Thursday, 15 January 2015

On Rock or Sand?


On Rock or Sand?: Firm Foundations for Britain’s Future, edited by the Archbishop of York, is published today (according to Church House Bookshop and Amazon) or next week (according to the Archbishop).

The Archbishop’s announcement states:

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu’s book ‘On Rock or Sand?’ is to be published next week with contributions from experts in economic, political, social and religious disciplines, including Lord Adonis, Sir Philip Mawer, Oliver O Donovan, Andrew Sentance and Archbishop Justin Welby…

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “The book addresses crucial questions about the moral principles that undergird the way Britain is governed. It is about building firm foundations for Britain’s future and setting out the essential values we need to build a just, sustainable and compassionate society in which we can all participate and flourish. We need to rediscover the true meaning of the word economy – it means a household, a community whose members share responsibility for each other. The giant that must be slayed is income inequality - where some few have far too much and the many have too little.”

and includes a video introduction to the book by the Archbishop.

Press reports and comments

Ian Johnston The Independent Anglican archbishops accuse Coalition of abandoning poor amid culture of selfishness

John Bingham The Telegraph
Archbishops’ pre-election assault on ‘evil’ of inequality in Coalition Britain
Church of England’s pre-election blast revives memories of Faith in the City

Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph David Cameron pledges to do more to help poor after Church of England criticism

BBC News Low earners are being left behind, say archbishops

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Archbishop John Sentamu on why politicians are like men arguing at a urinal

Mark Tran The Guardian UK economy is a ‘tale of two cities’ say archbishops

The Guardian Archbishops speak out on inequality: extracts from On Rock or Sand?

Andrew Brown The Guardian Archbishops try to inject Christianity into welfare state with inequality attack

Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Archbishop of York: “English Christians ain’t persecuted”

Pat Ashworth Church Times C of E’s pre-Election publication warns of lose-lose situations for many towns and cities


Financial Times editorial Lambeth’s turbulent priest utters harsh truths
Chris Giles Financial Times Church’s book stronger on morals than policy

Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph David Cameron facing row with Church as he ‘profoundly disagrees’ with Archbishops’ attack

The Telegraph editorial Selective wrath

Helen Warrell, Jim Pickard and Clear Barrett Financial Times English archbishops attack government over rising inequality

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 1:51pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | News

It's really great that the archbishop's are speaking out on economic injustice. It would be far stronger if they were doing justice themselves in CoE. But it is important to speak up...

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 5:33pm GMT

I think that this Report by the Archbishops with its savage attack on the Coalition is biased , unfair and totally political. I I live in the most Northerly County of England. It paints a nonsense picture of Northern towns and pays no thanks at all to the Coalition for dealing with the enormous debt and trying to help more to benefit from our increased prosperity. Osborne is backing Northern Cities and Cameron spoke today of the need to help more people enjoy the fruits of the recovery . Some positive approval of the recovery and suggestions for assisting in this would be more helpful in bringing about the changes still needed.

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 6:40pm GMT

"Sentamu argues that the root of that welfare state was the model put forward by William Temple, then the archbishop of Canterbury, in the middle of the war, and he sees the Thatcherite and post-Thatcher assault on the welfare state as part and parcel of England’s religious turning away from Christianity." The Guardian

Surely Dr. Sentamu is aware that both Thatcher and Blair were both devout Christians. Or perhaps they were the wrong sort of Christian. #NoTrueScotsman

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 6:49pm GMT

What about income inequality in the Church of England? Bishops are happy to advertise posts for parish priests on 0.5 stipend ... have you ever met an archdeacon or bishop who exists on half a stipend! And how much is an Archbishop paid?

Posted by: Mark Mesley on Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 7:50pm GMT

Taking up the morality of wealth&poverty, a MAJOR thrust of the Gospel, as opposed to sexual orientation, which isn't at all? What a novel idea, CofE Archbishops. [And Oh So Welcome!!!! :-D]

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 8:50pm GMT

The first place we learn about justice and compassion is our families, lots of people are not flourishing because they are not in loving and stable families. This isn't just about the citizen and the state, and the answer to poverty isn't simply economics.

Posted by: David Keen on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 12:25am GMT

Sadly, just in case we thought there was some faint hope of our Church actually devoting itself to its professed mission, along comes:

Well, the legislation requiring compulsory Christian prayers before all local government meetings will certainly be good at driving out non-Christians, but it's a bit difficult to see how it fits with the professed desire to fight for equality.

Actually, it's not just difficult; it's impossible...

Posted by: Stevie Gamble on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 1:44am GMT

I don't think Jean Mayland sees the same Northern towns that I do: increased food banks, arbitrary benefit sanctions, zero hours contracts, homelessness. Meanwhile nationally, central government remained overall as centralised as before, promising a "northern powerhouse" while it cripples local authority funding. The chancellor has borrowed more money in the last 4 years than was borrowed in the previous 14. The result: national debt has ballooned, that's before we get on to rising consumer debt, too.

Call it political, but I think the archbishops are right this time in their criticism.

Posted by: Tim M on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 7:29am GMT

David Keen: a loving family could be very compassionate, but isn't very stable if there's no reliable employment around - or steady employment at sociable hours - for mum and dad. Nor they're priced out from buying or renting a decent quality home. Sadly, the family loving each other and staying together doesn't guarantee they'll "flourish".

Posted by: Tim M on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 9:10am GMT

"What about income inequality in the Church of England? Bishops are happy to advertise posts for parish priests on 0.5 stipend ... have you ever met an archdeacon or bishop who exists on half a stipend! And how much is an Archbishop paid?" Mark Mesley

I'm not known for jumping to the defence of Archbishops but I think that's rather unfair. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York were paid £74780 and £64090 respectively in the year 2013/2014. Very good 'salaries' I grant you but probably considerably less than what the post-holders could earn outside the Church. Whatever else I might think of them, I don't think they're in it for the money!

It is also very unusual for one of the most senior people in an organisation to be paid less than three times what the most 'junior' post-holders receive (the national minimum stipend in the same year was £23740). Diocesan Bishops were paid just over £41000 - not an extravagant payment by today's standards.

What is more of a mystery is why William Fittall should be paid more than double what Justin Welby receives, if this article is to be believed:

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 10:03am GMT

Comment here and elsewhere today reveal the accuracy of Bishop statements. Poverty brings with it poverty of ambition and expectation resulting in a cycle of deepening failure. The divide is already there. We are making it worse. Stop now!

Posted by: DT on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 10:17am GMT

If readers, especially Jean Mayland - refer to the transcript of the debate at the last General Synod session on a Bradford (now Leeds) motion concerning the Bedroom Tax and poverty they will see that the speeches and the very full debate fully bear out what Sentamu's book is reported to be saying. That motion was triggered by a grassroots motion from parishes in the deprived area of a very Northern City - Bradford.

Posted by: Malcolm on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 4:29pm GMT

"the answer to poverty isn't simply economics."

No, it mostly is about economics. Economics are the number 1 stressor of families. It effects kids abilities to concentrate in school, if they go. Or they get moved about... Poverty requires families to make harsh choices about which bills to pay. It's like being on a backwards running treadmill and expecting them to move forward like everyone else.

Everyone has the idealized view of "the family." There are lots of successful versions of families, gay, straight, black, white, mixed, etc. The rubber hits the road with class, education, and wealth, or lack thereof.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 16 January 2015 at 10:35pm GMT

I have to agree with Tim and Malcolm although I have yet to read the book, the reports about it suggest it is on the money

Posted by: confused sussex on Saturday, 17 January 2015 at 12:03am GMT

I don't have an idealised view of the family, as I was born into one, and now have one of my own. Hopefully we'd agree that economics, whilst a major factor in a 'just, sustainable and compassionate' society, isn't the only one. To have a society like that, people have to learn those values and see them in action.

Posted by: David Keen on Saturday, 17 January 2015 at 8:04am GMT

" To have a society like that, people have to learn those values and see them in action."

Doctor "why don't you marry Marie?"
"I can't afford your middle class values," Wozzeck.

The idea that lack of values puts people in poverty, rather than seeing that poverty stresses every aspect of the human condition, troubles me. It seems lacking in compassion.

I've been going to Haiti since 2004. Abject poverty. Wonderful people. Their lot has nothing to do with their "values." Sadly, their lot has a lot to do with our values, and it speaks miserably of us.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 at 8:14pm GMT
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