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Antidisestablishmentarianism (UK i//, US i//) is a political position that developed in 19th-century Britain in opposition to Liberal proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England—meaning the removal of the Anglican Church's status as the state church of England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The establishment was maintained in England, but in Ireland the Church of Ireland (Anglican) was disestablished in 1871. In Wales, four Church of England dioceses were disestablished in 1920 and became the Church in Wales.
The word has also come by analogy to refer to any opposition to those who oppose the establishment, whether the government in whole or part or the established society.
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The matter of disestablishment of the Church of England is an ongoing issue, often tied with the position of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom as “Supreme Governor” of the Church (see Act of Settlement 1701). Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in April 2014 that he thought the Church of England and the British state should be separated "in the long run". David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time, responded to Clegg's comments by stating that the position was "a long-term Liberal idea, but it is not a Conservative one," adding that he believed the existence of an established church is beneficial.
The word antidisestablishmentarianism is notable for its unusual length of 28 letters and 12 syllables (an-ti-dis-es-tab-lish-men-tar-i-an-is-m), and is one of the longest words in the English language. By following the rules of English grammar it is possible to construct "Antidisestablishmentarianistically" which has 34 letters.
- Mitchell, Ethan (19 January 2007). "Mitchell, E. (2007). Educational Antidisestablishmentarianism. PHILICA.COM Article number 74.". philica
.com. Philica. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- "Nick Clegg advocates separation of Church and state". BBC News. BBC. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- What is the longest English word? Oxford Dictionaries Online
- Adrian Hastings, Church and State: the English Experience (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1991.)
- The dictionary definition of antidisestablishmentarianism at Wiktionary