Monday, 19 November 2012

Rt Rev Justin Welby speaks in defence of 'doing God'

Not even installed as the Archbishop of Canterbury yet, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, spoke out against the idea that religious beliefs should “disqualify” people from giving opinions on politics or other public matters. The Daily Telegraph reports;
He urged Christians not to be afraid to refer to their faith, despite an assumption that they should “excise” their beliefs from their minds when holding public positions. The bishop made the remarks in his first speech since being named as successor to Dr Rowan Williams, who will step down as leader of the Church of England at the end of this year.
It is not so much the assumption that religious thought plays no role in opinion on political matters, but just they should bear in mind that in a modern and dynamic nation as ours is, that the thoughts and feelings of the majority are also considered (this being the nature of representation). To ignore this growing reality is to act irresponsibly with regard to one's public position.
In a wide ranging address, he spoke about his hopes that Christians would not be afraid to ”do God” - a reference to the comment of Tony Blair’s former press secretary Alastair Campbell about discussing religion in public.
Of course people should not be afraid to 'do God', but this is not the issue here. What is at issue is the fact that people's religious convictions are still afforded an unwarranted privilege despite the populace's intentions leaning all the more against it.

He highlighted the appointment of a US Supreme Court justice about whom a senator said Roman Catholic faith “would not be a problem” as long as it did not affect his opinions.
“You might think that that was so improbably absurd as to be howled down with hysterical laughter, but it was not, it was seen as a serious comment.”
Comparing the UK and America with regard to religious conviction in our respective political realms is risible; Welby compares - without the slightest hint of his ignorance - UK legislators with those appointed to carry out different legislation on another continent. One that is considerably deeper mired in the religious right-wing's totalitarian maw than our own.

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