Is Britain a Christian or Secular Nation?

Could the continuing debate about veils and the influx of Muslims and their ‘religion’ into British society have something to do with the growing lack of faith by British Christians and therefore any religion becomes unacceptable?  Is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, fulfilling the vows she took at her coronation? And is it possible that the ‘indigenous’ people of Britain feel threatened by Islam’s dress code and the ‘perceived’ ghettoisation of its followers because they themsleves have moved away from the religion of the country – Christianity?

Here are some excerpts that may throw light on this subject.



If being a secular state means keeping religion out of public life and out of education then quite clearly Britain is not a secular state. The Church of England, which can be dated in many respects from the  7th Century, predates the nation of England itself. In its early years the Church provided a degree of unity between the seven  kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons that then existed and which were not united politically for a century or more. Since the founding of the English nation it has seen itself as a Christian nation, its monarchs have affirmed allegiance to Christ(though the genuineness and character of their faith  can be doubted). It is still the case that the monarchy is a Christian monarchy.

The Queen at her coronation was asked “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?” to which she replied “All this I promise and  do.” It makes no sense to say that we are a secular state when its head of state has sworn to do such  a thing. Moreover, if the next monarch breaks this allegiance to Christ, as he seems willing to do, he will break what the monarchy has been since the inception of the English nation. We remember too that the Queen was crowned by the Archbishop – if we became a secular state but retained a monarch presumably the monarch would be crowned by the Prime Minister – or perhaps by the winner of a national competition.

Though the influence of the Christian faith in formal ways in national life is less than it was it is still very evident. The presence of the Lord’s spiritual in the house (however ineffective some may feel them to be), prayers before parliament, the fact of an established church including senior appointments, church legislation passed by parliament, senior appointments and the exercise of patronage by the Crown and Lord Chancellor all show that religion is still entwined in our national life Also, there have been the various royal weddings and funerals. Whatever a person may make of these things they all demonstrate that religion, the Christian religion, is very much part of our national life.

(I note that recently former Archbishop George Carey has been reported as arguing that the coronation service and oath should be revised to be more multi-cultural. When last reported present Archbishop Rowan Williams said that without revising the constitutional position of the monarchy the next monarch would have to affirm allegiance to the Christian faith.)

Article reprinted from Cross†Way Issue Summer 2006 No. 101 (C)opyright Church Society; material may be used for non-profit purposes provided that the source is acknowledged and the text is not altered.


And here is an excerpt from the official website of The British Monarchy LINK

In the United Kingdom, The Queen’s title includes the words ‘Defender of the Faith’.

This means Her Majesty has a specific role in both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.

As established Churches, they are recognised by law as the official Churches of England and Scotland, respectively. In both England and Scotland, the established Churches are subject to the regulation of law. The principle of religious toleration is fully recognised both for those of other creeds and for those without any religious beliefs.

There are no established Churches in Northern Ireland nor in Wales. They were disestablished in 1869 in Northern Ireland and 1920 in Wales. There is no established Church in any Commonwealth country of which The Queen is monarch (i.e. a realm).

In addition to playing a role in the Churches of England and Scotland, The Queen recognises and supports the various other faiths practised in the UK and Commonwealth.


The solution to the ongoing controversy regarding Islam and its followers probably lies in how indigenous British view their country i.e. whether it is a secular country or a Christian country.