I’m not sure today is the most auspicious day they could have picked for Justin Welby’s “election” as Archbishop of Canterbury. (I’m not sure who “they” are, but I assume someone actually chose it.)
Perhaps they have an ironic sense of humour, or are simply offering a gloomy prognostication.
But today is the anniversary of the execution (for many Anglican catholics the martyrdom) of William Laud, taken to the chopping block on this day in 1645. His offence: to oppose the Puritans’ zeal for their vision of a biblical church (i.e. run their way) with his own firm belief in episcopal power (especially his own) and more traditionally catholic and dignified worship.
His Puritan enemies couldn’t legally find him guilty of a capital offence however hard they tried (arrogance, insensitivity and pig-headness being lesser sins), but decided to pass a bill in Parliament condemning him to death anyway.
I’m sure Justin Welby will be glad that their successors today don’t wield the same power in Parliament. At least he gets a firm reminder of what could lie ahead of him, and just how far some zealous evangelicals will go to promote their understanding of the love of God.