A motion calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England has been listed in the House of Commons as 666 - the Number of the Beast.
Labour MP John Austin, who has repeatedly tabled Early Day Motions urging disestablishment, put down his latest motion last night as MPs debated scrapping Britain's blasphemy laws.
It appeared appeared on the House of Commons order paper numbered 666, the number associated with the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation. Scholars believe 666 referred to the Emperor Nero.
The King James Bible renders Revelation 13:8 as: "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester and one of the signatories, said: “It is is incredible that a motion like this should have, by chance, acquired this significant number.
“This number is supposed to be the mark of the Devil. It looks as though God or the Devil have been moving in mysterious ways.
“What is even stranger is that this motion was tabled last night when MPs were debating blasphemy.”
The motion is unlikely to be debated. But momentum for looser ties between Church and State is growing, as the support for the repeal of the blasphemy law illustrates. The blasphemy law favours Christianity and in particular the Church of England.
Although the attempt by Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris to amend the Criminal Justice Bill was unsuccessful, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has disclosed that he is consulting with the churches about its repeal.
This is a little frivolous but the issues is quite important.
The blasphemy law only takes account of the C of E, Catholic offence is not covered by it, it is a law wiothout any teeth, therefore it is bad law. It marks the special place the State Church has in the British Constitution, it is the "Church by Law Established". Obviously on both accounts the C of E is in a position that puts others at a disadvantage, we saw that in the forced apostasy of the young Canadian woman who married into the Royal family.
Frankly it is unjust.
The problem is that altering the situation will play into the hands of the secularists.