Dean of Westminster gives One People Oration
Tuesday, 22nd October 2019
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, gave this year’s One People Oration, Faith at the Heart of Nations? Reflections on the future of church and state at Westminster Abbey on Monday 21st October 2019.
The One People Oration is a lecture given each year at the Abbey. The intention of the series is to make people 'think not only of all Christian people but of all mankind'.
In concluding his lecture the Dean said:
In the 19th century and through much of the 20th century, many commentators confidently predicted that religion would fade away and that people would become autonomous, free individuals, able to make their own decisions in life and no longer haunted by the idea of a divine being controlling or manipulating people one way or the other.
There are many signs that religion and religious belief and practice are alive and well. There has been some significant growth for the many denominations and faiths that continue to offer ministry and pastoral care to their adherents and others in this country.
Of course, as with the Church of England, all these denominational and faith communities must continue to have and develop their own particular character. However, the place of religion in our national life needs to be honoured and respected by the organs of the State, and where possible, to be supported and encouraged. This is particularly obvious in the close relationship between Government and the religious communities over Church and other Faith schools. And the principle can be and should be extended.
In 2012, The Queen addressed this issue at an event for the nine major world faiths at Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her Majesty said, 'We should remind ourselves of the significant position of the Church of England in our nation’s life. The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country. It certainly provides an identity and spiritual dimension for its own many adherents. But also, gently and assuredly, the Church of England has created an environment for other faith communities and indeed people of no faith to live freely. Woven into the fabric of this country, the Church has helped to build a better society – more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths.'