The Bishop of Exeter has announced that he will retire after 13 years at the head of the diocese.
The Rt Rev Michael Langrish 67, will take his last service in Exeter Cathedral on June 29.
In a letter sent to all Church of England clergy in parishes across Devon the Bishop states that, “Although 2012 has been a challenging year, as have many others before it, I hope that I leave the Church of England in Devon in good heart.” He goes on to write of a “…growing God’s Kingdom.”
Yet, many commentators have questioned whether the Bishop is really leaving his post with the Church in good health.
Poll after poll shows that religious adherence in this country is falling. For a decade the church referred to the results of the 2001
census, telling us that 72% of Britons are Christians.
However, the 2011 census showed that this figure has fallen to 59%. And even that was questionable given the leading wording of the census question. But there has been no equivalent decline in public order, indeed crime rates have fallen in the decade and we now live in a much safer and far more considerate society than a century ago when religious belief dominated people’s lives.
Looking at the present flight from religion in Britain, it has even been suggested that the Church of England may be effectively dead in a couple of generations.
Meanwhile, the number of people who say they have no religion has risen to 25%, far outstripping all the minority religious groups put together.
And yet still we see an inordinate amount of attention heaped on “faith leaders”.
Now, for the first time in generations, there is a serious questioning of the Church of England’s role in our constitution. This comes after the Church failed to accept women bishops. Indeed, in one of the Bishop’s last public acts, he abstained from the vote supporting women bishops.
As the Church continues to challenge the Government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage and ties itself in knots over whether to accept openly gay men as Bishops, questions have been asked in parliament about the legitimacy of its establishment as the state religion.
With a £620,00 deficit in the diocese and the inevitable row that will ensue because only heterosexual men can apply for the job, surely the Diocese of Exeter should consider spending its dwindling parishioners money in a more useful way than funding a new bishop.
Nevertheless, Devon Humanists send best wishes to Michael Langrish for a happy retirement.