Will King Charles Be 'Defender of THE Faith' or Just 'Defender of Faith?'
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A new chapter has begun in the United Kingdom with today's coronation ceremony of King Charles III.
As both monarch and head of the Church of England, Charles has promised to be the kingdom's "Defender of the Faith" – the Christian faith – but he's made clear in the past he sees the role more as "Defender of Faith," inclusive of all faiths.
So how will he reign in regard to faith?
It's been 70 years since the last coronation in the United Kingdom and just like Queen Elizabeth's in 1953, the coronation of King Charles was held at London's Westminster Abbey, mostly in keeping with tradition.
"It is of course primarily a religious service," Ian Bradley, a professor at the University of St. Andrews' School of Divinity, told CBN News. "There's no constitutional meaning for the coronation. Charles became king as soon as his mother died back in September."
While much will be the same, King Charles added his own touches to the ceremony which includes some new religious aspects.
"It's very significant indeed," Bradley explained. "The last coronation of the late Queen in 1953 was almost entirely run by Anglican clergy, the male clergy of the Church of England."
This time, more Christian denominations were included, and for the first time, Charles included other faiths as well.
"One of the things that happened recently is that the order of service was delayed," Gavin Ashenden, who once served as chaplain to the late Queen, told CBN News.
"And we're pretty sure it was delayed because Charles wanted a group of representatives of other faiths to lead the prayers," Ashenden said. "But there's a rule in the Church of England, it's part of the church's law backed up by Parliament's law, that to lead liturgy in an Anglican church you have to be a believing Anglican. So, there was a conflict and it looks like Charles lost."
Now, instead of leading prayers, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish leaders were to present the king with four pieces of coronation regalia.
Ashenden said while Queen Elizabeth's faith was devout and well documented, no one is quite sure about the personal beliefs of King Charles.
"We've had one Christmas broadcast, but he was brought up under the influence of Carl Gustav Jung. A man called Lawrence Vanderposterous was his tutor," said Ashenden. "So, he's much more committed to a progressive agenda than Christianity is comfortable with, and I think one of the tensions we're going to see both in the coronation service and in his reign is a way he tries to balance his Christianity, being Defender of the Protestant faith, with his sense that he needs to reflect a secular progressive worldview that his subjects have adopted or imparted."
While that may come as a disappointment to some Christians, Ashenden said not knowing the monarch's beliefs is not necessarily a bad thing.
"If you have a king or a queen, you don't necessarily want to know what their private views are because they may only represent one half of their kingdom instead of the other," he explained. "It becomes polarizing like politics."
King Charles and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, made their way from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for the coronation ceremony that started at 11:00 a.m. local time, 6:00 a.m. Eastern.
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