The Established Anglican Church & The Battling Bishops


Comment at end

7th June, 2008


Christianity is being discriminated against by the Government in favour of Islam and other minority faiths, according to a landmark Church of England report.

This Telegraph report has the astounding news that the Church of England, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, is criticising the present Labour government for its approach to Christianity. Comparing unfavourably Brown’s government’s approach to other faiths, mainly Islam, it is a no-holds barred attack on the government. It is also supportive of the Conservative party’s approach. It will not be welcomed by Mr Brown.

Are Dr Rowan Williams et al playing politics?

But hang on, I hear you ask … or if I don’t, I should. Is this the same Archbishop of Canterbury who recently called for the introduction of Sharia Law into the law of this country? (See the Pope’s opinion on the Archbishop’s words.)

Not that one should possibly infer so, but could it be that the Church, and more particularly the Archbishop, is feeling the heat as the Anglican Church threatens schism? Could the Archbishop be playing politics?

Having said all that, I DO agree that this government is bowing the knee too much, far too much to Islam – Forget other “minority religions”. It is Islam which is the issue.

Perhaps we should be relieved that somebody is noticing, even if their motives are suspect! Especially since the previous PM has, on leaving office, converted to another Christian denomination.

The Battling Bishops

But why does the Church suddenly notice the problem now? After all it has said in the past? After all the Archbishop has said? Is he wary of A.N. Other Archbishop attempting to grab his crown? I can think of at least two who may well be engaged, as we speak, in that struggle.

The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali and John Sentamu, Archbishop of York are highly visible bishops, as, not to put too fine a point on it, is their colour. I say that with absolute assurance that if there is a germ of colour prejudice in my body, I have yet to find it.

But Pakistan-born Nazir-Ali (left) and Ugandan born Sentamu (right) both seem to have a stronger attachment to our British cultural and religious heritage than many on the liberal Left. How emBARRASSing that both of these good men now seem to be the leading defenders of the faith. How telling.

Article follows:

The damning critique of Labour, which is endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, says ministers are only paying “lip service” to the Anglican Church while “focusing intently” on other religions.

It claims Gordon Brown’s Government is failing society and lacks a moral vision for the country.

And in an end to decades of tension between the Church and the Conservatives, the comprehensive study praises the Tories for their “strident” approach to combating poverty.

Instead it says it is Labour which is failing to acknowledge the breakdown in society and excluding vital religious voices.

The report urges the Government to appoint a minister for religion, who would serve as the Prime Minister’s faith envoy and utilise the untapped reserves of volunteers in churches and charities.

It states: “We encountered on the part of the Government a significant lack of understanding, or interest in, the Church of England’s current or potential contribution in the public sphere.

“Indeed we were told that Government had consciously decided to focus…almost exclusively on minority religions.”

The highly critical report, titled Moral, But No Compass – a twist on Mr Brown’s claim to have a “moral compass” – carries significant weight as it has been endorsed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and expresses the views of three-quarters of the Church’s bishops.

It echoes claims made by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, last week that the decline of Christian values is destroying Britishness and has created a “moral vacuum” which radical Islam is filling.

The report, which has been seen by The Daily Telegraph, says that while the Government has tried to improve social cohesion, it has failed to appreciate the potential contribution of Christian groups to the “civic health and wellbeing” of society.

“We were told that while capacity studies had been undertaken by Government with regard to British Islam, similar studies had not been carried out for any of the UK’s largest faith communities.

“If what we were told is correct, the churches simply do not register on the policy-making radar in serious terms.

“The Government has focused so intensely on minority faiths that it has failed to develop a coherent evidence base for the largest religious body in the UK, the Christian church.”

The report adds: “The government is planning blind and failing parts of civil society. The government has good intentions, but is moral without a compass.

“Every participant in our study from the Church agreed that there was deep ‘religious illiteracy’ on the part of the Government.”

A report published in 1985 damned Thatcherism for the growing spiritual and economic poverty in Britain.

But now, in a remarkable shift in the stance of the Church, the Conservatives are praised for their “genuine thirst to understand and combat poverty”.

The new study, commissioned by the Church and written by academics based at the Von Hugel Institute at Cambridge University, states: “Despite many voices in the Church telling us, ‘there is no difference between any of the parties on these issues,’ the reality is otherwise.

“Of all our interviewees, Conservative advisors and politicians were among the most comfortable and enthusiastic regarding involving faith groups in this renewal of the third sector, and believed that Christian churches had something ‘unique’ to bring to the table as strong local leaders.”

Eric Pickles, shadow secretary for communities and local government, said: “David Cameron’s Conservatives recognise that we have to tackle a damaged society and that poverty can’t be cured without the help of voluntary organisations, such as the Church which plays a vital part.

“The Church has not retreated from the difficult problems faced by many communities.”

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