Will no-one rid us of 'this godless government'?
His Grace is more than familiar with and openly admiring of the Archbishop of York. His particular brand of religious expression may not be to everyone’s taste, but his is an engaging witness which some might indeed find ‘aggressive’.
But the Archbishop of Canterbury? Aggressive? Lord Harrison explains:
‘The Anglicanism of my youth, more sedative than stimulant, now gives way to the harsher tones of those like the Archbishop of York who describes us as illiberal atheists, aggressive secularists. We learn that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish leader will meet this summer in a holy alliance to plot the counter strategy. It seems to me that the religions of today do not lack leaders, they lack leadership.’
Lord Harrison appears to yearn for an Anglicanism which is a ‘sedative’, and anything which transgresses this soporific state, indeed, which may be considered a ‘stimulant’, becomes offensive. God forbid that the Church of England might ever stimulate! Lord Harrison has possibly never read the Bible, and has a notion of Christianity which has scarcely advanced beyond ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’. Cranmer not only urges him to move from milk onto solid food, but questions why, given the prophetic insight into some clandestine meeting of monotheists, he has not berated the leaders of Britain’s Muslims and Jews for being ‘aggressive’ or ‘harsh’. Could it possibly be because such accusations carry the risk of accusations of ‘racism’, but attacking Christians and the State Church is simply par for the course?
However, the ‘plot’ to which The Times alludes is of great interest to His Grace, and he shall be consulting with his moles in order to discover more. He wonders if the Archbishop of Canterbury has discovered the purpose of spiritual muscle-flexing. If his recent article in The Times is anything to go by, it would appear that Dr Williams has just about had it with ‘this godless government’. His theme follows the recent speech made by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, noting that ‘if the state enacts or perpetuates in the corporate life of the nation what is directly contrary to the Christian understanding of God’s purpose, then Christian activism in respect of changing the law is justified, primarily when the state is responsible for — so to speak — compromising the morality of all its citizens’.
Countering the pervasive relativism, the Archbishop makes a case for ‘human values and ethical norms to which an entire society is answerable’. This is possible, he asserts, without the state becoming confessional or theocratic, because it demands that the United Kingdom ‘be ready recognise its own history; to say that its horizons and assumptions are indeed grounded in a set of particular beliefs, and to embody in its political practice ways of allowing those foundational commitments to be heard in public debate’.
In defending the establishment of the Church of England, as it has evolved in the past century or so, for being such a mechanism, the Archbishop of Canterbury deserves praise indeed for raising such complex constitutional religio-political concerns.
The interesting thing for Cranmer, however, is that when the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England & Wales, or its leader in Scotland, comments upon the amorality and godlessness of the Government, it is reported far and wide, and without fail by the BBC. But when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the State Church, voices those same concerns, the BBC is completely silent.