take place in a church.
Some important questions regarding the church in Britain today
How should the church regard homosexuality and the question of gay priests?
How important is religious knowledge as a subject in schools?
How important is the relationship between politics and religion?
Is it important that church attendance is falling among Christians?
What do you think about these questions?
How does religion in Finland compare to that in England?
Perustuu ohjelmaan: Alright? Alright! Teksti: David Mitchell. Vuosi: 2005.