CitizenshipRE - A dangerous way to live

15th March 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

The fate of St Thomas a Becket is well known, but a further four Archbishops of Canterbury have been killed while juggling the demands of the job - St Alphege (Archbishop 1006-12), Simon Sudbury (1375-81), Thomas Cranmer (1533-56) and William Laud (1633-45). Investigating the reasons behind their grim deaths could broaden pupils' concept of unrolling history and help them to explore interesting historical threads, writes Karen Russell.

It may also prompt thoughtful discussion of the dilemmas and difficulties that the new archbishop, Justin Welby, will face in modern times. There are still plenty of controversial issues for him to tackle.

For example, does he speak for the nation? The 2001 census showed that 72 per cent of the population identified as Christian; in 2011 the proportion was 59.4 per cent - a reduction of more than 4 million people. The proportion claiming they were of no religion rose from 15 to 25 per cent. If this trend continues, can the head of the Church of England really represent the views of British people?

When the Church of England rejected the idea of women bishops last November, Justin Welby tweeted that it was a "very grim day". Some dissenters voted against to avoid splits and divisions, but will deeper cracks emerge if the Church does not reflect the role women play in society?

And on acceptance of homosexuality, the Church of England ruled in January that gay clergy could be bishops, yet gay marriage in church is not yet accepted. Furthermore, the Anglican Communion views homosexuality as incongruent with Christianity; the Church of Uganda regards it as sinful. How can these disparate views be harmonised? For more information, visit

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