Clegg in call to remove queen as Church of England's head
DEPUTY British Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for the disestablishment of the Church of England, a move that would see Queen Elizabeth removed as the head of the church.
Mr Clegg said the two should no longer be "bound up" together and that church and state in Britain should be separated.
"In the long run, it would be better for the church and better for people of faith, and better for Anglicans, if the church and the state were to stand on their own two separate feet," Mr Clegg said.
The monarch has been the head of the Church of England since Henry VIII's split with Rome in 1534. The queen holds the title of Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Such a move would see Britain resembling France, which has a strictly secular constitution.
Nevertheless, Britain is a Christian country, Mr Clegg said, whose history, heritage and architecture are "infused by Christian values".
"I'm not a practising man of faith, but I don't find it a problem to say we have an important Christian identity," he said.
"That is not to say we are exclusively Christian, everyone is a Christian or indeed that we have one Christian denomination.
"We should remember one of the greatest Christian values is tolerance.
"We are open to people of other denominations and faiths, of all faiths and none, and that's what makes our country very special."
Mr Clegg was responding to a listener on his weekly LBC Radio phone-in programme.
Paul from York said: "David Cameron's statement that this is a Christian country is totally asinine and nonsense. Do you not think we should be keeping religion totally out of politics? He won't be getting another vote from me."
It follows a week of heated debate over Britain's status as a Christian country. David Cameron said the country should be "unapologetic" about its Christianity, comments condemned as "sectarian" and "divisive" by prominent atheists.
In a letter to London's 'Daily Telegraph' yesterday from eight leading philosophers, atheists are urged to show "liberal tolerance" to the fact that Britain is a "Christian country".
The group, including Prof Roger Scruton and Prof John Haldane, say the moderate Christianity "enshrined" in the British constitution protects people of other faiths and none.
Earlier, Mr Clegg had launched his party's European election campaign, calling on voters to "choose the Liberal Democrats because we are now Britain's only party of 'in'," referring to staying as members of the EU. (© Daily Telegraph, London)