by Dr J
In 1534, Parliament, under the influence of Thomas Cromwell, passed the Act of Supremacy and ‘recognised’ Henry VIII as the only supreme head of the Church in England. Later, and after many more convulsions, upheavals and a short lived return to Catholicism under his daughter Mary, there was recognised in England, an established Church. The Church in England, now with our good Queen as its head and perhaps only remaining adherent who remembers and believes what is in the Book of Common Prayer and 39 Articles, resulted from something no one thought would ever happen – a sudden and seeming overnight change and adherence to the new religion and its new rules.
The CofE became the cultural and religious foundation for many years to follow, eschewing all things ‘papistical’ and embedding itself into society as its beacon and moral compass. Eventually, with the dawn of the 60s and the arrival of hip and cool vicars, it became an afterthought for many but not all. Occasionally some remember it is there. Vicars seem to have ceased to bother with the sort of preaching that helped those in the past to know how to live a good life and, just as importantly, how to have a good death.
Then, in 1948, arising out of perceived need, the National Health Service was born, ostensibly to be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery, based on clinical need, not ability to pay. Paid for by taxes taken from the wages of workers, it was seen to be a step forward in assuring adequate health care for all in our nation. The common labourer as well as the lawyer and wealthy businessman would equally contribute. Eventually, as it became underfunded, oversubscribed, unwieldy, unprepared for pandemics and generally difficult to manage, those wealthy enough opted to buy private insurance and avoided it, leaving it to those pesky common working folk to use – those who attend local pubs and bingo halls and other common forms of entertainment. But, with all that difficulty, it soon became the new cultural centre and moral compass for life in the U.K. revered above all other institutions.
Most recently, in 2020, a new reformation has happened, hastened on by the ‘pandemic’, and credited to the good folk of China. The Church of England, no longer the nation’s moral compass or cultural centre, not only ceased to be the established church, but gladly ceded that title to the NHS, the new established Church in England. Venerable Cathedrals like Salisbury now close their doors to public worship opting for something on the Internet. Yet they open the doors to the new church, the NHS, and allow everyone in to be vaccinated, something that would ostensibly help ‘protect the NHS’. This followed from the example of See of Canterbury which in March first ordered all Churches to close and threatened all pastors with sanctions if they even thought about opening them or stepping inside. All of this was to protect the NHS and save lives. The NHS, the new established religion, must be protected at all costs, especially by the old established religion. No one is permitted to die, or at least not from Covid. And besides, the former CofE never had the time to tell followers how to do that well anyway.
The new head of the Church, our PM, duly appointed its new Archbishop, the Health Secretary, and he appointed and ceded all power to decide how the nation would live its life – or not – to his high priests, the collective heads of the health services and our new prognosticator in chief, Neil Ferguson. A new Parliament was established of course, now called SAGE, appointed to be the new theologians of this religion, instructing us on the reality of certain death if we don’t listen to and heed all they teach and say. In this newly established Church, all other institutions are insignificant – the family, religion, businesses, education, universities – and there will no longer be freedom of speech and freedom of conscience, democracy, or the right to challenge the established orthodoxy. If it’s not the NHS, it’s not important. If all heads of the health service don’t believe and preach it, then neither can you. If they believe and preach it, then you must as well.
The new heads of the newly established Church and its high priests and its theologians have instead decided to preach the doctrines through the pulpit of the BBC, and censor, ridicule, sideline, demonise and use their compliant members to enforce the orthodoxy in the press and on social media. They will, most likely, try to introduce the digital equivalent of being hung, drawn and quartered in the next session of Parliament.
It’s a brave new world… but at least the NHS is protected and there for all of us… unless you’ve got something other than COVID-19, that is.
Dr J is the pseudonym of a medical doctor.