Posted by: aboutalbion | June 3, 2012

Temple of Albion (1)

I am interested in the relation between politics and religion.  The claim that religion is ‘politics by another name’ is reasonably well-known.  The claim that politics is ‘religion by another name’ seems to me a less explored train of thought.

In an occasional series of posts, I would like to take the perspective of an anthropologist living in the United Kingdom.  I propose to use an anthropological checklist for identifying a religion in order to assess the strength of the case that the United Kingdom is an organised religion.  Is it reasonable to consider identifying the United Kingdom as in some sense as, say, the Temple of Albion?

The first anthropological criterion for a religion might be stated as a concern with godlike beings, and with people’s relations with them.

It just so happens that this weekend is the Diamond Jubilee of ‘The Queen’ – Queen Elizabeth the Second.  I think an anthropologist who witnesses this weekend’s celebrations might consider that she is regarded by people of the United Kingdom as something like a godlike being.  A member of the royal family has told the media this year that when the Queen walks into a room everyone stands up.  And on many formal public occasions when the Queen is present, the National Anthem is played, and there is the expectation that people will stand up and participate in an act of respect and veneration for her.  I read that her official residence in London, Buckingham Palace, has 775 rooms which I think an anthropologist might want to note as a very high status residence.

More than this, the Queen is the embodiment of the Crown.

And the Crown in Parliament is the constitutional arrangement at the centre of the United Kingdom.  An anthropologist will note that the decisions of the two Houses of Parliament support the legal doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament.  I suggest that an anthropologist might want to consider the Crown in Parliament as a trinity of supreme godlike powers – the Crown, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.

And it is this trinity of godlike powers that the people of the United Kingdom relate to with respect and veneration.  An anthropologist will observe that when people have a matter discussed by their representatives in Parliament, they believe that their representatives are exercising special powers.

An anthropologist will also see that the category of celebrities with godlike powers is larger than the royal family and parliamentarians.  At the present time, the category now includes representatives from business, academia, popular culture, sport, etc.

However, to my mind, this larger class of celebrities with godlike powers does not negate the first step of my exploration into whether or not the United Kingdom could be construed as an organised religion.  There is some evidence that the United Kingdom seems to have a trinity of godlike powers who keep the spirit of Britannia alive in the Temple of Albion.

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