Thinking Anglicans

Moral, But No Compass

Updated Sunday

This is apparently (some variations exist in the reporting) the title of a report commissioned by the Church of England (180 pages) to be published on Monday. The Times already has seen it, and has published several articles about it:

Church attacks Labour for betraying Christians

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…

Other Times articles:
Ignored and spurned, the Church has lost its faith – in government
Hunger to put faith into action is frustrated by secularist agenda Analysis by Ruth Gledhill
Times Leader: Church and State
Ruth Gledhill’s blog has substantial quotes from the report, at Church critiques Government’s ‘moral compass’

The Telegraph has also seen it, and published this:
Christianity ‘discriminated against by Gordon Brown’s Government’ by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

The Associated Press report includes:

The Church declined to release the report before a scheduled publication Monday and would not comment on specific recommendations.

Peter Crumpler, spokesman for the Church of England, said the institute was asked to prepare a report “that could assist our reflections and contribute to our conversations with government.”

“The hard-hitting report raises issues of considerable importance, the authors say, and makes recommendations that challenge the Government to recognize the Church’s involvement and potential in public service reform,” he said.

Lowe said the report has not yet been discussed, or endorsed, by senior members of the clergy.

“The report is not an attack on the government, but a call for greater understanding by all politicians of the role of the Church of England in the community life of this country,” Lowe said in a statement.

Update Sunday morning

The BBC Sunday radio programme has a 12 minute segment on this report. Listen here.
Or there is a podcast available here.

Government moral report
A report commissioned by the Church of England says that the UK’s Labour Government is moral, but it doesn’t have a moral compass. The report, released on Monday 9 June, also says that the Government discriminates against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, and is guilty of deep religious illiteracy.

Roger spoke to one of the report’s authors, Francis Davis from the Von Hugel Institute at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He was also joined by the Bishop who commissioned the report, Stephen Lowe, and by the Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears.

BBC Ministers ignore us, says Church

Simon Barrow reports on Ekklesia that Row breaks out over report to Church on its welfare role:

A report looking at the role of the Church of England and other faith communities in welfare has been spun into an attack on government before it has even been published and properly digested, say the researchers involved in producing it.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme this morning, co-author Francis Davis from the Von Hugel Institute in Cambridge, which was commissioned by the Church of England’s urban affairs bishop, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, but produced its work independently, urged people to “carefully read and study the report” when it is published tomorrow rather than “quoting selectively from it.”

Another of the report’s academic authors, Dr Andrew Bradstock, is also deeply unhappy about the way that a lengthy and detailed document, embargoed until 9 June, has been spun by journalists into an attack on government.

“The purpose of this document is to resource an ongoing conversation, not to leap to conclusions or start apportioning general blame”, Dr Bradstock told Ekklesia this morning.

He points out that while the research indicates that some government departments have a sketchy view and little hard data on the church’s grassroots voluntary work, it is not suggesting a lack of moral purpose in any quarter – though it is raising tough questions and the need for action to address the shortcoming of the current situation…

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Martin TyndaleGöran Koch-SwahneFord ElmsCheryl Va.L Roberts Recent comment authors
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Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Church of England feels Marginalised, Excluded and Neglected” is, not surprisingly, the head-line of Stand Firm. But the Bishops do sit on the House of Lords still – or am I very much mistaken?

I must admit I find this kind of complaining less than edifiying…

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Yes, let’s have a minister for religion, like the Scandinavian countries. And let one of the minister’s first tasks be to ensure that all religions in the UK respect human rights and do not discriminate against women or gay people. Sounds great to me!

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Why do the words ‘pot’, ‘kettle’ & ‘black’ come to mind ?

Fr Mark I think there is lot to be said for your idea.

Why doesn’t the C of E just get on with it ?

cf Matthew 25 –loads to be getting on with there

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Pathetic.

The arrogance of the church never ceases to astound me. They should be treated like any other interest group with opinions, not given some sort of ‘special place’ in society.

The role of the CofE in the community life of the country is, for most people, almost non-existent.

Its time to remove religion to the private sphere and have a proper secular democracy.

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

Is this a stealth effort to promote disestablishment? How very odd to hear the church accuse the state of religious illiteracy. With the quality of teaching emerging from the church in recent years, it is no wonder people give up on it. Educator, teach thyself…

Simon Barrow
Guest

This isn’t a Church of England report, but an independently produced report commissioned from the Von Hugel Institute in Cambridge by the C of E. The accounts so far have been selective and sensationalised. There’s a lot more to come.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I take your point SB and have amended the intro line. Though I think if the CofE is paying, it can be argued they own it…

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I think it fascinating that, after a decade of leadership from a prime minister who was considered the most publicly religious politician in Britain in decades that the Church should come out and say his party is unsupportive of Christianity or religion in general.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“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.”

Take away their PRIVILEGE, and they squeal “Discrimination!”?

Clearly, the ConEvs are at work here…

Simon Barrow
Guest

Simon S: “Though I think if the CofE is paying, it can be argued they own it…” It is published by Matthew James and has received funding from several church-related sources, but not the C of E centrally, as far as I can tell – other than for the copies being purchased for General Synod members and others. It describes its position thus: ‘The government is “moral, with no compass” and needs to recover a principled approach to public service reform grounded in gift, covenant, advocacy and justice. Such an approach also demands a richer appreciation of the “civic value”… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Simon Barrow is right to draw attention to the 2007 BHA report. From my perspective it has been quite alarming to see the Church being ever more marginalised by its opting out of mainstream equality issues. The reaction to the churches continued hostility to women and LGBT’s has been withering – and the lobbyists with “church” or “Christian” on their House of Commons passes have become so synonymous with “nasty” and “vicious” (and failure!) that we are becoming even more alarmed. Just as many conservative Christians are seeing LGBT issues as the defining issue – so, it seems, are many… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

How odd, how telling – that when some conservative believers bump harshly up against wider social or cultural or political or economic considerations of even-handedness and fairness – they should suddenly and distinctly feel terribly pained, victimized in public and in private, and complain with great force of anguish that such standards in wider social life are deliberately meant to disenfrachise them in their trash talk about others, not to mention their vigorously traditional mis-treatment of others? Has Gledhill, for example, ever met a queer citizen or a non-believer or an alternative believer with whom she felt humanly let alone… Read more »

IT
Guest
IT

can you say
Disestablishmentarianism.

Oh good, I knew you could!

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Isn’t it the Labour Government, so “hostile to Christianity” which allowed the Church to opt out from the legal requirement not to discriminate against gay people? That looks to me more like shameful complicity with Church leaders to deny human rights to their members, not hostility to them.

A D Gracey
Guest
A D Gracey

What would Jesus say? What did he see and praise in (a) the ‘impure’ woman; (b) the ruler Jairus – in yesterday’s readings? What he he say about public and private morality? Have we the courage to apply that?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Apollos:

The question, of course, is “which church”? Just the CoE? (As an American, the question would be “just the Protestants?”)

And if religious-connected agencies accept government funding, they should be required to follow the same rules as non-religious-connected agencies. Nobody’s forcing them to take the the Queen’s shilling, are they?

Matt Wardman
Guest

I’ll be covering this but not for a week or so, and then by inviting some short essays.

For the first wave of coverage of almost *any* issue related to churches (especially the CofE) or anything said by Bishops, we may as well listen to a tree of ring-necked parakeets.

There may be some stuff worth taking time reading when they have stopped squawking and started thinking.

I’m slightly cynical about media commenting on religions that they assume they understand (as opposed to Islam which they assume they don’t understand and swallow particular interpretations whole).

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Matt Wardman, do you know how condescending that sounds ?

Cheryl Va.
Guest

In recent times, church representatives have openly lobbied to withhold dignity and resources from certain groups (e.g. GLBTs), have argued and engineered their organisational forms to contain and limit freedom of expression for some (e.g. women). They now want to purport to be the best moral compass to run a civil society? By their own conduct they have proven that they are selfish, cruel, deceitful, complacent and aggressive. Their great moral underpinning needs to be under public scrutiny, just like any other faith or lobby group, or the secular government themselves. They have demonstrated that they do not move within… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Ok, so let me get this straight: Christians are called to be “counter cultural”? No argument here. When one criticizes the prevailing culture, one can expect to be excluded from said culture. Again, seems reasonable. I mean, if you point out the flaws of society as you see them to be, you can’t expect society to be all that welcoming. Ergo, I would expect marginalization to be the expected state for the Church if She is doing what She is supposed to do. So far forth as it frees Her up to do Her work without the burden of having… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

To Gnosticists longing for the “Purity” of Abstinences, it is – all the way from Alexandria and Hellenism.

Martin Tyndale
Guest
Martin Tyndale

The CofE Bishops sit in the House Of Lords and we the laity only hear of their sexual issues concerning homosexuality, or women Bishop issues, there is no criticism of any government policy concerning war, social or cultural or political considerations of even-handedness and fairness in their comfortable surroundings and fine clothing they take the ridiculous salaries and even more ridiculous expenses and do not show the lay people a moral lifestyle. The labour government would do right in introducing the Catholics and Muslims to the House of Lords and instigating a national moral compass.