Published October 1, 2022
I. Defining Establishment
Although the Anglican Communion may be fast losing its distinctiveness amid the universal acids of individualism, globalism, and multiculturalism—not to mention sometimes ill-conceived ecumenical endeavors—its rich theological tradition still has many unique gifts to offer the modern church. Among these is its long defense of the value of public religious establishment, a notion that seems quaint to modern ears, if not downright noxious.
To be sure, Anglican churches are no longer likely to be established churches. The Episcopal Church of the United States was disestablished in the majority-Anglican states almost immediately after its formation in the wake of the Revolutionary War. The Anglican Church in Australia was disestablished in 1836, and in Canada, all provinces had ended their establishments by the time of Canadian independence in 1867. The Church of England still clings to its formal status as an established church, but perhaps for not much longer.
Brad Littlejohn, Ph.D., is a Fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping public leaders understand the intellectual and historical foundations of our current breakdown of public trust, social cohesion, and sound governance. His research investigates shifting understandings of the nature of freedom and authority, and how a more full-orbed conception of freedom, rooted in the Christian tradition, can inform policy that respects both the dignity of the individual and the urgency of the common good. He also serves as President of the Davenant Institute.