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Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Friday, 16 March 2012

Separating church and state 'damaging'

The prime minister recently referred to Britain as a Christian country yet, on numerous issues, the latest being gay marriage, the state appears to be at odds with the Church of England.

The former lord chancellor Lord Falconer told the Today programme that the church is just "one voice among many" on moral issues and and it is unable to take a clear line on the vast majority of issues because there are so many voices.

Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, said that it is reasonable that "as society evolves and develops that establishment evolves and develops as well" but that this does not amount to an argument for the disestablishment of the Church of England.

"It would be extraordinarily damaging,"he said, at a time when people are searching for frameworks and guidance, particularly at a local level.

Lord Falconer said that he thought the voice of the bishops should be smaller than three percent of the House of Lords, adding that if all 26 bishops spoke as one on issues like welfare reform, it would be more effective.

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