Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

Posts Tagged "Crusades":

‘Vaguely Practising’ Anglicans

Poor old David Cameron got into trouble in the twittersphere and elsewhere for saying that he was a ‘vaguely practising’ Church of England Christian. And I suggested in his defence that his position was shared by many others who consider themselves members of the Church of England (and very probably other Anglican churches throughout the Communion). Attendance at events in our village church over Advent and Christmas would seem to support that theory. Though I don’t have the exact figures, a rough headcount indicates:

  • Advent study course (3 sessions):     15 participants
  • Advent Sundays:     25-35  participants
  • Christmas Eve Midnight Mass:     80 participants
  • Christmas Day Family Communion:    130 participants

It would be interesting to know whether other churches saw congregations in roughly the same ratio. If so, how would you describe the people who swell the ranks on major festivals? ‘Vaguely practising Anglicans’ perhaps? Is the Church of England now so exclusive  that it would ban these people from its ‘hallowed’ portals? I do hope it has not come to that. As C S Lewis exclaimed:

“If God were a Kantian, who would not have us till we came to Him from the purest and best motives, who could then be saved?”

Although it was a Frenchman (Talleyrand), who advised against too much zeal (‘Surtout, pas trop de zèle‘), this is a very English, indeed traditionally Anglican, attitude. It is at least arguable that it was an overdose of zeal which led to the Crusades, Irish ‘troubles’ and other religious wars. You will have seen reports of yesterday’s scuffle between Greek and Armenian priests at the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem (dubbed ‘Affray in a Manger ‘) over ‘ territory’ in the church.


Do you know (or remember – it dates from the 1960s) Tom Lehrer’s song ‘National Brotherhood Week’ in which he ‘is grateful that it doesn’t last all year’. Too true to be funny? In that context, it may be understandable that a politician, above all, with responsibilities for the community as a whole, would be careful to describe his faith in terms which would not lead people to describe him as a zealot. Lest you think I am making a party political point here, I suggest that this was also what was in Alastair Campbell’s mind when he said, of New Labour, ‘we don’t do religion’. I doubt he was presuming to tell Tony Blair what he might or might not believe as a private individual: he was surely simply nervous of creating division.


If you are a committed Christian, you may think ‘vaguely practising’ is an insulting cop-out to the rest of us. But I am not so sure. I would like to belong to a church which contains everyone from potential saints about to be beatified down to everyday sinners and backsliders. With the churches in crisis, it is no time to be making enemies of those who admit they are not perfect. Or would you rather be the one to cast the first stone?




‘Vic the Vicar’ has also posted today on the proportions of the congregation who are full ‘members’ of the Church:

“I find the 40-40-20 representation of the population quite helpful:


40% being ‘unchurched’, that is having no understanding or experience of Church.


20% being ‘dechurched’ (which means may have had churchgoing in the family, usually Grandparents, been to wedding, baptism, funeral or Christmas/Easter and not warm towards the Church to the point of being negative and antagonistic towards it.


20% being ‘dechurched’ (like thise above) but are generally warm (or at least not negative) towards the Church.


10% attend but are perhaps not committed or understanding what Church is (come because they have always come perhaps?).


10% attend and have an understanding and are engaged with Church (also known as ‘members’ and are the troops in this campaign of making Christ known).”




The illustration is by Abramova Kseniya, via Shutterstock

We rely on donations to keep this website running.