Is the Archbishop right to speak up on political issues?

 The Archbishop of Canterbury has today spoken out against ‘The Big Society’ and criticised David Cameron on pushing through policies and committing the country to “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted”.  The Archbishop claims that the policies have been pushed through so speedily that the general public have not been able to fully understand, people are ‘baffled’ he says.

In particular, Rowan Williams speaks about ‘The Big Society’ as being ‘painfully stale’.  The Archbishop also launches a sustained attack on the government’s welfare reforms, complaining of a “quiet resurgence of the seductive language of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor.”

This political intervention from the Church of England has not been seen for some years and as such, has been with met with mixture of opinions.  ‘He should stick to running the church’ are just some of the comments seen and heard today.  I personally feel a mixture of feelings.  I do not agree with what the Archbishop has said, and  I think that David Cameron has reacted well by saying that he ‘welcomes the debate’.  I also think that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but arguably how can you criticise politicians who are elected to make decisions on such matters.  The coalition government gained 17 million votes.

All being said,  the comments generate debate and that must be a good thing for democracy.

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2 Comments

Filed under Big Society

2 responses to “Is the Archbishop right to speak up on political issues?

  1. Richard

    I don’t think there exists a terribly coherent argument against his public interventions per se – if the Church is to have any relevance at all, or to represent and promote its Christian values then it must be free to articulate its beliefs and promote its views, especially (to use the cliche) in an increasingly secular age.

    What is less acceptable is that the head of the Church should choose to articulate such a poorly considered, demonstrably false and simplistic analysis which unfortunately raises the question of whether the Church – or at least those representing it – are worthy of having a role in modern Britain at all. The C of E seems determined to follow the Toynbee path, embracing moral relativism in social areas and supporting the destruction wrought by big state solutions in others.

    The leftist Church will surely fail and I seriously question whether Archbishop Rowan Williams and his supporters are doing God’s work any longer.

    The Catholic Church on the other hand seems to have come across much more sensibly on this matter.

    Once again the CofE seems determined to embrace irrelevance and reject those that might be open to, and supportive of, its tenets.

  2. Any private individual is entitled to their opinion, and provided it is not an incitement to violence, or defamatory, they are entitled to voice this. The archbishop is right to voice his opinions about the damaging effects of the Tory-led Government’s policies.

    Where you are wrong is in claiming that it is some years since the archbishop gave vent to his opinions – I think it is quite a regular occurrence.

    Where we may agree, though, is even allowing for the shortcomings of our democratic model there can be no debating that David Cameron holds the position of PM through democratic mandate.

    Of course, the Church of England is an integral part of our democracy, much to my regret. Not only do we have a state religion, we also have twenty-six Lords Spiritual sitting in the second chamber. Not only do I want a fully democratic second chamber (House of Lords), I would also disestablish the Church of England. Whilst I respect religion and religious people I see no reason why one should be given preferential treatment, and subvert our democracy whilst receiving these special favours.
    .

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