ITN reports today that the Church of England may be given operational independence by Gordon Brown when he becomes Prime Minister.
The story is at http://itn.co.uk/news/c43137dface3ce47bb30eb0ef141d367.html .
If confirmed, this is a very interesting move. It should go down well with most practising members of the Church of England. The challenge will be to do it without unintentionally unwinding the establishment of the Church.
If the CofE, a complex organisation bound up with our constitution, is to be disestablished, that needs to happen after much debate and be done carefully.
It would be difficult (and not desirable) to argue for the establishment of a national church if one were not already in existence. However, it could be argued that to disestablish our national church would send out the wrong message at a time when government is trying to reach out to and understand faith perspectives. It also would impact on our national identity, given over 70% of people describe themselves as Christian in the UK.
Meanwhile, a move to let the CofE appoint its own Bishops seems like a good idea.