Thinking Anglicans

Bishops comment on London civil disturbances

The Bishop of Southwark has issued a statement: Message to churches about the London riots.

The Bishop of Willesden (an area within the Diocese of London) has issued a statement to his clergy. This is copied below the fold.

The Bishop of London has also issued a statement: London riots: message from the Bishop of London.

The Bishop of St Albans has issued a statement with other church leaders: Bishop leads message of support for Luton

The [RC] Archbishop of Westminster issued this statement: Archbishop Nichols has asked Catholics to pray for those directly affected by the violence in London.

MESSAGE FROM BISHOP PETE TO ALL WILLESDEN CLERGY

We’re all shocked and horrified at what’s been happening these past few days in our communities across London. Whatever sparked the original violence in Tottenham, the copycat looting and pillaging is not a legitimate form of protest – people are, sadly, trashing their own localities. There are many questions to be asked about how we have created a society in which greed and consumerism combine to make people desire commodities and are prepared to steal in order to get them. And where young people see the destruction of property as a form of fun and entertainment. Relationships between the police and young people in many parts of London are fragile – and we will need to work hard at rebuilding them in the aftermath of all this. But there’s no excuse for lawlessness, either. Criminal behaviour mustn’t prosper.

Our Christian response must be to pray – for the peace and good of our cities. Where appropriate and safe, we may wish to open our churches for prayer and practical support for local people. There are clean-up operations going on in Ealing and other places where we can be involved practically. And where we are in contact with local youth, we should be doing what we can to persuade them to stay off the streets.

I know that the Bishops of Edmonton and Stepney have been out on the streets to pray, support and encourage. We need to seek the good of all, and work and pray for justice, peace and the rule of law in our communities.

The Bishop of Edmonton and the Archdeacon of Hampstead are currently handling diocesan responses to the situation.

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Dave
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Dave

The bishops are even slower than the politicians to comment. They do not condemn the murder of Mark Duggan by the police and the police brutality which is the cause of these incidents. They do not support Mark Duggan’s family. It is too easy to blame the rioters without dealing with the root causes. this is the death knell of the big society and shows how unsuitable a host for the Olympics London will prove to be.

JCF
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JCF

Prayers for the UK in this time of crisis and tragedy.

The Rev. Randall J. Keeney
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The Rev. Randall J. Keeney

Dear Mother Church,

Until you disestablish and get your bishops out of the House of Lords, you will always be seen as agents of the powerful over the powerless. Condescending lectures to the dispossessed will not help matters. I would suggest a new viewing or listening to Les Miserables. Pay particular attention to the question: “Can you hear the People sing, singing the songs of angry men?”

The Rev. Randall J. Keeney
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The Rev. Randall J. Keeney
Fr John
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Fr John

It is so easy to take it out against our Bishops, and those in authority. Much harder to face the true consequence of a nation of disfunctional families.The place where discipline, respect should be taught, instead we find the children being given free reign, and treated as tin Gods. Yesterday we remembered Mary Sumner the founder of the Mothers Union, who helped mothers and families to be brought up in a Christian household. Today we need again households where faith, of whatever variety, is the bedrock of family life. What we have seen is greed, indiscipline, and selfishness. Some of… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Fr John,

Bring back National Service and you will train a generation of bank robbers, effective rioters and lone gunmen.

Tina Beardsley
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Tina Beardsley

I saw Les Miserables for the second time last week and used the chorus Randall quotes as my text at Evensong (1st reading – the Israelites’ rejection of King Rehoboam) on Sunday. At that stage the riots were limited to Tottenham. I believe that we have become – and have been for some time – ‘two nations’ again, so the anger is not surprising, but the looting looks more like the opportunism of the Thernadiers: ‘Never know your luck when there’s a free-for-all’.

evensongjunkie
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evensongjunkie

Being raised in a navy family where discipline was harsh and common, I find myself attracted to Fr. John’s entry, but that’s not the ultimate problem. We of course have the punks/chavs/hoodlums on the streets, but what about the looters/thieves/scoundrels that fill the high-rises of our cities, taking from both the shareowner and laborer alike, paying off our legislators to export our jobs somewhere else at the stroke of a pen. At least the punks are honest about it. Discipline begins with leadership that does not lack integrity. Let’s see it dwelt in the ranks of RBS, HSBC and Bank… Read more »

William
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William

History shows time and again that a decadent society which abandons traditional morality leads to violence on the streets. We need to do much soul searching.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Les Miserables is profound telling of a story for a time such as this. The songs are good, but the novel (more than the musical) tells the story of how one person (a bishop) sees the possibility of redemption in a person [aka rioter] who society has labelled the same as every other criminal. To Kill a Mockingbird has a scene where the narrator Scout creeps out at night when her father Atticus is guarding the jail house against a mob. She manages to call the people to their humanity, and the mob ceases to be and the people disperses.… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

‘Never know your luck when there’s a free-for-all’ I think that it very interesting and important that the objectives of the looters seem to be flat screen televisions and dubious fashion from JB Sports and H&M. No one is looting food (drink yes to fuel the adrenelin) so presumably the rioters aren’t actually hungry. Doesn’t this indicate that what is happening is some sort of protest at the exclusion from and the unatainability of the current society where identity is built upon consumption. The rioters are mostly young people who have grown up under 13 years of a Labour Government.… Read more »

David Shepherd
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David Shepherd

He ignored the warning signs of his advancing cancer in 1980. He would be dead a year later. Bob Marley had spent his life writing and singing uplifting, inspirational songs in the midst of the political turmoil and police thuggery that characterised 1970’s Jamaica. However, it was a song from his last album, Uprising (that also contains the eloquent, raw vocals of ‘Redemption Song’ ) of which he said, ‘My whole career I put out songs about fighting against the oppression and now on the eve of my death I see ‘It seems like total destruction The only solution” One… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

“a decadent society which abandons traditional morality leads to…” – William

Oh brother: is this “It’s all because The Gays are getting married” again? *smh* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rixkck8QnjY

MarkBrunson
Guest

It’s just the beginning, and it won’t be limited to Britain. The main driving forces are rebellion against a lie of “traditional morality” bolstered by money and undue political influence. In short, try to enforce your conservative, narrow views and ensure your own profits at the detriment of others, you will find a mob howling for you.

William
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William

Believe it or not JCF traditional morality involves a lot more than whether gays can marry. I was thinking more of concern for others, denial of self, mutual respect – all of which seems to have been sacrificed for instant gratification and consumerism. As one commentator rightly pointed out these people are not starving – they are greedy for material things and want it all now.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

What evensongjunkie said on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 at 7:06pm BST.

many thanks

John Bowles
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John Bowles

It is interesting reading the blame placed for these riots in many of these comments. But if there is blame it lies with the soixante-huitard generation (now in their sixries) that brought the permissive society into being. As this generation assumed administrative power so bogus liberal policies were applied which gradually dismantled society and brought ‘political correctness’ into being. This introduced an entirely unreal world in which lies and prevarication masked truth and reality. It adversely affected every level of British life, but especially our institutions. In particular education was severely compromised. The ‘baby boomers’ who brought this situation into… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

It’s not permissiveness bringing disaster, but repression.

There is no sense whatsoever in trying to pin it on liberalism. What’s more conservative and orthodox than burning witches and heretics in mob lynchings?

David Shepherd
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David Shepherd

The idea that ‘traditional morality’ is characterised by concern for others is as laughable as it is facile. Especially when it’s really about narrow-spectrum low-dosage public-spiritedness. The mass media and entertainment world (governed by the situation ethics of the profit imperative) have fed and encouraged young minds to take heart in the ephemeral fame of the crass maverick heroes that they discover and promote on TV. This only serves to distract us from the unmitigated expansion of Establishment power and the fiscal regimes that favour the rich while the rest of us live on credit or benefits. The distraction only… Read more »

david WIlson
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david WIlson

There are no easy answers. However the root cause is more than just the shooting of a man in London – the malaise in society was already there, but extends from top to bottom. Ultimately it is a sign of the godlessness of society. God is being shut out of schools and the churches are emptying. The gods of greed, consummerism and the big I, have no morals, so why should we be surprised when the children and young people behave in this way. We have told them that they are apes rather than made in the image of God.… Read more »

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

The political aims and objectives of the far Right around the globe are all similar. The far Right in religion is no different. Controlling the masses will NOT be easy and in fact it will be impossible. The peasants all over the world are restless and for good reason. The phony morality of the Right, blaming the worlds social ills on the liberal forces in societies, no longer meets the TRUTH test. Extreme conservatism is about to fall. I would say those who have tried to control the message from the far Right are the very ones the masses will… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

We do not know at this stage if the killing of Mark Duggan was unlawful or not because it is still being investigated. We know an illegal gun was found (loaded) but little more at this stage.

In any case this is an entirely separate matter to the riots and lootings which are more antisocial in nature than anything else.

evensongjunkie
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evensongjunkie

What Chris Smith said.

Years ago, when I was a freshman in college, I had a millwright’s son as dormitory roommate. Back then I was small-town Republican (Conservative) defender of capitalism. My roommate wasn’t, and warned me way back in 1976, that you back the underclass into a corner they can’t perceive to get out, ugly things will happen.

I don’t think this bunch consider themselves an underclass, but seeing that there’s more idle youth looking for mischief to get into than meets the eye, my roommate might be more right than wrong.

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

Essentially, I agree with David Shepherd – people have been taught to value dross over worth, and they have no concept of the joy and challenge of trying to live and love and face outwards towards God and others. And this is not just the rioters, but their betters who have aimed for and HAVE all the trappings.

JCF
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JCF

John Bowles, please tell that that’s an (outrageously) clever parody…

William
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William

Why is the idea of traditional morality involving concern for others laughable and facile? You don’t give any reasons for this strange statement. Most people would rejoice that someone is proposing concern and respect for other people.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

William “I was thinking more of concern for others, denial of self, mutual respect – all of which seems to have been sacrificed for instant gratification and consumerism. As one commentator rightly pointed out these people are not starving – they are greedy for material things and want it all now.” Yes… but isn’t it the lack of mutual respect some of the better off have shown to the “underclass” that has helped to make them focus on material things and wanting it all now? My moment of complete intellectual dislocation came when I watched Hazel Blears condemn the Salford… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“Broken Britain. Dont blame it on God but on the old-fashioned godlessness. The false idols have no love for man and man has no love for his fellow man.” So… and this is not addressed at the one who wrote it, I’ve only quoted it because it distills very well what I have seen on a number of blogs from a number of commentators recently…. so… what is every single one of us doing about it? Liberals blame “society” or “Thatcher” (still!), or Blair, or “not enough money”, “economic disadvantages”, “class issues”. Conservatives blame “the breakdown of morals”, “the breakdown… Read more »

Nat
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Nat

John Bowles – It would be interesting to know what sort of “genuine” liberal policies you would oppose to the “bogus” ones. But surely the fundamental impulse behind what, in its extreme, becomes absurd political correctness is much the same as the urge to courtesy: that is, the recognition of the other person as of equal value to one’s self before God – an extreme less harmful, perhaps, than the opposite, which ends in racism, homophobia and the concentration camp. I would posit that there is no simple answer to the riots, and simplistic ones do at least as much… Read more »

Nat
Guest
Nat

Many years ago there was a book, and a film, called “The Shoes of the Fisherman.” In it, the Pope decided to sell off the treasures of the church to feed the poor.

In our diocese, the Diocese of Olympia, our bishop quietly joins us at our church making lunches for those in need, and has for many years tithed.

I wonder if more bishops did such things, and made fewer pronouncements, what effect that might have on both the atmosphere that has lead to these riots, and to church attendance?

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

I think (and I rarely think or say this) that Christianity and biblical framework offer a useful way of understanding the shocking behaviour we have seen and also some helpful ways forward for our society irrespective of whether one is a believer or not and I would very much lie to see Christians of all stripes (liberal and evangelical, Catholic and protestant and everyone in between) developing Christian and biblical thinking here. Take home message – forget hobby horses about homosexuality and victimhood (at least for the moment) this is when our country and society really need a Christian voice… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Absolutely the “lie of traditional morality!” Look, you can believe all the stuff you want about your view=good guys, any other view=godless heathens, but it simply doesn’t hold true. I’m not blaming God, I’m blaming people like you for claiming the authority to speak for Him! Look at you – you even assume that to attack your hypocritical “morality” is to blame God! Idolatry – like worship of “the good old days” or “Holy Writ” or “Tradition?” Is that what you mean? The fact is, the riots follow on the implementation of conservative agendas of self-preservation and self-gain, and consists… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

David Shepherd, Thank you! The sad thing is, until (relative) poverty forced me into giving up the constantly-changing barrage of mass media, I was so easily part of that! I’m not sure there is, at this late date, an answer – but if there is, it involves, not simply a manufactured “good-old-days” society, nor a similarly-fantastic “traditional morality,” but a simplification *overall*. I have no problems with austerity measures, if they truly apply to all and bring proper chastening to the haves as well as have-nots, but we have “austerity measure” in England, Europe, and the U. S. in which… Read more »

John Bowles
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John Bowles

Nat First, political correctness. Did you read (or hear) that the BBC first described the looters as ‘protesters’? For this they were upraided by the Prime Minister, they admitted their mistake and the culprits are now recognised for what they are. It was poltical correctness that dictated the first description. I hope you have been watching and listening to the news since the looting and rioting began last week-end. It is consistently emerging that the majority of looters do not, on their own admission, come from deprived backgrounds but can afford to buy what they are stealing. They admit to… Read more »

David Wilson
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David Wilson

Mark “Good old days”? And when were they exactly? Well according to the bible not since Adam and Eve. Last time I looked – the bible said that both we and creation are fallen and will not be re-generated until resurrection day. I see nothing in society that contradicts that view. I wouldnt use the words traditional morality but rather Christian morality, because it is His morality that matters. “Traditional morality” may well condemn the sinner with no hope of repentance and reconciliation; no need to actually love your brother who sits in the gutter with all hope lost. The… Read more »

David Wilson
Guest
David Wilson

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

William, The idea of ‘traditional morality’ reminds me, and it appears others, of wholly inappropriate calls to return to an idyllic British past in which fair play and decency reigned with good-neighbourliness (and colonialism) only to be supplanted by reckless individualism in modern times. It’s this over-simplified nostalgia (cue the Hovis ad) that I consider facile. Concern for others is not laughable in itself. However, some of us reminisce quite fondly of a previous similar ‘back to basics’ campaign in which the Tories under John Major attempted to promote a return to traditional morality and family values. That is, until… Read more »

david Wilson
Guest
david Wilson

MarkBrunson “I’m not sure there is, at this late date, an answer – but if there is, it involves, not simply a manufactured “good-old-days” society, nor a similarly-fantastic “traditional morality,” but a simplification *overall*.” The answer is the gospel. The same answer for the richest and the poorest. Love your neighbour as yourself. David Cameron descibes the UK as the “me first” society. The bible would describe it as a society of self-love. Yet the Lord calls you to be servant to all. The Christians have a calling to get involved in their church community, to build their church community… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

John Bowles
The Inner London Education Authority was abolished in 1990. That is 21 years ago. So your claim that it has been responsible for the past 40 years of [anything] is surely wrong.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

The point of Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan is not that Jesus’s listeners thought that most Samaritans would treat most Jews like that, nor yet that they thought most Jews would treat most Samaritans like that – the point is that the listeners knew fine well that that such unexpected unimaginable giving would qualify a person they most detested to the ranks of friend-and-neighbour, and they hated the fact that it would do just that. They WANTED to hate the Samaritans.

@David Shepherd – go you!

John Bowles
Guest
John Bowles

Thank you, Simon, for giving the good, if late, news that the ILEA was abolished in 1990. After its appalling record that was, in principle, to the good. But the local authorities that have taken on the responsibility for education during the last twenty years have followed similar policies, leading to the present low educational standards and politically correct syllabuses. Take the preposterous policies on sex education, for instance. This has contributed to the sexualisation of contemporary British society and the result is found in the fourteen-year-old mothers of many of the looters. One of the main contributors to the… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

John Bowles, why are you attributing all these problems to the local authorities, present and past, rather than to the central UK government Department for Education and its predecessors. Are you aware that in 1988, two years before the ILEA was abolished, the Education Reform Act introduced a National Curriculum which was mandatory for state schools in England and Wales?

evensongjunkie
Guest
evensongjunkie

“One of the main contributors to the decay of society is the one-parent family living on the dole.” Gee whiz, you think those that are married and have to work longer hours for less pay are having their marriages stressed out to the point where they fall apart? Think long-term unemployment brings marriage failure? Rage? Serious health problems? Serious mental health problems? So let’s blame the one person left trying valiantly to raise what’s left of the family with a sweeping generalization, that’ll do it! Or do you think it’s the leaders of our society that are the root cause… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

David Wilson, And yet you presume to call us to some sort of good ol’ days of “traditional morality” – if it’s never happened, who do we look to but Jesus? That’s what we’ve told you we’ve done, and have different answers than *you* have. If it has happened, you negate your entire answer, because how can you hold up human-written scriptures and human-contrived doctrine as beyond question, when all humans are so corrupted? If, on the other hand, *those* humans can – however imperfectly – understand and transmit God’s vision, what gives you the supreme vision and judgment to… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

“The answer is the gospel. The same answer for the richest and the poorest. Love your neighbour as yourself(. . .) Yet the Lord calls you to be servant to all. The Christians have a calling to get involved in their church community, to build their church community (you shall know them by their love for each other) and through the church community impact the wider community. A community that seeks to have a loving servant heart.” I don’t think any of that means what you think it means. I mean, it sounds great, but . . . the churches… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

The steady fall in teenage pregnancy rates is a little inconvenient for John Bowles’s theories isn’t it?

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

The Guardian reports yesterday that, of those appearing before the courts, 80% are male, unemployed and under 25. Perhaps we could think about these people, and they are people, human beings. Why are they so alienated from ordinary society that they riot and loot, why don’t they seem to have any stake in our society that they define looting as ‘fun’? I suggest that there is something fundamentally wrong with our society , a society in which we have all had a hand, active or acquiescing, in creating. I don’t in any way condone what has happened and I do… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Blaming the bottom of society is blaming the least educated, the least advantaged. To damage property, to steal shoes when one has not had a wonderful start in life is bad. To rob tax-payers, to exploit the weak by deliberately promoting the policy of over-lending, to support naked greed, when one has had as many advantages as society offers is far, far worse. I want to see us, all of us, to wake up to an understanding that we all need to thing first about what we can give. I don’t think this is a new problem – throughout history… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“If you want peace, work for justice” Pope Paul VI

If you want peace on the streets of the UK . . . [as a start] prosecute the Murdochs! And all their Parliamentary sycophants!

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Your question: ‘Why are they so alienated from ordinary society that they riot and loot, why don’t they seem to have any stake in our society that they define looting as ‘fun’?’ The answers are, of course, complex, but we could ask the same of the banking community who ran riot before the credit crunch. I wonder whether their privileges of financial (being ‘too big to fail’) and criminal (too rich to prosecute) immunity have left them equally alienated from ordinary society. It must have been ‘fun’ to earn a fat commission on no-documentation mortgage lending to sub-prime borrowers on… Read more »