joint statement from archbishops on elections

Joint Statement from the Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury

“The European Parliamentary and local elections on June 4th will take place at a time of extraordinary turbulence in our democratic system. It is a time for great vigilance over how to exercise our democratic right to vote.

“The temptation to stay away or register a protest vote in order to send a negative signal to the parties represented at Westminster will be strong. In our view, however, it would be tragic if the understandable sense of anger and disillusionment with some MPs over recent revelations led voters to shun the ballot box.

“Those whom we elect to local councils and the European Parliament will represent us and our collective interests for many years to come. It is crucial to elect those who wish to uphold the democratic values and who wish to work for the common good in a spirit of public service which urgently needs to be reaffirmed in these difficult days.

“There are those who would exploit the present situation to advance views that are the very opposite of the values of justice, compassion and human dignity are rooted in our Christian heritage.

“Christians have been deeply disturbed by the conscious adoption by the BNP of the language of our faith when the effect of those policies is not to promote those values but to foster fear and division within communities, especially between people of different faiths or racial background.

“This is not a moment for voting in favour of any political party whose core ideology is about sowing division in our communities and hostility on grounds of race, creed or colour; it is an opportunity for renewing the vision of a community united by mutual respect, high ethical standards and the pursuit of justice and peace.

“We hope that electors will use their vote on June 4th to renew the vision of a community united by the common good, public service and the pursuit of justice.”

Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

This statement also appeared on the CofE website at 8.45 pm Sunday. It has yet to appear on the Lambeth Palace website.


  • David Walker says:

    I’ve just done a radio broadcast on this and found the interviewer, the other interviewee and the phoned in comments from the public all supportive of the line the archbishops have taken.

  • orfanum says:

    Just who is advising ++Rowan Williams? I understand the sentiment, in fact, I pointed this out here a few weeks ago – the Telegraph is suspiciously utilizing the material for its own political ends seemingly (although that does not make the necessity to highlight what has been going on in Westminster less relevant or pressing, given in addition what we have also now understood about the ‘editorial’ process that was being applied to the material by Parliament before public consumption).

    However, I also discern here and in the statement about ‘humiliating’ MPs a supreme condescension towards and an irrational fear of ordinary people and their sentiments. Sentamu has in the recent past tried the opposite political tactic of suggesting we should feel more naturally proud of being British, again as a way of forestalling support for the BNP.

    I would suggest though that although support for the BNP will be a protest vote, what people may be seeking to do is find a voice within a political and social framework that has been dismissing and deriding them for a very long time indeed, rather than gleefully jumping on a seemingly legitimate bandwagon for their rampant xenophobia. What we have just witnessed in regard to the Gurkhas should give ++Williams pause for thought: if ordinary folk were so latently desirous of a racist or fascist state, such is the implication of the intervention, how would support for the Gurkhas been so decisive?

    The conclusion in all this for me is either that a) ordinary people represent an easily manipulated ‘Mob’, easily provoked to meaningless anger, and to be discouraged at all costs, or b) the people are keen for a sense of justice to be displayed in all things, and will not be deceived.

    ++Williams has to decide in the main where his views come from in respect to the above positions in this. Unfortunately he and others come across as tending to the first position. This is very unfortunate and betrays a view of the ordinary people that is still framed by the rood screen.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “There are those who would exploit the present situation to advance views that are the very opposite of the values of justice, compassion and human dignity rooted in our Christian heritage” – Advice from both of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to all who have voting rights in the upcoming European Parliamentary Elections –

    Do these words strike a cord within those of us in the Anglican Communion who long for the Leaders of the Church (and all its members) to act with these values of ‘justice, compassion and
    human dignity’ in mind when dealing with women and the LGBT community in the Church?

    This, make no mistake, is good stuff: very necessary and laudable – but not just as advice to the world (EEC) but also for the Church. This is what the Gospel is really all about – not one rule for the world and another for the Church. So lets all get behind our Primates and work towards the fulfilment of these important objectives.

  • Gerry Lynch says:

    Oh, dear. Sorry that I always seem to be so negative here. I loathe the BNP with every fibre of my being, and I’ve no doubt the Archbishops were entirely well intentioned in what they were doing. But giving the BNP free headlines 11 days before polling day is not smart. Does anyone in Lambeth Palace have any political nous?

  • If Dr John Sentamu had made this statement alone, people would have identified with him as a person and thought what their vote meant. That it has been made by both Archbishops, it becomes a statement of an institution, and these days institutions are not doing very well in the minds of the public. The Church of England is kept at arm’s distance, and people dislike being told what to do. It is an institution telling people what to do with their vote, and allows the BNP to play victim and draw on individual freedom again, whereas Sentamu alone would have been an individual having his freedom affected.

    The result, unfortunately, is yet more air time for the BNP and Nick Griffin and the danger of the self-fulfilling prophecy at a time when parliament is regarded as corrupt and the European Parliament is understood well less and regarded as little other than a gravy train.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Trouble is David Walker ..a lot of people will vote BNP in secret. I think the BNP are going to eat into the Labour vote as much as UKIP did with the Conservatives.

    It would seem RW and Sentamu have no qualms in voting for the other parties with equally obnoxious anti-christian policies. All for instance are pro-choice.

  • Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    “Does anyone in Lambeth Palace have any political nous?”

    From this Yank’s limited perspective, given what has come from Lambeth on other, church issues,I’d ask, why are you asking? It’s like Lambeth and the ABC are just tone deaf to issues of justice and glbt folk.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “It’s like Lambeth and the ABC are just tone deaf to issues of justice and glbt folk.”

    Cyntia, I understand the frustration that lies behind this statement, I feel it too. But what do you say to our conservative brethren when they point out that liberals seem to be tone deaf to the very real threat that Christians experience in some places in the world? Regardless of what I think, for instance, of +Akinola, it is still true that Christians in some parts of Nigeria face violence from militant Islam. Same in other countries. And saying that Christians in those areas also take part in and even carry out acts of violence is no real answer. That is a sad fact of fallen human nature. Humans can be expected to behave in this fashion, out of fear and the hatred it breeds. In that sense, blaming the violence on one group or another makes no sense. But there is, at least to my ear, a significant liberal silence on this issue. I have even read liberals who deny that it takes place, who jump to the defense of Islam and imply, often not too subtly, that any such violence is the fault of Christians. It is laudable to acknowledge the role that Christians might play in such a situation, things are never black and white, and we get nowhere if we do not acknowledge our own complicity. But it is the rare liberal, in my experience, who does not downplay or deny altogether the real threat of violence Christians face in some parts of the world. Frankly, it is what calls down accusations of political correctness, which is nothing more than being “sensitive” to the things it is socially acceptable in some circles to be “sensitive” to, and either ignoring or actively opposing things that deserve just as much consideration, if not more, than the more socially acceptable issues.

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