Theocracy in the UK

Today something rather interesting happened. The Archbishop of Canterbury suspended the Bishop of Lincoln due to a “safeguarding issue”. I know nothing and care little about the specifics of what grubby activities were being covered up, the point is that the decision to suspend was in the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It may have been a well considered decision taken entirely properly and I am going to assume it was.

The Bishop of Lincoln is one of the Spiritual Lords. The established Anglican church has 26 places reserved for senior bishops in the house of Lords. They can turn up, claim their £305 a day and vote on laws that affect us. These 26 places in the legislature used to require the holder to be in possession of a penis, but the general synod of the church changed that rule in 2014 on the second attempt. There are now five Lords Spiritual who are women. They might be a nice bunch of folk, but they are appointed to the legislature by their religious order, which is what a theocracy does. The Prime Minister is mildly involved in the appointment process of Anglican bishops and is given a symbolic choice of two names. The PM must pick the first one on the list of two.

The problematic upshot of this, is that the Archbishop of Canterbury (who is also Lord Spiritual) has got the power to suspend another Lord Spiritual from the upper chamber without any consultation or process. I am quite astonished that the media do not appear to have even noticed that the Bishop of Lincoln is a Lord.

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