The relationship between church and state in the United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has two established churches, the Anglican Church of England and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. In broad terms, “establishment” refers to a formal relationship between a church and the state it operates in.

Church and state

This relationship takes different forms in England and in Scotland. While the Queen is “Supreme Governor” of the Church of England, she is a member of the Church of Scotland. Anglican bishops are members of the House of Lords, but there is no statutory place for the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. And while Church of England Measures (laws) require parliamentary oversight, the Church of Scotland is entirely self-governing. Historically, establishment was opposed in parts of the UK where most of the population were not Anglican. As a result of political and religious pressure, the church was disestablished in Ireland in 1871 and Wales in 1920.