What is Disestablishment?
Disestablishment is the withdrawal from a church of rights, privileges, or patronage accorded to it by the state. Churches that hold a privileged position in a state are usually referred to as established churches.
Historically, established churches have varied from those supported or endowed and largely controlled by the state to those holding a privileged position not enjoyed by other churches in the same country.
Most church establishments have by now disappeared. Those that remain in the Scandinavian countries still display characteristics of the historic Reformation state church. In some Latin countries, notably Spain, the Roman Catholic Church is accorded a special status under the law and a concordat with the Vatican.
The Church of England is an established church, not financially supported by the state but accorded a special place in national life. Its association with the state is maintained by act of Parliament. The crown appoints bishops and some other dignitaries, and the assent of the crown is required for new church regulations to become ecclesiastical law. The Church of Ireland (Anglican) was disestablished in 1871. Similarly, the Church of England in Wales was separated from its state connection in 1920. Agitation for disestablishment in England itself arises periodically.
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