Recent battles over marriage have led several pastors to suggest greater separation between church and state in matrimonial issues. Some liberals say getting out of the "marriage license signing business" would allow churches to bless homosexual unions. Some conservative separatists say the licenses give the state too much power and the couple too wide an exit. Now a conservative Anglican bishop is suggesting it's not the state that should get out of the marriage business, but the church. "It would be much more honest of the church to say that we won't marry anybody, because doing so puts them in a position where they have said in the presence of God, 'We take these vows until death us do part,'" Noel Jones, bishop of Sodor and Man on the Isle of Man, told The Daily Telegraph. "I want to prevent couples from committing perjury at the altar. … We are hung up over the fact that we are a mixture of legal and clerical at the moment, and I want to separate the two." Jones, known for his staunch opposition to women bishops, says churches could have blessing ceremonies for couples agreeing to lifelong commitments.
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Weddings in church must be abolished, says bishop—The Daily Telegraph, London (May 23, 2002)1