Separation of church and crown

queenmirrenAs the reigning (three-time) champion of my newsroom's Oscar pool, I've been preparing for the coming battle by watching as many Oscar-contending films as possible. The Queen was definitely one of the best movies of the year. Helen Mirren is amazing. Unfortunately Peter Morgan's Oscar-nominated screenplay was tampered with a bit by some censors. The Associated Press' Giovanna Dell'Orto reports:

So much for God and country, at least during some in-flight showings of the Oscar-nominated movie "The Queen." That's because all mentions of God are bleeped out of a version of the film given to some commercial airlines.

Even in these politically correct times, censoring references to God in the film wasn't a statement of some kind. Rather, it was the mistake of an overzealous and inexperienced employee for a California company that edits movies selected for onboard entertainment.

. . . So the new censor mistakenly bleeped out each time a character said "God," instead of just when used as part of a profanity, said Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the company that distributed the movie to airlines this month.

"A reference to God is not taboo in any culture that I know of," Klein said. "We excise foul language, excessive violence and nudity."

It's not the hardest-hitting story, but I appreciate how well the reporter captured the religious angles. It's also really funny. Read the whole thing.

In much more serious news, the British government has passed a law that requires all adoption agencies to provide their services to gay couples, whether or not they have a religious objection to doing so. The law goes into effect across Britain in April.

Leaders of the Church of England are helping the Roman Catholic Church in its bid to exempt its adoption agencies from having to choose between following their religious beliefs and complying with the law.

You can go here or here for explanations of the story.

You may also want to check out this Reuters piece by Paul Majendie, which questions whether the conflict means the Church of England should lose its special status as the state religion:

[Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan] Williams, spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans, argued: "The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well-meaning."

So who then does he owe allegiance to?

Williams said: "What's at stake ultimately is whether the church is answerable finally to the state as the only court of appeal or whether the church can rightly appeal to other sources for its moral compass."

Long gone are the days when Britain had an empire and its missionaries helped colonise vast areas of the world.

But Anglican vicars still swear allegiance to the Crown. They are paid by the state for working in prisons, hospitals and the armed forces.

I feel like someone should tease out some Sir Thomas More parallels.

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