Friday, 7 June 2013
Church leaders call on Government ministers to apologise
Press release from Methodist Church House
07 June 2013
Bishops and Church leaders call on Government ministers to apologise
- 1 Churches, 4 nations, 1 message
An alliance of Churches representing Christians from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland has written to the Prime Minister asking for an apology on behalf of the Government for misrepresenting the poor.
Church leaders, including the Right Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and the Right Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, pointed out that in recent weeks senior members of the Government have given out misleading and inaccurate information about people on benefits. Outlining the inaccuracies, they asked for them to be corrected and for an apology to be offered to those who were misrepresented.
“We are concerned that these inaccuracies paint some of the most vulnerable in our society in an unfavourable light, stigmatising those who need the support of the benefits system,” the letter states. “No political or financial imperative can be given to make this acceptable.”
April saw some of the most controversial and wide ranging changes to the benefit system in a generation. In their letter, Church leaders, including the leaders of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church, said that while they hold no common view on welfare reform, they all share the belief that that those in receipt of benefits are loved and valuable.
“What unites us is the belief that the debate around these reforms should be based on truthful information,” they write. “We ask you, as Prime Minister and as leader of the Conservative Party, to ensure that the record is put straight, and that statistics are no longer manipulated in a way which stigmatises the poorest in our society.”
The full text of the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Appendix one to the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Appendix two to the letter to the Prime Minister is available here.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Friday, 7 June 2013 at 10:41pm BST
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A big thank you to all the signatories for writing this!
What Erika said, and a request to my own government here in the U. S. to do the same.
Congratulations on the hard and careful work in assembling this important evidence of government lies.
Part of the new world order is the vilification of the poor, the working poor, the under employed and the unemployed. Its happening in all western democracies. Certainly here in Canada our neo-Con government are taking this tack, and the churches have been very silent. Interestingly, The Roman Catholic Church may become more vocal under the leadership of the reigning pope--whom reports suggest ( see link) really did not want to be pope and continues to live in a way that will keep him connected to the poor.
Only problem is, the churches, Anglican, Roman, treat their own women and GBLT minorities so shabbily, that their voice on behalf of the poor does not have much justice cred.
I'm really pleased about this. Political debate is worthless if it is based on twisted not true statistics. And whilst it is fine for politicians to give weight to the numbers that most support their case, it is totally unacceptable to twist them out of all recognition, as the present cases show has happened in several government departments of late. Again, it is one thing to put a political interpretation on the numbers, it is another to distort the numbers to fit the political case.
I'm hugely grateful to Andrew Dilnott and his colleagues at the CSA. He is a man firmly committed to keeping the statistics honest.
There have of course been church lobby groups who have also used statistics in a way that neither I nor any other mathematician could consider acceptable.
Well done to the authors of the letter - this sort of truth-telling is definitely in order - 'bring to light the hidden things of darkness' and all that.
However, I think it's unfortunate that the letter omits to mention perhaps the most dangerous inaccuracy of them all - the assertion that there is a sharp distinction between people who work hard for a living and people who claim means-tested benefits. As several CofE bishops pointed out a few months ago, many of the means-tested benefits that are being targeted for the harshest cuts are designed specifically to top up the income of low-paid workers.
“We are concerned that these inaccuracies paint some of the most vulnerable in our society in an unfavourable light"
How so very unlike the way that the Church of England discusses homosexuality. When I listened to Bishops' speeches in last week's debate, I immediately thought "yes, these are honest and clear-thinking people who are not, in any way, twisting facts in order to support an a priori position".
It would be absurd to suggest that Tory ideologues attempting to link poverty with immorality and crime bear any resemblance to Christian ideologies linking homosexuality to paedophilia and incest. They're completely different sorts of dishonesty.
Re the criticisms above, perhaps it's just worth mentioning that the Quakers signed the letter, and that, as Christians, they are also asking to celebrate gay marriages.