Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Betrayal of British Christians

Church attacks Labour for betraying Christians

Cross posted from the Times Online

June 7, 2008
Strongest criticism of Government in decades
Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have helped to generate a spiritual, civic and economic crisis in Britain, according to an important Church of England report.

Labour is failing society and lacks the vision to restore a sense of British identity, the report says in the Church’s strongest attack on the Government for decades. It accuses the Government of “deep religious illiteracy” and of having “no convincing moral direction”.

The report, commissioned for the Church of England and to be published on Monday, accuses the Government of discriminating against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, including Islam. It calls for the appointment of a “Minister for Religion”, who would act as the Prime Minister’s personal “faith envoy” and who would recognise the contribution of faith communities to Britain across every government department.

The 180-page report, seen by The Times,describes the Government as moral, but lacking a “compass” and reflects an attempt by the Church to carve out an effective role for itself in the 21st century as a provider of welfare for young and old.

The report was commissioned by the Bishop of Hulme, the Right Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Health, with the support of the archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu.

The report comes only days after Dr Sentamu accused Mr Brown of sacrificing liberty for misguided notions of equality and of betraying new Labour’s mantra of “rights and responsibilities”. It shows the extent to which church leaders feel betrayed by the Government’s embrace of a secular agenda.

The authors find evidence of deep-seated hostility to the Church in particular, excluding it from important areas of policy and research – despite Mr Blair being one of the most devout prime ministers of the past century. They portray a Government committed to research into Muslim communities but barely interested in Christian involvement in Britain’s civic and charitable life.

This is in spite of what the authors describe as centuries of pioneering work by the Church in areas of welfare and social provision. “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,” the report says.

Academics from the Von Hugel Institute at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, approached every Church of England bishop as well as more than 250 MPs, peers and academics. About 70 of the 106 diocesan and suffragan bishops responded. “Every participant in our study from the Church agreed that there was a deep ‘religious illiteracy’ on the part of the Government, especially on the local level, and that an increased tendency to centralised, mega-contracts in some government departments was bad for the whole of the voluntary sector,” they write.

In its strength of feeling it echoes the Faith in the City report of 1985, condemned by one government minister as “Marxist” because of its criticism of the effects of Thatcherism on Britain’s inner cities. But, far from being a left-wing attack on a Conservative administration, this Church report found many of David Cameron’s policies to be more worthy of praise.

Outlining evidence of huge fault-lines in the relations between Church and state, they write: “The Government is planning blind and has no convincing moral direction.”

They set out recommendations designed to put the Church back at the heart of social and welfare provision, for funds to research the role of “theology” and “spirituality” as motivations in charity organisations and for the archbishops of Canterbury and York to set up a “Anglican Philanthropy Fund” to cash in on a new generation of potential donors.

For a great angry rant in response to this article see KG's post at Crusader Rabbit:

A note from Radarsite: Throughout this ongoing cultural war in Britain it appears to this observer that there has been an unaccountable (and shameful) absence on the battlefield of two major British forces -- the Crown and the Church of England. Despite their traditional roles of protector of the Realm and protector of the Faith, both have been largely unseen and unheard. They have, it seems, left the battle for their nation in the hands of the people and so far at least have refused to pick up the sword. Now, although somewhat belatedly, we hear from one of them.

If ever a national crisis called for the involvement of the church, this is it. It is after all the so-called Religion of Peace which is threatening the very survival of England, and yet, till now, the Church of England has either done nothing or actually collaborated with the enemy occupiers -- and, make no mistake about it -- Islam is indeed the enemy of the West and of Britain.

The Crown has just been AWOL. To many Yanks who deeply care about the outcome of this British war, their silence has been incomprehensible. During the worst days of the London Blitz, the Royal Family (despite their somewhat conflicted views of Germany and Nazism) were to be seen at the forefront, in the streets, walking through the rubble and consoling the people. They represented Britain's determination never to be conquered, never to give in.

But where are they now?

It could be argued that England is in more national peril at this moment in history than ever before. And yet the Royals are nowhere to be seen. There is of course one notable exception -- yet even here, brave Prince Harry was fighting on foreign soil, not defending his beleaguered homeland.

Now, finally, we hear from one of these major players. Is this an optimistic sign of the reawakening of that old British spirit? Is the Church of England going to lead this brave reconquest? If so, it will take a lot more than reports and editorials.

And what of the great silent Lady in the Palace? One courageous speech, one patriotic rallying cry from Queen Elizabeth II would do more to help the cause of England's survival than all of the editorials put together. But we're not holding our breath.

We here can only wait and watch. And hopefully -- against all of the evidence to the contrary -- we can learn from her travails. - rg


  1. Why is the Queen silent on this you asked. It is because she and the Royal family have bought into the whole Multiculturalism deal. To speak out would cause a 180 degree shift in her policy, something she is not ready to do.

    Don't expect Charles to speak out against it. He is so firmly entrenched in the idea, he would actually become Muslim if he could.

    Maybe William will. But by then it will be too late.

  2. I wish I could say you were wrong Findalis, but I can't.