PART II: Church, State, Morals, Pontificating, Religious Freedom, & Another Fine Mess


I don’t even think, as Hugh Hewitt has suggested, this is because of Obama Care. I think this is a battle that is a long time in the making. The truth of the matter is the first shots were fired by Thomas a Becket in 1164, when Henry II of England imposed the Constitutions of Clarendon on England. Becket, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrongly told Henry that the laws of the land did not apply to the Church. If a priest committed murder or rape, it was up to the church, not the state, to punish him.

(NOTE:  This is The Pink Flamingo’s highly Anglo-Centric view of history.  I am not in any way attempting to criticize or disparage the Catholic Church, which I greatly admire.  I rather lean in that direction, but bitterly cling to my Anglican version of the world).

Everything we are today as a free and independent people stem from those days. Henry II imposed what is today basically known as common law. He required trial by a jury of one’s piers, writs for arrest, and that a man was innocent until proven guilty. This the entire backbone of our society. Henry’s writs and constitutions eventually led to the little uprising that gave us the Magna Carta, which, along with the Declaration of Arbroath became the basis for the Declaration of Independence.

But, Becket was too damn arrogant to see it that way. He lost. On December 29, 1170 he was basically hacked to death by a group of noblemen seeking favor with Henry. They did not receive it. Henry was demonized for the whole tawdry affair, but, looking back on it, Henry was right. Becket was wrong. No institution has a right to set those who are part of it above the law.

That was the greatness of Henry II. He is arguably one of the greatest figures in history, not because of his personal foibles, but his vision.  He had a heck of a vision!

The second salvo in the so called “culture war” was when Henry VIII had the hots for Anne Boleyn starting from around 1525. To understand the whole affair, one needs to understand that Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Her parents were Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile (THAT Ferdinand and Isabella).

Simmering below the surface, since the days of Henry II and Becket was the notion that England could not be its own nation until the “yoke” of the Church was broken. During those days, Rome interfered in everything. If a monarch had a falling out with a pope (and it happened all the time) the entire country would be excommunicated as long as the monarch refused to knuckle under to the pope.

Rome interfered in everything for a very good reason.  From the “fall” of the Roman Empire around 475AD until the Renaissance, nearly a thousand years, it was the one bastion of light and learning in the western world.  It was probably the only true civilizing force in “Christian” Europe.

Over the centuries the battles, literal and figurative, would literally become quite bloody. It had absolutely nothing to do with religion, faith, or Christ and everything to do with a male pissing contest throughout Europe. (As in male grunting, spitting, drinking, squatting, pissing, scratching, belching, and posturing as to who was the most macho). Who was the strongest? Until Henry VIII came along, England was usually getting the short end of the stick. Spain, France, and Rome were always considered stronger.

Henry considered himself “England” as did every monarch through Charles I, and divine right of kings. His was the ego that would not bend. If it hadn’t been about a divorce, it would have been something else. He was itching for a fight to prove, basically, that he was more powerful than Francis II, who basically looked down his French nose at Henry. (As a side note, the politics of the Spanish Armada and their utter defeat at the hands of England in 1588, were beginning to take shape).

The issue of the divorce between Henry and Catherine was  the final straw that broke the camel’s back. It was a long time in coming. From what I’ve been reading, recently, it is entirely possible Anne Boleyn was very much a reformer (as in Reformation). She may have used the entire situation to propel Henry into the Reformation. In 1533 Henry and Anne were married. A few months later Thomas Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury) of Henry’s marriage to Catherine was declared null and void.

It was during this time that a tradition for The Pink Flamingo’s family began. Aside from death due to old age, the most common cause of death in my family is death by execution due to treason because of religious differences with the Crown, or Cromwell, etc.

During the reign of Elizabeth I (daughter of Henry and Anne) settlers began crossing the Atlantic, seeking a new life in America. Those who headed toward the southern part of the Atlantic seaboard, were there primarily because of financial reasons. Those in New England were in New England because of religious reasons. From 1642-1651 England was torn apart by civil war between the forces of Oliver Cromwell (I have personally stomped on the spot where his head is buried) and the Crown. The Crown lost, and more of my ancestors lost their heads along with it.

When Charles I lost his head, and Charles II (the Merry Monarch) was restored to the throne in 1658. England became a Constitutional monarchy. The monarch cannot govern without Parliament’s consent. This is important because power of the Church of England was forever broken.

The Pink Flamingo finds rather laughable the complaints that we are engaged in a culture war. The real culture war began after Charles II was restored to the throne. He was, for the time, one of the most hedonistic of all modern leaders. His court was infamous. He fathered at least 12 illegitimate children, had many infamous mistresses, and a good old time. The primacy of the Church of England had been broken, not only in England but across the Pond.


6 thoughts on “PART II: Church, State, Morals, Pontificating, Religious Freedom, & Another Fine Mess

  1. I’ve always thought England had its own version of Christianity. It was probably brought in by some of the Roman soldiers. There is archaeological evidence that a version of Christianity was in Britain before Saint Augustine ever got there.

  2. I am impressed! There is quite a bit of archaeological evidence. When I was in Cornwall, I saw a little church that may have predated the official “Roman” invasion of England. The Christian aristocrats of Rome were, in the early years, rarely executed for their faith, but banished to the outer reaches of the known universe – Britannia. Then there are wonderful stories of the young Christ and Joseph of Arimathea.


  3. I have a question to ask you, do you remember why Elizabeth I refused for the longest time to execute her cousin Mary Queen of Scots?

    It was because she was “an annointed” queen.

    For centuries, monarchs clung to their power by right of being annointed. And guess who did the annointing?

    The Church.

    Thus, Thomas was right. We, the inheritors of rendering unto Caesar, have difficulty understanding this concept but in the hay day of the Church, the Church was the power and above the state.

    And I disagree. The pope was under Spain so didn’t give Henry VIII his divorce, but it WAS about divorce. Henry himself considered himself a Catholic to the day he died.

  4. Elizabeth was Anglican, not Catholic.

    We are not England. Our leaders are not anointed. When the words “We are endowed by our creator…” were written, they were written by two Deists, a Unitarian, and a dirty old man who was a church member for political reasons.

    It wasn’t about religion, it was about power. The Holy Roman Emperor was Catherine’s nephew. He was in a battle with the Pope over who was more powerful. Charles won. He was also trying to figure out a way to get hold of England, which was why an eventual match between Mary Tudor and Phillip II of Spain (his son) was made. Religion was secondary. I could really get started on this one, but religion was the last thing on the minds of our “founding fathers”. If it had been, Jefferson would not have give tacit approval to the slaughter in France during the Revolution. (The more I learn about Jefferson the less I like him.)

    To this day those of us who are members of the Anglican Communion consider ourselves more Catholic than Catholics. We pride ourselves on our high church and using almost the same service. The Puritans had no intention of giving anyone religious freedom in this country, they were brutal. That’s why Rhode Island was founded – for religious freedom. In the southern colonies it was about money and not much else.

    Elizabeth eventually executed Mary because she was trying to mount up an army to push Elizabeth off the throne. Mary was a bird-brain idiot who could be swayed by who ever she was sleeping with at the time. That’s why Elizabeth sent Darnley to marry her, to control her. Henry VIII very much did not want a Catholic to inherit the throne. Mary was Catholic in a Presbyterian country.

    “….After the death of Queen Mary I of England, Henry II of France proclaimed his eldest son and his daughter-in-law to be king and queen of England. From this time on, Mary always insisted on bearing the royal arms of England, and her claim to the English throne was a perennial sticking point between Elizabeth I and her, as would become obvious in Mary’s continuous refusal to ratify the Treaty of Edinburgh. Under the ordinary laws of succession, Mary was next in line to the English throne after her father’s cousin, Elizabeth I, who was childless. Yet, in the eyes of many Catholics, Elizabeth was illegitimate, thus making Mary the rightful queen of England. The Third Succession Act, passed in 1543 by Parliament, provided that Elizabeth would succeed Mary I of England on the throne.

    The anti-Catholic Act of Settlement was not passed in England until 1701, but the last will and testament of Henry VIII (given legal force by the Third Succession Act) had excluded the Stuarts from succeeding to the English throne. Mary’s troubles were still further increased by the Huguenot rising in France, called le tumulte d’Amboise (6–17 March 1560), making it impossible for the French to help Mary’s supporters in Scotland. The question of the succession was therefore a pressing one, and under the terms of the Treaty of Edinburgh, signed by Mary’s representatives on 6 July 1560 following the death of her mother, France undertook to withdraw troops from Scotland and recognise Elizabeth’s right to rule England. However, the 17-year-old Mary, still in France, refused to ratify the treaty….”

    Don’t ever think this was about being “Christian” or faith. None of it was. It was about power. England, under Henry was still fairly weak. It wasn’t until Elizabeth, that it became so powerful. Where we get things wrong, today, is by thinking people in power viewed the world through their Bible and Prayer Books. That was secondary. None of this was about their love of Christ, it was about power, pure and simple.

    The break from Rome was inevitable. It would have happened during Henry’s reign even if it weren’t about Cathrine and Anne. Nothing would have prevented it.


  5. Hi SJ Reidhead,
    I agree we are a product of history to a great degree; our laws for the most part are based on English, French, Spanish – even back to caveman. I for one will not consider the rift between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church today a ‘culture war’, it’s anything but. Fox news can call what they will what they want – their msm and I disregard them also. I am Catholic and understand as an institution they must move far more carefully than a typical state. I do not expect the Catholic Church to change their views lightly, and should not – as an institution many millions of people have moored their life to the teaching of the church they understand more than ‘any government’ how careful they must be when modifying their view on some subject or another. Put another way, the church is under continuous attack from pantheism, existentialism, dialectical materialism, historicism, communism, relativism, theological pacifism just to name a few. So please, fire away at FOX – as you should. I’m still mad as hell for what that b did to Hank Williams Jr.

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