Our soon-to-be-crowned monarch is walking the tightrope with his statements about faith, but will he turn the great British nation into a circus or will he act as a wonderful ringmaster, pointing us back to Christ?


Source: Cover Images via Reuters Connect

Queen Elizabeth II was known for her public declarations of faith. She was clearly a believer in Jesus Christ, and her devotion to God inspired the way she served the church and the nation. Like the circus ringmaster, whose job it is to stir up the audience for the most impressive performers, the Queen exhorted the British public – and those living far beyond our shores – to believe, pray and act.

Nearly 30 years ago, Charles controversially described himself as a "defender of faith" rather than "Defender of the Faith" – a title his mother wore proudly. He suggested that choosing one religion over another often brought division, and that "we’re all actually aiming for the same ultimate goal". Championing those of all faiths, he claimed "the pattern of the divine" could be found throughout humankind.

This was not a popular stance among Christians. For those who believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father (as Jesus himself said), it’s clear that we are not all aiming for the same goal – or maybe we are and some are just choosing the wrong route… but while many do not believe that bearing "the pattern of the divine" is enough to bring us into eternal relationship with God, there is some truth to this notion. We are each made in the image of God and are all capable of relationship with him, regardless of the faith or tradition in which we have been raised.

Charles controversially described himself as a "defender of faith" rather than "Defender of the Faith".

Whether or not this was Charles’s meaning, we can be encouraged that he was more recently quoted as saying: "It’s always seemed to me that, while at the same time being Defender of the Faith [note the reappearance of that all-important ‘the’], you can also be protector of faiths." It seems he may be willing to step up to the plate as church defender after all – he has already done some excellent work in defending the persecuted Church across the globe. And shouldn’t we be pleased that he is committed to protecting other faiths? After all, if any type of religious persecution is allowed to prevail, every person of faith is at risk. 

Raised in the Christian faith by a mother who clearly believed, Charles is still a regular churchgoer today. In his first address to the nation the day after Queen Elizabeth died, he spoke of his responsibility to the Church of England, "in which my own faith is so deeply rooted". However, some remain sceptical about his credentials as a Christian. "Didn’t he have a long-standing affair and then have the audacity to remarry?" they say. Sacré bleu! I seem to remember Jesus saying something about those without sin casting the first stone…

Others are concerned that Charles places more emphasis on "duty" and "tradition" than on a genuine love for God. "In that faith, and the values it inspires," he said, "I have been brought up to cherish a sense of duty to others, and to hold in the greatest respect the precious traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government."

His critics may have a point (though I’m not sure anyone has the right to question another person’s relationship with God). But I also think we have to remember that the British nation has become increasingly secular, and that many public figures who have been vocal about their personal beliefs have been mercilessly ridiculed or even demonised. This means that Charles must walk a difficult tight rope if he hopes to keep the show on the road. 

King Charles has already done some excellent work in defending the persecuted Church across the globe.

It seems to me that our new King is a greater proponent of social action than of doctrine, but let’s not forget that Jesus was pretty hot on "duty to others" as well – or that Jesus ultimately chose to lay down his life for those "others". In standing up for people of all faiths and campaigning to protect the planet, perhaps King Charles will maintain a good balance in our multicultural society – a large portion of which thinks the monarchy (and religion!) should be scrapped anyway. 

Let’s not judge him before he’s had a chance to fill the some of the biggest shoes of all time. Instead, let’s pray for our new monarch – that his personal faith will be ignited, that his public faith and duty will captivate his audience, and that he will indeed inspire us all toward the same goal: faith in Christ.

Let the circus begin!