Disestablishmentarianism

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Disestablishmentarianism refers to campaigns to sever links between church and state, particularly in relation to the Church of England as an established church.

It was initially a movement in the United Kingdom in the 18th century. The established churches in Wales and Ireland could not count on even nominal adherence by a majority of the population of those countries. In Ireland, the predominantly Catholic population campaigned against the position of the established Anglican Church of England - eventually disestablished in Ireland in 1869.

In England there was a campaign by Liberals, dissenters and nonconformists to disestablish the Church of England in the 19th century. The campaigners were called "Liberationists" (the "Liberation Society" was founded by Edward Miall in 1853). This campaign failed, but nearly all of the legal disabilities of nonconformists were gradually dismantled. The campaign for disestablishment was revived in the 20th century when Parliament rejected the 1929 revision of the Book of Common Prayer, leading to calls for separation of Church and State to prevent political interference in matters of worship. In the late 20th century, reform of the House of Lords also brought into question the position of the Lords Spiritual.

The Church of England was disestablished in Wales in 1920, becoming the Church in Wales.

The Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1869.

The Church of Scotland was disestablished in 1929 but remains the largest church in Scotland.

The question of the succession to the British monarchy is also affected by the Act of Settlement 1701.

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