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‘Our loyalty is to King Jesus’: Christians criticise Welby’s Coronation oath

by Heather Preston

As the King’s Coronation approaches, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s encouragement to pledge allegiance to the new monarch has been met with a mixed response.

For the first time in the history of coronation ceremonies, Justin Welby has invited those watching or listening to the service at Westminster Abbey on Saturday to join in a "cry of support" for King Charles III.

The oath named the Homage of the People will replace the traditional Homage of Peers - in which a long line of hereditary peers knelt and made a pledge to the monarch in person.

The words of the Coronation oath read: "I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God."

It will be followed by the playing of a fanfare before the Archbishop of Canterbury proclaims "God Save The King", with all asked to respond: "God Save King Charles. Long live King Charles. May the King live forever."

Christian author and activist Symon Hill told Premier Christian Radio he doesn’t believe the oath is in line with Christian teaching:

“As Christians, our loyalty is to King Jesus, and to swear allegiance to anyone really should be something that gives us pause for thought as Christians, at the very least and I would suggest isn't something that really fits in with seeking to be loyal to the kingdom of God.”

Lambeth Palace says it hopes the homage will be a moment of “joy and celebration” and has stated it is "very much an invitation rather than an expectation or request."

Hill argues that just as early disciples refused to recognise Caesar as Lord, bowing down to a fallible human is questionable.

“God loves Charles Windsor, just as God loves you and me, and Charles is a sinful and fallible human being like you and me.

“For one of us to bow down to another, I think goes against that ethos that Jesus exemplified when he knelt and washed His own follower’s feet.

“I think we've got better values to celebrate on Saturday than pledging allegiance to somebody who essentially is king because his ancestors violently fought off other claimants to the throne.”

A Lambeth spokesperson said the homage is "simply an opportunity offered by the Archbishop so that, unlike previous coronations, those who wish to join in with the words being spoken by the Abbey congregation could do so in a very simple way.”

"For those who do want to take part, some will want to say all the words of the homage; some might just want to say 'God Save The King' at the end; others might just want it to be a moment of private reflection."

Hill argues that while he is happy to pray for King Charles, “the only king I recognise is King Jesus.”

“The very phrase God save the king implies a subservience to Charles Windsor, that I don't accept … to treat anyone as my inferior or my superior violates that image of God in which we are all created as equals.”

Sir Gerald Howarth, former conservative MP for Aldershot says he’s in favour of the oath and sees the coronation as a deeply spiritual event.

“The fact that the most sacred part of this event - the anointing of the new king -will not be shown on television is, I think, a reflection of the gravity with which not only the king, but those around him, take the ceremony.

Howarth says he was fully accustomed to taking “the Oath of Allegiance” as a member of parliament: “You can't take your seat in the Commons, unless you have sworn allegiance to the Crown.

“It's important to recognise that this is not something peculiar to the United Kingdom, in the United States they take it very seriously.

“I think it's right that we should be offered this opportunity to take the oath of allegiance publicly during the ceremony, I and my family will be doing so."


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