Would gay marriage violate Queen Elizabeth’s vows to the Church of England?

Queen Elizabeth II wears the bejeweled Imperial State Crown and carries the Sovereign’s Orb, in left hand, and the Sovereign’s … Continued


Queen Elizabeth II wears the bejeweled Imperial State Crown and carries the Sovereign’s Orb, in left hand, and the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross as she leaves Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, after her coronation ceremony. When Elizabeth II assumed the British throne in 1952, royal privacy was sacrosanct. (Associated Press)

In the United States, we think of church and state as two separate entities, sometimes controversially intertwined. But in Great Britain, a different framework unites church with state in the person of Queen Elizabeth.

This week, Elizabeth and the royal family observe the 60th anniversary of her coronation, commemorating her vows to serve as both head of state and “Supreme Governor of the Church of England.”

It’s her role as head of the Church of England that is putting her under the church and state microscope now.

Great Britain’s Parliament is currently debating proposed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, and one British cleric is challenging the queen to not violate what he sees as her duty to God by supporting the proposal.

As it stands now, according to the BBC, the bill before parliament actually explicitly states that it will be illegal for the Church of England to perform same-sex marriages, respecting the church canon that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

According to British media, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who formerly led the diocese of Rochester, said at a service commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation that:

According to Nazir-Ali, any redefinition of marriage that is not in line with Church of England teaching would violate Elizabeth’s vows.

But what does the queen have to do with gay marriage legislation?

In the British constitutional monarchy, the queen gives “Royal Assent” to legislation before it officially becomes law. This is largely a rote procedure, as according to the British government, it has been granted by the monarchy for all laws since 1707. But the queen’s potential endorsement, Nazir-Ali posits, would cause her to violate her co-duties to church and state.

All of which makes America’s church and state clashes seem uncomplicated by comparison.

You can read the religious duties spelled out in the monarchy’s Coronation Oath below:

(Archbishop): Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

Queen: All this I promise to do.

<iframe width=”584″ height=”438″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/8b5nrCPIw5g?feature=oembed” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

More on: , ,

About

Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.