Sunday Times stunning revelation about Archbishop of Canterbury
Following The Times' specious song-and-dance about the Archbishop of Canterbury having 'snubbed' the RSPCA by declining to become a patron, The Sunday Times (£) has made an utterly startling revelation: a dramatic disclosure; a striking manifestation of truth.
Justin Welby went pheasant shooting.
In or around 1985.
Oh, and apparently he followed this cruel and detestable blood-lust with a bit of clay pigeon shooting, after which bracing endeavour he became known among the world's oil-drilling tycoons as a bit of “reasonable shot”.
Oh, yes, and the reason the Times is telling us this is because they discern (or make the 'revelation', as they call it) that there is a causal link between a single pheasant-shooting excursion 30 years ago and his decision now to 'snub' the RSPCA.
Lambeth Palace told Nicholas Hellen and Jonathan Leake, the chosen prophets for this revelation: “The archbishop went on a live pheasant shoot on one occasion in the mid-1980s while working for Enterprise Oil. It held no interest for him and he never went again. This has no bearing on his recent decision not to patron [sic] the RSPCA, which is a decision he made regretfully due to time constraints.”
Whilst His Grace shares The Sunday Times' dismay that Lambeth Palace renders 'patron' a verb, it is as nothing compared to his consternation and profound disheartenment that the Times and Sunday Times have sunk to such composting levels of journalism. Neither of these articles present any intelligent analysis at all: both are draped in a diaphanous sneer of anti-Anglicanism and barrel-scraping archbishop-bashing that one might think they had originated in the plagiarising pages of the Telegraph.
Incredibly, it appears that Mssrs Hellen and Leake even went to the trouble of contacting the establishment where Archbishop Justin used to shoot these poor pottery pigeons. What did they glean from its spokesman? That he was "a reasonable shot . . . [and] a nice bloke."
Archbishop Justin of Canterbury - a reasonable shot and a nice bloke.
What a revelation. He should have it engraved on his tomb.
Oh, sorry, almost forgot. These intrepid investigative journalists also managed to ferret out a distressed animal rights activist, one Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, who said: “Welby should be honest about his past and make clear what he now thinks about the morality of shooting birds for sport."
You know what, Andrew? He's got rather more important things to do - like striving for the peace of Jerusalem and pledging solidarity with the Copts, against which the morality of shooting a pheasant in 1985 doesn't really hit the radar. And the Times and Sunday Times ought to have more important religion matters to write about. Like, perhaps, the systematic eradication of Christianity from its biblical heartlands.
And while we're scrutinising inept Times journalism, what's this about?
Faith leader? Why the all-encompassing and generic? What's wrong with saying 'Chief Rabbi' in the headline? You know, it's still good front-page stuff, and Times readers are perfectly capable of understanding a complex Jewish term like 'Rabbi'.
This is a rare and bold political intervention by the distinguished leader of Britain's Jewry, Lord Sacks, who is of the view that the Government is not doing enough to support mothers who stay at home to rear their children. A puny tax-break for married couples is a token gesture: we are in danger of losing - under a Conservative Prime Minister - all understanding of why the state should support marriage and mitigate the appalling costs - social and economic - of family breakdown.
This isn't being said by the leader of Britain's Scientologists, but by the Chief Rabbi, who speaks on behalf of about a quarter of a million Children of Abraham. Sure, that's not as many as Stephen Fry's Twitter followers, but Lord Sacks is concerned with the morality of political policy and questions of religious truth. This robust and frank intervention merits the headline identification of his office; not a bland attribution to an unspecific 'faith', disclosed only in a strap-line afterthought and complemented by a puny passport-size snapshot.