Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Will no-one rid us of 'this godless government'?

A communicant has brought to Cranmer’s attention a small and almost insignificant article in The Times in which it was reported that a Labour peer, Lord Harrison, has urged all ‘non-religious people’ to make a stand against the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who are, apparently Britain’s ‘newly aggressive religious lobby’.

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.


Blogger Tony said...

Your Grace has hit the nail firmly on the head by highlighting the relativist approach demonstrated by the noble Lord.

Nothing is permitted to hold back the secularist tide. It must wash over all of us in order to cleanse us of what this government perceives as intolerant faith.

This government sees itself as the new religion. A body in which people should believe, whose mantra must supercede the texts it had no control over.

Only one text may be excluded from the assault, the one belonging to those believed to be the most fervent and intolerant of the New Labour order. It confirms that the new secularist order the government is trying to form has cowardice and sycophancy at its heart.

24 April 2007 at 09:21  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"Lord Harrison"? Never heard of him.

24 April 2007 at 10:18  
Anonymous billy said...

If we are all sedated by Christianity then the government will find us so much easier to govern, and lords of great note, like Lord H, will have less problems leading the sheep to oblivion.

24 April 2007 at 16:07  
Anonymous Voyager said...

House of Lords 1

Groups such as the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, of which I am a member, should be encouraged, not discouraged,.......How appropriate is it that the commemoration of those killed in London in the bombings of 7 July takes place in an Anglican cathedral



Councillor Cheshire County Council 1981-90:
Deputy Chairman, North West Tourist Board 1986-89;
Vice-President, Association of County Councils 1990-97

Name, style and title
Raised to the peerage as Baron Harrison, of Chester in the County of Cheshire 1999

24 April 2007 at 16:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

What saddens me most of all about these reports (and others of late) is the intimation that somehow we are at war with each other for the moral life of the Country.

Whilst our paths to an ethical life and a sense of personal and collective morality might be different, I think for the most part, we end up at the same destination. We are all in the same garden; some choose the fragrance of the roses, others the beauty of the topiary; some choose the shade, others the sunshine.

There are a multitude of inter-faith fora, isn't about time the aetheists and those of credo sat down with one an' other and looked at our similarities, rather than our differences? There is a shared humanity that could do great good - the ability and the desire to do that must (and will, I hope) transcend our differences.


24 April 2007 at 17:53  
Anonymous Observer said...

Why do atheists proselyte more than Anglicans ?

24 April 2007 at 20:42  
Anonymous Athanasius said...

You last question is fascinating. I don't know the answer but will hazard a guess (in two parts): first, that journalists in the UK have become so deracinated that, not understanding the divisions in Christianity, they have assumed that the Pope is the top Christian and the two British Cardinals are his representatives; second that the CofE has allowed itself to be presented for so long as a coalition of beliefs, that a speech by the A of C is perceived as representative of his own views only. (I'd perhaps add the Cardinal Hume effect as well: at a time when the CofE seemed to be tearing itself apart, here was this seemingly humble monk with a posh accent who was made to sound as though he spoke for religious England.)

25 April 2007 at 11:00  

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