OXFORD, U.K.–This isn’t a religion blog, but then again, you have to wonder whether the Church of England, the dominant worship-form over here, actually qualifies as a religion. The churches are gorgeous and their gardens spectacularly abloom with the geraniums and asters of late summer, but the main faith that I’ve been able to discern from the pamphlets in the vestibules is faith that throwing enough money at African kleptocracies will improve the lot of the kleptocrats’ subjects.

The C of E’s latest move–spearheaded by the Bishop of Oxford and publicized in posters attached to every tree and post here, is a “public act of repentance” over the war in Iraq. And in keeping with the true C of E spirit, Bishop Harries, a long time foe of George Bush but soulmate of Socialist Parliamentarian George Galloway, the apology should come only “if and when ther is a stable democracy in Iraq.”

Huh? Doesn’t democracy in Iraq sound like a good thing? Not to Bishop Harries. Harries isn’t against democracy–he’s simply against the U.S. He declared that he believes that Western democracies are too “deeply flawed” to have legitimately acted against Saddam Hussein’s tyranny–or the Islamic radicals who are currently blowing up soldiers and civilians alike in Baghdad, Basra, and elsewhere. So, unlike Cindy Sheehan, the U.S. lacks moral authority.

As U.K. Times columnist Stephen Pollard put it:

“So consumed are [the bishops and their pals on the left] are tehy weith haterd for America that they consider Saddam to be preferable to democracy, if it has been facilitated by America. In a passage of breathtakinly blinkered bigotry, we are told that ‘what distinguishes it [the U.S.] from many other empires of history is its strong sense of moral righteousness.'”

Pollard has an answer to that one:

“No. What distinguishes America is that when it fights it does so not to impose tyranny but to promote freedom and the stable democracy of which the bishops are so contemptuous. Without America sending its sons to fight for liberty we would be speaking German….”

Nonethless, I don’t want to see the C of E go under (even though only about 4 percent of U.K. Anglicans bother to attend services, perhaps because they’re tired of socialist sermons from the likes of Bishop Harries). Those English churches are such quaint and lovely ornaments to the English countryside–and I do enjoy those gardens.