David Cameron’s plans to rewrite the definition of marriage would force the disestablishment of the Church of England, it has been warned.
Revd George Pitcher’s warning came as he attacked Mr Cameron for considering proposals to make the extended Olympics shop opening hours on Sundays permanent.
He criticised the Prime Minister’s “contempt for religion in general and the Church of England in particular”.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Revd Pitcher accused Mr Cameron of being “entirely indifferent to the constitutional implications” of redefining marriage.
He added: “The state and its established church would have two entirely different definitions of an institution that lies at the heart of our society. And that’s constitutionally dangerous.
“Instead of trying to carry the Church with him, Cameron instead tries to marginalise it. With the Queen as that Church’s Supreme Governor and also head of state, he’s obviously looking to disestablishment of the Church of England.”
Revd Pitcher also warned that allowing longer opening hours would not just be detrimental to churchgoers.
He said: “Those who will suffer from making Sunday just like any other trading day of the week are not just churchgoers – the church’s principal growth is, anyway, coming from its weekday activities – but the shopworkers, suppliers and the drivers who keep retail distribution on the road.
“It’ll be those ‘ordinary, decent working families’ that Cameron is always so keen to invoke whose bread-winners will have to give up their Sunday family time and who will suffer most.”
In June the Church of England warned that the Government’s plans to redefine marriage could trigger a constitutional crisis and end the 500-year link between church and state.
In its response to the Government’s consultation on the matter the Church describes the plans as “divisive” and “essentially ideological”.
According to the Church, redefining marriage “would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history”.